What he did was absolutely NOT okay! What he did was rape. Consent is not never-ending. Saying yes once doesn’t mean you’ve said yes forever, and besides, he didn’t even bother to ask! When someone is sleeping or incapacitated by drugs and/or alcohol they are incapable of granting consent; when someone is talked into something because they’ve been made to feel terrible about saying no, that is coercion, not consent. Consent is not just “yes” but an enthusiastic “yes.” (And, ideally, yeses that keep coming; body language and verbal cues go a long way to determining what someone is and isn’t comfortable with in the bedroom, but it’s up to us as partners to look and listen for them.)
I am so sorry this happened to you, and I’m more sorry it has to be clarified by an Internet stranger, but it’s my greatest hope that now you know the truth you can begin to heal.
Much love and hope,
Forgiveness is: letting go of the hope that the past could have been any different. It’s releasing the anger and the pain that you carry inside you because it’s poisonous to you, not because it’s bad for “them.”
Forgiveness is not: being “okay” with the harm done to you by others, allowing toxic people back into your life, moving forward like your past didn’t happen, keeping someone else’s secret, “getting over it.”
(But that’s just my opinion, of course.)
I was 24 when I got my Mark, so no parental approval was necessary, though I more than got it—Mom actually got her Mark before I got mine, and Dad got the world’s first Protector’s Mark.
As far as I know, federal law in the US states that no one under the age of 18 can get a tattoo, unless they have parental consent. (This of course varies, based on where you live.) ((This Wiki page has a list of all the state’s laws.))
I think you have 2 choices here; sit your parent(s) down and really let them know how important this tattoo is to you, what it means, and why you feel you need it….or, wait another year.
(I feel like that’s uber unhelpful, but it’s all I’ve got. Sorry! <3)
You are not going in circles
You are making progress in a spiral. You do come back around to where you were at the start, since recovery and healing take time, but every time you come back around to that point you’re a little higher up because you’ve got more experience, more knowledge, and more strength.
You ARE making progress
The elephant never forgets.
Butterflies symbolize transformation.
I’ll never forget what you did to me, but you lost.
I’m a different person and I won’t let what you did get to me.
Sometimes I am asked, in reference to speaking about my abuse, “Why do you talk about such personal things in public? Don’t you think that’s something you should keep to yourself?”
This is an example of why I refuse to keep someone else’s secret:
"I found your Mark online. That was the moment I knew I can’t be ashamed anymore. It happened and there’s nothing I can do about it. It made me who I am today. Your story inspired me. It made me not want to give up. Thank you.
I’m now ending my sophomore year at college and for my ending report I had to chose someone who inspired me. I chose you and your story. Then I’ll tell mine. It’s not for attention, it’s to raise awareness. Sexual assault is a real thing and happens everyday. More people need to realize this. And when I walk around people will see my Mark maybe as about it. And I will tell them my story. My story of strength. Thank you.”
I’m not a mother, but I would like to pass on the best teaching of my mother: make sure your kids know they can trust you with anything.
In my experience I think it’s also important to make sure they know about consent—both getting and giving. Make sure they know they don’t have to ever be around someone that makes them uncomfortable, even family members. Make sure to give them room to learn and grow and explore, don’t lock them away from the world because you’re afraid of what’s out there. Being a parent means being afraid, but it also means a chance to break the cycle.
Truth be told, part of the reason I’ve decided not to become a mother is because I worry I wouldn’t be able to take my own advice. I understand if you find it hard to digest and even harder to enact.
Much love and hope,
"I wanted to share my tattoo with you. I got it on my wrist so I can see that I can always remember I am stronger than the hurt. I love the idea of the tattoo as a sign we are not alone. I changed the color to blue and green to show the rebirth of self after such a horrific act."
My advice? Stop dwelling on what you don’t remember and take what you do recall as enough. I lived over a decade feeling exactly as you do before someone passed that tidbit onto me. You know what you know, and that’s plenty. Your brain is protecting you from the rest. If your body ever decides you’ll be able to handle more, it will be revealed to you—that I learned all on my own, as time has passed and I have healed.
You are not a liar. That voice in the back of your mind is simply trying to convince you that what happened to you, didn’t. Sometimes the truth is so awful we can’t help but deny it, even to ourselves.
Much love and hope,
Sarah and Rachel’s Best Friend Marks.
"My best friend and I just got matching Marks on Friday! I have the one with the stars around it, one star for each person I know who is also a survivor. We decided that green was a better color for us, not only is it our favorite color, but it also symbolizes growth. I like thinking of it like it is the growth that you see in the forest after a wildfire. We grow, and become stronger. I plan on getting as many stars added on as needed." —Rachel