I’ll begin this post with a trigger warning because trigger warnings are needed, regardless of the people that make fun of them.
So, Trigger Warning: Rape and sexual abuse.
Red Flag is a game about loss and coping, but I refuse to create a game in which will show such graphic incidents just to get a point across. Instead, I will explain here why the game is being made.
I stay awake until I am exhausted. Most of the time, I have to remind myself to eat though you would not know it to look at me. There are days where I am unable to get out of bed.
I was raised to believe in someone who protected the innocent. I was very sheltered. I was told that the evil are punished (or will eventually be punished) and that no matter how bad someone is, they can be saved.
Some people cannot be saved. Some people do not want to be saved.
I was told I was smart, beautiful and funny, but that my true gift, the only one I had to give, was something to fight for and highly sought after. A gift that, when taken, you are left with only yourself.
My gift was taken from me, and by someone faceless. I was alone with myself, and nothing could buy my gift back.
There is a moment where you will wail and deny and sob and be angry. That was not my moment.
I have flashes of my clothes bunched up, of him finishing in me. But who is my attacker? Who is the thief? Who left me there, alone and unclothed, and what was the drug that keeps me from seeing his face?
I wish I had a visual of that moment, then my mind would be unable to make up thousands of moments for me. It is a different person every time.
This was the theft of something that was supposed to be a gift, but I never felt any pride in it. At what cost was I taught to keep this gift safe, with no idea of the world or how to protect myself from it?
Because those without their gifts were so often warned after, I told no one of losing mine for ten years. My decade. I sat on the loss while I listened to others talk about how much they enjoy their lives, their bodies, their partners.
I was raised to cherish my invisible gift, but not to learn about myself.
The loss put such a hole in me that I never returned to the way I was raised. From place to place and person to person, I ran from it. I lived with heavy lungs and a thick tongue, always unable to say what I needed to.
I was raised that way, too.
There are many thieves that came after, but he was the first.
I did not expect my reaction to the theft. Tell no one, do nothing. Do not bother people about it. I was of no value, so my experience was worth nothing.
Was it ever really a gift?
At the time, I was so hurt that I took a torch to everything when I ran. I used it to propel me forward, onto the next, I could not stay still. I would hurt those around me by hurting myself. I did not see it then, but I see it now.
Even now, an entire twelve years later, it still lingers. I smile thinly as people make jokes about it, I make very little comment when it’s spoken about. They don’t know, or perhaps remember, that the pain is mine. Some even speak of using other people’s experiences for monetary gain, and it makes me feel ill.
I cannot stand to think of someone who would purposefully teach a child that they have only one special gift to give their partner; that when it is gone, they are irreparable. Who would set up such a large fall for their children? For their followers?
I call it my fall from grace. Everything fell around me. I lost my education to it. I lost my belief to it. I lost my value and self-worth to it. I pretended to be someone I was not, because I was afraid of who I really was. Though I was 18, I was still a child. Raised to believe that I would be taken care of. Unprepared and naive. Children should not be left without a sense of value.
This loss is a part of me, and will stay a part of me. I will never receive that piece of me back. That is just one of many parts that make me up, but I let it be who I was for a very long time. I let me be my loss. I tried for years to fill my loss with other people. I refused to tell anyone my secret: I could not enjoy my body or theirs. I was cut off from the joy of physically being with another person.
I was so afraid. What if it happened again? And it did. It did happen again.
One thief came for my gift too late, and tried to take it while I was sleeping. He was too late to take it, but I woke up to him trying. I still remember how his breathing sounds. I woke up and said “no”. It was all I could do. I knew him. We had laughed together the day previous. We knew each other from a few years before. Afterward I pretended nothing happened. I still held no worth, I had no value. I woke up, said “no” over and over, but it did nothing to slow his pace. He did not speak. He finished and left. Again, left alone.
I could no longer concentrate, I required help. I took something to remove most of my emotion and ran on a schedule. Get up. Clean. Eat. Clean. Play Games. Eat. Clean. Sit outside. Eat. Clean. Sleep.
I was lucky to have my computer. The hobby I started when I was eight years old carried me through my decade, and sits with me still like an old friend.
After a time of processing without clouded emotion, I was able to pick up again. I removed myself from people on purpose. I fell into bed and never wanted to leave. The resulting waves of depression still exist, and lap over me at times.
The women in my family have had a lot of experience with these kinds of thieves. Gifts taken over decades and from the cradle, gifts taken while still just a toddler. Every generation of women in my family. All gifts stolen without consent.
This one stole my gift, that one stole my pride, this one my private thoughts. One took my many different types of wealth. Another told me I was embarrassing to be seen with because I was fat (I was not then), and there was one who stalked my conversations with friends so they could be used against me. Yet another abused me, and then one other used me for my abilities, my job. At first, I welcomed it all. I invited their abuse and vanity, I was worth nothing beneath them.
As a survivor of thefts, I eventually experienced what I can only describe as a dawning idea through the help of others, something that started me toward where I am now. After over a decade of running, I have started to come to terms with what happened. I accept that it’s a part of me now. It doesn’t leave me, ever. It is there every day. I think of it while I make coffee or while I’m trying to sleep. It shows up when I sing, and it’s here when I write. It stains everything around me, and I cannot explain my reactions without it.
I have just started to rebuild, the beginning stages of removing what’s harmful and adding what’s supportive and healthy.
I want to help others. I felt alone and afraid, I would never want anyone to feel like that because of what someone else stole.
Thieves may steal what they can over time, but the thefts can be reclaimed. My gift, if that is really what it was, cannot – but the theft can. It happened to me, twice. Those are my thefts, and they cannot be taken from me. I live with them every day, and I refuse for them to be used against me. They are mine, and I will not flaunt nor apologise for them.
I have worth, and it has nothing to do with what someone has taken from me. I am earnest, I am genuine. I do good works and I am great at my job. I am a good person, and I want to help others realise that they are good people, too.
I know that was a lot of heavy reading, please forgive me and have this kitten, who is also sorry: