A Letter To Myself 1 Year Ago, On The Night Of The Rape
Dear Elizabeth on October 25, 2015,
I am writing this letter from a place of pain, but also from a place of strength that I did not have a year ago.
First of all, I want you to know that I am with you. I was with you that night when Jackson robbed you of your autonomy. I was with you on the night when you were so brave to report and seek justice. I was with you on those nights in January and March, when Jackson once again took advantage of your vulnerability and low self esteem. I was with you every day in class when you couldn’t focus. I was with you in the courtroom as you shook with fear. I was, am, and always will be with you.
Nobody is entitled to your body. Jackson took something that wasn’t his. That’s his fault and nobody else’s. Your black skirt was not consent. You letting him touch your leg was not consent. Nothing you did or said that night indicated consent for him to do what he did. Whether you could have prevented the assault or not is irrelevant. I need you to know that I don’t blame you for a single thing that happened that night. You were young, you were afraid, and you reacted in the only way you knew how - by freezing up. That’s okay. You did nothing wrong. Absolutely nothing.
Don’t listen to the people who propose alternative actions you could have taken. Given your mental health and your assessment of the situation, you did what you could, and that is enough.
You are enough. You are wholly, unconditionally, unapologetically enough. Remember that. You are enough. And you are brave.
Even on days when you feel weak, afraid, and vulnerable, you are still enough. You are still brave. You are brave for getting out of bed every day. You are brave for having fun, and trying new things. But most of all, you are brave for speaking out.
You could have let this kill you. You almost did. But I know you better than that, Elizabeth. You won’t go down without a fight. You still have so much left to do and share with the world. You have so many people left to touch. You will raise your voice, and tell not only your story, but the stories of the millions of men and women who didn’t report. You will be heard. You will make such a difference in this world, and that is brave. Jackson chose to mess with the wrong girl, didn’t he?
I want to remind you to be kind to yourself. You did nothing wrong; why all this hate? Care for yourself. Love yourself. Please, I’m begging you. You deserve so, so much better than what you have given yourself.
So to the Elizabeth on October 25, 2015, please hear me. You have so many wonderful things ahead. In the next year, you will grow so much. And to the Elizabeth right now, sobbing as she writes this letter: so will you. You will do even better than your past self. You will have your good days and your bad days, and that’s okay. You will be okay, eventually.
I am so proud of your incredible resilience and bravery. I am so proud of the emotional growth you’ve done this summer and have yet to do. You deserved this all along. You deserve happiness. You deserve life. You deserve help. You deserve everything good in this world.
Even on days when you feel weak, or afraid, or broken, remember that you are brave. You don’t need to always act brave, or feel brave, but you ARE brave for getting help and for helping others. That can never be erased. I am with you always.
With infinite love,
*my name has been changed*