Yesterday, I was told a rape joke by an acquaintance who knows my story.
He then got mad when I didn’t find it funny.
“I thought you were over it,” he said.
Firstly, I never said I got over it.
Trying to move on, yes.
Over it, no.
I don’t know how you get over something like that:
He slammed my locker shut every day. He teased me relentlessly. He asked me out. I said “no.” That’s not the way I wanted to be treated.
To him, a simple ‘no’ was the end of the world. He decided I needed to be punished. He got his friends and they raped me in the school bathroom.
As soon as they finished, they left as quickly as they came. And I was left to pick up the pieces. The shattered pieces of my dignity fit in the palm of my hand. I washed off the traces of their crime. I covered up the developing bruises, and I went on my way.
I told no one.
They told me no one would ever love me, and I was eager to prove them wrong. So when my best friend asked me out too soon after, I eagerly said yes. I needed to prove them wrong, but I tried too soon.
We were too young. I was a mess, and I didn’t know how to help myself. But I kept my secret for over a year.
I didn’t want anyone to know. I didn’t want to be blamed.
I started cutting and starving to erase their memory from my mind. My parents wondered why their showers were always cold.
(I was trying to burn away their touch from my skin)
We’re out of razors already?
(I was trying to carve a new person from my hollowed out soul)
I was a broken-down frame of a burned out house, and I needed to rebuild myself again.
And I needed to do it from the ground up. I needed to figure out who I was as a person; who did I want to be?
We needed to break up; it was a long time coming.
And almost seven years later, I’m standing on the other side of this inferno. Like a phoenix, I’ve risen from the ashes. I’m standing on a mountaintop, surveying the demolished parts of me, which serve as a reminder for who I was.
I’ve forgiven. I’ve rebuilt. I’ve stopped cutting, started eating. And I have pretty much healed.
But I don’t know how I will ever “get over this.”
I’ve stopped being a victim. I’ve started living. I focus on how far I’ve come, how much I’ve learned, where I want to go.
Firstly, I don’t know if I will ever get over this.
Secondly, I am not a punchline.
There’s nothing funny about any of this.
It’s a cliché that shouldn’t have to be repeated, and yet, here we are.
We have to teach this old dog new tricks because I’m tired of wearing this old hat.
I can’t let you laugh this off.
There’s no punchline in being a statistic.
I refuse to be the victim, and I will fight you tooth and nail if you try to pin this on me:
Capital S for “Slut.”
My name is not “Bitch.”
I refuse to be somebody’s unwanted leftovers.
Out of the broken-down frames of a burned-out house, I have built myself again.
Like a phoenix, I rise from the ashes.
I am Everest.
I am stronger now than I was before.
But I refuse to be a punchline.
I am not a punchline.