I continued to live my life; however, I was really an imitator of what I thought life should be. In the beginning that meant many more rape episodes to come. Eventually, I was able to move past this stage to a brief period in college, then marriage, and finally children. Those children were the catalyst to the greatest changes within me. I had worth. I had purpose. I was a mother and I had a responsibility to do the best I could for my beautiful daughters. I wonder sometimes if it was more meaningful to me that they were all girls. Perhaps, though it’s not as though I had control over it.
Though I didn’t recognize it at the time, I wanted badly to be someone that they would respect and want to emulate. Someone that they could come to for advice and when they needed help navigating their own life paths. I had my work cut out for me.
I always worked hard, and my career moved forward – a few careers as I evolved. I provided homes for my children and was able to put them in good schools. As I eventually became a single mother, it was not easy and at times we struggled. I had moment where I doubted myself and almost gave up. Then I heard my children laughing one morning as I was waking up. I heard them playing together and joking about silly things. I knew that as much as they were my lifeline, they needed me, and I was not going to let them down.
I am so proud that they are all beautiful, intelligent, caring women with families of their own. They have amazing careers and I can’t wait to see what they do next. They have beautiful children that light up my life. I want to cry whenever I think that none of these amazing people that have so much to give to their families, and communities, might have existed if I had during any one of my rapes had not come out alive.
For myself, I completed multiple degrees ending with a doctorate and continue to contribute through personal and professional relationships. I found multiple types of therapies and continue to work on myself daily. I remarried to a wonderful, and supportive spouse that somehow found me and then loved me and my children from the beginning of our relationship.
Dignity. It has come to me through persevering, through moving one foot in front of the other even when it was and is hard, from allowing myself to feel the swell of pain and knowing it will ebb, and from my accomplishments in life and the accomplishments for my children and grandchildren. My life is not what it was before I was raped but it is mine and I will not easily give it up for any reason. I have lived through and accomplished more than I was ever encouraged to believe that I could after being raped.
I am humble yet proud, I am filled with self-worth, and I value myself and hold others to value me as well. I have dignity.