Editor’s Note: This is our second post in the series – I’m letting people self select, so some people aren’t going to tell a story about rape. But all sexual violence hurts people with disabilities, so these stories, to me – are just as important. For many people struggling with mental illness, they are not believed when they report.
This story is from Anne – who requested anonymity. (Trigger Warning)
I was hospitalised for depression and self-harm when I was fifteen. The other teenagers on the ward knew I identified as being attracted to women, as did the staff. There was no animosity around my identity. It was a cold and decrepit place, but the staff were extremely compassionate. Late one afternoon, one of the guys shoved me against a wall and groped me painfully. He ran away from the hospital and I never saw him again.
Almost immediately, I blocked the memory out. A week later, panic attacks started, and five months later, I drank myself into psychosis and attempted suicide. As the memories started to trickle back, nearly every person I confided in dismissed my experience. I had begun to blame myself.
It wasn’t the last time I was sexually abused. Amongst other incidents, two years ago a family friend sexually harassed me and groped me in my home, in front of one of my parents. A few weeks later, I entered hospitalisation for a triggered bipolar episode.
I often remember, and when I do, I can’t stand anyone touching me. Not even for a hug. It’s my lonely, heavy and sad secret, existing in the self-harm scars across my body that spell out the kinds of intrusions my body and mind have experienced. The shame and brokenness I know that I shouldn’t feel is overwhelming. Thank you for this space to share my experiences.