Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all? Surely it cannot be me, because if I was those men wouldn't have raped me.
This revision from a line made familiar by the Disney movie Snow White, became the statement that I made to myself as I realized that I was a rape survivor. A survivor of rape. A girl who was raped. No matter how you say it, the sting of the reality of what happened to me did not get any softer. How did this happen? Better yet, how did this happen to me? At the mere age of 17, I was reflecting that there was something very different about me.
I was now a rape survivor.
Raised in a single parent home, I was the baby girl of a family of five. I was very much loved by my family and neighbors, some would even say spoiled. I was protected, supported, and given every opportunity in the world to pursue all of my dreams. I was the shadow to my older brothers and sisters. I cherished times with my grandparents and my mom and grandmothers were my heroes. My dad and grandfathers were the coolest people I knew.
Honor student, active in school. Former Girl Scout. Friendly to all that I met and knew. How did this happen to me? Why did this happen to me? This was not supposed to happen to me.
But guess what? It did.
Raped. Three times. Baseball rules say three strikes and you are out and that is exactly how I felt. I just wanted to go to the store; I just wanted to hang out with friends. How did these very separate days, very separate instances, involving very different people have so many similarities?
Raped in the back of a record shop. Raped two apartments from my own home. Raped in my boyfriend’s home at a party by his roommates. Am I cursed? Is God mad at me? This clearly cannot be what life is supposed to be.
So I hid behind a mask. Not a physical mask, but an emotional and spiritual mask. I smiled during the day and I plotted at night. I plotted how to get back at the men that did this to me. That scarred me. That hurt me. During the day, in the public I was one person, but privately I was a different person. I had to be. I had to protect myself from something so heinous and tragic ever happening again. One way one minute and another in the next, but the juggling began to make me tired and confused. My moods and personalities began to switch at the wrong times in front of the wrong people. The mask became too heavy. I just wanted it all to end. And so I tried to end it.