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*Trigger warning for disclosure of sexual violence.*

I have a secret to share.

I've been holding onto this secret for a few months now. Recently, I've been thinking about how to share it. Really, it's not a secret. It's a thing that I've told some people I know, and even people who I don't know. It feels like a secret. I feel shame about it, and so even though I am open about it, this still feels like a secret.

To understand this secret, you need to know a few things about me:
1) I was in an emotionally and sexually abusive and manipulative relationship.
2) I'm a certified rape crisis counselor. I'm an active opponent of victim blaming, and I'm working to change our culture both to stop victim blaming and to make it a safer world for everyone.
3) If anyone else told me that what happened to me happened to them, I'd be 100% sure, no, more than that, 1000% sure, that it was not their fault.

My secret?

I still believe that what happened to me was my fault. If I weren't so pretty, if I were stronger, if I hadn't caved and said yes. It's my fault it happened.

It's been about 8 years. I've had friends and people I trust tell me it's not my fault. I've had therapists tell me it's not my fault. Some days, I even believe that. But there are many days (decreasingly many, but still many days) where I believe it was my fault.

I hope that some day, I'll stop having those moments where I think it was my fault. I'm working on getting there. But that's not where I am right now.

I think the reason I want to share my secret, the reason I don't want to keep silent about it, is that I know there are other people out there like me. I want to reach out to them, because it's hard. It's hard feeling like it was your fault, even when you know it wasn't. And it's not instantaneous, the shift from knowing to believing, at that emotional level.

But I will  make that change. And every day, it gets a little bit easier to believe. It was not my fault.


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Posted by stacey

Stacey formerly served BARCC as the coordinator for Community Awareness and Outreach. Prior to BARCC, she worked for the Navy as a sexual assault response coordinator and volunteered for the DC Rape Crisis Center. She got involved with anti-rape work during college and has enjoyed doing both direct services and educational work.

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