TW: sexual assault This is something I was (wrongly) taught from one of the worst experiences in my life. It's why I advocate as hard as I do for people to be heard and believed. The biggest example of truth not equaling to validity occurred during the aftermath of my rape six years ago. The rapist was my best friend at the time- someone I'd known since I was 11 years old and who'd been a brother to me for many years. I'm going to fast forward and spare you all the details for now; I'm sure I'll speak in depth about what happened at a later date. A few days after it happened, I had my closest friends come over to talk and to tell them about what happened. These were my core friends I'd had since high school and we did everything together and I saw them as family above my own blood. It was unanimous that what had happened was unacceptable and that my rapist needed to be cut off from the group. Simple enough, right? I mean, I really thought it was black and white. Down the road after most of those friends had inexplicably started avoiding me, I found out they were still hanging out with him- a literal goddamn rapist. Picture this: One of my friends had said he was going on a vacation with his girlfriend and we'd hang out after. Cool, I was going to be out of town for a bit, anyways! I was going to be heading down to Calgary to get a tattoo completed by my artist who'd moved a few months prior. I was out for sushi with my boyfriend at the time after my tattoo appointment, when at the till he went paler than I'd ever seen him. I asked him what was wrong and he simply shook his head. I turned around to see none other than my group of friends all together, laughing it up with my former best friend. One of the unluckiest and most painful experiences I had in my life all came down to some sort of cosmic joke involving perfect timing and an entirely different city than any of us were from. Unfortunately, it got worse from there. My best girl friend (who was dating one of the guys from that group) was the one who had to meet me and tell me that everyone was still in contact with my aggressor, and to be the one to give all the excuses as to why they were. Not once did they, aside from one of them, have the guts to talk to me themselves. And some time after that- I also found out from her that my rapist had told a different account of the night the assault happened. I figure that's why I no longer had support, and the rest I'd heard was probably just sugar they wanted to use make themselves feel better about their decision. Who knows. Holy shit. I'd become a statistic- the girl who experiences sexual assault and then gets alienated. I knew it happened to people, but I guess I'd loved and trusted those friends so much that I couldn't even begin to imagine them doing that to me. I was speechless and, above that, in terrible emotional pain. I'd told the truth and it got me... nowhere. I felt like my trauma wasn't enough and, in turn, neither was I. My truth wasn't valid to some and I'd taken that lesson to heart. I was taught that even if I told people the truth, it didn't mean it would be believed- no matter the severity. It's been a few years and I've managed to overcome the worst of the hurt that group inflicted on me- I can even say I've mostly gotten over it. I've remained friends with one of them, I talk to another mostly out of necessity because he's still my friends partner and the other- I never spoke to again. I've found better friends and better support along the way and the hole that was once there is just a filled-in grave.
I know now that my trauma is enough, and so am I. I also know that the truth is just that- it's the truth and nobody can take that away from me. I wasn't the goddamn problem. The problem was a piece of shit who couldn't keep his dick to himself. And the problem was a group of rape apologists, who not only sided with a rapist, but were cowards about it. I guess it just turned out that the people I surrounded myself then hadn't been the people I thought they were and now that I'm away from them, I'm better off. Back then I thought I lost my friends, but did I really lose anything aside from dead weight? Maybe they've grown since then and, you know, I hope they have- that ain't any of my business, though. They have their lives and I have mine. I'll carry what they all did to me forever, I know that. Sometimes it rears its ugly head and I have to sort through it all again. That's okay, though, that's part of the process. At least the wound is no longer gaping and bleeding, but a faded scar. The lessons I learned with time apply to all of you reading this, too. Your trauma is enough. You are enough. Your truth is enough. Maybe not for everyone, but it will for the people who deserve to be in your life. x Shay