Letting It Go

Content & Trigger Warnings: Sexual Assault, Rape

It’s been five years || Sexual Assault || Why I finally reported

This September marks five years since it happened. I think it was September, the time line all still feels a little foggy, but school had just started and I can still taste the warm yet crisp air of Dallas road on a fall morning walking home.

Walking home – wrists aching, wrapped in a sweater, smiling at a friend through a jaw that felt as though it had been broken. Legs like jelly, taking each thought one step at a time, the poster of his face above his bed, burned into my brain.

When I was in high school 2012 was supposed to be the year the world was going to end, me and my best friend waited patiently at midnight new years eve 2011 to see if the ground would shatter or the sky would fall, but no change came. Everyone watched the movie “2012” joked about when it would happen and then moved on. This might sound extremely self centred but looking back now, for me, 2012 was the year the world ended, the year that everything inside me changed, I just had to wait for September I guess, but that’s life isn’t it? You always think it’s coming, and then just when you think it never will, it does.

So, I was raped. I was raped in 2012 by a classmate of mine, in the basement of a party, in the basement of his home, in his bed.

So, I was raped. I was raped in 2012 by a classmate of mine, who sat in front of me everyday, who would lick his lips at me when no one was looking, who told me it was my fault.

I once was paired with him to do a class project after it happened, I went to the teacher to try to change partners, beginning to confide in this teacher, he looked me in the eyes and said “You would be lucky to be with him.” I stoped talking. After I graduated that teacher was fired for having a relationship with a student – even in North America, truly girls really still don’t have a right to an education.

“So, I was raped” I told my best friend at the time, sitting on my parents living room floor, drinking stolen wine and eating take out pita wraps from a place she had heard about online. We ordered the pita wraps as a joke kind of, the thought of being able to get a take out glorified sandwich delivered to our door was just too funny to us. That had always been our relationship, just joking around, and this wasn’t a joke, that was the whole problem I guess.

That night was great but after that we never talked again, until one day I asked her – “Did you ever believe me?” “no.”

“No.” I think I cried more than I think I ever have or ever will after that, I died a little bit, and then I moved on. I moved on, I moved to another city, I moved to people and friends who believed me, who supported me, who respected me, it felt good, for the most part.

Every year though, I would count the years that it had been since it happened. The years since the world ended and I would wonder why is this my burden to bare? Should I do something? Should I tell someone else? Should I have reported it? How could I have done something differently? Well this month I found my self asking the same questions again, #metoo status’s cluttering my news feed like little internet land mines and I had to ask, “but what are we going to do about it?”

Over dairy free soft served sitting on the grass by my grandma’s house with my mom, I asked, “What am I going to do about this?” We went over every gory detail and cried, neither of us had an answer. We went to a pub for a cider. We watched a little girl make a flower bouquet out of her napkins and hand them to an old man who was there for dinner alone and I couldn’t help but say “Jesus, Girls are so special.”

We went home and the feeling continued to burn inside me, like a fire that started out small years ago, that I poured tears onto to keep at bay and I had tamed it for years, but I was done crying, I was mad and I was run dry. I knew now I could either let it burn me or I had to let it out.

Me and my mom took beers down to the water again at 1 am in our pyjamas and I say “ I want to report it.” This is literally something I never ever thought I would say, never, but here I am, I’m ready. I don’t want to go to court, I don’t ever want to see his face, I don’t want to tell a jury about 2012 and have them decide if it was just some big urban legend or not. My mom says that one time someone had really bad road rage at her while she was driving, so she took their license plate number and reported it, so now if they ever did it again and someone else did they same, they would already have that number, they would know about that person and what they were capable of. Thats what I wanted.

So I did it, two visits to the police station, an email, names, places and year given, a nail bit down too far out of nerves in the waiting room, a few pamphlets that might help, who knows, but now – they have his number.

Reporting doesn’t have to be like it is on tv, you don’t have to go to court if you don’t want to, you don’t have to cry, you don’t have to be poked and prodded and questioned, you just need to go and tell them what was done.

If you feel you can’t, this is not your responsibility, but if you can – go give your story to the system. Give the police that person’s number. Let someone who can do something in the future take it. Let them know what was done and maybe it can help someone like you in the future.

Because, I realize now, this was never my story to keep, it’s his and I just played some unwanted part in it, so why should it define me? Why should I keep it?

Go give the story back to person who hurt you, let them keep it forever, on their record and who know’s maybe one day it will come back for them, maybe they will finally play they’re proper part and you yours.

I’m not trying to say it felt good, but I guess it feels kind of freeing? Like something’s changed or shifted at least.

All I know is, it’s something and something never amounts to nothing.

By Teagan Johnston

Footer note – if you are struggling with sexual assault trauma, have questions on reporting, need assistance in reporting or someone to talk to, feel free to contact me at littlecoyotemusic@gmail.com

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