Bitter Blush

is a platform that strives to create an open community to discuss topics that traditionally make us **blushhh. Our mission is to shed light on issues that are kept in the dark, as a way to harness a safer and more trusting environment.

Six Months

Six Months

It’s been six months.

It’s been six months since I was raped.

It’s been six months since I started building myself from feeling hollow.

One day after my rape I admitted to my friend that it had definitely happened. I spoke to an Equity Center Educator and friend who told me my options. I didn't feel like myself, and decided all I wanted was counseling. Anything more would distract from my school work and my day to day life. All I wanted that day was to sit on my couch and watch Jersey Shore with my roommate, laughing about the night before and the fun we’d had. I had hoped to finish memorizing my lines for the play I was in, and get at least halfway through the next chapter in my Cybersecurity course. Instead I spent my day having hushed conversations with friends, crying, and holding their hands. I bombed at play practice, barely able to recall where I should be sitting in the scene, let alone what was supposed to come out of my mouth. Everything one day after my rape felt cold and leaden, as if I was trudging through five feet of snow with shackles around my ankles.

Three days after my rape I went to the counseling center. I sat uncomfortably in the waiting room, barely able to look at the woman checking me in, and debated walking out. I insisted to myself that I just had to go this once, and I would be fine after. I reasoned that I “wasn’t the kind of person that really needed therapy”, and I could put this all behind me after an hour-long appointment. The therapist I was assigned to was a man, a fate I hadn’t even thought of when I had booked my appointment online. In addition to being a man, he turned out to be an intern that was getting hours in for school. This man had never seen a rape case, and seemed to be as uncomfortable as I was. All of this was mortifying, and as I cried and retold my story to this man I couldn’t help but thinking what a cruel joke this all was. Towards the end of the hour he even had to step out so he could ask someone else for school resources and help with counseling a rape victim.  When he returned, bearing pamphlets and a new resolve to help, he also came with a new fixation. He linked himself to the scientific piece of my trauma, which was the potential of sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. He failed to recognize my humanity or my pain. I had hoped to only have this one therapy session, one hour to get everything off my chest and return to my life, hoping to not think about this again. Of course, I now know this would never have worked, and could never have truly been the case. But at the time, the thought of getting tested scared me. I begrudgingly made this appointment, but vehemently declared I did not want to get a rape kit. I would get checked, I would take medicine, I would be done.

Four days after my rape I went to my campus Health and Wellness Center. This is a place I’d gone to dozens of times in my four years, for the flu, multiple cases of strep throat, UTI’s, pink eye, and every other sickness found on college campuses. But this time was different. I walked in and sat in the firm chairs. I watched Ellen on the TV in the little waiting room, and looked at the bowls of condoms and hand sanitizer. I felt entirely disconnected, as the reason I was here still felt surreal. Finally, a woman in her mid-40’s came in and asked for me. I numbly followed, already exhausted by the conversation I knew was coming. She asked why I was there, and I said that I wanted to be checked for STI’s and get Plan B. In a way I assume she’s said a million times, she asked why I needed this, and if I had used a condom. I confessed to the rape, and that I did not truly know. At this she looked shocked, and stated that she had not seen this at my school, and needed to step out to check on our protocols. Upon returning, she informed me that I needed to go to a hospital to continue with my checkup. I protested, saying I did not want this, but she wouldn’t budge. They tried to have me driven by campus police, but I refused this. A friend drove instead. I then sat for an hour in the hospital waiting room. Afterwards, my paperwork was checked and I was out back in the waiting room again. I waited for almost another hour, to be taken into a boat themed pediatrics room. There were boats everywhere, you couldn’t look more than a few inches without seeing a blue and yellow boat. There were also apparently ten dogs hidden around the room. In my time there I only found seven. While these tiny boats and dogs helped to keep me sane, they also took something from me. Listening to children in the halls and the laughter of parents made me feel more alone. Here I sat for 10 minutes, then had to state out loud to a nurse, then a woman who did my rape kit, yet again, what had happened. This story, after so many times, was numbing to recant, and after telling it again I waited for another hour. While the rape kit helped me in so many ways, the waiting killed me. This day took 7 hours start to finish with appointments; it was a never-ending cycle of telling my story and waiting.

In this waiting I cried. I was angry. I wanted to be anywhere else, thinking about anything else. I could barely get my assault to leave my mind for more than five minutes already, and this waiting kept it at the forefront. It made my entire day be about something which happened to me; I couldn't try to enjoy myself, or try to feel like me even for a moment. This waiting made me fall further into the spiral that rape can cause for some survivors. I waited for help. I waited to be told what to do next, I wait to be myself.

The waiting has not stopped. The waiting for my next counseling appointment, the waiting for the changes in school’s protocols, the waiting for it to get better. The waiting is when the tears do not end and the time goes horribly slow. But the good thing about waiting is knowing there is something to wait for. I know there will be a day when he doesn't come to mind, when a stranger does not look like him, and when a friend's touch feels okay. That day is not today but it will come. On that day all this waiting will be worth it.

It is easier. It is not easy. I get through most days. I can go to work, see friends and family, be alone without the weight of it all rushing in. I can go out on a weekend and drink without fearing the plop of something falling in my cup. I still see a counselor, and I feel better every time. It still comes to mind. It hurts. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes a dull ache, but ever present.

According to RAINN, “Among undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation”. I knew this fact 6 months ago. I knew sexual assault was rampant on college campuses, I had gone to programming through my school, and The Hunting Ground was one of my favorite documentaries. I attended an affluent school, I had financial and emotional support, I am white and privileged. I was still raped.

My wish for anyone that has or is going through this is that you remember during your waiting how much your family and friends love you, and that you are strong enough. Sometimes it all feels bigger than I am, and I have to make a conscious choice to remind myself of all the good in my life. Rape is done to you. It is not a choice. Please remember that you are loved and you can make it through. Please. It will get better. These assholes do not get to determine our futures.


Miscarriage

Miscarriage

Interview: The Vulva Gallery

Interview: The Vulva Gallery