Everyone's trauma story is unique to them. There are a plethora of different ways people can experience abuse and by a wide variety of people.
One common myth about sexual assault is that it often occurs by a stranger. We have this perception of bad guys lurking in dark alleys with ski masks on. In reality according to the Rape Abuse and Incest Nation Network (RAINN) only 28% of rapes are committed by a stranger.
I sometimes wonder if it would have been easier if I had been raped by a stranger. If I would have been able to move on quicker if I didn't have that broken bond of trust and if I never had to see my perpetrator again. I can't say for sure because I haven't experienced that, but I know that having to see my rapist is incredibly difficult.
I don't have to see him as often as I used to. I have taken measures to remove myself from places he is near. Sadly that even includes my home.
I generally don't have to see him at church anymore. The one thing my church leadership was able to do was move him to a different ward. I have mixed feelings about that. I wanted away from him so bad and was so grateful when my Stake president offered to move him to a different ward because my family and I were about to move to a different ward ourselves to get away from him. I feel a sense of guilt though with him being sent to a new ward. Not about him, but my biggest fear is that he will rape another girl and I felt that now he had access to new unsuspecting girls. My ambivalent feelings aside I am grateful I didn't have to move from my ward and that I don't have to see him every Sunday.
There are only two days a year I know we will for sure be in the same room. That is for Stake Conference. Twice a year when all the wards meet together to hear from our church leadership. I go and so does he.
I have been thinking about it a lot because that biannual event is this Sunday. Easter. I expect it to be difficult because although I don't know the exact date I was raped because of Dissociative Amnesia, I do know it was very close after Easter. Sadly I now relate this wonderful, joyous holiday with the worst day of my life.
I'm always scared to see him. Even still. I think at this point I'm not scared of him doing anything to me. I know he can no longer hurt me. What I'm scared of is how I will react. When I see his face everything he did to me comes flooding back sometimes just in memory and sometimes in the form of a flashback. I never know how I will react. Will I scream? Will I freak out and try and hit something? Will I crawl under the table or run away? Or will I sit calmly in my chair while internally shaking? I don't know.
I know what some of you are probably thinking. Just don't go. It's one Sunday. You can skip church one Sunday so you don't have to see your rapist.
I know. I could easily stay home if I wanted to, but there's a reason I go and it's the same reason I still attend the same church building where I was raped and the reason I still sit in the row in the chapel I have always sat in. Because these things are important and sacred to me. I am not going to let him take them away from me. He doesn't get that.
So I will go to Stake Conference on Sunday. I will sing the songs. I will listen to the speakers. And I will see my rapist.
I won't be alone. My parents will be by my side as well as Jenny. I also have a few select people at church who know who he is. They watch out for me and make me feel safe as well.
I know I'm strong enough to do this.