My rapist got married. He found someone to spend the rest of his life with. He loves someone, and someone loves him enough to pledge a lifetime. He was celebrated and congratulated and toasted. He was given what I want. What I dream of, he has. I wonder if his new wife knows he’s a rapist. I wonder if he knows he’s a rapist.
I was alone in my house. It was Saturday night, and I was looking for something to watch on TV while casually scrolling through my Facebook timeline. The week had been hard, and I really just wanted to zone out for a couple hours. I randomly got a text from a friend from college asking me if I wanted to go to brunch with him the next day. It seemed odd because we don’t live near each other, but I happily replied yes. I hadn’t seen him in a couple years. I asked him if he was in the area for work, and he didn’t respond. Maybe he didn’t see it.
But he didn’t have to answer because I saw why he was in town. The wedding. My rapist’s. I saw it on Facebook. There were people there who I knew in college and who I was apparently still friends with on social media. They were there. My friend – my brunch-tomorrow-friend – was there. They were there celebrating a rapist and the purity of love. How twisted it sounds. How twisted it looked. For all of the smiling faces in those photos and for all of the exclamation points used on their status updates, all I saw were flashes of a night in September, his face too close to mine, and I smelled stale beer and felt beard scruff and the air being forced out of my lungs.
Nobody prepared me for the future of my rapist. To me, his life stopped at the night he forced himself on me. The night he didn’t listen to me tell him no. The night that he may not even remember but the night that I’ll never be able to forget. I never thought about having to see his accomplishments, his dreams fulfilled, his happiness splashed in front of me. Taunting, taunting, taunting me with the simplicity of his last eight years. His life continued while I was left behind to clean up what was shattered. I suppose I thought that because my life ended in that moment so did his. For me, he is stuck there, with his raggedy polo shirt, his worn jeans, that goddamn baseball cap I’ll never be able to not see. The majority of almost a decade has been dedicated to fighting to be okay, to feel unbroken, to move beyond disgust and shame. Hot tears and hidden grief have found their way to the surface. I am reminded these days that I am not there yet. I am still clamoring up this mountain, wrestling with the dark. I am still struggling with shutting down when someone gets too close. I am still struggling with allowing a man in my life. I fight away the bitterness, the toe-curling distress, and the sadness.
Did I go to brunch the next day? I did, but the wedding was never talked about. I chose not to bring it up. I wonder what it must feel like to be friends with both a rapist and their victim. Is it uncomfortable? Is there pity or embarrassment or anger? Or is there disbelief? It has to be strange, moving between two sides but never fully acknowledging what was done and what was endured.
I suppose I could be blamed for perpetuating the appalling way people act toward rape. I blamed myself and I stayed quiet. I chose not to come forward and point the finger at that man, declaring his violations. But survivors are generally the ones who end up taking care of those around them who don’t know how to respond. And we’re so tired of being that person.
This life is not fair and I won’t continue to question why. But my rapist got married. And it makes me angry.