Welcome to Voices of Hope.
My name is Kristine and I am a survivor of rape.
This is my first blog post…Ever…So forgive me for being a little nervous.
Okay, so maybe this isn’t technically my first blog post, I had some sort of blog in high school that documented the trials and tribulations of a typical teenage girl which included documenting everyday occurrences such as in lunch room drama, my braces being removed, and a trip to NYC with my mom and my girlfriend.
This blog is going to be a little different.
I am a survivor of rape.
2014 marked the 10 year anniversary of my attack. I often question if I should even call the years that have passed an anniversary. While some may not agree with it, I believe that if this awful situation had not happened to me, I would not be the person that I am today. Therefore, I will continue to call it an anniversary of some sort.
Roughly a year after I was raped, I knew that I wanted to share my story. Until that point in my life, I had never personally known anyone in my life that had been raped, sexually assaulted, or even a victim of a violent crime. To live through a sexual assault was a lot to take in and I just had the feeling that I had to share my story.
So during college courses, I began to document. Rather than sitting in class and paying attention (as I should have been), I would write countless pages about what had happened to me. I wrote down all of the events leading up to the incident, forcing myself to try to remember whatever I could. The road that led to the attack felt most important, not any of what happened afterwards. I was so busy living in the past that it didn’t matter what I was going through in the present. I didn’t take the time to realize how the rape actually effected my well-being, my life, my friends, and family.
Eventually, I stopped. I stopped writing all together. Things had come up in my life that got in the way and I continued to trudge through the next few years attempting to get back to some sort of normal. What I didn’t know, is I would never be normal, nor would I be the same person again.
In 2014, though, I had a revelation: The attack that I endured wasn’t simply about it me…It was also about every family member and friend that I encountered both before and after the incident. It took me 10 long years to realize that I could not imagine being my roommate, my aunt, my cousin, my best friend, my mother or father. In order to come full circle and fully accept what had happened to me, I had to learn what they had gone though as a result of my rape. Therefore, a large part of my story is also theirs. I decided to write a personal letter to the family and friends who knew me before the incident happened, and even after.
So far, letters have been sent to just over 10 people. I have reached out to them through traditional mail and e-mail and asked them to write about their feelings. Knowing that this process was going to be a challenge for me, I started by reaching out to those people whom I knew would be the easiest to speak with about the situation. Unsure of how some would respond, I did send out a couple of the more difficult letters a few months later. Little did I forget the emotion that would come with just reaching out to some people…
This feels like a natural stopping point in my story, but one final thought before I go.
The goal of this blog, first and foremost, is to have my friends and family contribute and share their thoughts about my experience and to personally reply to their responses. Voices of Hope also aims to share sexual assault/rape/sexual violence news, rape culture news, statistics, and ways to get help. We are also really hoping to start a conversation about sexual assault and rape in order to not only help silent victims know that they are not alone, but to also create a movement which aims to change rape culture.
Kristine Irwin, May 2015
P.S. A huge shout out to one of my best friends, Julie, who has not only assisted in the creation of this blog, but also will be contributing to and spreading Voices of Hope in order to make a change.