I have tried telling this story a thousand times in my life. Each time, I cut myself off at the spots that were the hardest. The parts I don’t remember, the parts my brain blocked out from my subconscious, the parts that hurt the most.
The truth is, I don’t remember. Not fully, never fully. Instead, I get reminders. The smell of peaches. The taste of moonshine. The feel of a heavy body on mine. Sudden touches I never asked for. The smell of Old Spice deodorant. The way the house smelt and smell of alcohol on his breath.
I don’t remember saying yes and I don’t remember saying no. Truthfully, I don’t remember saying anything. Maybe due to the fact that I was so drunk I couldn’t even walk straight. I remember I loved him. That’s it, but I also remember flashbacks of that night hitting me like a freight train. I’d wake up screaming, crying sometimes when they were vivid. I couldn’t stand the smell of peaches for years, and once the flashbacks started, and questions about that night began to be answered, I couldn’t stand him either.
I was sixteen years old when I was raped by the guy I loved. I was sixteen years old when I discovered every terrible story you hear about, ended up happening to me. I was sixteen years old when I learned the real definition of trauma. I was sixteen. The highlight of my youth. The year I got my driver’s license. Sixteen.
I struggled a long time with moving on. Even longer learning ways to cope. Longer when it came to not acting like it didn’t happen. It’s been almost six years, and I still have flashbacks. I still smell the peaches. I can still feel his hands on my body. I can still smell the Old Spice. I still wake up screaming sometimes, other times crying.
The thing about trauma is that you learn to live with it. You learn as the years go by, that while you can’t change it, you can choose to turn it into something positive. Join a support group. Volunteer at a woman’s shelter. Help women who went through the same things you did. Learn how you want to cope, but don’t sit and dwell on events your brain purposefully hides from you. There’s a reason, a defense mechanism. It’s your brains way of protecting you from things that caused you pain.
It’s been six years and I eat peaches again. The smell of Old Spice deodorant doesn’t make me want to vomit. I still don’t like moonshine, now just because I find it nasty. Touches don’t overwhelm me anymore, they don’t trigger flashbacks. It’s been six years and I find myself doing better everyday. I find myself moving on more everyday.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault and violence please, do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help. You are not alone. You are in control of what happens after.
Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
Visit the link below regarding information on the types of support and help you have available to you: