Surviving Rape at the Age of Eleven

Wednesday 10 July 201903:00 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية

I never expected that I would one day be writing about this incident. It’s not because I don’t dare, but because doing so would almost be like jumping without knowing where I will land.

The rape robbed me of my being and deprived me of my childhood, as if I left some different person behind me with no trace of the original.

Too young to understand what had really happened, or how it happened in such a slow-motioned hurry, the rape robbed me of my being and deprived me of my childhood, as if I left some different person behind me with no trace of the original. A person that had been ripped apart; tossed aside and lying alone on the corner of the street, no one willing to approach the corpse.

The incident turned me into a sad person, having once been bubbly and alive. The rape created a hidden apparition inside my body that prefers introversion and isolation; a phantom that feels, even after all these years, that can’t trust (to say the very least) anything in this world. My phantom lost faith the moment it was transformed into a victim of premediated manslaughter – both on a moral and spiritual basis – at the hands of a boy just five years older. I was eleven, he was sixteen.

My rape was my fault

I was young when I bore the guilt as if it was mine, my small heart a forest of fear – one in which all my hallucinations, obsessive fears and sinful scenarios freely roamed as a defensive reaction to protect us both. I thought I was guilty of letting him violate me without much resistance or loud screams. Yet such actions were not possible at the time: it was impossible for me to escape. I was under his hands and at his mercy, the mercy of a torturer (or under his body, to be more precise). He held my bony hands in his clenched grasp, and sunk them into the mattress as he raped me. He then gave me a bar of soap to clean some of the blood that came out of my torn insides, but his ejaculation remained inside me – a poison in my body.

Despite everything that I have learnt in my thirty years on this earth, I have not been able to leap across this incident or move past it. For it is a formidably high wall that you fear will fall on your delicate body and crush whatever is left of you. It is almost as if you died in that moment, and what has piled up from the wreckage of the wall’s collapse constitutes little more than some debris of former ruins. Rubble that you nonetheless still have to drag behind you – an everlasting reminder that the corpse from your past that you have to pull towards you has not, in fact, died. Rather, it is a living corpse that reminds you of how much of a survivor you are, how beautiful you are with what you have become, and ultimately, how strong you are to have learned to move forward without killing yourself.

It is said that every child has his/her own little story which he/she cannot forget, and which apparently becomes a defining landmark later on in life. Here is the story of my rape, one summer night on a village rooftop, a miserable episode in my memory.
It is said that children who are raped are often able to shut out their painful memories, carving them away like raw meat to be stored in a cold safe where it can remain forgotten until some point someday.

Forgiveness is denial

It is said that each of us has his/her own personal battles and a place from which the pain leaks out, like a ghost that sleeps in our bed and keeps us awake late at night. It is said that every child has his/her own little story which he/she cannot forget, and which apparently becomes a defining landmark later on in life. Here is the story of my rape, one summer night on a village rooftop, a miserable episode in my memory. For ten consecutive years, I told myself that forgiveness is a prerequisite to moving on. But in fact, the only solution that is found in forgiveness is denial: as if nothing had happened. Those crude fingers that held me, his rigid body and savage instrument he used to violate me – as if they were all details not belonging to me. Then – only one year ago – I decided not to forgive but to heal, and I dealt with my rape in another way. I put it in front of me as a story that I had to understand, dig up and reassemble its details in order to heal from it– for I remembered it every time I drank alcohol or used drugs. I remember it and I cry, hugging the child inside me that died too prematurely. 

To say his name out loud

My rape remains unwavering and fresh in my memory. Nineteen years later, I recall events like a gloomy twilight that arrives from afar; a film that you are not sure is real, dotted with an imagination that you don’t have any living descriptions of. You tell yourself that it’s a nightmare that you want to escape or even a dark room – not dissimilar to the room my rapist led me to. For a long time, I wasn’t able to say his name; even when I went to therapy in 2012 and talked about him, I still ignored his name. Instead, he was an imaginary person whose existence I can’t prove. My therapy taught me to call out his name and repeat it to myself. Here, I was able to jump above denial – I don’t like to call him a monster, because in the end we are all potential monsters and are not listed under the category of angels – and now, he was to be identified in my memory/denial with a known name, his true name.

I no longer called him “anonymous”, and even learnt to affix descriptions to his name: brown skin, a bleak face, green eyes, dry hands from working in the prairie, a piercing, angry look, and a mouth that slurs its words (which he compensates for with slaps and violence). Those were my memories of him at the time, as he violated me aggressively as if he was doing it for the first time, trying it with me as if I were a mere corpse – while all the desire my young body ever thought of was playing and having fun within a limited imagination.

I remember he took me by the hand to the roof. He had a booming voice for a boy of sixteen, and I could not escape his rigid hands. He possessed me as if I was his prey, when I was only a child whose hands had been shackled by his rapist – that human or monster; it doesn’t matter anymore how I describe him as it once used to. That day the child in me stood still, lifeless as a corpse; he didn’t know the way and when he did, he got lost. I stopped myself from committing suicide, even while remembering the brutality I suffered and the pain that came out of my ruptured, soft skin, which fell like water droplets on the carpet that night – the details of which are erased and recollected every time, like the legend of my life.

I learnt that I deserved love

It is said that children who are raped are often able to shut out their painful memories, carving them away like raw meat to be stored in a cold safe where it can remain forgotten until some point someday. It is said that rape makes us convert our bodies almost into free use by others, and we can’t experience anything other than a diminished pleasure. All of this I have indeed experienced, in a plundered life at the hands of men who know no mercy, who conjugate without love. I used to think that that was what I deserved: I don’t deserve love, but deprecation and use like an automatic machine, where others achieve their satisfaction with their sick bodies.

I later learnt that I do deserve love, and for my body to be treated with respect and familiarity.

However, I later learnt that I do deserve love, and for my body to be treated with respect and familiarity; I was helped by reading testimonies from rape survivors, as well as psychiatric help.

We are not victims, we escaped intentional murder. We survived with scars that do not resemble the corpses we left behind – and that ultimately know today that their holders will struggle and one day come out and point their fingers at those who stand charged alone for their crime

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