Sometime last week, I was walking with my boyfriend around town on a warm, sunny day. A large truck passed by us, and I glanced at it for a second, and turned back. I did a double-take, because I noticed that this truck happened to have my rapist's last name on it.
I was in a moment of disbelief. I had a second of panic and dissociation. I then was brought back to reality by my boyfriend saying something. I didn't tell him what I saw. I didn't tell him what just happened. I tried to just let it go. Of course, I can't let anything go--especially something like that.
In that moment of seeing my rapist's (and ex-boyfriend) name, our entire relationship flashed through my mind: the good, the bad, and the oh-so ugly. Feelings of shame came up for "putting myself" in the situation, because I had pursued him. I feel like I still haven't processed a lot of these feelings. A couple of years ago, when I told a friend of mine, who knew my rapist, about what had happened, she dismissed it saying, "No, he didn't rape you." I remember how angry I felt (and still feel) about her reaction. She didn't believe me. She didn't even let me talk about it.
A few months ago, I had a flashback of me trying on my ex's polo t-shirt. I was smiling and acting coyly. He told me I looked good in his shirt. I felt happy. Remembering this, made me feel even more ashamed and disgusted with myself, him, and the entire situation.
The rape and relationship happened 8 years ago, and I've done therapy, and have had a slew of excellent feminist studies classes since, so I'm well aware that none of it is my fault. Though, I can't lie and say that it doesn't still affect me, or that it doesn't still make me question my past actions.
Seeing my rapist's name in big letters on a truck was scary, quite frankly. I know he can't still hurt me, but I guess, to some degree, he is. But don't you worry, I'm fighting back. He doesn't have what I have--he never did...
I know how to survive.