I have written this letter in my head a couple of hundred times, while walking, while driving, while sitting, napping, working... I have not been able to put my finger on the reason for my almost constant anxiety, my fear that something awful is going to happen, has happened, will happen. I find terrible moments from my past popping up to plague me, things I thought I was over and done with...and then I read a word that explained it all. Retraumatization. That's what I have been experiencing,that's what has been happening in my head, that 's what has caused my stomach to flip with fear and cause me to catch my breath as my heart rate rises.Re-traumatized. That's what I am.
That's why I feel the hands reaching around behind me to grab my breasts, the frightening and painful clutch of my crotch by a stranger in a crowd, the yellow glow of parking lights on the worst night of my life.
When I drive around what I felt was a peaceful neighbor hood, I see signs that I have been living in a bubble, with a misguided belief that my neighbors are people who would be appalled if they knew about the things that have happened to me, that they would condemn and vilify the criminals who have assaulted me, first as a young girl of 13 years, then at 17, and finally the year I turned 18. Still a child.
But I see the signs now and I feel that my kindly neighbors would blame me, or make excuses for the perpetrator of these horrible acts. They would defend or excuse the actions.They would say " Oh that was so long ago, people change, he didn't mean it/do it,she's making it up".
I see those signs and I feel again the gut wrenching horror of being raped and knowing that I
can not tell anyone,that some how it was my fault;that the bakery owner who grabbed the breasts of a thirteen year old felt that he had the right to assault her;that the stranger in the crowd thought it was funny and fun to grab a girl by her genitals. I see those signs and I feel that those people would condone such actions, are condoning those actions.
Retraumatized many times a day while driving around making my deliveries. When I read the word, and the article that explained this phenomenon and realized that I was not alone, that there are many of us feeling the same way, reliving our nightmares, I was relieved. And saddened. Because of the signs I see every day that show me that people don't care about girls like me. That they believe in the monster whose name is on those signs.