The Number

For the longest time, I had no interest in counting up the exact number of times I’ve been sexually assaulted. What does it matter? And besides, in order to find that number I would need to bring back all of the memories.

Well, this evening I suddenly felt like trying to put a number on it. Plus, I felt mentally strong enough to do it. Before today, I thought it was between 15 and 20. I was way off.

It was an estimate, but it looks like I’ve been sexually assaulted more than 30 times. People suck.

It was of course a shock to see the number go higher and higher as I read through my list… but it wasn’t even all that upsetting. I was mostly just frustrated and saddened.

Therapists say that even their patients who have been through the worst of the worst will downplay their own pain and suffering by saying “It could’ve been worse.” I always felt that way as well. Most of my experiences weren’t life-altering. However, the quantity does make me feel more justified in being hurt by what happened to me. I’ve been through a lot. Sometimes it’s hard to remind myself that any survivor, no matter what they’ve been through, is justified in feeling hurt by what happened. They are also justified in whatever amount of time they need to heal.

Most of the times when I was sexually assaulted weren’t terrible. They’re not even worth mentioning here because on their own, they affected me so little. However, thirty is a lot. The damage built up over time. And it doesn’t help that a handful of the times I was sexually assaulted were very traumatic. If anything, having this number will help me remind myself to be gentle and patient.

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