CW: Mentions of sexual assault
This is my memoir of the period right after the sexual assault incident.
I don't know what’s making me sad. Is it the rainy-day blues?
I have some heavy and deep emotions that I won’t be able to get out of if I dive into them. It has been two months since the day I became a victim of sexual violence.
I envy my friends of the same sex who are clean, unblemished, and happy. I’m not like them anymore.
Scars that I’ll carry and fight for the rest of my life.
I fight against the horrible and abominable memories that come like bullets in an instant but never penetrate and disappear. Since I don't remember, I wonder if they're all just illusions, delusions, or never-ending nightmares. A blade engraved with scars and memories is directed towards me, who has lost their memories.
I wish they were nightmares that I just haven't woken up from. Every morning when I wake up, I’m shocked, dismayed, and saddened by the unawakened nightmare that’s a reality.
Every morning, I wake up scared of something. Sometimes I even cry.
I was frightened of something unidentified, and it was initially difficult for me to recognize what it was.
It was decisively always a nightmare.
Dreams of being (sexually) assaulted by someone. It was still better when I didn't know the person or couldn't see their face.
Maybe because of these nightmares, I find it difficult to fall asleep and often end up crying myself to sleep.
I honestly don't care about the person who did it anymore. My frustration and anger have gone away. I'm just trying to deal with my situation and barely managing to make it through each day.
“I'm relieved I was able to eat today.” “Today, I'm able to take a shower without fear and go to sleep." "The food I had with friends today was delicious." "I’ve got more plans to look forward to." "I was praised at work today.”
Every day, I exaggerate as much as possible about small things to feel happy. I got into the habit of taking pictures of what I ate.
I don’t really have a memory of the two months following the incident.
What I ate, where and with whom I talked, and who said kind things to me — I can't remember. They’re fading away.
Writing this down and allowing my emotions to flow is the only thing I can do right now. I can only hope that someone will read it.
I never thought it’d be this painful. I never imagined that I’d have the urge to vanish.
It was lonely, painful, and sad, and I began to lose faith in people.
I was prepared for the fact that the more time passed, the fewer and fewer people would be willing to listen to me.
You must protect yourself, and even though you can’t die alone, you must strive to live your own life. Because you’re the owner of it.
So I mustered up my courage with all of my energy, thinking it was for the sake of justice. I was fighting quietly. I think I did my best. I did well.
I was courageous in my own way.
“It must be annoying to cry out that I'm scared. I can't rest upon others forever.” I think as such, and I find myself talking about the incident as if it were a heroic saga.
“I’ll make you regret it even in the afterlife.” “I laugh at the fact that a strong-willed person like me is mentally ill.” “I believe I’m a strategist who has the right evidence and ideas and is comparable to Zhuge Liang.” I find myself trying to avoid appearing too serious when speaking to others.
To tell the truth, I need help.
I honestly want someone to wake me up right now from this dream that I can't wake up from.
Sadly, one day, I wished to die. I didn't care whether I woke up or not.
One day, I skipped a few meals and became completely hungry. There was nothing left in my stomach; I was dehydrated, and for the first time in my life, I recognized that my stomach was empty.
I thought, “If I just fall asleep now, maybe I won't have to wake up again.”
But then, I found myself drinking water, eating something amid my dizziness, and even cooking after calming down.
Perhaps I couldn't do it because I thought I’d get bad karma. I think people can't die by themselves, and many people want to live long. If I do it, I can't face the many people I appreciate. But I honestly can't even remember the reason why I couldn't.
High places, big intersections, and stations without platform screen doors — all of them seem like places I could disappear into. I probably stopped going to the beach by myself, which I used to love, for the same reason.
I wondered why I’d been storing envelopes lately. It was because I couldn't touch scissors after dark. I never leave any knife out, no matter how small, and I can't use knives at night. I had properly followed the psychiatrist's advice, "Don't hurt yourself," before I even knew I was doing it. I guess I’m stronger than I thought.
But the more I slip into unconsciousness or forget things, the more I feel like I'm fading away, just as I have sometimes desired.
I wonder who I am. I feel like I’m looking at myself from afar.
I feel as if I’m stuck in a world of mirrors.
I used to call this objectification, "the victim me and the defender me."
Now, I don't want either of them to be me — the victim or the defender. It's just a distraction. I don't want to be called "a survivor." I don't want that identity. I just want to go back to the way I was before that day.
I've thought “I wish I had amnesia” hundreds of times.
I sometimes think that since my identity got destroyed anyway, it’d be easier to live a new life as a different me, without memories.
However, a human being can't become an amnesiac so conveniently.
And this nightmare isn’t a dream but a reality. Every moment of it is my life. It’s moving forward. Every second.
That’s why I’m writing this now.
I’m actively and proactively recording the memories of the present as my life.
My only life changed so much due to just one day, which was supposed to be insignificant. It was all because of a few hours of a "practical joke" by a group of people I’d barely talked to before and who were originally completely irrelevant to me.
Once known for my trademark smile, I gradually became more and more expressionless. I used to love being busy, and my schedule was always tight. But since then, “a time with friends” had been replaced by "a time to cry."
If I can't turn back time, I hope that one day I’ll be cured.
I want to laugh from the bottom of my heart as soon as possible, trust and love the person I desire, and cherish the memories of my daily life in my heart, even if I don't keep a diary.
To the future me. I hope that my wounds have healed a little better than they are now.
A memoir of the most painful, self-abhorrent period of my life.
A period when I blamed myself even though I was hurt by others.
A time when my body still couldn't accept what had happened, and I was trying to process it in my head.
To me from those days.
After months of nightmares, I probably became a new me.
I accepted my new identity as "a survivor" and decided to release this piece of writing to the public, which I’d never touched since I wrote it, for someone I haven’t met yet.
The "time to cry" disappeared from my schedule, and I now have "a time to think about how to tell my story to someone."
I met someone who accepted me just as I was, and I learned to trust people. I’ve come to know how wonderful it is to love someone from the bottom of my heart. Now I have the emotional leeway to thank my family and friends, who have always been there for me, just as they were before the incident.
Yet, I still get scared when I see someone who looks like “them.” Whether they’re great superstars or total strangers.
My counselor told me that I had reached the stage of recovery. But “recovery” doesn’t necessarily mean “the incident disappears from my memory.”
As the counselor said, fear and recovery go round and round like a spiral staircase, gradually losing their power in my mind.
Like this, I was able to deal with the feeling quickly and properly with the help of professionals and the support of many people. The wound didn’t spread too far and became like a harmless scab. I give myself a lot of credit for being able to ask for help. Now I know how to handle any fearful or panicky situation I encounter.
So I'm okay. Thank you, me, for not giving up during the worst of times and for continuing to move forward each day.
To all of you who have read to the end,
Thank you for reading this long article.
I’ve finally decided to publish this essay I wrote right after the incident, several years later. At first, I wasn’t thinking of releasing this anywhere at all, but I thought this memoir was necessary to share as much as possible about what I experienced as a person involved in this series of #MeEverSince.
My aspiration is that this memoir can provide you with a realistic understanding of the fear and other emotions experienced by victims of sexual violence as if you were in their shoes. Also, by visualizing the victims’ emotions through words, I wish more people could become aware of the risks and take measures to protect themselves from being victimized or from becoming perpetrators due to impulsive actions.
I hope that through the series of #MeEverSince, we can all come together and think about ways to create a society where not even one more person has to suffer as I did.
Written by Kiana
Translated by Kyoko Itagaki
Edited by Emiru Okada
Graphics by Emily Mogami