"I can love who I am and hate what he did."

written by Katie

My life will always be separated into two time periods. Almost like I have two lives. Before Rape and After Rape.

Before Rape, I was hopeful, determined, naive. True, even at that point, I'd been through a lot of crap. I'd been abused by my father as a child, I'd spent time in a mental hospital. I struggled to decide on a major. But none of that robbed me of my hope. Throughout everything I'd ever overcome, the hope stayed. Shining through the darkness and helping me to continue moving forward. Sure, I'd had moments of darkness (which led me to the mental hospital chapter of my life), but the hope always came back on its own and was usually only gone for a matter of hours. I so easily trusted that the people around me were good. I believed whole heartedly that most people in this world are good. For the first time in years, I really loved who I was (although I often doubted if the boys around me liked who I was.). I was passionate and excited about life and full of energy and laughter.

Before Rape, I defined myself as a "Good Mormon Girl." I read my scriptures, went to church, attended a private religious university. I was going to teach Elementary School and, eventually, get married to a "Good Mormon Boy" and have children and become a "Good Mormon Mom." (Regardless of a university major) I knew who I was. And I was blissfully unaware that all the "Good Mormon Boys" around me weren't all that good. And even the good ones weren't really kind. I had no idea how quickly all my friends would fade away in the wake of something as difficult and dark as rape. All it took was one Really Nice Guy to pop the bubble I was living in.

After Rape, I felt dirty and broken and disgusting. I no longer had the energy to make friends and the ones I had didn't know how to handle what had happened or who I became. Slowly, they all drifted away. The few I did have the energy to reach out to after awhile were all personally offended that I would say we weren't really friends anymore. Of course, that had been the first conversation we'd had in months and the last conversation we'd ever have. I no longer assumed that guys were nice and trustworthy just because they went to church with me. In fact, I found that those who sat with me in church and espoused how great their faith was were the boys I trusted the least. I became afraid. Of everything. I couldn't go to the grocery store or out to my car on my own without having a full-blown panic attack. I moved in with my brother and then my mom to avoid explaining to roommates why I couldn't make it through the day without bursting into tears or why I couldn't go out with them without "freaking out" and going home early. I became a shell of the person I was Before. And all those Nice Boys surrounding me at my private religious university, saw me as a slut and someone who was unworthy of marriage because I had had sexual contact with someone. None of them wanted some other guy's "cast-offs." It didn't matter to them that I had fought and cried and begged him to not touch me. I was used.

A year after my rape, I was assaulted again by a coworker (and consequently fired for reporting it) and began to feel like I would never escape a world where men could hurt me and seemingly get away with it. I landed back in a hospital and it felt like my hope was never going to return. After a year without hope, it had just started to shine through the cracks but was extinguished again. For the first time in my life, I had to find and tap into my inner strength. I had to CHOOSE to hope. Because my life wasn't handing it to me anymore. In the end, I couldn't have done it on my own. I was blessed with a supportive family and law enforcement, lawyers and advocates who believed in me and fought for me. I even eventually found a man who cared enough to sit outside the walls I'd built around my heart and my brain until I felt comfortable enough to take them down myself. Eventually, I rediscovered a deeper, more substantial faith inside of me that wasn't based on the actions of those around me at church.

I have only begun to heal. And I'm not sure I'll be able to begin to move forward until after the trial is over. If at all. I've begun to feel joy again but I am still not the same person I was Before. I will never be that girl again. The nightmares of him bashing my head against a car door and laughing as I cried, although still vibrant, are beginning to happen less frequently. I have hope that he will actually face the consequences of his actions. I have supports in place so, even if he doesn't, it won't destroy me again.

I'm beginning to like the girl I have become...and I'm trying my best to remember that just because he broke me doesn't mean I have to stay broken. It doesn't mean I have to allow the darkness to consume me. I can love who I am and hate what he did.