CW: rape. Both a rape and a genital warts diagnosis cause trauma. Put the two in the same time period, and it makes complete sense this interviewee feels alone.
But it’s not her fault – the assault or the genital warts – because those things happen regardless of whether someone is practicing all of the possible preventative measures or not. And she is not alone (#metoo).
At the end of this interview, we can tell that the interviewee knows, deep down, that she is not truly alone, but the intense trauma she’s experienced, over the course of the last year, nonetheless, has made it hard to see through those doubts. The utter loss of agency, self-worth, and autonomy that both of those incredibly traumatic experiences often elicit can make it hard to see yourself as anything other than tainted or damaged. From there, it can become nearly impossible to see yourself as still being worthy of a healthy, loving relationship, and that’s understandable.
That’s why no one expects you to do this alone. What we know is that it is cathartic to begin sharing your story, whether anonymously on a platform such as this, or within the safe and supportive presence of someone you trust, either professionally or personally.
Whoever you are and wherever you are, interviewee and reader, let us be the first to tell you that this is not your fault, you are not alone, and when you are ready, we will be here to remind you of that again and again, because we believe it to the depth of our very core.
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
3. What type of HPV do you have?
4. How long have you had or known you have an HPV?
I found out I had it about a month ago.
5. Do you know how you contracted HPV?
I wish I could know exactly, but it was most likely after I was raped in late February. Unfortunately, after that, I became a little reckless sexually to cope, and I guess it could have happened then.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted HPV?
It’s brought out so much anger from my rape. When it happened, I told no one and did nothing about it. It was as if it never happened, even to the point I felt like maybe it didn’t happen. Like it was someone else’s story. Nothing like the physical evidence of an STD to remind me that everything changed after I was raped.
7. Do the people who know you have HPV treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
No one knows. I am alone.
8. Are you currently under treatment for HPV? If so, please share whether you have explored prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or holistic and natural approaches.
I prefer natural methods but am considering creams. I don’t have any details yet, but with genital warts, treatment doesn’t seem to be urgent.
9. Has having HPV hindered past relationships?
It is so recent, but I don’t feel worthy of a relationship, like I’m tainted.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has HPV affected your partner?
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting HPV whom you did not tell you had an STD/STI?
Yes, and I’m so ashamed. But I felt so out of control of myself for a while and slept around so recklessly.
There’s a lot I regret.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting HPV?
I’m just a lot more reserved…a lot sadder.
I’m trying to tell myself to remember I am not my infection, and genital warts will never be me, just a part of me, but it’s just so hard.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Because I don’t have anyone to talk to and I feel as though simply writing this out will allow me to work through it. Also, I like getting to read other people’s stories even if they are in just as horrible of a place as I am.
It helps to know you’re not alone.
Can you relate to this interviewee? Did it help you to read someone else’s story? Have you experienced something similar or do you have some feedback to share with this individual? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
- Would you like to share your STD story?