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It’s been a few years, yet sometimes I feel as though it was yesterday. I think the most difficult part of my experience is accepting everything and being ok with not being ok sometimes. I'm still trying to get used to the word rape.

Still. Every time I hear it my body literally tenses up and I feel as though everyone knows I’ve been raped. I get this overwhelming feeling of embarrassment I guess; I’m not sure that’s the right word. But I've realized when I speak about myself being raped I say things like, “when that situation happened," "when he hurt me," phrases that aren’t the word “rape.” I wonder if other people have this issue too. Not that I talk about it all the time but I do think about it enough at least.

Recently I have been trying to just say the word. Because it’s ok to say it. In a weird way it feels good to say it. Rape doesn’t define me. I think for a long time the word made me feel like a victim, which yes I am, but I am no longer going to let that word have a hold over me. Because I know that I am strong and shouldn’t let a simple word make me feel weak. I am proud of myself for being able to speak about it when I want; it’s healthy to. I feel it’s ok not to always be ok. I’m human I can’t always be smiling. I realize things about myself and connect things to my rape all of the time. Like simply realizing triggers, we all have them and that’s ok that’s normal. Like how many times do we all feel uncomfortable when a man is getting too flirty with us? Or how many times do you get flashbacks so randomly and have to deal with it in the moment when it’s so inconvenient, or have nightmares?

I want women to know that crying, or being in touch with your feelings, or feeling paranoid in public when you’re alone, or having slight trust issues with men doesn’t mean you’re weak. All of this is normal. We were disrespected. Confronting and dealing with your emotions is healthy and I believe it's a sign of strength. Recognizing things about yourself are big steps to recovery. These feelings don’t just go away overnight. Who knows how long it will take us to feel 100% or if we ever will...the point is staying positive and hopeful that one day we will feel 100% better. And that we can hear and talk about rape, because it matters. Our feelings matter, and we are not alone️.

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