This lyric brings up so many feelings for me and summarized my current decision to not name the name who attacked me.
I saw Lecrae’s post after I’d written the first draft of this post.
These thoughts are at the forefront of my mind for a couple of reasons.
I am actively healing from this trauma and this week is the anniversary of my assault.
It used to feel crazy after all this time. I am protecting the person who hurt me so very deeply.
Now nine years later, I am confident in why I am protecting this person.
What I have always believed is that, I missed my best shot at the justice that matters because I did not get a sexual assault exam.
And my choice to not say his name now is because I am actively protecting myself. Protecting myself from the stupid question — why didn’t you call police? There is a simple answer. I was terrified of him hurting me again and of police believing him over me. BUT also, I wasn’t ever taught what to do in this type of situation. I fought, but I wasn’t strong enough to escape at the time. So he overpowered me and won and 20-year-old Amber instinctively took a shower and cried herself to sleep.
I’ve been internally crying and not healing ever since.
This silence hurt… a lot.
I know could use my infinite resources to take him down publicly, but my heart won’t let me attach his name to mine forever. I don’t want people to google me and find him.
That’s never how I wanted my story to be told.
I understand why the #metoo movement got so much bad press, but it also did so much for survivors like me. It showed us that we aren’t alone. It showed us that this problem is way bigger than we can solve in a decade, two decades, a lifetime.
It showed us that no matter what- if we use our voice, there are people who are waiting to defend us.
It gave us a united voice in two simple words. Me too.
But for me, even saying me too is too messy…
For nine years, I’ve silently dealt with the belief that the weight of one person‘s name could ruin my reputation. I am acutely aware that he could remember that night very differently. He might have a story from that night that might sound valid. But the $13,000 bill (I owe $1,700) to a mental health stabilization unit and the countless money spent on therapy off and on is my proof that what he did was not OK.
It was illegal. It was vicious. It was disgusting. It would make a pretty accurate Law and Order SVU episode.
What he did broke me. It made me defensive, it made me resilient, it made me fight people who didn’t deserve a battle. It made me rush away from Valdosta State University. It made me rush into my career without therapy.
I allowed his actions to rush into the life that the trauma interrupted.
What I mean by this is that: he hurt me while I was fighting to be a journalist. The assault made me rush into a career still holding on to the pain and the triggers that still exist until this day.
At this point, I am faced with a very important question. Do I go ahead and make a public record of what he did to me so that I can keep him away from me as I heal? Do I ask the school where I got my 2nd degree to ban him from all VSU events? Or do I stay away from VSU forever just to avoid potentially seeing his face?
But that keeps me away from people who care about me? But why didn’t those who know what he did — care enough to keep him away from me? Do I REALLY have to lose something else because of his actions? That is not fair. But life’s not fair.
So if anyone ever wondered why I never came back to homecoming, it’s because the man whose existence triggers panic all throughout my body gets to walk around freely while I am forced to remain silent because my story makes people uncomfortable.
I will make my decision by Thursday because there is an event I want to go to. I just don’t want to see his face and I believe I shouldn’t have to until I am ready.
Survivors: Stream Anomaly by Lecrae. Yes, the whole album. Listen to the words. They helped me. I think they will help you. He released it the year after my attack and I used to cry because they resonated so much. Now, I can listen and they bring me so much peace. The lyric above came from Good, Bad Ugly.