You will, at some point in your life, associate a face to some form of comfort. It is inevitable. Maybe you’ve already been there, maybe you are still safe there, maybe you haven’t quite reached that kind of bliss yet - but as human beings, we were given hearts and hands, and aches and pains too large to keep to ourselves.
In March of 2014, I was raped by someone I had once taken shelter in. A friend and classmate I had known for years, and one of the many children in a family I would frequently consider my own. But one night, inside of his home, I became a statistic. A fraction of a number teachers use to warn their students, and doctors to their patients. Not quite nineteen and I had never felt so small inside of my own body. It wasn’t until that point in my life that I had really known what “injustice” meant, and I am still learning its several meanings to this day - from hearing my detective tell me my case would be “different because his father is the sheriff,” to having my loved ones react as if someone has died whenever the r-word is brought up in a conversation - however, part of me wants to say that they’re not far off.
Rape does not come with a survivor’s manual. There is no one to tell you what to do, what to say, how to handle it, or how to re-love yourself. Some days you will find yourself chanting “I forgive you” beneath your breath in sync with your own heartbeat as if forgiveness was the bittersweet-gateway to your survival, and other days you will find yourself crying in the fetal position of a movie theatre because there was no trigger warning on the movie you chose to watch. I survived the better part of a year existing in the shell of a body I no longer felt was mine. No one who hasn’t gone through it knows the importance of hearing how proud they are of you for simply living, and if we happen to have this in common, let me tell you this right now: I am proud of you. It is okay to hurt, and it is okay to be okay. What’s important is you are here, you are reading this, you are safe, you are breathing. Odds are, the sun is shining and it is warm. Or the rain is crying with you. Or the moon is out to show you that there can still be a light in the midst of the darkness.
One thing - maybe the most important - that my rape has taught me, oddly enough, is how to love and love abundantly. To show compassion unconditional - because you never know what the smiley, coffee-drinking girl waltzing down the street has had to endure.
Faith Wappat is a 20-year-old poet from Lakewood, New York. Her work first appeared online in February of 2015, in Wild Violet Literary Magazine. Since then, she has gone on to running a monthly open mic in her area, being featured multiple times in the Lavender Sisterhood, and interning for Glass Kite Anthology as well as volunteering as a Count for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. She published her first e-book, “The Uncaging,” dedicated to sharing the breaking and healing of sexual abuse, in January of 2016 and it can be found on Lulu.com.