6,000 Nights

“Everyone has a chapter they don’t want to read out loud.” – unknown

How does a single moment become six thousand nights?

One night. Two men. 17 years ago. That’s how.

I heard footsteps and low voices walking down the hall. I didn’t have enough time to run. Fight. Flight. FREEZE. Staying as still as I possibly could, I kept my eyes closed and pretended to be asleep.

And then I did something that I had never seen anyone do, except on television shows. I became powerful and strong. I became free! I soared above the ground, defying gravity. With every leap I took, I could feel myself being supported by the wind and air around me. It carried me. It kept me from falling. It kept me safe.

And that is the memory I chose to hold on to. I couldn’t embrace the reality of what had happened. I was sixteen. I was home alone. I couldn’t run. I didn’t scream. I didn’t fight. I was powerless. I did what I had known to do since I was five. I soared. I set my mind free from my body that was being raped by two men whose identity I will never know.

I didn’t call the police. I didn’t call my mom. I told no one. I let my mind forget. I slept under the bed or hid in the closet whenever I was home alone after that. I wasn’t just raped that night. My PTSD caused me to relive it. I had insomnia. I couldn’t sleep in the dark. I could hear the footsteps. I could hear their voices. I didn’t scream that night I was raped but the screams came. Night after night. I screamed. Night after night. I cried. Alone. I was afraid. And I still am. Over 6,000 nights later, the fear has not completely dissipated.

No one wants to talk about sexual assault. The scars that stay. The time it takes to heal. One moment that turns into eternity. It is more than just a memory. More than a moment. It lingers.

I have carried shame that was never mine to carry. I was sixteen. I was innocent. I did nothing wrong. I have compassion for my sixteen year old self that carried the shame of silence. The shame of freezing. The shame of not fighting. I realize now that I DID fight. I fought the only way I knew how. I fought to survive.

And while I understand cognitively that I did not actually defy gravity, there are occasional moments when that memory feels real. Moments when I need it to be. Moments when I feel unsafe and afraid and vulnerable to the world around me. Moments when I feel powerless.

But I am NOT powerless.

I make the choice to heal. To take back my voice. To take back my power.

I make the choice to read aloud this chapter of my story.


#love and be loved friends.

You are not alone. There is hope. There is healing. There is love. austin-schmid-37423


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