I used to be the kind of person who craved identity. I craved it the way that most people crave water, but after I was gang-raped for the third time, I genuinely stopped caring about what people thought of me.
I couldn’t help myself, after that event in my life, I found that it no longer mattered what other people thought. I realized that caring what other people thought about me had very nearly killed me.
I still remember the hands of a former friend wrapped around my neck as he tried to kill me while he raped me — deliberately wanting to rape my dead body, I remember. I will never forget.
That was the moment that my entire world shifted. This was someone I liked, the son of a friend that I had adored, admired, and looked up to. Someone I trusted with my safety. I was never going to be the same woman again after that event in my life.
I spent quite a few years struggling, trying to find my identity, trying to discover this new person that had been born from rape, trauma, and abuse.
I remember being raped by another man that night, who as he raped me, detailed how he was going to rape the children of another man I cared about — a man who was also, one of the men who raped me. They were not friends, they were enemies, only one man knew it, and one did not.
I came out of that experience deciding that I was going to be whoever I wanted to be on my terms, regardless of what other people think of me.
Today I am a mixed-race, bisexual, Black woman, who deals with mental health while building a world-class brand that revolves around healing from those mental health issues while showing others that it can be done.
I don’t give a fuck, about what you think of me, because your opinion doesn’t matter. Your opinion might actually push me over the edge and kill me, if I am not careful, so I am very careful to dissect where your insults and thoughts about my person come from before I choose to accept them as fact.
I have spent my whole life trying to be my mom’s idea of the perfectly behaved Black girl — and it didn’t fucking work. I was terrible at it. I used to light fires because I liked the flame, but I didn’t care about other people.
Today I put fires out emotionally speaking, and I care far more about other people than I ever thought I was capable of, and it’s absolutely exhausting.
I am just one person, and I am doing the best that I absolutely can to ensure that I never hurt those around me, but I am also realizing that sometimes you gotta protect yourself, even if it means letting other people get hurt, because hurting yourself to protect other people, all the damned time, is dangerous.
There are people in this world who know who it was that raped me, and what they choose to do with that information is entirely up to them, it’s no longer part of my business. I no longer care. I am moving on.
I am not the same girl that came out of being gang-raped for the third time. I am a woman who is strong, powerful, and fucking delightful.
I have spent an entire lifetime doing things the way that other people, people who were older and therefore “wiser” than myself, told me that I should do them, and oftentimes I’ve been left feeling empty and miserable.
At what point do I just get to say “okay world, this is who I want to be,” and be happy? I am growing increasingly convinced by the idea that people don’t want other people to be happy, because misery loves company.
The thing is, I don’t love being miserable, and I shouldn’t be forced to be miserable, just to make you more comfortable. I shouldn’t have to burden myself with pain and sorrow, just so that you feel better about being around me.
And I certainly shouldn’t have to listen to your shit takes about what a whore I am, because I opened an Only Fans account, and haven’t even posted anything, oh yes, this has happened.
Overwhelmingly the women in my life have been wonderful, and supportive, even if my mom did look at me sideways. (I assure you that was the bonus moment of tee hee you think it was.)
In 15 weeks from now, I plan to post my first nude photo, maybe not full nude, maybe not even by a photographer, but I will certainly post it, because damnit I want to control the narrative about my body.
For too many years men were in control of my body. They beat it, drugged it, tortured it, raped it, and scarred it, in an effort to claim my body as their property, and I am trying everything I can to stop feeling so damned powerless.
In 37 years on this earth, I’ve learned that you don’t actually have to care what other people think of you. There are 8, nearly 9, billion people on this planet. Someone, somewhere, is going to accept you for who you are, without you having to lash out and be an asshole, but I however am not one of them.
I am not going to like you just because you want to be liked. I am not going to spread my legs for you in an effort to feel good about myself. Especially when I can cut out the middle man (ha ha) and give myself the world’s best orgasms, without your assitence.
I am not going to be who you want me to be so that I fit into your “brand”, I am who I am because the world went to war with me and lost. I am here because I fucking choose to be here, and I am not going anywhere just because you don’t like the way that I speak, the style of my clothes or hair, or the way I wear my makeup.
I don’t need you to comment, in fact, the only person who needs to hear your comment is you because you need my assistance to validate your toxicity and I am not letting you have it.
I learned this lesson while interviewing my friend Kim Rhodes from a bunch of TV shows, who is one of the most phenomenal women on this planet.
It’s absolutely freeing to discover that you are who you are, and that who you are is a beautiful person, with or without validation from others, and yes the validation feels good, but if you don’t validate yourself first, no one else will either.
I know it’s a pain in the ass catch 22 scenario, but it’s a cliche for a reason. Until you pull back the layers of who the world tells you to be, and take the chance to discover who you can be, no one in the world is going to notice your amazing self.
And the world needs to see your amazing self. The world needs to see that YOU, the person reading this, can overcome challenges, push past barriers and stigmas, and set yourself free so that others can follow in your footsteps.
You can do this, because “I” the person writing this, believe in you. I promise.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall