By Jessye Sedergren
I'm not really sure why I'm writing you a letter. Maybe it's because I live in a society where what you did to me is inconvenient for other people to accept, so my silence is easier for everyone. I'm sick of it. I don't want to be silent anymore. My voice matters. I don't know if it matters to you or not, but it matters to me.
The night I fell asleep at your house, having sex with you had never crossed my mind. I considered you a safe person. A friend. As far as I was concerned, I was safe with you. You'd protect me if anyone tried to harm me. Little did I know, you were the one I needed protection from.
I'll never forget the feeling of my breath catching in my chest and a lump in my throat, as I woke up in instant panic. Something was being shoved inside of me. Something foreign and unwanted. Shock and horror washed over me as I realized that it was you. You were inside of me. Being ever so careful not to wake me, you were on top of me and thrusting inside of me. I was afraid. Fight, flight or freeze. These were my options. I used to pride myself in my toughness. I always fight. But that night, all I could think of what survival. I froze. I played dead. I pretended to sleep. Fighting back tears, and trying not to breathe, I clenched my fists and waited for you to finish. It wasn't until you finally got off of me, and went to clean yourself off, that I finally breathed. I felt nothing. I breathed, relaxed my muscles, and fell back to sleep. It wasn't until weeks later that I realized that you had raped me.
The biggest tragedy, the most significant thing you took from me, is my feeling of security in the rooms both of us consider home. I no longer walk in and feel understood, and safe. I see people give you hugs, and make jokes and laugh with you. You get to sit back with ease. I sit in the same room, yet I'm estranged and alone. I'm a shadow of myself. I'm no longer a beacon of light for others. I'm trapped in my own bondage again. You took away the freedom that I have worked so long and hard for.
People have asked me why I still go to places, knowing you will be there. Knowing that people don't want to hear my story; knowing I'm suffering in quiet. I go, I think, because I need you to see that you can't take everything from me. I have a long road ahead of me. The work I have to do to rebuild what you stole from me in 10 minutes that night, will take months or years. I'm going to do it. And I'm not going to do it quietly.
You are sick. You need some help. I don't hate you. I don't understand your choice, but I know that I will not treat a sick person badly. Society's cognitive dissonance when it comes to rape culture, insists upon my silence. It also keeps you sick. I'm not writing this to punish you. I'm writing this because society cannot continue to do this to either one of us. We just elected a president who openly spoke about sexual assault. Voters pardoned it. This behavior is no longer acceptable. Please get the help you need. Somewhere in there, there is a human. A person who doesn't want to hurt anyone. I need your help to end rape culture. We can't allow this to happen to any more men or women. You can help yourself by admitting that this happened, and acknowledging what you did to me. You can get help for this, and then you can use your experience to reach other predators. I can use this experience to help others who were victims of rape and sexual assault. Together, we can end this.
I won't be a victim anymore. I will heal, and I will recover, and I will not do so quietly.