Until you don’t…

the nightmare is real.

No one tells you how to prepare for the anniversary of your rape. It’s not one of those milestones anyone ever wants as a part of their life.

I have had three hundred and sixty-two days to think, reflect, remember and try to forget. My heart so heavy I can’t explain the physics that keep it contained within my chest.

Something I’ve learned along the way is that this is my journey and mine alone. I have encountered those that wish I would just stop talking about it already and those that wish me to continue screaming from the rooftops, their own voices silent so that mine can carry.

I wish I could show you a side of survivors that you don’t see…the resilience and willingness to be strength where others have none, to be a voice when others are forced to stay silent, to hold in their hearts the extraordinary pain of assault yet still be brave enough to express compassion to one another. There is remarkable candor in the realm of survivors/victims/fighters that the rest of society would likely shun and that’s because we know what it’s like to be stripped of our dignity and humanity and how far a simple act of compassion can go to restoring the bridge between what we knew and what we know now as survivors.

When I went to my very first group meeting for survivors of sexual assault I was terrified. Not because it was out of my comfort level but because I never wanted to be a woman crossing that threshold and sitting among them. I was smarter. I was stronger. I was the woman who believed that if I were ever attacked like that that I would fight, even kill my attacker with my bare hands. I was the woman who was fit, who was a fighter, who had taken self-defense courses, hell I even took years of Krav-Maga classes, training with some of the best in the business. So I was NEVER going to be a woman who sat among women because they had been raped.

I miss that naivety. I miss the woman who had the audacity to believe such a thing about herself.

I know now that one doesn’t ever prepare fully for sexual assault. The truth is one doesn’t prepare at all.

Everyone is a super-hero until they’re not. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…

Everyone is a super-hero until they’re not. Everyone likes to take a stab at how they think they’ll react in any given situation…

“Oh, I’d be the first one running into a burning building to help”… until you don’t.

“Oh, I’d be the first one to confront an active shooter”… until you don’t.

“Oh, I’d kick him so hard in his balls and get outta there”… until you don’t.

“Oh, I’d track that person down and blow them away”…until you don’t.

“Oh, I’d … Oh, I’d… Oh, I’d…”

Until you don’t.

You don’t know how you’ll react until you are in the same scenario, situation or experience. And what we as a society, myself included, fail to recognize is that each survivor is a UNIQUE individual and their own upbringing, circumstances, personality, education, skills and life experience brought into each equally unique scenario…

There is no other way to handle it, except the way each survivor or victim handled it.

To question what we did, the choices we made…to scrutinize those decisions through YOUR lens automatically disqualifies you from understanding. I don’t think nearly enough attention is paid to that point. I can’t say what anyone else should have/could have/would have done because I didn’t experience their trauma through their lens. Nor did anyone experience my trauma through my lens.

You DON’T know…until you do.

More than anything on this planet the thing I want most I know I will never receive and that is a loss I too must accept.

So what do I want?

Admission and remorse.

What I believe may still hold pieces of that naive woman but I am okay being true to my heart and my core beliefs. I believe my rapist immediately felt regret and remorse for his actions. I believe that. I can’t say why I believe that and I know most people wouldn’t agree, but I am no more interested in faking this part of my existence than I am in faking anything else. I just wish he would admit his actions that night and express real remorse.

Instead like most rape victims, I was met with denial and self preservation by my rapist, Keith Alan Snyder of Patrick Air Force base and I will NEVER stop saying his name. I shouldn’t have been surprised. He has always cared more about himself than any other living thing. But that doesn’t stop my heart from wanting to heal itself. I always thought if he just admitted his actions and owned them that perhaps I could move past this moment in my life, but instead he has chosen to lie and deny which is pretty typical.

I still believe I am eating away at his soul…

I still believe he regrets doing what he did…

I have to believe that he is sorry, remorseful. I have to believe that what I know about myself is true. I didn’t lose everything that night. I still believe in myself.

This survivor isn’t done fighting. Trial is scheduled to start November 19th. And here’s the caveat about all of this, the thing that keeps me fighting for justice. It isn’t just the anniversary of my rape, it is now the anniversary of the day I was reborn something else entirely. An advocate was born that day. I became the collective voice. I became beacon seeking justice. I became the woman whose voice is still silent in fear. I became the warrior for that naive woman who believed she would never walk among victims again. I became the defender of future women who have the potential to become infected by my rapist’s actions. I became more than just me.

I became #metoo.

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