This is a message to all sexual assault survivors: there’s no guarantee that it will not happen to you again.
You may have gone through the stages of grieving your before self. You may have found a good man who loves you and understands that you lash out when you feel threatened or hurt. You may have rebuilt your life. You may have bid adieu to toxic people who use your story of struggle for their own (financial) agenda. You may have developed defense and comfort mechanisms for your trauma.
There’s no guarantee
Wherever you are in life after surviving sexual assault, it can still happen to you.
And you will be surprised, just like the first time. Maybe even more so than the first time. You will be taken aback by who it would be: men are wising up and donning the clothes of allies.
They will praise your courage. They will use the language of political correctness. They will beat their breasts and apologize for being born male.
But they will also look at you from head to toe, grinning lecherously. When they lead you to the stage, towards the platform you are crafting for yourself book by self-published book, they will touch you in the small of your back. They will hog your time after your “wonderful performance” (translate: your advocacy is a branding stunt), and ask stupid questions like
What are your thoughts on abortion?
To them, abortion is a Rorschach test. They will try to gauge how radical you are. How cruel to fetuses. How selfish.
Worse, it’s that lake/virginity test in high school, where boys will see if you will give them access to your blossoming breasts and other orifices. If you will let them stick their tongues in your mouth. If you will be “open-minded”.
There’s no guarantee
That you will know that you’re being harassed again as it is happening. That you even know how to respond better, defend yourself better, fight back better.
You will review the scene in your mind again and again, wondering where you started lowering your guard.
You will try to remember your words, whether you said something that admitted an opening to your more fragile selves. The way vampires in film can enter the house once the owner invites them in.
You will be angry. You will regress, go back to the time of darkness and rage. You will dissociate. You will want to shut down.
But when you do, you let them win. All without them even knowing the gravity of their action to your psyche. You let them defeat your spirit.
Then truly, there is no guarantee.
That there will be continuity. Of storytelling and coming out and being brave and creating a safe space for yourself and for others.
If you stop, there is no guarantee that they will stop abusing their gatekeeper status.
If you stop writing, there is no guarantee that the next generation of writers will not inherit that male hubris of getting away with things because they are men and good writers.
If you let them win, your message won’t reach other girls who are hiding secret stories of shame inside armors of romanticism and self-hate and aggression.
Make peace that it happened again, even when you think you have reached a place of strength. Especially when you think you have reached a place of strength. There is nothing you did, or could ever do, that would make you deserve to be hurt by men. It is still not your fault.
Be done with carrying the guilt meant for the harasser.
Don’t stop, and keep spreading this message.