Welcome to the SpeakOut! Blog

Break the silence that surrounds sexual assault, sexual harassment, relationship abuse, stalking, hate crimes, and identity-based violence. Share your story here on our anonymous blog.

To speak about an experience with any form of interpersonal violence is difficult, but it is also empowering. Breaking the silence reduces shame and helps others to speak out about their own experiences.

End the shame. Be empowered. Speak Out!

Thank you for Speaking Out! We would love to get your permission to share your testimonial. If you would like to allow your testimonial to be used at a later Speak Out!, please let us know by making a comment or a note in your testimonial.

Because this blog features stories of interpersonal and sexual violence, we offer this *trigger warning* as a way of caution.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Testimonials

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Every time I confide in someone that I've been sexually assaulted, I feel a twinge of guilt. Guilt because I fear I don't "deserve" to identify as a sexual assault survivor, that my assault wasn't traumatizing enough. Then anger at the fact said guilt exists in the first place, a byproduct of the entire social construct that inhibits the understanding of consent and permits rape culture to persist. 

I was assaulted by my first boyfriend. I fell asleep while we were watching a movie on my bed. He woke me up by unzipping my jeans and pulling them off. I barely had time to say "what?" before he inserted himself in me. It was over within minutes. I didn't say a word the entire time. I couldn't. I barely comprehended what was happening.

Afterwords, in shock, I told him I didn't want him to wake me up by having sex with me again, how I hadn't wanted that. I remember how upset he was, how he accused me, "and you just LET me?" and before I knew it, I was the one comforting him, telling him "No, it's fine. I just didn't have the time to decide whether or not I wanted it, but that's okay. Just for next time, now you know." 

I remember taking myself to the shower and mentally forcing myself to squash all unease — It was okay. He didn't mean to make me feel uncomfortable. He loved me. We talked about it now. It was okay.

I stayed in that relationship another six months without thinking about the incident. After all, it was okay. We talked about it. It wouldn't happen again.

I broke up with him for other reasons later on. It wasn't until after the break-up, after I distanced myself from the unhealthy emotional dependence, that I could recognize what happened to me was assault. My consent had been violated. The worst part? I couldn't even see it at the time. 

I lost all faith in myself, in my own judgment. There were many months I walked around feeling a wounded animal, doubting my ability to ever trust myself again.

But here's the thing. I didn't let him do anything. It wasn't my job to say "stop." It was his job to ask what I wanted.

When I realized that, I began to heal. I began opening up to those around me. I learned to trust myself, take pride in myself, again. Where I once thought I couldn't ever open myself up to another relationship, I look forward to sharing my life with someone in a healthy, meaningful manner.

To my fellow survivors and anyone else reading my story, I leave you with this:

Sexual violence comes in all forms. No one experience is "worse" than another. There is no guilt in being a survivor. There is pain, pain that shouldn't ever exist in this world... but more importantly, there is strength. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

I grew up religiously watching Court T.V. I knew what rape was. I knew it happened through physical coercion. I knew it happened at the hands of some stranger at a party or a deserted parking deck. And, of course, I knew it only happened to women.
I had just turned 18. He was a year younger. We got out of school early for snow, and I drove him back to his house while his parents were still at work. We had been dating for four months, and we had been having sex for about three weeks. Neither of us was experienced.
He had chosen to be the receiving partner when we became sexually active, but he told me daily—sometimes multiple times a day—that he wanted to reverse roles. Eventually, I agreed. We went through all the preparations; he even lit candles. But when it came to the last moment, I panicked—I wasn’t ready. He told me I was overreacting and that it wasn’t that bad. I apologized to him, pleading for him not to be upset—and then: “you can’t just change your mind.”
He forced himself into me. After an initial shock, I shoved him away. It was all over in less than a minute.
He apologized, saying he didn’t mean for it to hurt. He then prompted me to apologize for being unfair.
I did.
His parents came home an hour later. We ate dinner and watched a movie with them, and I pretended nothing was wrong. I bled from the tearing for three days, and I pretended nothing was wrong. Over the following six months, I stifled panic attacks during anal sex, and I pretended nothing was wrong.
It took a nasty breakup and a heart-to-heart with a friend my freshman year to accept everything about it was wrong.
Because of that afternoon, I have married sexuality with anxiety. Even when my next boyfriend tried to do everything right, I spent our intimate moments trying not to cry and counting the minutes in my head until it was over.
Society tells you it wasn’t assault because you were in a relationship. Society tells you it wasn’t assault because he was younger than you and because you’re a man. Society tells you it wasn’t assault because he lit candles. 
Society doesn’t tell you that you have to avoid Bath and Bodyworks now because the smell of their candles makes you vomit.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Summer session II had started up, and we were overwhelmed with chemistry work and labs. The concert became a bright spot, a reprieve I looked forward to. The concert went surprisingly well. The singer was spectacular and I enjoyed myself. During the concert, he told me he liked somebody else and I breathed a sigh of relief. I chalked up all of his previous actions to the flirting of an inexperienced boy.

On the way home though, things took a turn. We stopped for food. On the way back to the car, he locked me out. I banged on the window, but he told me I had to dance to get back in. The lot was filled with truckers taking a rest stop, and I was hugely embarrassed.

Driving back to Chapel Hill, a Lady Gaga song came on. He told me he liked her music, but didn’t like what she stood for because homosexuality was a choice. He then proceeded to tell me that he wanted to marry somebody like the lead singer of The Band Perry because she was a virgin and girls today were “slutty whores.” I stayed silent and hoped we were close to home.

We finally reached Chapel Hill. I was staying in Everett for the summer, but Raleigh Street was under construction. He mistakenly went down the road, only to find that it was blocked. I told him that if he could turn around, I would walk from Spencer parking lot. He pulled in and shut off the car.

I thanked him for taking me and hugged him good night. When I pulled away, he told me to wait a minute. At this point, he hops over the console and pulls me into his lap. I was shocked, but not enough to run screaming out the door. His face was so close to mine, and I turned away. He told me he wasn’t going to kiss me because I had mono, didn’t I remember? He started to rub my legs and now I was becoming alarmed. He trailed his hands up my legs and up my skirt and grabbed my underwear. I jolted away, and he said he wasn’t going to do anything, as if offended by my reaction. I remember at some point saying that it was wrong, that he liked somebody else. He told me she had a boyfriend. I lurched for the door, and desperately he told me to straddle him. I lunged out, and he asked from the open car door if I would be around that weekend to work on chemistry.

I walked back to my dorm, but before I could even open the door I was assaulted by a series of texts.

12:12 AM: “I’m sorry about that. It won’t ever happen again. I feel terrible.”
12:16 AM: “Like that was impulses and lust. I’m sorry I like you as a friend but my guy mind takes control every now and the. That wasn’t supposed to happen.”
12:16 AM: “Please forgive me for it.”
12:23 AM: “And I’m guessing you’re probably asleep. So I’ll just see you tomorrow or something.”
12:25 AM: “ But text me back tonight if you can. That way I won’t be worrying if you’re mad at me or not.”

I didn’t quite know what had just happened. Was it just the mistake of an overly eager guy? Was I overreacting by being frightened? I brushed my teeth and before I went to bed, I decided to send a conciliatory text. For all I knew, he could be obsessive, chemically imbalanced, and capable of physical harm.

12: 40 AM: “Hey, I’m up, I’m just getting ready for bed. I forgive you. I was just confused because you said you liked somebody else and I thought we were friends.”
12:45 AM: “Yeah we are only just friends. I promise I’m not a bad guy. I just get trapped by lust every now and then. And I hate it. I do like someone else but it’s pretty much a waste for me to like them. But I’m really sorry, it was wrong against you and against me. It will not happen again, I assure you.”
12:49 AM: “I believe you. I know you’re not a bad person and I had a really great time tonight but I don’t like feeling like a piece of ass and I think I earned more respect than that.”
12:51 AM: “Yeah, that’s why I feel bad. You’re not just another piece. I haven’t ever had any pieces. I disrespected you and hopefully the concert kinda makes up for it.”

After this occurrence, the person in question texted me a few more times. I never responded. If by chance we met on campus, he acted as if we were best friends. I removed all forms of communications from him.

I spent so long after that feeling ashamed of myself. I was, after all, a level headed eighteen- year-old. I was never guy crazy – I didn’t fall over myself to meet anyone, or pretend I was one of the boys. I could usually tell the bad ones. So how did I not see this? How did I not connect the dots? I should have known better.

And then it finally occurred to me that he should have known better. It is not my duty to walk around afraid, hedging bets on which guy will grope me first, on whom I can trust to be alone with in a motor vehicle, with whom can I eat lunch without them feeling as if I owe them. It is not up to me to refrain from wearing skirts. I should not need to size up each male I meet on their potential to harm me. I said I was confused when really I was outraged. Concerts are not free passes to sexually assault your company. And nothing makes up for it.


Friday, October 4, 2013

It happened over a year ago. 

It took another month to realize I had been raped, another 3 months to begin processing it. That’s nothing compared to 8 months before I could talk to anyone about it.


Because my rape wasn’t violent, it wasn’t a stranger. It was a night in a college dorm room where I wasn’t heard when I said no, I was too scared to make noise and attract any attention. To have to explain how I got into this situation, a night where everything happened too fast to react to before it was over.


“You don’t want this to end here, do you?” 


But I did.


I hate that I didn’t say more, louder, fight back. I hate that I kept it to myself for eight months because I was too ashamed to go to anyone, too scared to talk about it, because once it’s aloud, it’s real. I hate that I didn’t have the courage to confront him, to tell him that I consider him a rapist when he probably sees me as “that Bitch that led him on.”


He contacted me for half a year afterwards. That’s half a year to confront him about that night. Six months of chances I didn’t take. It’s a full year for him to do this to someone else. That’s hard to get over, I’m not sure I ever will.


That night in Fall 2012 taught me how dangerous the world is. It’s the night that causes me to walk at night with a can of pepper spray in one hand and my keys Wolverined in the other. Even though if I were really in a serious situation, neither of these will be of much use. At least now I can even walk alone from Morrison to Davis at 8 pm on a well lit street without inducing a full on panic attack.


That night has made me so paranoid about my surroundings that when I had the opportunity to spend 3.5 weeks in Bangkok, the number one tourist destination in the world, I spent a total of 5 nights out of the dorms past 10. Of which only two were spent in the actual city. Because Bangkok might be a tourist hotspot, but it’s also #1 in sex trafficking, a threat that all of a sudden seems much more tangible.


There are nights I wake up in a panic wondering if what I had experienced was really rape or if it’s a sick, desperate, ploy for attention. That the identity that has been forced upon me, the one that I’ve been slaving away to accept is completely artificial. Because no matter how many times I remind myself that mainstream media’s definition of rape is limited, that bruises and scars aren’t necessary to be violated, it doesn’t stick. 


I’ve lost friends because of this. Friends that I loved for years that couldn’t understand what I went through and why all of a sudden I acted so differently. Friends that simply didn’t want to hear it.


But I’ve also become so much closer to many other people. People willing to buy pregnancy tests at 8 on a Wednesday morning to help me deal with my paranoia, Friends that were okay with me showing up at their door unannounced and sitting in their rooms for hours without any explanation. People who still sit me down and remind me constantly that it wasn’t my fault, that I’m worth something, friends that insist on walking me home even though it’ll add an extra twenty minutes to their own commute. 


Many terrible things happened that night in Fall 2012, but I’m sick of obsessing over them. Sick of the nervous ticks that appear every time I try to tell this story, the fear that I’ll be rejected for what has happened to me. 


I’m done with it. I’m done being a victim. I’m tired of living in fear of a memory and an overactive imagination that has constructed each and every way I can be taken advantaged of. I’m fortunate enough to have the support of some of the beautiful people in the world, and this really strange sense of empowerment, the knowledge that I can face anything because I’ve already been through one of the most terrifying things that can happen to a person. I’ve seen evidence of my own healing. The anxiety isn’t nearly as bad as before. I’m learning to control it. Fall 2012 is a sick place to draw strength from, but better me than him. It’s been a year. I’m ready for change.