“This is the story of a young woman who was able to escape from a difficult past to make a success of…” I tuned off the school principal’s voice at this point, ignoring his excited gestures and flying spittle.
I was eight then. The man came out of nowhere, and I remember pain, horror, screaming, torn clothes, more screaming…It was only afterwards, in the hospital, that I understood what had happened to me. Twenty years ago the society wasn’t exactly sympathetic towards rape victims; it still isn’t today.
Principal Clarke’s voice pulled me back to reality. I stood up to the pitiful round of applause, and walked up the stage. As I looked down, half the students were dozing off; and most of the other half had a snicker on their face. I putted on a smile, and began to tell my story in a grave voice: how I struggled to live with my past; how my family gave me hope and support; how, after years of hard work, I finally became a bestselling author. It is a boring old story, nothing unheard of before. And if this speech managed to inspire even one of these students, it would be nothing short of a miracle.
Of course, there are things that a high school guest speaker just cannot include in her speech. For example, the way my mother indulged in various substances after my “incident”, and my father and I never sent her to the rehabilitation centre for the fear of even more publicity. Or better, how I found my puppy strangled and hung from a tree one day, the words “WHORE” in red paint glistening right behind him. And the fact that my ex-boyfriend had left with all my money last year, leaving me too heartbroken to write is...