It seems weird referring to you as “you.” The people I’ve told my story to called you a monster, a pig, garbage, trash, violent, malevolent, and some other words that are in French. You ruined an entire time period of my life. You made me feel worthless like I was garbage. I felt like I didn’t even deserve the air I needed to survive. I wonder if you know how badly you altered the trajectory of my life, because of you I began to cut my hips. I forced myself to bleed because you made me feel so numb I craved any kind of feeling, even if it was pain.
I wonder some evenings when I’m laying in bed at night, experiencing flashbacks, as I sweat and tremble if it even affected you. Do you remember how my skin felt? Because I remember how yours felt, dry and cracked as you touched me where I didn’t want to be touched. Do you remember my smell? Because I remember yours, sweat mixed with pine, I remember the smell of your breath. I remember everything. After a year of suppressing these memories, after a year living in denial, after a year of suffering in silence, I’m here to say simply:
I FORGIVE YOU.
I forgive you, I forgive you for stealing my innocence. I forgive you for making me hate myself. I forgive you for making me feel less than. I forgive you for making me feel empty. I forgive you. I forgive you.
I didn’t forgive you at first. I hated you at first. I wanted you dead, I wanted to make you feel as empty and worthless as you made me feel. I wanted you to suffer. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t testify against you, I couldn’t send you to jail. Because even then, some part of my heart had already forgiven you. The people that knew were in rebellion, they wanted “justice.” Justice for who? I’m not sure. They weren’t screaming justice for me. They didn’t care about my mental health or my well being, they just wanted you to suffer. For that, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry people learned about it and judged and hated you for it. I’m sorry people assumed things about you that weren’t true.
I wonder if you know how much this has changed me. The fact I struggle and fight myself in order to trust people, especially men. That I still have nightmares about it. That for years I searched for your face in a crowd because I was so afraid. That when anyone mentioned you or I would see you I would leave, go to some place alone, and just sob. Sometimes I would have a panic attack, others I wouldn’t. I’ve learned how to defend myself because of what you did, I know how to fight now. Yet, I’m still fearful. Not of you, but that it could happen again. That I can easily be a target. I can’t go anywhere alone anymore because I’m so scared of what could happen.
But, because of you, I’ve found a cause worth fighting for. I’ve been able to become an advocate for other victims of rape and molestation, I’ve been able to relate to an entire demographic that otherwise I wouldn’t be able to. I’ve become a passionate feminist that works on creating a world that’s safe for everyone against attacks.
Because of you, I am stronger than I could’ve ever planned. Because of one incident when I was 12 set me on a path of pain and destruction that I made into a path of joy and forgiveness. There are still mornings where I wake up and I feel worthless because of you, then I remember that I am radiant and unstoppable and I shed the yoke that you gave me and I move on. You may have changed my life and capsized me, but I became strong enough to set my own course.
-The girl who’s life you changed forever.