For 2 years, before I was ready to talk about my rape, I avoided anything around the word rape, as if my mind would explode at the slightest idea of it. So I didn’t much get to think about why I didn’t report it- and I didn’t get questioned about it, since I didn’t tell anyone the truth about what had happened.
From the people I chose to share that with in the past months, I got that questioned few times, and carefully, creatively, talked around it. Answered it without really answering it. Not because I didn’t want to answer, but because I didn’t know the answer even for myself yet.
For weeks now, I journaled less and less and blogged less and less- the more things I was getting back in my life, the less I thought about my recovery. And every once in a while, it came back to bite me- being sad on a day where everything was going perfectly okay, being overly emotional, not sleeping well again, having nightmares. A lot less severe than 6 months ago, but they still prevented me from getting rest. I knew I have more work to do to fully recover, but I was so glad to be feeling good again, that I postponed it over and over.
But it’s time. So here I am. I started reading about rape and recovery again, and the topic just popped at me, so I think I’m ready to answer now.
So why didn’t I report? I didn’t report it to survive.
Want the long answer? Here it goes.
People have spend years and years to build society based on ethics and rights. Reporting rape is done to fight for your right to see the person that has done that to you punished, and prevent him from doing that again. To protect your right.
People assume you don’t report /wouldn’t report out of weakness and fear or lack of knowledge what to do. For me it was survival instinct and not of the sort you would think. It wasn’t because I was afraid of him- which I was, of course- it was because I was concerned for myself.
Knowledge I had. I’ve read books, watched movies, and most of all I had a mother that thought me to have my pride and leave at the slightest beginning of abusive situation. Parents can’t always protect though, and as it happens, I got into abusive relationship, of which I wasn’t sure how to get out of. It took me about a month to do so, so I stayed, but for as little as I could. I knew what rape is, and it always was very black and white that if anything ever happened I have to report it.
But lets fast forward to when the rape happened. I was in a foreign country, having to spend weeks looking for a job to have what to feed me. I didn’t know how traumatic rape is in reality. I was barely able to go on when it happened, and went in denial so that I can do all the job search. If I had went through all the rape kits and telling the story to the police and all that, I would break. I would have to do the therapy needed then. Get him to court. That would take weeks. Weeks without a job to pay my food and rent. May be I’ll get my justice, but at what price- I would have to get through the therapy I’m doing now then. I wouldn’t be able to have the brain strength to be living on my own and looking for a job there anymore. I would have crossed the ocean just to get back home, only broken and in need of counselling.
I’m not happy that I had to lose 2 years to even start getting better- but I don’t think him getting justice and me going through the grueling process of courts and testifying would have been better alternative. I survived to the best of my ability then. I preserved my mind so that it gets to heal somewhat before I have to go through all the recovery steps. And now, for that reason, I have been able to make many healthy steps these months. I’m not sure it would be so otherwise.
So without me knowing it, my mind had protected me.
For a long time I thought that has been a waste of time- denying things, having to work through them later, your mind lying to you enough so that you would go happily deluded about something.
Now I see it’s our brain protecting us. My brain was preserving what the rape has left of me, so that I can reclaim it again when I am strong enough and ready for it. I had to break down to do so, but at least I got to do it safely at home, where I had more possibility to take my time. If I had kept digging in the wound made by the rape over and over- rape kit, police, court- I am not sure I wouldn’t have lost a lot more pieces I wouldn’t be able to recover of the old me. I was too fragile then.
It’s not a weakness though, having chosen that. We can be as evolved as we wish, but from evolutionary standpoint we are still animals, and survival and preservation will always trump human rights. Being able to recover more of my past self and life was more important than seeing him behind bars. Hurting him would not fix all that was broken in me. I was preserving my sanity, even without really knowing it on the surface.
The only regret I have is wondering if I was the first one, and whether he may do that again to someone else one day. But I don’t have control over that anymore, separated by an ocean from him, without knowing his full name and even current address. I can only hope I was the only one.
And as far as I go, sure, a part of me would always wonder what if I had reported it. But having preserved my chance to recover enough without losing myself or the important parts of my life- preserving what was left of me to get to a point where I can have a full happy life without trauma- that is still priceless compared to briefly punishing someone for a crime which aftermath I can’t erase. I think recovering enough to have a happy life without shadows is a justice enough for me.
If it had happened in my country, if I still lived, or worked somewhere close to him, may be I would have done it differently. Or may be I would have reconsidered in few days, or few weeks, or more. But things having been as they are, I think I chose right.