Three Hundred & Sixty Five Days Later

It’s Sunday April 16th, 2017. I’m sitting in a café in Zürich, watching the rain pour down onto the sidewalk. Cliché, I know. Something about the empty streets and sound of dripping water is relaxing my mind on this heavy day.

It’s been one year and there's so many things I want to say. Exactly one year ago my world was flipped upside down. I was torn apart from the life I once knew; the life that I was familiar with. I was tossed the biggest obstacle I had ever encountered and stopped believing in all things good.

Flashback to 12 months ago and I can still see the entire night replaying in my head. I can see the past me, on April 16th, 2016, sitting in an empty police station with dry blood all over my face and arms, feeling indescribably pained and unfixable. I can hear myself struggling to speak to the officer when being asked for details on how it happened. That feeling is one I will never be able to forget. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can read about it here or watch it here). 

Despite the immense amount of progress I've made, part of me still gets angry sometimes. Not for what happened that night but for the aftermath of it all. The court system - that tossed my case around as if it meant nothing, just to hand out a free pass to the man that dehumanized me. The 'friends' in my life - that turned their back to me when I needed them the most. The strangers - that talked about me, my situation and my family based on rumours that they had created themselves. The police officers - that laughed in a corner at me when I tried to report how bail conditions were being broken (even though I was told to do so by the courts). 

Often it isn’t the initiating trauma that creates seemingly insurmountable pain, but the lack of support after.
— S. Kelley Harrell

What I started to understand is that being angry gets you no where. People always want something to talk about, whether it's true or not. Courts have hundreds and thousands of cases to deal with and as shitty as it sounds to say this - it is unlikely that they will ever take yours seriously. 'Friends' come and go, especially when real life situations hit the wall.

Sometimes I can't help but ponder, "why me?" but I quickly snap out of the negative thinking and tell myself that God doesn't put anyone in a situation they cannot handle. It took me quite some time to actually start believing that sentence. 

In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.
— Judith Lewis Herman

I allowed myself to be silenced by the perpetrator for longer than I'd like to admit and I think that's the part that really drove me into depression. It keeps you up at night - knowing that nobody believes the truth. Rather, that nobody seems to care about the truth. It got the point where I no longer cared who believed me or who didn't, who stayed in my life or who walked out, I just needed to break out of the shell I was pushed into in order to find my voice again, to help victims understand that they are not alone.

You can recognize survivors of abuse by their courage. When silence is so very inviting, they step forward and share their truth so others know they aren’t alone.
— Jeanne McElvaney

Going through abuse changes you. It's hard to explain but it just does. It changes your entire world. It made me stronger, smarter and kinder. But before all that, it broke me, tore me apart, made me unbearably numb and pushed me into a dark empty pit of nothingness. 

However, if I could turn back time, there’s nothing I would change. I’m glad things happened the way that they did, because it brought me here, to this moment. If you had told me a year ago that I would be in Europe today, exploring a new country every weekend without a worry in my mind, I wouldn’t have believed you. Traveling last Summer helped my soul. As hesitant as I was to step back outside my comfort zone - It made me feel alive again. It pushed me to want to do the things I love. It brought back emotions that I never thought I would be able to feel again.

I need people to understand how difficult it is to heal from any type of abuse. It was heartbreaking for me to decide to walk away permanently from my best friend, to deal with the aftermath, to pick myself back up. This has been the quickest, yet longest year of my life. 

Three hundred and sixty five days later - it still brings tears to my eyes. But not for the same reasons as before. It makes me emotional (in a good way) to now know and understand what pure happiness feels like. It makes me emotional to know how free I am, despite my past. To be able to help and talk to people that consider me a role model. But this isn't the circumstance for everyone and that's what hurts me the most. As happy as I feel most days, I'm still picking up the broken pieces of myself. I'm still learning how to accept that I will never be the same again and neither will my heart. 

My biggest realization: I am too full of life to be half loved. And so are you. I hope anyone going through this someday realizes the same. As hard as it is to hear these words, they are what pushed me to find myself:

Instead of saying, ‘I’m damaged, I’m broken, I have trust issues’ say ‘I’m healing, I’m rediscovering myself, I’m starting over.’
— Horacio Jones

So here I am - healing, rediscovering myself and starting over.

- S.