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Because of you...an anniversary letter.

Capulet

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Dear Eddie,

It has taken me at least five whole minutes to decide whether a piece of shit like you warranted a 'dear.'  It was completely out of habit that I started this letter in the same polite, courteous way I would start a letter to anyone else.  YOU, however, are not just 'anyone else.'  

I also debated whether or not I should use your name - I don't even know if it's your real name.  Either way, I have decided that I want people to know exactly who you are - and unfortunately, using your first name is not even enough.  This, though, is ALL I know about you.  There are many appropriate not-so-nice names I could call you, but for the moment, they elude me.  And so I'll use the name that has sparked terror and dread in me for the last twenty-two years.  

While there's so much accumulated that I need to say to you, I don't even know where to start.  

First of all, make no mistake - you're an absolutely despicable, horrible person and as far as I'm concerned, a waste of air and space.  But, no matter how much hatred I have for you, you're still, unfortunately, an important part of my life.  Not in the sense that I can't live without you - because I certainly CAN and honestly, would LOVE to.  As a matter of fact, I most likely would be living an entirely different life if it weren't for you.  I'm thinking that 'important' is a too nice a word - so perhaps I'll change it to 'significant.'  Clearly, that is ALSO too kind and positive a word to describe the likes of you.  

I'm not going to worry about word-searching right now though; there's far too much that I need to say to you, regardless of whether or not you ever see this letter.  I'm certain you'll never hear me; why would you?  You quite effectively silenced me 22 years ago.  

It seems fitting to write you this letter today.  I have had so much time to think and to cope with the emotional, mental, and physical side effects of what you did to me that night. I have not physically seen you in exactly 22 years - but I have 'seen' you MANY times, through memories and other reminders every single day since 10/4/1996.  It's gotten a lot better with time, but you have visited me in my sleep; you've assumed the identity of my grocer, a random person on the street, a classmate, the guy who owns a pizza place in central Long Island, the list goes on.  You were there whenever there were televised rape cases or trials; you did this to me, therefore your face was the one I saw, no matter who was currently on trial.  For a long time, you were everywhere I turned; there was no escape.  Now, you're not there as much, but deep down, I know that you'll never completely leave.  And that's both mind-blowing and kind of fucked up - we knew each other for JUST thirty minutes - and yet you are going to occupy a piece of my brain for the rest of my life.  

In hindsight, you probably do not remember that night.  Or maybe, you do.  Maybe it makes you smile or laugh when you remember how you brutally and heartlessly overpowered a distressed seventeen-year-old girl.  It doesn't do me any good to consider your pleasure in doing so, so I won't.  But do NOT, for one MINUTE, think I didn't see out of the corner of my eye, that cocky smirk that was on your face while you were holding me down.  You enjoyed every second of what you did.  Perhaps I was just 'another girl' to you.  You've probably done the same to other vulnerable girls.  You were calculated, methodical, and sad to say, you knew exactly what you were doing.  I guess I've always wondered how you can sleep at night - knowing you, using your body as a weapon, destroyed every single one of my hopes and dreams in a matter of just minutes.  And I also wonder why?  Why did you do this?  What was in it for you?  Was it worth it afterwards?  

Because of you, I spent the rest of that first year of college in a daze - it's a miracle I passed the courses I was taking.  It was a literal chore to get out of bed every day and do the same thing - get dressed in clothes that may or may not have been washed, drive to campus (and back) in a dissociated, autopilot mode, then spend evenings at home in a similar zombie-like state.  Then it was a rinse-and-repeat kind of thing, all while I withdrew socially and drifted slowly into a more consistent state of darkness.  Nothing was crystal-clear anymore.  Everything became fuzzy, jumbled and otherwise difficult to see - the life I had plans for no longer existed and was abruptly replaced with the life you forced me to live.   

Because of you, I searched for emotional and sexual sustenance in all the wrong places.  I felt as if I had nothing of worth to offer the boyfriend I had at the time - so he was history shortly after.  You were my first sexual experience - and you taught me that sex was painful.  You also taught me that saying 'no' would not work - that fighting would get me hurt, and that it was ideal to just lay there and take it.  And so I searched silently and recklessly, for that 'good' experience that would negate the bad one.  For the record, this didn't happen.  Of course, the guy that SHOULD have been the one I gave my virginity to, was instead, the one I cast aside when I feared my innocence was no longer intact.  Because of you.  

And on that note, it is because of YOU that I am both mortified and absolutely disgusted with my past behavior.  I've had 22 years to reflect on all of those poor choices and it's a goddamn miracle that I'm alive today!  I'm ashamed of myself - because of what you taught me, I allowed men to do absolutely horrible things to me - because I was too afraid to say 'no.'  I don't know if it was because I was afraid of being punched in the face or it was a learned auto-reaction at that point, but either way, whatever they wanted was usually what they got - this accomplished absolutely nothing more than eventually reducing my self-worth to zero.  I stopped caring about any repercussions or consequences of my actions.  In fact, I wanted to die - I wanted them to just put me out of my misery - the misery YOU started! 

Obviously, that didn't happen, either.  I survived you, and then I survived my own self.  And today, I'm STILL surviving, although the only difference is - I've forgiven myself for my part in these bad choices - as much as I'd like to blame you for those, I cannot.  I acted alone, same way I did anything else.  ALONE.  I will say, you may be to blame for my self-imposed solitude - it's how I felt most safe and the least threatened - but maintaining this constant need to be alone is on me, and perhaps on my ex, who further implied that leading a private, isolated life was ideal.  Even TODAY, I find myself wanting more personal space and alone time than seems reasonable - and because of this, I'm seriously lacking in social skills.  It may not be entirely because of you, but you definitely helped that along.

Because of you, I can't wash my floors with Pine-Sol.  The unmistakeable smell triggers me when I try and all I can remember is my face being held down against the cold, hard, wooden floor (which STILL smelled like Pine-Sol) while you raped me.

Because of you, I have a DEEP, almost UGLY hatred of music.  No, it is not your fault that I was born with the inability to hear it - but it was also the reason no one heard me calling for help.  It brings my children such joy - they LOVE music.  So does my fiancee.  And I can't help but remember and remain stuck on how the 'noisiness' failed me.  Ironically, the music became somewhat of a focal point - when I stopped fighting and succumbed to your brutality, I focused only on the vibrations of the floor beneath me.  And that's what I continued to focus on even after you were finished with me.  It was a small comfort.  I was alone in a place I was unfamiliar with, I was in a large amount of pain, I NEEDED something to distract me.  And so I kept my eyes closed and my face against the floor for several minutes before getting up...just counting each pounding, deafening beat....it was better than trying to figure out WHAT had just happened to me.  And for about five minutes, it was my only comfort.  It was the only time I can remember where I welcomed the 'noise.'  It was during that tiny window where music was still okay, that window was slammed shut once loud, blasting music became a known trigger.  

Because of you, I have not worn a skirt since that night.  There were a handful of occasions that required me to put on a bridesmaid's dress, but other than that, I refuse to wear anything without a crotch.  Even with those god-awful dresses, I wore a pair of skin-tight spandex shorts underneath because I needed to feel that extra layer of protection.  You taught me that I needed to be mindful of what I wore - and that skirts were not safe, regardless of whether they were long or short.  And every time I walk past one in the department store, I'm reminded of the cream-colored skirt with sunflowers on it that I wore that night.  That was my favorite - it was long, it covered my legs, and came all the way down to my ankles.  Because of what you did, I was forced to throw it away because I couldn't bear to look at it anymore.

Because of you, I learned all about fear.  The simplest, STUPIDEST things would now cause me anxiety.  For me, fear goes hand-in-hand with trust, another thing that I lost the ability to do freely.  Once upon a time, I was a very trusting person; I had faith in other people, I believed in the good in everyone.  To a point, I still do, but it's become increasingly difficult for me to trust that not everyone is out to hurt me and there are actually kind, honest and truly good people out there.  Because of you, I'm constantly second-guessing people, I'm questioning why people even wish to associate with me - what's their reason for it?  How are they going to eventually hurt me?  I HATE this about myself - I understand it, but I don't like it.  I've walled myself off, because of you, and now I'm in a position where I need to learn to break down some of these walls or risk being alone later.  

Because of you, I'm afraid to ask for help when it comes to communicating with others and putting ANY trust into the kindness of strangers.  Because if you recall, I was desperate and asked YOU for help.  We both know how that turned out.  Furthermore, I felt for the longest time that being hearing impaired was what landed me into trouble in the first place - I certainly could have made that phone call, myself, had I been born with two functional ears.  But it wasn't about that at all, was it?  This was what you planned, right?  This diabolical scheme of yours was devised and set into motion JUST as soon as I uttered, 'can you help me?'  Am I right?  This, like so many other questions I have for you, will likely remain unanswered.

You know, I wonder what you are like today.  Have you changed?  (Although it is hard for me to see you as anything other than a cruel monster, I know people change and truly have repented for things they've done in the past.  I'm not sure this applies to you, though.)  Are you a good person now?  Are you happy?  Are you proud of yourself?  Do you have a successful job?  Are you married?  Do you have kids?  Do you have a DAUGHTER????  If you do, I TRULY hope that knowing that YOU, yourself, are a sexual predator causes you to now live in fear of someone doing to her what you did to me.  Of course I am not the type to wish ill will toward the women in your life that you DO love and care about - but I sincerely hope that you understand the severe gravity of the effects of sexual assault - not just on the ones who have experienced it, but on the people around them.  And I hope you know and recognize that YOU are a person who has single-handedly caused these effects.

Do you ever even think about what you did to me, and possibly, to other women?  Or do you fall into the 'none of the above' category and are you rotting in a cell somewhere because you raped another woman who had more balls than I did and reported you?  Either way, do you feel any remorse at all?  Do you even KNOW what your actions have done to me, and perhaps to others?  I've had to accept that most all of the kickback from that night has been on me - you couldn't have cared less when you left me in that room, a bleeding mess.  If you're still alive and karma hasn't caught you yet, you probably still don't care.  You didn't care when I begged you to stop, you didn't care that all I wanted was to go home.  Instead, you laughed at me, you mocked my screams, you terrorized me.  

I've come a long way in 22 years, though.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I've fantasized about killing you.  And (because it was the only way I could get away with it) - in my dreams, I have killed you in multiple ways.  I've yelled at you, I've screamed.  I've beaten the shit out of you, I've smashed your face in, I've castrated you, I've hammered your ballsack to a slab of wood with a rusty nail.  You hurt me 'there,' and I wanted desperately to return the favor.  I'm not a violent person by any means, and I'm slightly embarrassed to even admit what I've thought about doing to you and to other sexual predators.  You have certainly made me angry enough to entertain these thoughts, but that's all they were - thoughts.  Time has shown me that the physical pain subsides and there is nothing at all that will completely cure the emotional and mental pain that sexual assault inflicts.  This specific pain, that because of you, I feel every single day.  Yes, time has mended my spirit a great deal, but there is going to forever be a part of me that you stole, you still possess, and that I will NEVER get back.

You know what, though?  I'm not mad at you anymore.  I have come to the conclusion that after 22 years, it is no longer anger I feel when this time of year rolls around.  It's become a permanent mark, yes, but it's also a numbing sadness that, no matter how much time has elapsed, will always live inside me and become more noticeable in the fall.  While I didn't have a choice in what's been plopped down on my plate (because of you), I DO have a choice in how I deal and cope with what's been served.  And I am now choosing to put that pre-existent anger behind me - it's done me NO good to hold onto it and I refuse to give you any more of my time or energy.  

Plus, when dealing with anger, there is usually a resolution...a way to come to terms with it and eventually dissolve it.  I think that, for me, means you'd have had to 'make it right' or otherwise pay for your crime at some point.  But you'll likely never be held accountable for what you did to me - even if you've been reported by someone else and you're paying THAT price, the debt between you and I will never be resolved.   So, today, 22 years later, I am feeling that it is time to let go of it...and while I've managed to released all of this pent-up anger towards you - I'm still and always will be disgusted with the poor excuse of a human being that you are.  I will never forgive you, either.  Your fate is truly out of my hands, but I do have hope that when the time comes, you'll get exactly what you deserve.

I do have remaining guilt for allowing you to walk free, for not getting up from the floor and chasing you out of that bedroom - I sometimes feel that in that moment, I should have mustered up whatever strength I had, found my voice, and exposed you for the rapist you are.  I've run through this scenario in my head, too - maybe someone would have restrained you, someone else would have called the police, and you would have been put away.  I'd have gotten medical attention, my parents would have found out what happened, sure, but at least you'd have been locked up.  Had that been what happened, it would likely have spared other women from having to experience the same thing I did.  But sadly, this is just another one of those 'woulda been nice' thoughts that will never come true.  Because of that life-changing, impactful half-hour I spent with you, the once fearless being I was, was rendered weak, speechless, and paralyzed.  I truly feel that because of you, I froze in fear and shock when that window of opportunity was open - I COULD have done something, but I did not.  While I now understand why I felt powerless in the moment, I feel that I still failed not only other women you may have subsequently harmed, but also myself.  And I HATE you for that, I HATE you for making me despise myself.  I hate you for teaching me the true meaning of the word 'hate.'  Such an ugly word; one that I don't even want my children to use...yet so fitting for how I feel about you.  I hate what you've done, what you represent, what you're capable of.  I hate your type - and that there are so many more of you roaming around.

I hate YOU, Eddie.

This is what I have to live with, though.  Other than this nagging feeling that I've failed myself and others, (which I've forgiven myself for as well) I've been a good person.  I've never hurt another person.  I am kind.  I am caring.  And I didn't deserve this.  I know this now.  Because of you, it took a LONG time to come to this realization.   

I survived 22 years ago and today, will continue to grow as a person.   I am not the same person I would be had I not met you, but that's beyond my control, now.  Instead of trying to duplicate the person I used to be or 'pick up where I left off,' I am going to focus on reclaiming the small, yet significant things that you either stole or otherwise changed for me.  There are some things that are gone forever, but there's hope for some others.  I'm going to embrace the rest of this fall season, and all of the fall seasons to come.  Rather than scowl at the natural beauty of the changing foliage, I will instead smile in appreciation of the breathtaking scenery.  I will buy the biggest fucking bottle of Pine-Sol and wash my floors with it next week.  Why?  Because I KNOW that my face will not be pressed down against that floor afterwards - and I'm going to prove that the dread I feel toward Pine-Sol is simply going to mean it's time to complete the never-fun chore of washing the floors.  I'm going to slowly work on lowering the walls that are up, because of you, and learn to more freely delegate my trust in those who are deserving of it. 

I suppose while there's plenty to blame and loathe you for, there is one positive thing that I can derive from our encounter 22 years ago.  Undoubtedly, that was the WORST, most impactful night of my life and to me, to be able to gain any positive insight out of such a negative, horrible event is pretty fucked up.  I don't want to give you credit for ANYTHING, more or less anything positive in my life - especially when I don't think I would be inspired to pursue the line of work I'd like to without first encountering your cruelty.  Because of you, I have developed a profound understanding of myself as well as the MILLIONS of other women who have been sexually assaulted.  I understand the deep, lingering pain and constant frustration, the emotional and sometimes physical toll that rape takes on a person.  I know that us women are individual beings and we all deal differently, but we all share this  common burden that we have to live with forever.  Because of you, and other predatory beings like yourself.

Before you, I was an English major and wanted to become a scriptwriter.  And now, after you, I want nothing more than to use this experience, coupled with my gained understanding and knowledge of 'what comes after,' and become an advocate for sexual assault/rape survivors.  Because of you, I understand EXACTLY what other survivors are going through and the grueling, seemingly uphill journey that lies ahead of them.  I am now ready to grab ahold of as many survivors' hands as I can, and climb this hill with them in unity and solidarity.  At first, I questioned whether I'd be able to devote the rest of my life to doing this type of work - it's certainly not going to be easy, but perhaps in the process, I will continue to heal.  I know and understand that I will be healing for the rest of my life.  And so, I have made peace with this change - I feel more confident in my abilities to help others than in scriptwriting - but perhaps I've done both.  I've re-written my life's script.  I'll never be able to completely discard the old, broken, battered version of myself - but I can certainly decide what happens to me, moving forward.

As for you, Eddie...

I don't know what's going on with you right now.  You can be living the American dream with a house and family - or you can be sitting in a 12x12 cell in prison.  I've no way of knowing.  Either way, I truly hope that at one point during the rest of your life, that you learn the true definition of suffering, the way you made me suffer.  I hope that one day, you will understand the feeling of being overpowered, and that you will experience vulnerability.  I hope you see for yourself how it is to feel lonely and isolated because no one around you understands what you're going through.  I hope you learn all about that feeling of keeping your silence - and that you come to realize that it's because you just don't know who to trust anymore.  It'd also be nice to see you struggle with things you thought were simple and easy, but are no longer.  Because following trauma, NOTHING is the same, anymore.  The things you did every day become foreign and become things you have to re-teach this altered version of yourself to do, all over again.  And I hope that someday, something scares you to the point where your heart (I know you have one) starts pounding for reasons that may not be immediately clear.  I hope that in that same moment, you freeze and are unable to move, or even BREATHE.  That's PTSD, that's anxiety.  That's what you unfairly sentenced me to.  That's what I've had to live with for the last 22 years - because of you.  

YOU however, have to live with everything I've mentioned in this letter.   And knowing your type, there's likely lots more that you're going to have to live with.  And, ultimately, that's what you deserve.  You deserve the absolute misery you've inflicted on others, you deserve pain and suffering.  I'm just sorry that I won't be there to witness that moment when Lady Karma decides it's your turn to pay the price for all the terrible things you've done!  

And last, but not least, I truly hope you see my face when she finally catches up to you.  Don't forget to watch for the satisfied smirk.

- Capulet
 (Because of you.)



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