How I learned To Stop Blaming Myself For Being Drugged And Sexually Assaulted

rape-culture

By Annabelle Ramos

It’s difficult for a woman to admit to herself, let alone to anyone else, that she has been sexually violated. At least, it was for me. Initial thoughts that came to mind after my own traumatic experience: this did not just happen… this is not who I am… this is not who I am… this is not who I am…

I thought, These things don’t happen to me. I have been so careful all my life–staying reserved, introverted, keeping away from the limelight so as to avoid unwanted attention.

However, a few years ago, during a trip to a developing country I found myself in a nightmarish situation. Trusting childhood friends who’d insisted on taking me to a local nightclub, and making sure to stay close to them all night, I never imagined that one of the people in our group would decide to harm me by slipping something into my drink.

In hindsight, I should have probably considered the fact that I could have been in danger, especially since I—being a visitor from a more prosperous foreign country—had something that these locals might covet: money. Still, keeping my wallet close to me had not been enough.

And, something happened.

sexual-assault

I awoke in a strange hotel room, with no recollection of the incident. The only thing I knew was the searing pain in my head, the confusion, other physical pains, and my emptied wallet. Worst of all was the feeling of self-hatred: I had been so stupid.

So, I dealt with this unspeakable trauma by denying it. I convinced myself that “this didn’t happen to me.” And I stuck with that story for years—almost a decade; until I finally really believed it. I went on with my life. I excelled in school, thrived in my career, continued to travel the world, got married and immersed myself in many soul-healing experiences.

I never spoke about “the incident” or thought about it ever again. In my mind “there was nothing to tell” and “nothing to think about” because “it did not happen.” Meanwhile, the trauma and grief over the loss of my dignity festered in my subconscious like a rotting corpse buried inside a dusty corner closet in the cellar. I had forgotten it was there, but it’s toxic effects couldn’t be ignored.

The toxic effects manifested themselves in my defensiveness, short-temperedness, paranoia and distrust of others. Still, I refused to acknowledge the source of my anxiety-driven behavior. Acknowledging it meant that “it” really happened. And if “it” really happened this meant that I was an idiot, a naive, juvenile moron who was robbed and taken advantage of. I blamed myself.

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It was only until I met another young girl who had a similar experience, when I changed my mind. This girl dealt with her trauma differently from the way I did—she attempted suicide, which thankfully she didn’t succeed at. This stirred something in me—the courage to come forward and share my own story. I wanted to let her know that she wasn’t alone. That she isn’t to be blamed. That she didn’t cause this.

More importantly, I wanted to emphasize to her that this experience didn’t define her. That she shouldn’t give this incident power over her, and that this doesn’t happen only to “the wrong kind of girls.” The fact is, this can happen to anyone. There is no formula in life that will create an ironclad guarantee for girls’ safety against sexual violence. There’s no list of hard and fast rules that will ensure this will never happen in a girl’s life. In fact, statistics indicate that one in five girls will experience sexual violence in their lifetime.

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One in five. That is a scary thought.

I write this for all those girls and women who’ve gone through the experience, and my main message is this: Please don’t ever hate or blame yourself, because YOU DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG. You didn’t cause this. This was done to you. There is no justification for this heinous act.

I also want to emphasize to please not think of yourself as a victim. Instead, think of yourself as a survivor, because you’re here. You’re alive. You got past that horrific moment. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to use this dark experience to empower you. Let’s take inspiration from Beyonce and the title of her latest visual album ‘Lemonade’.

Make lemonade out of your situation, do something magnificent with the strength you gained from surviving this. That’s what I did: I wrote a New Adult science fiction novel called Lost in the Echo about a bad-ass girl assassin in a dystopian world (the release date is October 2016.) It’s a relentless piece of work, and by that I mean I didn’t hold back when I wrote the killing scenes. I needed this project. Writing it was so cathartic for me.

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I imagined that the things I made my assassin character slay were the enemies in my own head: the voices that I began hearing after my admission of reality. The voices that chanted, “You’re disgusting, you’re defiled, you made a mistake that will haunt you forever…”

I deal with these voices still, through meditation, prayer, by surrounding myself with only my loving family and positive supportive people and, most powerfully, through writing. This experience is not who I am. Your experience is not who you are. You didn’t cause it. Nothing—absolutely nothing—justifies sexual violence. I don’t care what anyone says; not the clothes a woman wears, not her trusting nature, not the fact that she’s out late partying, or hanging with the wrong crowd. Bottom line: No one has a right to harm another human being.

The justifications and shaming need to stop, and we as a society could benefit from adopting a more compassionate and kinder attitude toward survivors of sexual violence. Suffice it to say, this kind of compassion must begin within ourselves. We must not deny our own selves compassion and love, no matter what mistakes we make. And no matter what experiences we go through in this life, we must give ourselves the grace to be human.

 

annabelle-ramos

Annabelle M. Ramos is a writer, wife, globetrotter and social activist. Her debut novel, Lost in the Echo is a New Adult fiction that’s set to be released in October 2016. She loves going on adventures with her husband and volunteering with organizations that focus on improving the lives and well-being of women from all walks of life.

Website: www.annabellemramos.com

Instagram: @annabellemramos

Twitter: @annabellemramos

One Comment

  1. Pingback: If You Think Alcohol Causes Rape, You've Just Bought Into The Victim-Blaming Narrative - GirlTalkHQ

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