My heart is tender tonight. I wrote this piece a couple of weeks back, but didn’t have the courage to post it. Until today. Today I learned that the rapist who got sentences to 6 months was released after 3. And it made me angry and so sad. My mind is furiously searching for the good that can come out of this situation. And my heart is with the woman that went through procedures and medical examinations, while all she wanted was to take a shower and then had to see this piece of insanity unfold.
I bow to you. I honor you. You are incredible, resilient, so strong and amazing.
This is not an easy piece to write, but I feel a pull, like there are other survivors out there, who are at a different point of my journey, our journey and need to hear what I have to tell them.
It took me 10 years
10 years to feel strong enough, be strong enough to deal with a situation I found myself in when I was 19 years old. 10 long years the memories and feelings connected with this situation were locked, somewhere safe inside my mind. The situation I’m talking about is the night I was raped.
2015 was not an easy year for me and my family. Financial troubles and a hard pregnancy with me being on crutches for most of the first half of the year caused a bad bout of depression. I refocused on what was really important after I lost consciousness in front of my then 2 year old son and decided that enough was enough. So I opened the box of tools I had filled over the last 15 years with beautiful, helpful and yes, also painful methods that help me to get out of my deep hole every single time. One of the perks of living with depression for so long is that I know what to do once I realise that I’m in a bout.
Slowly I started climbing up again, taking daily time to meditate, searched for a yoga class to get some gentle exercise and me time. And I started getting better. The relief, the joy on my husband’s face, his words: „You are back. Oh I missed you so much.“
And then one day, while cleaning the kitchen, I browsed youtube for some music and I came across Lady Gaga’s new song. I adore this woman and her music and so, instead of continuing to clean I stoped and watched the video. The song is called „Til it happens to you.“ If you don’t know it, here is the video:
So I stand in my kitchen, I watch the music video and the next thing I know is that the song is over and tears are streaming down my face. So many of them. And then pictures, memories start flooding my mind. Suddenly everything makes sense. I finally received the missing puzzle piece that completes the picture of the darkest time in my life, the year I lost control over my life.
More memories coming up
On my way to yoga that night more pictures, more memories are emerging and I can barely hold it together, not bursting in tears during class, processing the information I just received. Coming home I climb up on my husbands lap, curling up like a little kitten, and while he’s holding me I tell him. And I cry.
I tell him about the night I was raped, the night that I had so much to drink and smoked so much marijuana that I could not move anymore. The night that the boys, who I thought were my friends, decided that I don’t need to be conscious or able to reply and just went ahead and used my body for their amusement, one after the other.
I can’t remember how I got home, into my empty flat. I remember sitting there, waiting for my water to get hot so I can take a shower and scrub my body, scrub away the shame, the guilt, the fear, the burning sensation of kisses I never wanted to feel.
I remember this NOW
I didn’t when people started asking if everything was alright, if anything had happened because I was so different.
It was new year’s eve, the end of 2005, the start of 2006. I was excited to finish my school and follow my heart’s desire, going to the Stage School to train as musical actress, singing, dancing, being on stage every day. Because I knew I would leave in a couple of months I pushed all my friends away, so it wouldn’t hurt as much when it was time to say goodbye. I moved out from my mother’s house with 16, removing myself from a toxic home environment and so I was living alone, providing for myself through working any free time I had outside of school. I made some bad choices and surrounded myself with a group of „friends“ who just came together to consume drugs and more drugs. And I became one of them. So on that new year’s eve I joined them at a house party after I got incredibly drunk on another party beforehand. That’s where it happened.
I decided to forget
School didn’t start until the second week of January and the bars and places I worked (4 altogether at that time) also didn’t need me for a couple of days. I was alone. That meant I had enough time to convince myself that all of this had just been a night mare. Something I dreamt, I made up and that I need to forget.
And so I did. Well, my conscious mind did. My body and my subconscious, not able to deal with this massive trauma in any other way, answered to my hiding tactic with total lock down. Just before my oral exams I started stuttering. I didn’t talk much. I lost weight like crazy because I didn’t eat any more. I became pale and slept every free minute I had between work and school.
Somehow I finished my exams and headed to Stage School. There I was lost. The girl that went through the audition process and was accepted the summer before didn’t exist anymore. Instead I was a small bundle of nerves, deeply in pain.
My cousin visited me and brought me into a psychiatric clinic. They knocked me out with medication without really knowing what was wrong, preventing me from killing myself.
What followed were several years of therapy, medication, ever changing diagnosis. One of them was that I was so ill that I would never be able to live on my own because of my condition. I went through 3 different clinics until I had enough. I wanted out and so I did everything to get into a rehab program where I would learn a job.
Finding my soul partner gave me the motivation to slowly and controlled stop taking my medication. And the unconditional love of my man finally got me into a state that I didn’t want to try and kill myself anymore.
...to November 2015. It took me 10 years to recover from that trauma, 10 years to be strong enough to release those memories, to start healing this wound consciously. And that’s what I did when they came back, explaining so much of what had happened that year. I concentrated on healing with every fiber of my being. I forgave these boys for what they did to me, as much as I forgave myself for bringing me into this situation. At first I tried to blame it solely on myself, but then I saw this brilliant video about consent:
And I realised, once more, that this shouldn’t have happened. Then I went to my hypnotherapist and worked with her through the last bit. And then I started talking about it. And I realised that there are so many more of „us“.
And it made me angry and so sad. What can I do? What can I do? Yes, I can teach my sons about sexual consent. But there must be more that I can do.
So I’m sharing my story with you today
I’m sharing my story to show you that the things that happened in the past don’t define me, don’t define you. That you have a choice, every single day. And if you are in that dark place right now, thinking about killing yourself, stuck in fear and guilt and shame, I want you to know that you are not alone. That I have been there too. But there is a way through. And together we stay strong.
Start talking about it and I guarantee you that you will find that in the end it wasn’t your fault. Not your choice. But by reliving it every single day in your head you give it so much power over your life. It’s time to let it go. I’m not saying this is easy. There will be a time where it is painful and raw and very sensitive. But then, when you moved through the pain and dealt with the feelings that this work brings up there will come a time where you can see that this was just another experience, shaping you into the person you are today.
And you’ll be able to love yourself again
This is where I am now, where I feel strong enough to share this with you, 10 months after the memories of that horrific night came up. Over 10 years afterwards I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today without this experience and everything that followed it. I couldn’t help others working through their stuff if I wouldn’t have had stuff to work through myself. I’m not the girl that was raped, I’m not the crazy girl that had to be locked away.
I am me, a strong, wild, free woman, knowing that I am able to deal with whatever life throws at me. And today I can look back in balance with peace in my heart and love for the abundance I have in my life now. I want you to know that this is possible for you too. And that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
If you want to connect with me, no matter where on this journey you are, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I want to hear from you!
Meet the author:
Annika is an Intuitive Happiness Coach, Motivational Speaker, Writer and Visual Artist, supporting leaders and creators to connect to their essence and their divine power within. She lives with her husband and her two little boys in the magical South-West of Ireland.
Her days are filled with love and laughter, making time instead of chasing it, long walks in nature and good, wholesome food. She deeply believes in learning, growing and changing every day, in divine timing, happiness through presence, equality and celebrating diversity. She wants to live in a world where we all act and react from love and make conscious choices how we live our lives. She’s doing her part to make a difference over at www.happyplaceliving.com
Need help? Visit RAINN's National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website.