Rain’s Story

EMILY JACOB

ReConnected Life

At first it felt liberating – I was finally finding a voice for a pocket of trauma in my history, which could be vented. That felt safe enough. No pressure, words in ink, move on.

It felt both sensible and a healing act, given my time spent in The Reconnected-Life Community which encourages no longer living a “half-life” but stepping forward with strength in the integrity of who I am, because of my story – not in spite of it.

Until I began to write my story – and the deluge of intensity drowned me. I felt the suffocation grip me, of all the voices in my head – in my history, this life and beyond – telling me how unsafe it was to unleash my voice, and speak of that rape experience.

All the “what if’s” crowded my mind.

“What if” my mother, or family saw the book? In fact, I wished the book to receive publicity and be promoted – so how in fact would I manage my presence therein, and “protect” my family from my inclusion?

This contradiction in my lived experience is what hurt me until now, in my every day being: to be visible, and heard – yet, keep the lid on secrets which I had internalised as those that “must never be disclosed”.

“What if” my mother was furious? I expect her to be, frankly. She never wanted me to report it in the first place – now, telling the truth of my life experience more than two decades on – how could that be “allowed” in contrast?

Given my mother’s approach that I must “move on with my life like nothing ever happened”, I somehow doubt she will appreciate the necessity of my inclusion, or finding my “voice” when it breaks that silence, and exposes hidden stories she preferred I would never share.

Sorry, Mom. If that helps. {I also matter}.

But honestly, saying this out loud? Feels like owning that I have indeed betrayed her by speaking out. So too, comes the comprehension in my soul that betraying my mom to stand up for me – for once – is the kind of “betrayal” that ought to have happened many years ago.

The next “What If” is that of the perpetrator – what if he saw it? The book, my chapter?

I still live in fear for my life, on so many levels, and in the small ways that break a spirit down when it continues day by day (even though we’re talking more than twenty years on)…. The sheer horror of seeing any trigger that reminds me of him (a newly opened pub with his surname in my area, a face akin to his – shifting up close to me – where i was working out in the gym), the questions, “what if?”, “what if?”, “what if” this brings “more of him” back into my world….

Furthermore, the rise of my voice feels like an occurrence that I cannot quite control, especially in the printed press – once spoken, there is no “out”… there is no means to erase what lives on in writing to the wider world. And yet, the indelible iron-pressed stigma etched on my soul, my skin, my voice – will not abate. I will speak out – I will break this silence, and free myself as I have never done before.

I find myself desperately grappling since the events of rape in my life, with how it is I can define myself outside of the role of “victim”, or “survivor”. When we use language, there is no comfort zone, you are either “this” or “that” – an abject placement lying in-between that is not yet named, cannot be identified. I must choose. {Even where choice is absent}.

In fact, feeling like I am a “survivor” is not something I have yet managed to embrace. In my soul, I do not identify myself with the “victim” archetype, but I can clearly see that even to the present day, my experience harbours lingering wounds which ooze at times and cause me excruciating pain. That wounding has driven me deeper and deeper into both self-suffocating silence and reclusiveness, a spell I struggle to break.

My effort in writing a chapter for “to Report or Not to Report” took all the courage I could muster, in peeling out my voice and stating those words as ink from pen. It was remarkably short, yet loaded, had I felt more capable of allowing the words to unwind… At that time, I was still in shock with my daring to write the words I did for publication. I stand now and witness those lines as marks emerging within me, towards a freedom of self for which there is no turning back.

Yet “What If” I have to contend with the terror of my broader traumatic history, somehow condemning me if ever brought to light?

I wish to state the exact dimensions of my grief – of the terror that holds me hostage inside (survival mechanism), and suffocates me now less from the outside, but as a residual imprint of the culture within which we live, where victim-blaming remains profuse: the facts of my biography include not only the rape which I did report, but several other assaults and rapes which were never disclosed, on the basis of fear, shock, or denial. My life history as a girl child in this patriarchal culture, quite literally lined me up to be victimised repeatedly, in silence.

The final “What If”? What If I still kept silent  – could I live with myself, and still survive? For me, that answer is no. What I know for sure, as my earth years accumulate with the value of experience and self-reflection that can bring: I am not alone in this struggle, in this anguish or devastation and pain. This is a shared experience – though so many of us have suffered through trenches of horror, or endured the brutality of sexual assault, rape, or any abuse “journey” alone; together – we survive. Next, I hope one day I can write: we thrive.

On sale NOW! Royalties to the charities chosen by the survivor-authors.
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