Home, let me go Home

This is both the hardest and easiest thing I've ever had to write.

About a month ago, I decided that I was going to leave Egypt for good in December and transfer back to the University of Alabama. I wasn't waking up excited about being here anymore. I wanted to be near my family. My newborn nephew was having health issues, and I wanted to meet him and be there for him. I didn't want to miss my entire engagement to the man who will be my husband in less than two years. The list goes on and on..

Most of you know that last Thursday I was sexually assaulted in Dokki. Suddenly I felt as if the world was constantly in danger of falling apart around me. Walking down the street became a Herculean task. There were panic attacks. A lot of them. I found myself sobbing in class on several occasions for no apparent reason. I could not focus in class because all of my strength was used as I willed myself not to fall apart completely. This Thursday was my breaking point. I was nauseous with stress and anxiety all day. Finally, on the bus home from school, I found myself vomiting into a plastic bag, lacking even the energy to be embarrassed about it. My emotional distress had reached a level where I was no longer able to keep food down. Something had to give.

I had been willing myself to be just a little stronger, just strong enough to make it to December. I was not strong enough.

I was up until 4am last night sobbing to Sam. Honey, help me, please. I felt like I was drowning, struggling to keep my head above water.

In the three years since we've met, I've never asked for help with anything. I've always thought it was a sign of weakness. Last night, I was weak, defenseless, defeated. After a week of putting on a brave face, I had no energy left to muster. And in my weakness, he was strong. Sweetheart, I'll handle this. I'll get you home. Don't worry.

He called my parents. And, like they always do, they swooped in to save the day- no questions asked. My mom is flying in on Monday to help me tie up loose ends. On November 9, we're leaving Egypt. I'm going home. Home, to a family that loves me. Home, to a nephew I've yet to meet. Home, to a man who would move mountains for me. Home, to parents who make me feel safe.

I am not writing this to garner sympathy. I am writing this for two reasons: to tell my friends in the easiest way I know how that I am leaving them, and to break the silence about sexual abuse. In Egypt, in America, everywhere. I am done being quiet, and I am done being a victim. Sexual assault is not shameful. It was not my fault. I did nothing to deserve it. NOBODY deserves it. I refuse to be ashamed; I refuse to be embarrassed. Today, I am choosing to be empowered.

I am not going home with my tail between my legs. I am going home proud of what I've done in the past 3 semesters, of the friendships I made and the life I created. I'm going home excited to start the next phase with the man I love. I'm going home full of love and gratitude knowing that I have a family that will help me carry a heavy burden when I've no strength left to do it myself. I'm going home knowing that I have not failed, but rather succeeded in the most glorious way possible: something terrible has happened to me and I have survived; but more than that, I have taken the steps that were necessary to begin to heal. I will never be the same- I will be better, stronger. I can promise you that.

Mom and Dad, Sam, Dana, Samantha, and everyone else who has helped me survive the past week:
Thank you for standing in the center of the fire with me and not flinching. Your strength and love have been all that has kept me going. Thank you for being my shoulders to cry on, my voices of reason, my calm in the storm. I love you all more than you will ever know.

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