The other day I read a statistic that shook me…
“1 in 3 women have been sexually abused or assaulted.” (unwomen.org)
This shocked me not only because it was a high statistic, but because I realized that there must be so many women out there, dealing with this, and keeping it to themselves.
This hit a nerve, because I personally have a story that I’ve kept to myself for a long time. but I’ve decided it’s time to share it.
In April 2013, I went to a nightclub in New York City with a person I knew and trusted. I don’t remember much from that night, but I do remember tiny snippets. I remember having 1 glass of champagne, and it all going downhill after that.
That night my drink was spiked, and I was raped.
I woke up the next morning in pain, but what affected me most was the shame of what had just happen.
I went to hospital in Sydney a couple of weeks later. It took me that long to work up the courage to actually confront what had happened. At this point, my own Mother still didn’t know. I couldn’t tell anyone because I felt as though it was my fault, and I must have done something to cause it.
The Doctor said to me, “You have no idea how often this happens.”
After seeing the Doctor, I decided to tell Mum and a couple of close friends, but I pretty much have kept it to myself for the last 3 years.
Up until recently I felt like I’d done a good job suppressing my feelings, and not having to deal with it. But that’s when I started noticing different things in my thinking, attitude and behavior that weren’t healthy. I realized it linked back to this event in my life that I hadn’t dealt with.
Hesitantly, I decided to see a counselor and process this experience. I was really scared. I was scared of the emotion that would be brought back, and I was scared to go back to that vulnerable place.
Without going into too much detail, this experience of opening up, speaking to a complete stranger, processing those emotions and dealing with what had happened was one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done. I physically feel different. I’m no longer carrying that shame, or that heaviness. I know now that what happened to me, doesn’t define me.
This is why the statistic rocked me. Because it means that so many women I know have been through this, and aren’t speaking up and getting help, and I understand that feeling. But I can’t begin to describe the feeling of getting rid of that shame and heaviness.
I’m not writing this for sympathy. I don't need sympathy. I’m writing this because I want to encourage women to speak up. It’s scary to deal with, but I promise in the end it’s worth it.
I hope that this is an encouragement to someone today.