Remembering The Weight of Betrayal

CW: Sexual assault/Rape

Image Credit: Photo by Tess on Unsplash


This week, I cried more than I have in the last year and a half.  Even as I write this, I find it hard not to get choked up over the abuse I suffered at the hands of people that I trusted.  Though this abuse occurred years before, going over it in therapy – something that I desperately needed to do – troubled old wounds and opened new ones as I learned, truly, what it meant to be sexually assaulted.

Rape is still a hard word to use to describe it.  That’s what happened, but I still can’t bring myself to say it before my throat closes up and my voice drops to a barely audible whisper.

So we’ll call it sexual assault instead.

I am both the blossoms and the bones.

What I have found most difficult to deal with – beyond the initial events that caused this self-directed suspicion and distrust – is the  way the assaults tore through my understanding of memory.  It seems that the common understanding of trauma is that those events are to be recalled with the utmost clarity, due to the urgency and affective depth of trauma.  But in my experience it has been the opposite.

It has taken me years to even understand that what happened to me occurred without my consent.  That the feeling of violation and confusion was valid.  In my specific experience, it happened in a social context, so afterward I went back out and smiled and laughed and hid my confusion from myself.  I don’t remember how I engaged with my assaulter.  Just that the feeling of betrayal lingers still at the apex of my thighs.

It took me another couple of years to accept that I had been coming up with excuses and justifications for that person’s behavior.  So may people loved that person, believed that person to be the picture of morally founded righteousness.  Always the considerate one.  Always the one to offer help.

Always going above and beyond to seem the intellectual superior.

So. Two weeks ago, the thought struck me that the assault was planned.  And then, my therapist told me rapists always rape on purpose.  Opportunistic.  Calculated and expectant. An irreverent poacher and a most dangerous prey; the prey, to be consumed for instant gratification, satiation of hunger.  The prey’s bones and undigested sinew, to be tossed aside.  Buried.  Planted over with flowers that gleam, colorful and smiling at the passersby who are given no reason to believe my remains might lie beneath.  The flowers, to be later plucked themselves.

Always going above and beyond to seem the intellectual superior.

I am both the blossoms and the bones.

So. Talking it out with my therapist, I realized that I was creating these justifications for that person’s actions because beneath my superficial awe of their goodness as a person is the terror of speaking their name without a smile on my face.  What their friends might say.  What their family might say.  What my friends and family might say.

Sexual assault – rape  – is more than the initial violation.  It is the gaslighting, the suspicion, the confusion, the destruction of the ability to trust, and it is the realization that even (especially!) in crowds, one can feel terribly vulnerable.  It is the realization that memory can become nonlinear – my own memory of the events is broken apart like pieces of a puzzle thrown haphazardly  on the floor.

I want desperately to put it back together, to remember exactly as it happen, but whenever I get close, my whole body revolts against it and it is torn apart again.

The feeling of violation and confusion was valid.

I’d like to call myself a “survivor”, but that doesn’t fit quite right.  I am a victim of someone else’s crime.  The word survivor centers my own healing from the event, and while that might be a comfort to some, I would rather put the spotlight on that person’s guilt.  The term survivor assuages our society of its own discomfort with sexual assault, as though it can’t be as bad as it is because survivors’ can heal.

I am a victim of a crime.  Though, years later, I am just now realizing.

And I am still learning the depth of the word “unforgivable”, too.


The mentally ill know.
.     .    .   .  . ……………………….to imagine beyond………………………. . .  .   .    .      .

Do you have any questions you’ve been dying to ask me? Do you have any comments or suggestions?  Let me know in the comments below!

Follow me on Twitter @akaclouise or on Facebook at /AKA.CLouise!

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