Trigger Warning: Rape, Trauma, recovery.
2019 marked the 20-year anniversary of my Gap Year adventure. 1999. I had recently completed high school, Cher was singing her way through another comeback, Shania Twain was difficult to impress and the Backstreet Boys had us all doing the thriller dance again.
Travelling with the youth group I had been involved with for 8 years, we were to spend ten months in Israel, teaching English, working on kibbutz (commune) and contributing to our local communities. All the while learning about our own personal, familial and cultural histories.
The vast majority of my memories from 1999 are wonderful. I fell in love for the first time. I lived long enough in Jerusalem to catch myself out having moments of complacency in the Old City only to pull myself back into awe and gratitude for my circumstances. I met innumerable beautiful souls from all walks of life, met distant relatives and had profound realisations on my own journey of self-discovery.
But it is not all puppies and sunshine when I reflect on 1999. You see it is also the year I lost my virginity to a rape. I only admitted to myself in 2017 that is what occurred that night. I spent eighteen years in denial, explaining it away. Using many other terms but never the ‘r’ word…….