Dawn Alfano

First and foremost: it’s not about you.

This was initially written for my friends on Facebook after seeing and hearing someone else’s testimony to our federal government regarding sexual assault.

Yes, I’ve edited this; a lot. I kept it as ‘private’ for a while, too.

I believe that you agree with me that violence is Not the answer. I cannot stress that enough; Violence is Not the answer. There is No question here. I wish harm on no one. It’s not about you.

I’ve been warned by several people, whom I respect, not to share anything on social media, or on any sort of media. Why? All I’m doing is telling the truth. I’m not going to share any details about the attacker. I’m not going to talk about any of it with any level of detail. I trust that you shan’t, either.

I’m not worried about offending your sensibilities. I’m not going to apologize for that, either. It’s not about you.

I’m going through something similar right now, myself. My family could not possibly be better to me than they have; as they always have, and I’m sure they always will. It’s not about you.

Obviously, this is written from my experience/s throughout my lifetime. -Yes, I’m intentionally trying to be vague in writing this. It’s for my protection.

I firmly believe that law enforcement is doing everything within their authority to help me. Everyone I’ve come in contact with since I was attacked has been helpful. I know all of you are giving me the best of what you do. It’s not about you.

It’s a Hell I wish on no one.

It’s not about you.

Everyone we know wants to know what happened. We know you’re not trying to be cruel when you ask. Every time someone asks, we’re transported back to that …event. We relive it, right in front of you.

We’re not telling you any of this to make you feel badly. It’s not about you.

We have to tell so many people, it seems like an endless number. Every time, it’s happening again. Total strangers, our most agonizing moment of existing.

Still, we’re doubted and interrogated by various people; as if we’re the criminal. It’s beyond backwards.

We’re asked how we knew the attacker. We’re asked about our entire sexual history. Complete strangers are suddenly entitled to our most intimate details. Should we ever make it into the courts, the whole of our lives is then shared with the entire world through the media. Then, we get to fear for our well-being from the rest of the world as well. Collective or otherwise: It’s not about you.

We’re told we must have personal information about the attacker. Where they live, their driver’s license, their social security number, their date of birth, and to describe any and all distinguishable marks.  When we don’t have this information, in whole or in part, we may then be told that it may be impossible to help us.

We can’t even get a protective order into effect. See, the criminal, which I’m legally obligated to say is alleged at this point (puke), must receive the protective order before it can go into effect.

The police, while we believe they’re doing their best, have a hard time believing that we don’t know the attacker’s information and every detail of their life.

‘Yeah, we were sure to take copies of everything that they had which was personally identifiable while they were attacking us. Here ya go.

Oh, and here’s a copy of what happened that was recorded by the body cams we don’t have. You can hear them saying their name, the date,  social security number, and showing us pictures of their family perfectly clear in the latest, best resolution.’

We understand that law enforcement does not actually expect this of us. They understand that we’re human. We appreciate all you’ve done, are doing, and continue to do. It’s not about you.

We do not want to get political. At least I don’t. Yet, we’re thrust into a position where it seems like the only way for there to be any sort of change, the only way to help victims in the future, is to become a peaceful, social activist. It doesn’t mean that it’s right. None of this is right. It’s not about you.

We hear people call the attacker “ours”. We don’t want them to be “ours”. We don’t want them to belong to us. Yet, and quite unfortunately, sometimes we do that, too. We don’t want to have anything to do with that evil.

We get asked the same questions over and over and over again. Every time, giving the same answers. Naturally, we become defensive about everything else in our lives. We have to try to defend ourselves, we do not have a choice. All we’re going to use is our voice; of course we sound defensive. We wish no one harm. It’s not about you.

Suddenly, we’re told “No” means “Yes”. As if stop signs worldwide are now green. It doesn’t matter; attackers are selectively blind. If you take that as an insult against those who are blind, that’s pathetic of you.

We’re worried that if we come forward, we’re going to lose our jobs, and/or not be able to gain employment in the future. We fear for the basic necessities, and not being able to provide them for our families, and our loved ones. All because something which we had no control over happened to us. It’s not about you.

We’re terrified that if we say anything, to anyone, that they’re going to end up being sucked down into this terrible vortex of despair. We didn’t do anything wrong; we’re not doing anything wrong now; we don’t want to do anything wrong in the future, either. The attacker did.

We withdraw even further.

We’re told we shouldn’t have worn whatever we were wearing. There was, and is, something wrong with our appearance. We hear people say, “Can you blame them? Look at you.” Stop it. It’s Not a compliment; None of this is remotely kind.

Who has something I can vomit in?

We have to try to follow up with the police, over and over and over and over again. Leaving message after message. Trying to find out if the attacker had any sort of criminal history.

Evidently, if the attacker did have a criminal record, it means that some people in law enforcement are more likely to believe us, and will be able to help us better. Still, we don’t want to bother law enforcement. We know that they have other things to do, and people to protect. It’s not about you.

Our self-worth then avalanches even further.

We’re told that we didn’t do something soon enough. At least not soon enough to be taken seriously; this isn’t necessarily said by anyone in law enforcement. Again, we want to believe that law enforcement is doing everything they possibly can to help us.

We’re told that we shouldn’t have done this, that, or the other. However, we’re just trying to survive at this point. Maybe we shouldn’t have waited so long to come forward. Maybe we shouldn’t have bathed. Maybe we shouldn’t have washed our clothes. Can you blame us though, for wanting to try to erase the worst thing that’s ever happened to us?

Stop telling us what you think we’ve done wrong. We haven’t. The attacker did.

Our bodies are still not our own yet. The one thing that we are to truly own in this lifetime, is no longer ours. It’s not about you.

Our minds exist in multiple dimensions simultaneously. We’re being pulled apart at the seams, while we’re still seemingly in 1 piece. That’s if we’re ‘lucky’, and the attacker didn’t remove any body parts.

If you’re laughing, you are an abhorrent person. If you’re disgusted, good. You should be.

It’s not about you.

When you have a scab, you’re told to keep it clean, covered, and protect it until it heals. Yet, everyone that’s supposed to be helping us, rips this off of us with duct tape.

Why do I, and survivors like me, continue forward? Our lives are not our own; they belong to the people we love. So, we learn to find ways to seem as if we’re alright.

We’ll tell horrible jokes. Jokes, that (more than likely) we would never have said otherwise to our closest friends and family. All the while, we’re swallowing broken glasses of hurt.

We’ll retreat into our homes, but reach out via technology. Sure, the hours are random and often contrary to the rest of the world. What do you expect when we cannot fall asleep for days on end? Yes, we know it’s in the attacker’s best interest that nothing bad happens to us. Nothing else bad, anyway.

What happened to us will never make sense, either; as if mathematics suddenly stopped using all numbers and symbols.

When the Sun is finally coming through the blinds, we make our morning messages out to everyone to have a good day. All the time, praying to anyone and anything that will listen, “Please, just let my loved ones be safe. If it’s my time, please make it quick and painless.”

We’ll seem to become something positive; as if we’ve been able to use what seems like ‘down’ time to learn something new. Maybe we did, that’d be great; we’ll take any sliver of a silver lining we can find.

Our homes are clean, super clean; that’s if we’ve been able to climb out of the hole approaching the core of planet Earth of depression. Still, we’ll be cooking or cleaning in the privacy, and now alleged safety of our own homes, and collapse in tears until our voices and throats are raw as ‘picked up from the butchers’ ground beef.

We make plans when we have any sort of energy. Then, the Energizer Bunny skips recharging every now and again. Finally, we crash like a Commodore 64 trying to run the latest version of Office using iOS 11.

If we’ve been the fortunate few who decided to try cooking for our loved ones, we get small burns. We’re not being clumsy; our hands and entire bodies are shaking like 6.1 Earth quake. Those burns, though, are nothing compared to the searing fire that’s torched into our minds; as if we’ve been branded.

We feel worse than an infected hemorrhoid when we have to cancel or change plans. It’s not that we don’t want to spend time with you. It’s not that we don’t love you. We do! We are so very, very, very grateful for you.

It’s that it becomes overwhelming. We’re drowning in our own air; and we can’t find water in which to swim. It doesn’t mean that we don’t appreciate the life preserver though; we do. Just know it’s not you. It’s not about you.

Know that when we don’t pick up the phone, or return a phone call, or reply to a text, it’s not out of lack of love. We’re either too tired, too drained, too depressed, too scared, too sick, or any combination thereof. Know we’re trying to protect you; and not expose you to the worst of it.

Know that if we didn’t come to you first, it’s not about you. We’re trying to get back to the most basic level on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; but safety has taken over physiological needs. We don’t want anyone to hurt. Thing is, we’ve now realized that we’re not safe anywhere that we go. Ever. It doesn’t matter where, when, or with whom. Again, it’s not about you.

We wish that, somehow, it wasn’t just about what happened; it was about finding peace, and the legal system bringing justice to the attacker.  I wish that it was about helping survivors heal, and helping survivors move forward.

If you’ve managed to stick with me thus far, thank you very kindly. This is something that we are forced to re-live over and over; we don’t know for how long.

I know that when you write, you’re supposed to have a conclusion. Something that sums up everything that you said thus far. I don’t have a conclusion for you. Many of us won’t, ever.

If you’re disgusted after reading this, good. You should be. It’s Hell. I wish it on no one.

It’s not about you.

It’s about All of Us.

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