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Cover 05/22/2013

The Survivors Project

Excerpts from ebook that gives sexual-abuse survivors a chance to tell their stories

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And when it comes to water, we have an unusual relationship. It feels strange just writing that I have a relationship with water, but why wouldn’t I? (I’m an Aquarius after all.) It’s a love/hate relationship, I suppose. Sometimes the water feels good and cool again, and other times, I think of quick little responses when someone asks me to go in, but, I just can’t: “Oh, too chilly for me, but you go on ahead and I’ll watch our towels and chairs.” Sometimes the water in a swimming pool seems to be like an old friend who has been waiting for me for such a long time, waiting for me to jump back in without thought or care; other times, the water in a swimming pool looks like it is staring at me, reminding me: Better be careful, you know what this led to so long ago. I’ll never know what will happen, how I’ll react, if I’ll go in or not. I do know that this is a part of me, and I can live with that. I can live with a lot. I survived. I healed. I have scars, but I healed. I think we all can if we want to.

Kelly Johnson  
Gender: Female
Age: 26
Age abuse occurred: 23  

“Everything’s going to be OK.” Who doesn’t hear this at least once in their lives? The situations it’s being applied to may differ drastically, but the sentiment is the same. It’s a nice thought, but it’s a lie. Not a horrible one, of course. Said with the best intentions, it’s something that people voice because they wish it were true. It’s certainly something I’ve said – both to myself and others. But it’s a lie all the same. Everything’s not going to be OK.

There are going to be things in everybody’s lives that are so decidedly un-OK that they not only slap the idea of everything in the face, but they also have you doubting the OK-ness of anything. I was raped. Nothing will ever make that OK.

On March 25, 2010, my alarm went off at 3:15 a.m. A commuter, I left my apartment each morning at 3:45 to make it to the van pool at 4:15 to make it to work by 6. It certainly wasn’t ideal, but I figured I could do it until I heard back on one of the other jobs I’d applied for.

I got dressed, never thinking that the ensemble would be forever burned into my memory. Purple bra, red underwear, knee highs, black tank top, gold blouse with copper polka dots, yellow sweater, black wide leg pants, my favorite black Payless heels, an amber necklace and a dark beige military-style jacket. At 3:45, this was just an outfit that I would try to remember to ensure that I didn’t wear it twice that week. A minute later, it was the clothing I’d never forget.

At 3:45, keys and cell phone in hand, I opened my front door. And immediately took a step back. The man crouched outside the threshold stood up, said, “Hey,” and walked over to the apartment across from the elevators, quickly entering. I told myself that he must have dropped something and his being outside my door was just awkward timing. I didn’t really know too many of my neighbors. It was entirely possible that he lived in that apartment.

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