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As her rapist was sentenced to prison decades after victimizing her, this author reflects on how he impacted her life. Trigger warnings galore.

Dear Rapist,

Were you scared, I wonder, as the proverbial noose tightened around your neck and you, a wanted man, realized that you no longer had anywhere to run and hide? Did the thought of going to prison terrify you, as you desperately attempted to stay one step ahead of the law? Did you ask yourself what being locked up would be like, and were you afraid that the stories of what they do to people like you, people who rape children, in prison, were true? 

Your lawyer, I heard, described you as an upstanding and law-abiding citizen who merely had a problem with sexual attraction to children. That last bit reveals that you were driven into such a corner that you weren't able to charm her into believing that you weren't a rapist. You did plead guilty, after all. The evidence against you was overwhelming. She probably justifies defending people like you by convincing herself that even child rapists deserve a fair trial, but how it's possible to describe someone who has clearly broken not just the law but also children's souls as law-abiding is unclear to me. Does it bother her at night, I wonder, effectively selling herself to a robber — a robber of bodily autonomy and emotional health, a robber of people's destinies? 

They don't give you internet access in prison, do they? I am glad you can't read this, because you'd laugh your head off. You always did. Showing weakness amused you, and it has taken me a few decades to reclaim that ability for myself, to work towards becoming human. 

Today, as it happens, yet another friend "came out" to me as a victim of child rape. "I was OK. I was really OK. I kept telling myself that but now, now I am not OK," she told me as even those powerful defense mechanisms of numbness and denial crumbled and her brain told her she could no longer cope. We put on a brave face to keep ourselves safe, but also for the rest of society. People, you see, get really uncomfortable around those who openly talk about being rape victims. 

"Have you had the unfortunate but all too common experience of being raped? Healing after rape is difficult, but not impossible. With the right steps, you can do more than survive — you can thrive! Rape isn't the end of your life," an only barely snarky paraphrasing of numerous online articles "to help rape survivors" would read. We're meant to be strong, and get over it, and even forgive those who wronged us, and tell the world that we are fine. That's how society likes it best. 

Like my friend, I too was fine until I wasn't. Knowing that I had nobody to rely on but me, I did what I had to do. I endured.

Everything you did to me, I endured by emotionally and mentally detaching, letting go of the things that make us human, things you wouldn't know about because you could never have possessed them in the first place.
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