To my friend, the rape victim.
I don’t know your name, but this letter is for you. For the one who still struggles to make sense of what happened, for the one who still can’t process it, for the one who is still reluctant to use that damn word.
What an ugly word it is; Rape. To the world it conjures up images of the creepy man hiding in the bushes late at night, but to you it may not have been that way. Perhaps it’s the night you stayed behind at work when you thought the office was empty, or it was the gathering where someone followed you out of the room without you noticing, maybe it was that time you trusted that one friend or relative to drop you home in his car, or the time someone you cared for betrayed your trust and shattered your entire universe. No matter what it was or how it happened, please remember, it was not your fault.
It was never your fault.
I’m sorry there was no one there to support you as you walked home that day.
I’m sorry that you had to put on a brave face in public with your mind screaming, your stomach in knots and your legs barely supporting your weight as your body begged to give up.
I’m sorry that you had to cry in the privacy of your shower as you scrubbed your skin raw as if to erase any trace, any memory, of what had happened that day.
I’m sorry that you went about your day and the weeks that followed in a state of numbness, because you felt like you couldn’t tell a soul, that nobody would understand, that you would be judged, that you would be told that you brought it upon yourself.
I’m sorry that you found it so hard to use that word, that you lived in denial because accepting it had happened meant accepting a pain to heavy for you to carry.
I’m sorry that you blamed yourself for not fighting hard enough, for not screaming loud enough.
I’m sorry that you laid awake at night too terrified to sleep because of the inevitable nightmares but equally afraid of remaining awake because of the flashbacks that never let up.
I’m sorry that you grew up in a culture that attributes chastity to holiness, a culture that would never make exceptions for rape because it would never understand rape.
I’m sorry that you saw your future collapse, that you thought marriage was no longer an option for you, that no one would ever want you, that you were no longer worthy of the dreams you once had.
I’m sorry you that you had to consider reconstructional surgery and told yourself it was necessary, alongside an oath of silence to give you a chance at ever getting married.
I’m sorry that you told yourself you were only worthy of marrying playboys, because a man who guarded his chastity was too good for you, out of your league.
I’m sorry you turned away perfectly good men who you liked, who liked you, because you felt you would never deserve them, or they would never be able to accept what had happened.
I’m sorry that you felt your world ending every day, but you couldn’t tell a soul.
I’m sorry that you walked this journey alone.
But know that you were never really alone. There are others, so many others living with this weight who have crossed your path. They’ve smiled at you from across the room in that gathering, they’ve silently identified with you as they watched you struggle through physical contact, they too dread bridal showers and any discussion of “wedding night nerves” because they know so much worse, they too shy away from pursuing relationships for fear of having that discussion, they too are haunted by what happened…survivors.
Know that no matter how alone you may have felt, and how abandoned you may have felt, Allah has always been there with you, witnessing every tear, every nightmare, every haunting thought, every pinch of pain you endured, every second of patience. Even when you felt your faith falter, when you got angry at him, when cried out “Why Me?” he was there, watching over you. He alone knows the immense weight of your pain and he alone will reward you for your patience. Trust that he will guide you through your recovery, he will numb the pain in your heart, he will give you inner strength you’ve never known to fight through this. He will send you a friend or a spouse who will breathe life back into you.
Please know that you are worthy of love, you are worthy of happiness, you are worthy of all the things you told yourself you would no longer deserve because somebody violated you. It was not your fault. It was never your fault. You deserve all the good this world has to offer.
You will get through this.
Even though I am a stranger to you, I stand alongside you because we are united in our pain. My universe was shattered too, and I write this to you, ten years later, to tell you it will get better. You will rise above this. This is not the end. The pain you are carrying will never really disappear, but it will get easier to bear, I promise. Allah has given me an indescribable inner strength to keep going, and has rewarded me with the most wonderful, understanding and caring husband to hold my hand through those rough patches. I write this to you to tell you not to give up your fight. Trust that he is with you through this journey, looking out for you and that he will reward you in ways you could never have imagined, for all that you have endured.
I pray that one day I get to meet you, somewhere far away from this dunya, in a place without pain, to sit beside you and tell you “we made it”.
If you have been a victim of rape you can seek help at: