To Be Honest
TW: This is a personal reflection-type article I wrote regarding the aftermath of sexual trauma.
There were so many things I could not understand until I experienced sexual trauma myself. Growing up, I was aware of sexual violence’s existence and how survivors were silenced while perpetrators were protected. But as a young teenage girl, I could not understand why or how the world protected people who committed such heinous acts towards fellow human beings. Call me naive and innocent, but I believed in the good of society and fellow human beings.
Then, I saw the world for what it truly was.
I experienced sexual trauma just around the time I turned 17 years old, committed by someone I trusted. Before, when I had listened to or read survivors’ stories, I could not understand how they could feel guilty or how they could blame themselves. After experiencing it myself, I understood why. The very adults who were there to protect me turned me against me. Other students and my friends did not listen or care. They acted as if it had never happened. At one point, I could not tell if my voice was other people’s or my own, telling me I was at fault and that I should not speak of what happened.
I saw how institutions covered for the perpetrator firsthand, while I was left out to fend for myself. To them, his life, his family, and his future were more important than me. To them, I was just another number, another statistic. I was left behind, silenced, and ultimately forgotten.
People around me told me that the best revenge I could attain was living a good, happy life despite what happened. That if I let my anger control me and do something I would regret, he would win. But either way, he would win, right? He has no scars inflicted that he has to live with for the rest of his life. He can live so unbothered that when recalling the events, he could do so without feeling like he could not breathe, every single time. He can look back at his high school years without that memory constantly finding a way before his eyes.
I was angry. I was vengeful.
Why do I have to move on with my life, suppressing what happened to me? Why do I have to live my life pretending that I am alright? How come they protected him and not me? I do not understand. It is not fair. This world is not fair.
I feel this every time I think about what happened. Despite a long year of recovery and treatment, I am still angry and I am still vengeful. But I also feel hope. I hope that other survivors will read my story and feel less alone. I hope that by speaking out, the stigma surrounding sexual trauma will one day be removed, especially in Japan where such topics are considered taboo.
Today, I live my life with that piece still a part of my journey, every step of the way. Unfortunately, I will never be the same person, the same girl I was before. But I choose to believe that with this experience, I can make the world a better place for future generations. I choose to believe that I, along with countless other survivors, can bring forth change in our societies so that other people, younger generations, will never have to experience and feel what I did. I choose to believe in this because I do not know what I would do if I did not.
About Niko (She/Her)
She grew up predominantly in Japan but is currently a university student in the U.S., passionate about feminism, mental health, and other social and political issues in both Japan and the U.S. She hopes to speak out and use my experiences to inspire others.
Edited by Emiru Okada
Graphics by Maya Kubota