I’ve recently been on Tiktok and as much as it’s a world of silly dances, cute videos of people wearing their best outfits, and many showing off their hard work like crafts and handiwork, it’s also a space for survivors to connect with each other. I have found a community of people who understand what it’s like to live with the burden of being a survivor.
One of the users said the other day that whatever a rapist does before or after to anyone else is not the responsibility of the survivor. (I paraphrase because the video brings me to tears every time I’ve seen it.) And I realised that I have been carrying the weight of his actions not just toward me, but toward anyone else he might have abused over the years – child rapists generally don’t stop at one person. The heaviness in my heart thinking of what I could have done to prevent or stop him from abusing others remains like a stone resting on my chest.
Now, for those of you who don’t know, this man and a few of his friends (I’m not even sure who they were to him) sexually abused me between the ages of four and eight or nine – somewhere around there. I didn’t tell a soul until it was too late to take legal action. While I was busy dealing with my own trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and the onset of severe bipolar, I didn’t stop to consider other people he may have hurt. And when I finally did, it was like an avalanche rushing toward me and I was unable to stop it.
For years, I have felt guilty about not reporting him to the police (I don’t know why because I couldn’t due to our justice system that fails rape survivors constantly) and I wondered what else he had done to other girls. I wracked my head over the thought of what he was capable of considering what he had done to me. The thought of it made me throw up every time and I was filled with guilt that I had done nothing to save those possible victims. That my knowledge and experience could have prevented him from doing what he had done to me.
But then, years later, I saw this video.
It made me realise I couldn’t have “saved” anyone. Just like survivors are not obliged to report their abuse and are not at fault for being abused survivors cannot be held responsible for their abuser’s actions toward others either before or after they were abused. Everything is on the abuser. The rapist. The asshole who took the decision to abuse someone else. It’s all on them.
It might take a while to not feel responsible but this is a start. I hope this helps you understand how you are not at fault for any of their actions.