• Tue, Apr 10 2012

The Hardest Part of My Rape Recovery: The Guilt Of Not Reporting

During that downward spiral, I thought a lot about revenge and retribution on the people who had taken my choice and virginity from me. I wished that I had been brave enough to file charges, even if I couldn’t have proven my case. I thought about sitting across from those faces and making them look me in the eye as I described every wound, physical and mental.

There were a million different times that I wished I would’ve come forward. Directly after the rape, it seemed like a way to move forward. Years later, I wanted to feel justice and know that those criminals would be punished. But it wasn’t until the birth of my daughter that I realized why reporting rape is so important, and why I was so wrong to suffer by myself. Once I looked at my beautiful little girl who would grow up to be a teenager just like I was, I knew that I didn’t just let myself down when I chose to stay locked in my room. I let down every girl after me who was hurt by those people who pretended to be my friend and violated me in such a horrible way.

I have many regrets from my freshman year of college. I regret trusting a girl I barely knew. I regret that ridiculous white wine that made me feel so mature but really tasted like crap. I regret that whole night and most of what happened after it. I regret missing classes and dropping out, moving home and not seeking help. But more than any of regrets, I wish that I would’ve had the strength to stand up and report what happened to me. It’s not because I want to see those people in jail, though I can admit that it was be nice. It’s because I wish I could’ve stopped them from hurting anyone else. That’s something that I just don’t know that I’ll every forgive myself for.

This month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. And while I hope that no one reading this post will ever be faced with this choice, I also want to tell people not to make the same mistake I did. Don’t let your fear keep you from standing up for yourself. Every time we put a rapist behind bars, we make the world a little safer for those who come after us. I wish I would’ve come forward seven years ago, instead of waiting almost a decade before I could open up and share my story. Wherever those three people are now, I hope that their next victim was stronger than I was and made them pay for their crimes.

Photo: Thinkstock.com

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  • Colby

    Ava, I wish this article had been out last year when I was faced with the difficult decision of whether to report my drugging/rape. Nobody understands how drastically rape can alter your life forever–I was in college at the time of my assault and your process of dealing reminds me very much of my own. Thanks to California laws which allow a victim to complete a rape kit before they’ve decided whether or not they want to report allowed me time to make my decision without pressure–my thought process was really similar to this in that I also didn’t see the point legally of reporting (even though investigation is under way it often feels like theres no chance of finding them or conviction) but I’m glad I did in the end bc I hope no other person EVER has to go through this. The last sentence of your piece indicates you hope other girls are stronger….but I just wanted to let you know that to be a survivor is to be strong, regardless of whether you report or not. YOU ARE STRONG TOO! Thanks for sharing~!

  • TheBuffyProject

    Wonderful and brave story. Thank you so much for posting this.

    Now, to blisstreedotcom: is a “find a date” advertisement appropriate here? Really?

  • Rebecca

    Your story is very similar to mine. I was drugged and raped in October 2004 while at a party as a freshman in college. I didn’t know the guy. I remember feeling the same exact way you did the next day. I didn’t believe I had been raped until I was diagnosed with a STD in January 2005. Unfortunately, it is an STD I will live with for the rest of my life. I think guilt is something every rape victim deals with. I did not report my rape because it was 3 months later when I realized what had actually happened. Thanks for sharing your story. It is not easy!