Helena Cecilia Lazaro

On November 30, 2012 by Helena

When I first interviewed with a print journalist, they tentatively asked if they could print my last name.

Of course! Why wouldn’t they? I’m not ashamed!

Making the decision to begin speaking publicly and writing about my assault felt easy to begin with. When I found out that police had neglected to test my kit–and thousands of others like it–I was enraged. We could have been preventing rapes. Instead, we were sending the message that sexual assault ranked so low among our priorities that we weren’t even going to bother to process the evidence. I was ready to shame the LASD in every way I could, hoping that if enough people were shocked by these facts, there would be action.

I didn’t think about the long term implications that identifying myself this way would have. I didn’t think about how, when a potential employer (or how about a date?!) Googled me, the first result would be my name and that ugly word–Rape–alongside it, forever. And that bothered me.

I used to be able to control who knew about what happened to me. I could say, I don’t feel like being a survivor today. I don’t feel like thinking about it today. But I put it in a place where I couldn’t take it back. Friends told me, rightfully so, that anyone who judged me based on this part of my background wasn’t fit to be part of my life. And it’s true. So why the nagging feeling of shame? Why should I care?

I realize that even though I have been talking about it for almost two years, even though I have read books and talked and cried, that I haven’t stopped using denial (at least part of the time) to cope. I haven’t stopped shutting down, periodically, like a breaker trying to handle too much.

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