It’s not my fault.

Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night thinking it’s you touching me – your hand tucks my hair behind my ear or rests on the small of my back – and I want to scream. Instead, I freeze. Everytime. It takes a moment or two to realize that it’s Shawn, not you, and I want to be relieved. But I’m not. I’m more terrified than ever. 

I didn’t want to talk about my experience for a while. I wasn’t sure how to speak about it. I’ve been so terrified of what might happen if I’m honest rather than focusing on what will happen if I continue to hide what I’m experiencing. In hiding and lying about my emotions, I’m isolating myself and isolation won’t get me further in life. I’m tired of being scared. I’m tired of feeling trapped. I’m done. 

I need to accept the reality that I am a victim of sexual assault. I need to accept that this man chose to harm me. Because my mind has a fucked up way of twisting my words, if I don’t accept that he made a conscious decision to hold me down and rob me of my peace of mind, I will never be able to accept that it’s not my fault. 

He had this control over me that I don’t know how to explain. He made me feel special and loved. He told me I was beautiful. He told me that he wanted to be with me forever and that I was the only one he could see himself being with. I really thought he cared about me and he took advantage of that. He would constantly flirt with other women in front of me and then compare me to them. He would ignore my calls and messages for days. Worst of all, he constantly pressured me to have sex with him, no matter how much I refused. 

Fuck, I hate myself for not fighting. Everyone talks about fight or flight in emergencies and I freeze. I fucking freeze. I hate myself for freezing. But if I’m being realistic, I don’t know if I was capable of anything else. In working with a therapist at Toronto General Hospital, I learned that freezing is actually a normal response to trauma. I wasn’t able to fight against him – I was too sick with my eating disorder and he was simply too strong – and I wasn’t able to get away. My mind did the only thing it was capable of doing: finding safety in itself. My body was there but my mind was gone. 

I don’t know if it matters but I really did try to get away from him. It was just too late. I became his. “You’re not getting away that easy,” he whispered in my ear. 

I blamed myself for a long time, and sometimes still struggle to pull myself out of these toxic thoughts. I harmed myself because I thought that I was the one that had caused all of this trouble. I believed that I was the root of everything wrong in my world. I’ve learned, with the help of a therapeutic team, that it’s not my fault. It’s not my fault he raped me. 

It’s not my fault. It’s hard to say that and actually believe it. I used to just tell people I knew it wasn’t my fault just so they wouldn’t feel bad for me because I genuinely believed it was my fault. Then, I would just go back into my dissociative mind-space and convince myself otherwise. It’s quite amazing actually, the lengths my mind has gone to to uphold this belief that I was to blame. 

You see, I’ve tried to find every possible explanation to prove that it’s my fault. I actually made a list of potential reasons to blame myself for my sexual assault and learned that there is no logical explanation or reason to place the blame on myself. It makes no sense. None. No actual evidence to prove that I had been at fault. 

He’s the one that made the decision to hold me against my will. 

He’s the one that decided to ignore my begging and pleading. 

He’s the one that took away my choice. 

So why do I have to live with it?

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