Forks in the road.
Crises of faith.
When I first opened up about being raped here on my blog, I didn't know what to expect. I definitely had fears and maybe a certain level of expectation concerning what people would think once they knew the truth but as far as the reception and reaction and response... No clue.
When I wrote the truth, I felt sick to my stomach. Tears streamed unbidden down my face and my hands shook so badly it's a wonder how I typed at all. When the moment of truth arrived, when the time came to hit that 'Publish' button, I came unraveled. Who would've thought that such a small, seemingly unextraordinary word could cause panic to rise up so forcefully it felt as though my heart would beat right out of my chest.
And yet, it did.
I can't tell you what went through my head once I did click on that button because I have no recollection of doing it. It's not a memory that's hazy around the edges because my emotions clouded it nor is it something I've successfully suppressed into submission.
It's not there.
Perhaps it never was there.
The thing I do remember is what happened afterwards. I began to receive notifications of comments waiting to be moderated and emails so quickly it made my head spin. To say I felt overwhelmed would be an understatement and to say I was blown away would be borderline indecent.
I read each and every word as if they were morsels of food and I a starving woman. I couldn't read them fast enough and I clung to those messages like lifelines. They were my lifelines.
The amount of love and support confused me. I couldn't wrap my head around it all but there it was regardless.
Bold and clear and unyielding.
Then something else happened. My heart began to break. Not for myself and what happened to me, but for all of you.
It's an unfathomable thing, being raped, assaulted, degraded, and abused... It's even harder to open up about it.
In less than 48 hours I had received no less than 361 responses and 157 of those included secrets and stories of similar horrors. The girl who had been molested by her moms boyfriend while growing up. The woman whose own brother used to beat the hell out of her from the time she was 14 until she had the courage to move out at 18 and her parents who knew about it all but never did a single thing to stop him. The reader whose rapist had been so violent and damaging that she could never be physically intimate with her husband without being in extreme pain and risking tearing. The anonymous message I got telling me about being sodomized by her gym teacher for 3 years straight until she attempted to commit suicide in order to be admitted into a psychiatric hospital where she thought she'd be safe. When she told her therapist about it, she was called a liar and kicked out of the program.
These are just 4 stories and I got 157.
ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY SEVEN!
I could have never in a million years guessed that there were SO many people out there like me. Victimized and broken and whose worlds had been torn apart. It brought entirely new meaning and understanding to my belief that its important to be kind because everyone is fighting a battle.
In the last 3 years I've had ample time to examine what happened to me and attempt to make sense of it all. I've had every single scenario and 'what if?' play in my mind a thousand times over. It'd be more than safe to say that my points of view and perception of just about everything have been and are changed or influenced because I was raped.
All too often I'm faced with decisions, real and hypothetical, that require me to make choices that don't have one expressly correct answer.
The most recent of these was while watching a TV show with Mr. Superman. In this particular scenario there was a sex trafficking ring being targeted by the police and a federal agency. The police were ready to bring the entire operation down. The federal agency however forbade it because this sex ring was connected to an Al Qaeda terrorist sleeper cell here in the US and they were not yet ready to infiltrate it and shut it down. There of course was a huge conflict. On the one hand there were the Feds who had the opportunity to apprehend terrorists and stop a possible terrorist attack but there was no guarantee of success. There was also the fact that in order to even have the chance to do this, the sex trafficking would have to be allowed to continue for as long as 12 weeks to a year. On the other hand there were the police who had all of the evidence to bring down the head of the sex trafficking operation and his son and free 19 girls who were beaten and raped dozens of times each day. The arrest and conviction of this man and his son was guaranteed unlike the possible capture of an elusive terrorist.
Mr. Superman paused the TV and asked, "What would you do? Would you bring down the boss and save the girls or would you knowingly allow that all to continue for the possibility of stopping a terrorist attack and maybe saving a lot more lives?" I didn't hesitate. "I'd save the girls." I made the statement that it may seem irrational because I was biased. "I know, that's why I asked." "But you're biased too", I said. "On both sides. You've got me and you've got your military mindset." "Yeah it's tough. I don't think I could make the decision. It's a tough call."
In true Hollywood TV style they were able to bring down the sex ring AND capture the terrorist but I've been thinking about it ever since. The thought of America coming under another terrorist attack is terrible. It is. In my mind though, and deep down in my heart, the thought of girls and women being brutalized and raped countless times EVERY SINGLE DAY makes me sick. It immediately brings tears to my eyes and I feel a tangible ache and pain in what I know is my soul.
Without a doubt...
Without a second of hesitation...
Without taking pause...
Every single time...
I'd save the girls.
What would you do?