An Open Letter To My Rapist: From The Woman You Held At Knifepoint On Florida State University's Campus
On November 13th, 2014, you raped me at knifepoint on campus. I used pepper spray but it blew back in my face. I tried to run quickly, to reach those blue lights that signaled police and safety, but you were faster. I tried to fight, but I didn’t do much damage and then you pulled a knife. You told me that you didn’t want to hurt me (ha!) but you also made it clear that you would use that knife to kill me if I continued to fight and since I had no experience fighting a much bigger man with a weapon, I listened. I followed you. I unbuttoned my jeans. You raped me and you marked me with that knife by making tiny scratches all over my body, claiming it as yours. At the time I felt powerless, helpless, and worthless.
I am writing this letter to you 2 years and 114 days after you raped me. And I have only one thing to say to you: I forgive you.
I forgive you, because until you attacked me, I never knew how incredibly strong I could become.
I forgive you because I have found community among so many other women and survivors who I get to help encourage every day.
I stumbled across two quotes the other day from Daisaku Ikeda, of Soka Gakkai International (a Buddhist organization). The first said, “We are often highly sensitive to our own sufferings but oblivious to the pain of others” and the second said, “To ‘love people’ or ‘love humanity’ in the abstract is easy, whereas to feel compassion toward actual individuals is difficult.”
These quotes were profound to me because I realized that while I was stuck in the misery and suffering you had caused, I neglected to think of the misery and suffering you must have endured for so long in order to feel so out of control and powerless, that you took those feelings and inflicted suffering on another human being.
I needed to let go of my desire for you to suffer and I needed to forgive. And so I forgive you.
And finally, I forgive you because I am a kick ass gun rights activist, child advocate, and survivor and I am so incredibly happy every single day I get to wake up and breath and fight for what I am passionate about despite what you have done to me. I am not the woman you raped that night. I no longer feel powerless. I am not helpless. And I am worthy. So I forgive you.
If you are reading this, do not mistake my forgiveness for clemency. I still want you to turn yourself in. I still want you to face justice. I will always ask that of you. I just want you to know that you didn’t destroy me.