Brain Waves: Continual recovery

Brain Waves: Continual recovery

Jessica Rubinsky, Contributing Columnist

I remember screaming “help” over and over. I did not understand what was going on. I tried to get my hands loose but couldn’t. I realized I was stuck.

Now lets start from the beginning.

My senior year of high school I planned to study abroad in Israel. A week before leaving, however, I had an unexpected kidney stone surgery. I was determined to go even though I wasn’t feeling like myself as I boarded the plane.

After arriving in Israel I was not sleeping. A doctor prescribed me sleeping pills and I took one. The head professor came into my room to check on me and asked me how I was feeling.

This is when I was raped.

I have no recollection of the exact details.

I remember being in excruciating pain.

I woke up hazy. I knew that something was wrong but not what. I panicked and called my mom. I told her I needed a staff member to come to me. I sat in that bed for three hours waiting until someone arrived. I remember feeling distraught and crying. They kept asking me what was wrong. I was unsure how to answer, but I was in so much pain.

I was in the hospital for about twelve hours. During this time the hospital staff wanted to give me a gynecological exam, but I refused because the only gynecologist was male. While waiting in the hospital bed, my rapist visited with his wife. He came to pray for me. He stood over me and read from his prayer book.

After I was released from the hospital, I was extremely uncomfortable. I fought with the school administration as I started to realize that I had been assaulted.

I could barely get the words out because I felt so vulnerable and raw. They asked me questions but didn’t believe my answers.

I started to lose my sanity. I experienced dissociation, a mechanism described as involuntary experiences that are a detachment from reality. I felt numb. I felt like everything that was happening was not the real me; rather, I wast just watching a movie that was my life.

My parents got me on the next flight home. I went into a dissociative episode on the plane. They had to call upon doctors on board to try and help me.

Upon arriving in America I was escorted to an ambulance, arms handcuffed, tied down to the gurney and taken to a hospital. This was the worst day of my life. I did not know where I was, who I was, what I was doing in the ambulance or why they tied my arms back behind me.

I finally got to see my parents and felt hope for the first time. Still, I continued to dissociate. I thought everyone was trying to poison me; I was terrified and refused to eat or drink. In the hospital I was distraught and thought that I was the victim of a bombing. All of these feelings seemed as if they were not happening to me but some alternate version of me.

After a few days in the hospital I told my mom what happened and I came back to reality.

It was refreshing to start feeling again but also extremely difficult. I could not completely comprehend how to process social situations. I felt overwhelmed by everything. I was depressed and thought that because I was raped I would become a rapist myself. I assumed that everyone who survives rapes then would rape other people. I thought that I was so damaged that I would never feel like myself again.

My high school administration told me I would not be able to graduate, but I worked my butt off to return to school. I attended therapy everyday and worked on the shame and guilt I felt. People told me that I could not handle Tulane and that I should wait a year at home. They just saw me as someone who was damaged.

I did not listen to them.

I am here today because I fought. Without the love and support of my family and friends I wouldn’t be here either. I am so lucky to have these people in my life.

Since my rape I still have daily anxiety. I also sometimes struggle with depression. Some days are harder than others but I take care of myself the best I can. I go to therapy and make sure I am not using any unhealthy coping mechanisms.

I am in a really great place right now. I am the President of SAPHE which is the Sexual Aggression Peer Hotline and Education here at Tulane. I am also spear heading an initiative called Art Speaks, which allows survivors of sexual assault to heal together through art therapy.

I took this experience and turned it into a motivator to help other people. So many people, especially women, experience sexual violence. Using this horrible experience, I have worked very hard to get where I am and help other survivors.

For those in the Tulane community seeking additional information/support on violence and abuse, including, but not limited to, sexual violence, Sexual Aggression Peer Hotline and Education can be reached at (504) 654-9543, and Counseling and Psychological Services can be reached at (504) 314-2277.