Content Notice: This is a post about the lasting, indefinite “side effects” of being raped & experiencing intimate violence. Read (or not) accordingly.

Chuck Wendig’s Rape vs. Murder hit me really hard. Not because it explains anything I didn’t already know about the problems with rape jokes, really, but because of the stark truth he finishes with.

But consider this:

You get to not be a rape victim.

They, however, are not afforded that luxury. Ever again.

That may be the most important consideration of them all.

Those words were a punch to the solar plexus. I couldn’t breathe. I had acknowledged, intellectually, that this was a thing I would always have to face, to one degree or another, for quite a while, but the stark truth that I will never set down “survivor”? That, someday, this may bother me less but the word will never stop being true? Brought home all this shock and anger and betrayal at the cosmic unfairness of that fact.

I will never not be a person who was raped. It will always be a part of who I am, sitting at the base of my spine, waiting to well up when I hear the wrong song or a casual joke or a TV show feels like getting “edgy”. It is not a thing I can give up or quit.

This isn’t a particularly happy post. I often try to write something with a helpful or productive spin to it, provide some kind of advice, or guide, but this is just about the reality of what it is to be me. The reality of what it is (or can be like) to be a survivor. The violation and control don’t stop with the physical act. They don’t stop once you’ve gotten home or when you’ve reported. There is no expiration date on that trauma. All you can do is wait and take what measures you can to feel safer and hope.

Therapy has been hugely, hugely helpful for me. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that hope is foolish or misplaced or wrong-that hope is what keeps me going. But what I am saying is that it’s a hard, long slog and sometimes it feels like foundering and foundering with no real progress. I guess what I am saying, really, is that there’s no timetable for “getting better” from being raped. There’s no deadline for when you stop being angry and feeling violated.

I don’t know that we talk much about these negative emotions. I know that I, personally, have to battle the socialization that says if I’m not being fun and bubbly and entertaining than my words don’t have a point. But this is a thing I want to be really public about: I’m still hurt and angry, years later. The severity of my triggers ebbs and flows, but I have accepted I will probably carry them with me, in one form or another, for the rest of my life. This, for me, is the harshest reality of being a survivor-that, thanks to one night, years ago, the shape of my future changed without my say, permanently.