Hi, I’m Charis. For those of you who know Dan, you will know this blogging platform originated from the man himself. You will also know the past eighteen months of blogging Dan has been nothing but open and honest. As I am piggy backing the audience he has drawn, I plan to follow suit with each contribution to this platform.
Before the 21st of December 2017 I was your average 18-year-old wishing away the week days and longing for that ‘Saturday night feeling’. I was out, most weekends, enjoying the feeling of intoxicating my body with alcohol alongside my friends. I had just started university at the time and after all, this what students go to university for right?
You’re probably questioning why I have introduced my story with an introduction to who I was before the 21st of December. The answer is simple. On that night I headed into town with my friends to enjoy the Christmas festivities. The only thing I was unaware of upon heading out that evening was that a 30-year-old male would break my spirit in a matter of minutes. My spirit remained broken for 9 months.
On the night of this discussion I was raped and pornographically violated. Particularly heavy words huh. I woke up in the home of a stranger, naked, disorientated, exposed, and oblivious of actual confirmation of what had happened the night before. I refused to believe what had happened to me was true. I never used the word ‘rape’ until it was presented to me in verbal communication from my counsellor that, that is what had occurred that night. Despite not knowing what had happened the night before all I knew when I left the next day was that there was a part of me missing. Exactly two weeks after the attack I was presented with my worst fears, a sexually explicit image of me surfaced, an image of my perpetrator engaging in intercourse with me. The photo was shared to my best friend, all his friends, and even made its way back to my own mum. Waking up the next day I did not believe anything else could break me. Boy was I wrong. The little piece of myself I had left had been stolen from me too. For the next three months following January the 4th I was mocked and laughed at by his friends, my ‘friends’ and my attacker himself. I truly had no care or regard left for myself, I was ashamed and riddled with self-blame. I began engaging in self-sabotaging behaviours; I was going out increasingly, misusing alcohol to numb the way I truly felt. I began to purge, head over the bowl, eyes streaming, screaming out for someone, anyone to save me from myself.
I went on like this for months. I hadn’t seen my perpetrator for months either. On August Bank Holiday Sunday I saw him. In a local bar, I sat in my seat at a table with my friends and he walked behind me, stroked my arm and hair. I did not move an inch, I wanted to cry, claw away at the part of my skin he had yet again invaded. He committed this act to simply remind me of what he had done, almost as if he was proud, it gave him a sense of control and dominance. He saw that I was enjoying my evening and decided he would soon put me in the place that belittled me and empowered him. Where it would have been easy for me to run home that night, I took a breath, rung my sister, and continued my night out. From the moment I stayed out I knew something had snapped inside of me. I had, had enough.
You see if you knew me on the outside, I looked fine and the majority of the time those whom are suffering look ‘fine’ on the outside, behind my bedroom walls I was howling praying to be anyone but myself.
Then I met Dan. I stumbled upon one of his blogs about loneliness. The universe had placed this blog in my path because it knew it was exactly what I needed to introduce me to the person whom was also struggling in his own personal life. Dan was never placed in my path for him to save me. Dan introduced me to podcasts and journaling. A week into communicating with Dan I knew exactly what I had to do without any interpretation from him. It was that I needed professional help. I made the call, attended the assessment and begun my six months of professional help. A form of help like no other. This was the route to correcting my self-destructive behaviours and allowing my heart to forgive myself.
I truly commend anyone with the bravery to admit themselves to counselling and therapy. I remember walking out of my assessment to meet my mum and sister. The only line I said to them whilst my voice cracked was ‘I know it was going to be hard but I didn’t think it was going to be that hard’ all the anger and hurt I projected upon myself for the past nine months was beginning to release from my body. His toxicity and grip that felt so heavily forced around my neck began to loosen. I write this part of this article tears streaming down eyes because I will never forget overwhelming feeling of no longer being under suffocation.
I had never planned this vicious attack to ever be part of my story, but without it I would have not been enabled the empowerment to love myself unconditionally, I would have never discovered the level of awareness that I currently attain. I am no longer full of hatred for him, nor am I for myself. The incident served its purpose exactly when it was supposed to. It will always be a part of my story, but it will not continue to define my story. It shaped me into the empowered and independent woman that I am and for that reason alone I am full of gratitude. I had two choices. I could have chosen: to live a life of bitterness and hurt, or I could have chosen to take what had already happened and recreate something beautiful from it. My message to you is that no matter what feels like the most heart-breaking situation to occur. You always have the power to choose yourself. Nobody will ever have more power over you than YOURSELF. Something taught to me by my counsellor when all I could feel was powerlessness.
If the said individual ever reads this, I hope you acknowledge that I don’t hate you. I thank you for giving me something far greater than what you think you gained. You gave me self-love, growth, and power.
Thank you! C x