For weeks following the early morning I was sexually assaulted in my home by an acquaintance, I had a scream trapped in my chest. It was heavy, ugly, and full of dark sludge. After telling my story to a uniformed officer, repeating it to a detective, then to a nurse who conducted a three-hour long rape kit exam, and then finally to the victim advocate who helped me apply for a Personal Protection Order that was ultimately denied, the feeling charred my voice and shoved it deep into the dark recesses of my body. I existed as a shell of a person in a haze of fear and betrayal: betrayal of my trust in another person and betrayal of the legal system that refused to prosecute, and betrayal by a detective who dismissed the allegations and documented evidence as simply proof that I just liked rough sex.
In the aftermath of the assault, I felt unsafe in my home; however, I was also afraid to leave my home due to a deepening depression and concern that I would see my perpetrator around town. There was nothing that prevented him from moving through the world freely like he always had. I, on the other hand, was trapped in a prison of shame that he had constructed around me.