Ever since the first time I was sexually assaulted by someone I was dating, my main obstacle for telling people is the fear that they won’t understand why what happened is such a big deal to me. And you know what? I get it. I used to wonder all of the time why this affected me so much even though it really could’ve been much worse.
Only once did my clothes come off while being sexually assaulted.
The two sexual assaults that happened when I was a kid didn’t affect me very much.
I knew all of the people who did it.
Two of them learned from it and were truly sorry.
Most of the time it was “only” people touching me without my consent.
I was never raped.
They didn’t physically hurt me or threaten me.
None of the relationships were abusive.
People have usually believed and supported me.
My symptoms aren’t bad enough to be considered PTSD.
I have post traumatic growth.
I’m in a loving, respectful relationship.
My boyfriend is helping me work through my triggers.
I got three years of essentially free therapy at college.
I didn’t go through the reporting process which is often referred to as the “second rape”.
My college had a lot of opportunities for activism regarding sexual assault.
The list goes on.
I’m damn lucky. I know it. But you know what? That doesn’t automatically mean that I’m not going to be affected by what happened to me. To be honest, if just one of my experiences with sexual assault had happened, I wouldn’t be very affected overall. It only got overwhelming and detrimental to my mental health when it happened over and over again. My last experience with sexual assault was the tipping point. Before then I was managing pretty well. Plus, I was sexually assaulted in a similar way by many people and felt powerless to stop it. And trust me, I tried. So now I get reminded of those experiences when people touch my chest or the side of my ribs.
But I shouldn’t have to explain why what happened to me affected me a lot. Sexual assault is very serious whether it’s “just” nonconsensual touching with a significant other or a full blown gang rape. I hate to compare sexual assaults because no matter what it’s going to be a negative experience, and people have every right to be upset by that. I’m thankful every day that I don’t have a larger load to deal with when it comes to sexual assault, but what happened to me is still a big deal.
Thank you for reading this article. You can find my backstory here.