by Anonymous; illustration by Kelsey Skordal

What if I called you a rapist?

Would you laugh and call me a liar?

Would you tell me I begged for it? Convince me I wanted it?

Or would you tell me you don’t remember?

A night that has been permanently and cruelly carved into my being can be so easily forgotten by the man who escaped the consequences.

I won’t call you a rapist because I don’t believe that defines you. You are more than your actions. I am more than your actions. But I will never again shy away from the truth that you stole my belief in humanity, that you forced me to fall into a world that I once pretended didn’t exist.

My dear, I forgive you. I forgive you for not hearing me, for not wanting to hear me, for pretending my pleas to stop were only a façade for my passion. I forgive you for your brutal messages demanding updates on my menstrual cycle because you were too busy pinning me down to put on a condom. I forgive you for never giving your sadistic pleasures another thought while I have spent hundreds of hours in therapy and entered darknesses that can only be seen in hell.

I forgive you.

But I will not pretend that you did not shatter parts of me. That you did not scar me physically, emotionally and mentally. That you did not create a warped fear of all men for me. That you did not make me afraid of my own father.

I have finally put myself together, slowly and meticulously. I have battled my darkness, embraced my anxiety and stood for my strength.

Between my legs, you embedded yourself into my past, my present and my future. You have become a stamp on my soul, one that soap and water are not able to dissolve.

So I forgive you. I completely and wholly forgive you.

Because by forgiving you, I am beginning to forgive myself.

But forgiveness has boundaries, and I feel them building as my fantasies thrive. 

You are not the sole perpetrator who has maimed my sexual security. I have not known a life without men who assault and men who rape. My childhood was penetrated by suicides, assaults, rapes and self-harm. I am a product of a dysfunctional society. 

So here I sit, alternating between my homework and the sordid websites that unlock my fantasies. I am in search of a Sugar Daddy, a man over the age of 50 who will fulfill my most secret desires. I long for the money to be passed from his hand to mine, varnished with the knowledge that I am his for the night. I crave the uncertainty of what he might do, what he might ask for, what he might not hear. I hunger for his sense of ownership. 

I wear men’s flannels with baggy jeans and cheap boots. I throw my hair in a bun and laugh like a lunatic. I am goofy, insecure, lost and loved.

But on these sites where men advertise their wealth and brittle bones, I share pictures of the self I no longer know. For them, I am the girl who has never been abused, never been scarred, never been anything but titillated when feeling hands slip up my dress. I am the woman their perverse hands have molded. 

I make myself sick. I am searching for the moment we shared when you began to pull my underwear from my hips and I began to flail. I am searching for the moment where the safe sensuality of our kisses evolved into painful surges as you left bruises on my wrists. 

I want him to do the things I begged you not to. 

You and my other offenders have twisted my desires into something I adamantly stand against. I am an advocate for trafficked victims, a crusader for prostitutes, a woman who believes that power dynamics are real and that my “no’s” have always meant no. 

But my security has been stolen, my peace purloined, my sexuality grotesquely reformed. I am terrified of my own mind. And yet, I still forgive you.

I forgive you. 

I forgive the others. 

I am beginning to forgive myself.