Within a week, I was fortunate enough to find some help. My gynecologist, from whom I sought treatment after the attack, recognized I was in crisis and helped me find the right therapist. I decided to tell more of my friends to garner more support. Instead, I felt more blame and shame.
As I told more people, I endured unsupportive responses. Engaging so early had its cost. It felt like I was bleeding myself dry. I thought I really needed them to believe and support me. All I really needed was to believe and support myself. It was not and is not my fault.
With some of my friends, it seemed like it was easy to ask how I was doing and then easier to ignore me if I gave an honest and uncomfortable answer. The truth is no one is prepared for trauma because no one talks about trauma.
Still, I found another police officer for my statement. I told my story but never heard back about any investigation or followup. Although it hurts, I tell myself I still stood up for myself. Sometimes, it helps. For the most part, photography has helped. It has bridged the gap by allowing my voice I thought was forever silenced to be heard. Over time, I discovered what I ultimately crave. I crave a connection to myself that I lost.
As I continue this photo project, I am learning that rape is not just an assault of the mind and body but also of the voice. I always think about how my life could have been different if had I known back then a story like what ended up happening to me. Maybe when I was raped when I was 18, I would have understood what happened to me. I might have gotten help. Maybe, when I was 27, I wouldn’t have been raped. Maybe it wouldn’t have taken that rape to get me into therapy, where I would begin to make sense of the traumas in my life.