I remember reading an article about terminology when it comes to sexual abuse and assault. Some people advocate for the use of the term “survivor”, as it’s empowering. Some people automatically use the term “victim”, especially when it comes to the cold, unfeeling news articles that also use terms like “accusations”. And some people advocate for choice when it comes to the terms people use to describe themselves. If someone feels like a survivor, they have the right to use the term survivor to describe themselves. If someone feels like a victim, they have the right to use that term.
I don’t particularly feel like a survivor.
Right now, I don’t even feel like a victim.
Mostly, I just feel stupid.
Reading all of these articles about Dylan Farrow has been difficult. Knowing that people don’t believe her has been difficult. Knowing that the initial issue I identified as sexual abuse is seen as a non-traumatic issue by many has been difficult. Knowing that I don’t have any answers as to whether or not something else – something more serious – happened has been difficult. Knowing that some people think I overreacted or was delusional has been difficult. There are days when I just wish it all never happened. But wishing it away or ignoring it doesn’t help, because physically, it still affects me. And that’s what makes me feel the most stupid. How could I let something that happened in the past, something that may not even have happened at all, take physical control of my body now, at 25? How could I allow myself to believe that people I was supposed to trust and love could have done this to me? Does that mean I’m going to hell, because I “accused” people? If I am, I know what it’ll feel like – it’ll feel like those nightmares I have when I am being raped or molested and I can actually feel it happening. I don’t know if that means I’m reliving something that did happen in the past, or just that feeling it happen is punishment for making “accusations”. I wasn’t trying to “ruin anybody’s life”. I wasn’t trying to “hold it over [their] heads, or blackmail” anybody. I know damned well these kinds of “accusations” (and can we talk about how much I hate that word, how dirty it sounds?) are very, very serious. All I was trying to do was figure out why I didn’t feel safe. Why I didn’t feel safe in bathrooms, or feel safe when people touched me, or feel safe wearing pants. I wanted to figure out why I didn’t feel safe around certain people. I wanted to figure out why the stress of whether or not something happened was giving me migraines and making me throw up. I wanted to know why I was having nightmares. I wanted to know what was behind the driving force that prohibited me from taking a shower for a month because taking a shower was that fucking scary.
I’ve had people – people who remember what happened, people who have every right to identify as a victim, or a survivor – tell me that I am a survivor. I have had people – doctors and hotline counselors from rape crisis centers – tell me that I have a right to ask questions. To take that advice I was given; be selfish, ask questions, and don’t be afraid of people’s responses. But I don’t feel like a survivor, and I don’t feel like I have any right to ask questions. I feel stupid and afraid. And I feel angry. Angry that people who may know if someone has a history of sexual abuse won’t tell me about it. Because it would be easier to question someone knowing they had done it in the past. Angry at myself, for letting this get as far as it did, for convincing myself that something happened. Angry for trying to advocate for myself and in the process having people tell me that I was the problem. Angry for dissolving in tears and praying every day for answers and letting this continually affect me. I’ve been told it gets better, but I’m stuck in a void where it feels like it never will. And the fucked up thing? I’m not even sure if there’s a thing that happened that I need to get better from.
I’m not sure how I should close this. I’m not sure what good this has been, except perhaps to express that I am 110% done. Maybe you’ll read this and the next time you’ll encounter someone who’s been in my position, you’ll be compassionate and try to help them find answers instead of telling them “it’s just in the past, don’t let it get to you” and “those are very serious accusations”. Maybe you didn’t know that repressed memories were a thing, and now you do. Maybe you’re experiencing the same thing I am, and you feel solidarity and peace knowing that other people have been and are in your situation.
Maybe we can feel stupid together.