, ,

I clicked on his picture, and of course it was him. The same eyes. Same goatee. He is in a relationship. He has two children. At first, I got sick and then the tears came. I wasn’t panicked or scared like I used to be. This time every crevice of my body filled with pain. This is a different pain than grief. It’s not like when someone dies or you lose an important relationship, and you feel like it might be impossible to go on without someone. No, this is the pain of living with the knowledge of that person for so many years. This is the pain of having gone on, having lived and survived despite them and what they took from you. This is the debilitating pain and recognition of all of the women who have been raped, who are being raped, and who will be raped. And we always will.

At first I didn’t recognize him. It’s incredible how our bodies, our minds, try to protect us. The person who has haunted me most, impacted every decision I’ve ever made, who taught me what real fear was, and I still thought, “No, that’s not how he spells his last name.” It’s because Facebook says that he’s 32 now. It’s funny, over the years; I’ve made him older. I always thought, or rather, began to believe, that when I was 13 he was 18, but that’s not true. He must have been 16 about to turn 17 when he raped me, and the reason I imagine him as 18, is because that’s the last time I saw him. His birthday is July 11th. I remember every year. Of course he was 16.

Read more at The Huffington Post where this essay was reprinted with permission from Luna Luna, where it first appeared.

Listen to me discuss this essay, rape culture, and consent on VoiceAmerica Between the Synapse Radio: November 06, 2014: Rape Culture in America