Anne’s healing following childhood rape

I have been on a road, a journey for much of my life, looking to find a way to discover peace, a place where my feet are on the ground and my face tipped up to the sun.

I was raped as a child, following the death of my father, by someone in my family. It happened many times over many years. As the years between these events and where I am now grow I see more and more that this journey is about reconciliation and choice. This reconciliation has not necessarily been with the person who hurt me or family member, although that has begun to come into it, but more a path of reconciliation with myself. I have had to learn to forgive myself for not telling anyone, for not saying no, for not getting help. I have had to learn not to hate myself, my body and my history for not giving me the tools to stand firm and know that I have a right to be alive. It has been a re mapping of my experience of the world and a re mapping of my place with in the world.

The biggest turning point has been realizing I have a choice in how I respond to my feelings. I do not have to sink into feelings of loathing, self hatred or powerlessness. If I have no choice in having those feelings or not then ultimately I will not recover. Whereas if I can choose where to place my focus and my attention then I find I have more options, more chance of healing. I cannot change what happened to me but I can change my response to it.

Of course each day has a rhythm of its own and sometimes I am unable to make that choice. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by despair and sadness. Yet other days I am happy and at peace. I see that my journey to recovery can only be located deep within me, it cannot be dependant on my family, on reconciliation, on apologies, it can only be done by me and by me making choices each day, sometimes each minute.

My relationship with forgiveness is that it has to start internally. I cannot forgive others if I don’t have a sense of who I am and a gentleness towards myself. I can foster an intention towards what I perceive forgiveness to be and I can foster an attitude of non violence towards the person, but that has to include a non violent attitude to myself.  I don’t believe forgiveness is about a lack of anger, or a lack of righteous indignation but it is an internal intention of non violence that we can nurture in order to live more at peace with ourselves, those who have hurt us and the world around us. For me it is about a choice to be in the world, relating to the world in a particular way that is not perpetuating the hurt and damage that caused that particular act of violence towards me all the years ago.