Dear His Holiness Pope Francis,
I am currently writing to you because there is a subject of my life that is weighing heavily on my mind and heart. As a young Catholic woman, there are many different questions and situations that I face as I strive to live in accordance with the truth, which is counter-cultural especially in terms of chastity and propriety.
That being said, when I was 17 years old, I was raped by a young man. With all that rape implies, it was without consent and violent. I have kept very quiet about this event in my life. The only people who know are the priests at my parish in my home state, the priests at my university parish in Maryland, my best friend from childhood and my boyfriend. Currently, I am a rising senior in an American university, and now more then ever, I feel the need to understand the answer to a question that is weighing heavily on my mind and heart.
From my childhood, then and now, I wanted to wait until marriage, that is be a virgin until I was married to my husband. After the rape, I have tried to talk to the priests in my hometown and at my college parish to reach a resolution to this question. However, I still do not feel that I understand because of a lack of succinct, clear information regarding my real question. My question is: is a woman, after rape and/or sexual assault, a virgin? How does rape and/or sexual assault affect how a woman should represent herself? (That is to say, can a woman who has been raped say that she is a virgin? Does she need to disclose her past rape and/or sexual assault to others?).
I think that this is a question and topic that many young women are curious to know the answer to. It is a topic that is not discussed but is worrisome for those of us who have been raped or sexually assaulted.
Thank you very much for your time and help in advance! I greatly appreciate it!
An American pre-med Philosophy student searching for answers