In 1994, in my second year of college, while I was preparing to come out, I was raped. I came out to friends and to family with varying levels of acceptance, but kept the rape secret for a year until finally telling a friend.
Speaking publicly as a rape survivor was my first step in reclaiming my body and myself. I found the kink scene—its emphasis on consent and control of my own body was empowering. Occasionally, I allowed a friend to demonstrate blood play on my body: needles and sometimes with scalpels or knives. Nothing that left permanent marks. As a thank you gift for helping her at an event, she placed a cutting of pansies (representing love, thoughtfulness and remembrance) on my lower back—done in public, it was another step in reclaiming my power and personhood.
Though I can’t see it, it reminds me to care for myself and honor the person I was and have become.