Surviving Sexual Assault

I sit here today, chanting my chant… Nam-Myo-Ho-Renge-Kyo… as I do everyday. Yet, today, I do so contemplatively…I am lost in thought, somberly so, almost meditating on a post I read on Facebook.

The post consisted of multiple women who had been sexually assaulted. These women, many of them seemingly young to me now, were holding signs up quoting what their attacker said to them, while each endured their own version of a sexual assault. What I would call an unwanted initiation into a special kind of hell.

As I read each statement, my stomach churned, twisted and turned, until my chest weighed heavily with a deep sort of sadness and hurt; an aching, old and worn from all the years. For, I knew instantly the seriousness of it, the rage of it, the utter betrayal of it. Yes, their pain and sadness was also my pain and sadness.

As I read those quotes, quotes like “you wanted it,” “Do you like it?” “You’re nothing,” “shut up or I will kill you,” my face became warm as tears welled up, seemingly in my throat, in my chest, and burst forth their soothing expressions upon my cheeks. These tears…the speaker of pent up hurt, anger and sadness that could never be spoken in words. These tears…the ferryman that connected one victim’s pain to another’s so that none of us needed to feel alone in this mind twisting madness. These tears…that said, “yes, I too understand…deeply understand.”

So, I sit here chanting my chant, and I remember one of my attackers from so many years ago, smelling of too much alcohol, donning a makeshift mask upon his face, and feeling his “stranger” hands clumsily groping me, touching my skin, entering into places he had no right to trespass, and yet he was trespassing. I remember his slurred, agitated speech as he stated his quote, “shut up, or I will kill you!” And, suddenly being chilled by these words, as I remember that moment of realization…that moment…when I knew that not only had he taken away my right to the expectation for a respect of my own sexual boundaries and integrity; but that he had also threatened to take away my right to life…the right to my own life.

That night, with those words, “I will kill you,” I learned what it meant to let all of my control go…what it meant to turn all of my hopes for my personal safety and for my life over to chance, over to the mysterious workings of our universe. So, as my attacker groped, unbuttoned and undressed me, I sat motionless, starring at the moon, chanting my chant, Nam-Myo-Ho-Renge-Kyo, with the thought of my safety and preservation of life in mind.

And, then I heard it; the jovial sounds of laughter, and chatter, bringing a sense of warmth and cheer into my terrified, cold and lonely world. I began to think, “Could this be my way of having a dream?” No, this actually was a group of my neighbors walking together down the street by the ally in which I was being attacked. I, no longer was alone, and my attacker knew that as well. With that, he suddenly released me, and ran as though to steal his own safety. And so, with the desire for his own preservation, I gained the preservation of my life. Dazed and motionless, I knew that this attacker took something sacred forever away from me, yet, I also could not help but feel a rush of relief and joy inside of me as I also knew that I had gained my freedom back to being the possessor of my right to life.

So, today I sit, chanting my chant while I think of this experience and those women who spoke so bravely on their cardboard poster boards about what their attackers said…and I think of that moon all those years ago holding a precious innocence that should have never been taken away by another, yet, was taken anyway.

So this is to all my unknown comrades out there. The survivors of an unimaginable horror, and yet ones who survived anyway…