This is more something I am writing for myself than for my followers and I know it rambles on but if anyone has ever experienced sexual assault or rape it might be worth the read. I share my stories though so maybe this is a bit of a trigger warning too.
I was 18 the first time I was attacked. Since then I’ve had three more horrible experiences of rape and sexual assault.
The first was my ex boyfriend who could not deal with fact that we were truly finally over after he cheated on me. He snapped and attacked me. I tried to run but he threw me on the bed and pinned me down. I was terrified and crying and asked him what he was doing. His response was “I’m raping you!”
About a year late I was sleeping with a guy who would soon be my next boyfriend. He had a friend who I soon became very close with. We all went to a party one night and were all pretty drunk when the friend pulled me outside and began molesting me. He kept telling me I should be with him and started pulling my leggings off. I was crying and telling him to stop and he just kept repeating “You fucked him you can fuck me!”
Up to that point I kept these events to myself for many reasons.
One, I didn’t think people would believe me.
Two, I felt like most of them were my fault.
Three, I didn’t want to deal with the police and relive the events or face my rapists.
The list could go on but no matter how many reasons I had to keep everything to myself, it didn’t stop the pain.
It ate me up inside. It was destroying me. I would cry out of nowhere and no one knew why. I was miserable inside even though everything else in my life was perfect.
One day (I had only gone through the first two of the four rapes/assaults at the time) I was watching a movie with my parents when a rape scene came on and I lost it. I started sobbing. They knew right away what was going on and forced it out of me.
To spare my parents complete and utter heartbreak I only told them about my first attack.
As scared as I was, it was also so liberating. I was not hiding anymore.
After that I went to my sister and a few friends about it but still kept it a secret from everyone else. I also refused therapy.
–A therapist couldn’t fix me. They couldn’t un-rape me, right?–
I thought I was better. I didn’t think about it much anymore.
Then one night in college I was drunk and my friend (who happened to be a star athlete at my school) invited me to his apartment for an after party. When we got there it was just us. He forced me into his room and pushed me on his bed. He was strong and I was drunk. I was eventually able to get out of his apartment but not before he molested me.
As I ran home crying I ran into friends who got it all out of me. I refused to press charges because he was a star athlete. The entire state roots for him. Who would they believe? Turning him in would have ruined my life here just as much as it would have ruined his. And even if I did turn him in, what would have happened? I got away before he could rape me. Did I even have a case? Probably not. It was a drunk girl’s word over an athlete. The school would even side with him.
It was difficult but my friends had my back. And that was the first time I really understood how important it was to talk about it. Even though it was an accident that I ran into my friends and drunkenly confessed what had happened, I later realized how much it saved me.
Then, a year later I was set up for Valentine’s Day. He seemed nice and sweet and we had a good time but I just wasn’t feeling it so we didn’t talk much after that. About a month or so later I was out drinking and I ran into him. He bought me a shot and told me he would give me a ride home.
I can’t prove it but I think i was ruffied because the next thing I remember Im asking him to pull over (nowhere near or on the way to my apartment) so I could throw up. The next memory I have is him on top of me. It’s just a flash but that’s all I remember. I don’t even remember him taking me home. I was just there.
I lost all faith. All trust. All hope.
Men I trusted. Men that knew me. They could just do that and feel no remorse. Not a single one of them ever apologized or admitted they had hurt me.
The worst part is that I don’t think a single one of them realize they did anything wrong.
But then I did a terrible thing. I started blaming myself.
I shouldn’t have gone to his house. I shouldn’t have been that drunk.
What an idiot I was.
CONSENT IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF A NO, CONSENT IS AN ACTIVE AND INFORMED YES.
That took me a long time to learn. But with the help of therapy and the most amazing organization called Project Unbreakable, I was able to truly find my voice and understand that what happened to me was not my fault. But it also helped me understand that I will not let it define me.
Yes, I am hurt. And nothing will ever make what happened to me okay but I am strong. Not because I lived through rape but because I live my life every day and fight through all the pain I feel inside.
Finding my voice was the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced. I was terrified of what people would think. I worried that they would think I wanted attention, or that I was lying to protect my reputation, or that my rapists/attackers would come out and say I was making it up. Like I said before there were many reasons I wanted to keep it to myself but that was the worst thing I could do.
Now that I am open about my past I have never felt more empowered. I found my voice and I don’t let those four terrible guys dictate my happiness or how I live my life. Victims of sexual assault and rape don’t see the benefit in speaking up but I am here to tell you it was the healthiest thing I ever did. The love and support I found amongst my friends and family saved me. It reminded me there are good people and that I am loved. It lead me to the path of healing. And the most rewarding part of speaking about my past is that it has lead other people to open up to me about their own experiences they have been keeping to themselves.
People have told me that I inspired them to admit their experiences and finally talk about it. It is an amazing feeling to know that finding my voice has helped others find theirs.
If you have been hurt like this, I know better than anyone that it seems pointless to talk about it and make people uncomfortable and make yourself sad and allow the opportunity for people to judge you or not believe you, but I promise you there is no other way to heal. You may think therapy is pointless but if you find the right person to talk to it could change your life. I owe everything to my therapist. And following the organization Project Unbreakable was the best thing I ever did for myself. Finding my voice has made me no longer a victim, but a survivor.
(Sorry for rambling and not really organizing this well but I just needed to put my thoughts down. It wasn’t meant to be some deep profound and eloquently written post. It was more of a therapy session for myself. But I hope this helps someone despite the disorganized structure of my rantings).
Also, this picture was taken by Grace, the founder of Project Unbreakable. I encourage anyone and everyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted to look into Project Unbreakable (they have a tumblr) and let them help you find your voice and the courage to speak out against sexual violence.