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Break the silence that surrounds sexual assault, sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, 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.

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Because this blog features stories of interpersonal and sexual violence, we offer this *content warning* as a way of caution. We also ask that you do not reproduce any of the content below, as the authors of these personal stories are anonymous, and cannot give consent for their stories to appear anywhere other than this blog or at a Project Dinah-led SpeakOut event.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's Okay to Cry Too

During my senior year of high school I found myself in an emotionally abusive relationship. I was often the subject of insults and jokes for the sake of laughs from his friends. I was regularly told how my opinions and ideas were worthless. And, like any true abuser, I was called “gorgeous” and snuggled any time I got upset enough to threaten the relationship. I still hate being called gorgeous. Over the course of a year, I transformed from a confidant, energetic young woman to a weak, unhappy girl with zero self esteem.

Days after I worked up the courage to leave him, I woke up one morning with a hangover and a lot of confusion in a bed that wasn’t mine. Lying next to me was a male friend who knew my pain and state of mind and still seemed to think that doing whatever we did was a good idea. I don’t remember what happened, but was just incredibly relieved to realize that he didn’t have sex with me.

Now in college, I look back and tally up my encounters: an abusive relationship, a rather questionable “one night stand,” and countless instances of being touched inappropriately in bars on Franklin Street. And I consider myself lucky. When people ask me about my experiences with sexual assault, I think I’m lucky. Because all I can think of is how my best friend was raped two years ago. I’ve been by her side as best I could while she’s tried to deal with her trauma, and it’s been a difficult experience for everyone involved.

I want to change tracks and take a minute to speak for those of us who are the secondary survivors. Those of us who have helped our friend or partner or sister or whoever through these tough times, who have been the shoulder to cry on, who have been the proverbial rock. Those of us who have calmed irrational fears, talked into late hours of the night, or were just simply there when she needed us. We are strong and wonderful and appreciated beyond belief, but most us of already know that.

What you may not know, and what I want to tell you, is that it’s okay to think about yourself sometimes. It’s okay to be angry about how this has affected you. It’s okay to cry for yourself.

I hesitate even in writing this because I know my friend’s biggest worry is how her problems have affected her friends and family. And she’s right. We’re all affected. We’ve all been through tough times right alongside her. But I don’t blame her for my nightmares, or the paranoia that inevitably strikes me every night when the sun goes down. I don’t blame her for the bad days when I just can’t get it out of my head. I don’t blame her for the overwhelming anger I feel all the time.

I blame her rapists. Despite all the what-ifs and the if-onlys, they are the only ones responsible for their actions that night. They are the only ones responsible for affecting her life and thereafter my life so negatively.

I may not have been there that night, but he hurt me too. He traumatized me too. And now I’m healing too. I struggle with this daily, but I’m beginning to come to terms with my own pain and being able to deal with it out in the open. I’m beginning to realize that my pain is legitimate too, and it’s probably better for both of us if I cope with it out loud.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wow, never believed I would ever do something like this, guess it is all a part of this "turning over a new leaf" process. I am not good at beating around the bush so here it is, I was first assaulted by two family members when I developed two new marvels on my chest. I was what you called "over-developed" for my age. I guess people thought since I looked older, they would treat me as if I were ready for the things older people of my stature did. Both a male and female family member assaulted me and the female member raped me repeatedly for....man I tried so hard to forget that i actually forgot how long it went on for, but never the less it happened.
In 2004 (I was a senior in high school) and an acquintance took it on hisself to kiss, grope, and force hisself on me in the middle of a parking lot filled with people. Luckily he didn't rape me, but he did take all feeling and emotions from me.
Then in 2005 a friend tried to force hisself on me in my apartment. He felt he should have been "rewarded" for crossing Kappa. Again, thanks be to God, another failed attempt, yet another oportunity for feelings of self-worth to be stolen.
These events haven't spoiled me from dating, but it seems the more I try to give guys the benefit of the doubt they prove me right; they are all animals. Some dogs sniffing around any female hindpart, some octopus with eight arms in eight different directions, and some fox, sly and sneeky, always with ulterior motives.
But through and I haven't gave up on my prince charming and faithful believe he is on his search to me. However, i have wised-up (blaming none of my past experiences mentioned on myself) and decided to take a stand for me. I have been abstinent for four years and seven months and have really took a bold approach to letting guys know what is and isn't going to fly by me.
I pray for all females who have encountered similar to worse incidents and i truly appreciate what Project Dinah does as well as all those behind it pushing the project to new heights.
It has now been barely two years since I was raped, and I’m not ready to forgive them. That night, that next morning, that day in the hospital, that next sleepless night, that numbing realization that it wasn’t just the worst nightmare I’d ever had, that morning I confessed to my brothers and my parents, the months of dealing with the police and my attorney, the months of seeing my multiple attackers face-to-face walking freely around campus as if they were not criminals, the corrupt judicial trial that ended in more pain and disbelief, and leaving the school from which I had wanted to receive my degree. No, I am not ready to forgive them, and I don’t think I ever will be.

It is impossible to forgive the animals who took advantage of me, and with one power-hungry move, made me a victim. I won’t forgive them because they raped me and called it sex; sex is something between two consenting adults. This was not sex; this was violence. It was rape. They raped me. How dare anyone say this was “sex”? I won’t forgive them because they not only made me suffer, but they made everyone I cared about suffer, too -- my mother, my father, my brothers, my sister-in-law, my best friends. I won’t forgive them because they took what wasn’t theirs to take. But the one person I have forgiven is myself. My own forgiveness has been one of the most important parts of my healing process.

Every day I feel a little bit better and a little bit stronger. I still have bad days, though none are as bad as the ones right after my assault. I still have bad dreams, though they are becoming more infrequent. I still think about the “what ifs,” though I can’t imagine my life differently now. I’m still livid that nothing was done to keep them from raping another woman, though I’ve accepted that the lack of justice doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. I’m still outraged that it happened to me, though I’m using my experience to improve my life rather than to let it ruin it.

I am not a victim. I am a survivor. I will not let this get me down. I was raped. I forgive myself, and this experience will only make me stronger.
I was 11. He was my boyfriend, he was supposed to care about me. He should have showed his affection in that 13 year old way by holding my hand or giving me a peck on the cheek. But he never did either. Instead he used his short temper to keep me from ever disagreeing so he could use my body. I wanted so badly to please him, to keep his affection. My biggest fear was that he would abandon me like my parents emotionally had.

They were too busy to notice I was being abused. Someone else must have known. But no one said anything— not the librarians who thought we were spending a little too much time together, not the lifeguards who must have seen him forcing me to touch him or expose myself in the pool, not even his mom who knew we were in the office bathroom together the day he raped me.

I didn’t know what was happening that day, but he had decided that we were going to have sex. I didn’t know what was going to happen when he let me choose the closet or the bathroom. The whole time I just laid there naked on the cold tile bathroom floor of his dad’s office, too scared to say no or even question what was happening. But that doesn’t mean I wanted it or that it was OK. Before he started, he told me not to worry about getting pregnant, that he would pay all the doctor bills. After that, I just accepted that girlfriends were supposed to do that sort of thing, and tried to figure out when I would have to get my first period by to know I wasn’t pregnant.

I stopped going to the pool after that Tuesday early in August 1999. I could avoid the places it happened, but not the effect it had on me. It took me nearly three years, two suicide attempts, and countless scars on my arms to admit that what happened was wrong. Even then, it took me several years to call it was it is. It was not just sex that I didn’t want. It was rape and it was his fault.

What he did still hurts me, but I’m no longer his victim. I am a survivor. It is a part of who I am, but it doesn’t define me anymore. I don’t think about it every day, or even every week. It has changed and shaped me in ways I will probably never know, but it has also made me a more caring, empathetic, and passionate person. And he can never take that away from me.
When it happened the first time, I cried myself to sleep and made him promise it would never happen again. He made me think it was just a misunderstanding.

When it happened a second time, I threw him out and didn’t talk to him for days. Eventually he made me believe that this time was the last time.

When it happened a third time, it was easier to just give up…it was easier to do what he said than to resist and deal with the constant pressure he imposed upon me…it was easier to pretend like I was fine than to face the fact that I had been raped. I think it’s like when you’re in shock from a terrible accident and you can’t feel the pain until you look at your wounds. As long as I didn’t think about it, I could pretend like it never happened.

But I looked at my wounds, and now I can’t pretend. I’m not going to lie and say I feel better. I have no idea how to handle this.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dear Rapist

Dear Rapist,

How to begin? A question I ask myself every morning when I wake up,
and realize that no, what happened to me wasn’t just
a bad dream.
You were a friend, someone I trusted to comfort me in a time when I needed you most.
You took advantage of my vulnerability, you raped me.

Dear rapist, did you know that what you did was rape?
Or did you assume that I wanted it, that I needed it,
to feel better or to forget about my problems.
Did you think that no really meant yes, that my screams and pleas were just foreplay?

Dear rapist, did you know that because you raped me
I can no longer have children?
Do you even care?
I once thought you did, but I was terribly mistaken.
Why do you look and talk to me like nothing ever happened?
Why are you so happy and carefree?

Dear rapist, did you know that I am not?
Everyone thinks I am fine, but I am neither physically, mentally, nor emotionally okay.
I try to make myself believe that
what used to make me
happy still does.

Dear rapist, maybe one day you will understand and show remorse...
maybe one day I will finally get over this and be able to have a normal, healthy relationship.

Dear rapist, how to begin.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It took me four years to name it
It took me four years to understand it
And it will take me the rest of my life to overcome it.

I am angry
I am angry
And I’m not even that angry at you
I am angry at the system that taught you it was ok
I’m angry at the others, who reinforced to you that it was ok
And I am angry that you have never thought twice about whether it was wrong.

We have known each other for years, you live down the street from me
We used to take the bus together
Granted we were never friends, but you were friends my friends, so believed in you
Even when others tore you down, I was there to even say a few kind words. Still believing that you are a “good guy” down deep.

How do you think I felt, hearing you tell me how you had thought about this
How you had imagined this happening
All while I was resisting
How do you think I felt when I realized how someone who knew me could treat me
in such a way with such ease?

You waited
You waited until I was vulnerable
You created “privacy” and locked the doors
You pushed me and begged me to give you what you wanted
You knew what was happening
You knew I was drunk
You heard me asking you to stop, saying your name
And then you heard nothing.


You heard nothing because I had nothing more to say
I decided that I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t want this situation
So I obliged, to do what you were pushing and shoving me to do
For it all to be over, I had to end it
…If only it had ended there.


I failed my final exams
I dealt with the rumors and the looks
I pulled away from my friends and family
I stayed up nights and slept through days
But the worst part, is that I was confused
I knew something was wrong, but had no one to talk to about it
I felt alone and helpless.


No words could describe or explain what happened
It was an event that made no sense and made me feel powerless and used
It made me feel less than human

You may walk proud today, thinking of yourself as a bright young man
One who can make his parents proud and may make a partner very happy one day
And you may never know that pain and agony you caused me
You may never even hear my name again
But know I will never forget yours


It has taken me fours years to name it
It has taken me four years to understand it

And today, I have conviction
Today I have decided to not let anyone else endure what I had to endure
Today I have purpose and reason
Today I have clarity
Today, I am happy

Friday, November 9, 2007

I love children, but they are so small, and they remind me.
“How can I have been so small?” I think when I meet a six-year old. How could he have hurt me when I was so small?

I was sexually assaulted by my next-door-neighbor. His son was a year younger than me, a kindergartener, so we played together constantly. My parents were glad to have me go play at his house.

I don’t remember the first time, but I remember a lot of times. He hid M&M’s around the house and, while the other kids were searching, he led me to his bedroom. At his son’s slumber party birthday, he came in and got under my cover telling me to be quiet so I didn’t wake up the other girl sleeping a few feet away. I remember starring at the dresser next to the bed so I didn’t have to look at him over me. Once we were on his couch, he ignored his son banging on the back door to be let in; he had locked him out on purpose. He never threatened and he never asked.

Once he told me I was beautiful. A first grader! A snotty nose, tangled hair, scrawny limbs, dirty legs and feet, and complete confusion, that was first grade me.

I hate the word beautiful.
Before I left for college, I dated a guy in high school. I wouldn't have sex with him for a lot of reasons. One of our mutual friends told me that I should just do it already - - or I would go to college, get drunk, and have sex with some guy who didn't mean anything to me. His statement proved to be true, but in a different way than I ever imagined.

Lost my virginity when I was assaulted. It happened the way many assaults do, in drunken snapshots of memory.

Snap. I'm drinking, wasted, at a frat party.

Snap. I'm kissing an old high school friend.

Snap. That friend and another guy are pulling me out the door of the frat. I pull away and stumble back inside.

Snap. I'm looking around the basement, which is now almost empty. I don't know where my friends are.

Snap. I'm outside the bedroom door of a friend who lives in the frat.

Snap. I'm trying to ask for help and fall over against the wall.

Snap. I'm inside the room, putting on some of his shorts and a t-shirt.

Snap. I'm falling again, trying to climb into a bed.

Then I wake up. Naked. Scared. Trying to remember what happened and how I got to where I was.

He helps me find my underwear and offers me a ride home.

I know something is weird, but I don't find out for sure that he had sex with me until almost a week later.

I pretend like everything is ok, until I'm crying everyday and would rather be asleep than awake.

7 years later, I still pretend like everything is ok. But it still affects me. It always will.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I'm in the corner of my childhood bedroom, lying on my back, and my daddy's impossibly large hands are in front of me. He's changing my diaper. I'm currently sans diaper, and daddy is surely going to put on another one. What a nice daddy, changing my diaper when that's mommy's job. What a nice daddy to take one of those big, long fingers and probe at the vagina of his daughter, who, even as a toddler, knew something was wrong. Grandpa was told "daddy touched me," by the toddler and soon after, daddy no longer lived with us.

I haven't seen my dad since around this time. All I have of him is a fuzzy mental picture of a large white male's hand, set on doing disastrous and perverted things; but mostly set on finding a bit of power through a spot of toddler molestation.

For all that it sounds reprehensible, I don't feel anything. I feel a detached sense of disgust, as if I were telling someone else's story and merely feeling sympathy for them. Perhaps I'm perpetually in the denial stage that follows from traumatic experiences.

I do not talk to my dad now, nor do I really conceive of him as my father. He didn't pay child support, and he's never shown interest in me.

I long thought of my father as a sickened individual, a byproduct of a bad childhood and a perverted will. While those things are certainly related, so is the fact that he's a man in a system of patriarchy, and at the age of three, he saw my vagina and associated me with "girl."

I'm a victim of incest molestation. But I'm also a survivor - however numb I may be.
I used to be one of those people who always said that if anything like "that" ever happened to me, I would tell for sure. Parents. Police. Pastor. Everyone.
Well...


It has.


I haven’t.
I know this is not a discussion board, but I just want to say that even though I didn't write the post that started out with "I feel like whenever bad things happen, you need a lot of support," I feel like it could have been.

I understand you.
It sucks.
I'm sorry it happened to you too.

BUT, I really appreciate the fact that you had the courage to write what I can not bring myself to do.
So thank you.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

My grandma died.

I got drunk.

I saw you.

You saw me pass out.

I woke up with you inside me.

I laid there confused.

I got up and ran away.

You chased me.

I was faster.

I didn't know it was rape.

Now that I do, it's too late.

You got away.

I still think it's my fault.

I can never tell anyone.

I'll forever be "the girl who was raped".

I don't want anyone's pity.

I want my innocence back.
March 9th.
That’s when it happened. That’s when I was sexually assaulted. Less than 3 weeks after I was dumped by an insensitive ass of ANOTHER ex-boyfriend.
He knew I was hurting and he knew what it meant to be hurt by keith. He knew.
Why did I keep hanging around him and why did I not run away from him? But I figured it would be okay. So I kept hanging around him and I kept talking to him and I told him that I didn’t want him anymore like that. Just because I dated him once a long time ago, I didn’t want to date him again and I didn’t want sex with him. Someone else had just broken my heart.
But it just happened. He just assumed that’s what I wanted. He assumed that I wanted to be with him and he knew HE knew how to turn me on and I was there and he was drunk so it was okay now.
And I didn’t know what to do and I never know what to do and I second guess myself and then I was just lying there waiting till I knew what to do. And it happened again. And again. And finally I tried to stop it. He kept coming into the room. And I tried to roll over and sleep again but he would come in again and he would scare me and I didn’t know what to do.
And I was already hurting so bad. Why did this have to happen so soon after the other!? Why? I didn’t do anything wrong. I tried to do everything right with keith and that just failed miserably and I was left with a sense of how worthless I was because he didn’t want me. And then shawn wanted me and I felt worthless because it didn’t matter what I wanted. Again. It never matters what I want and I can’t get away from that. Even when I try to be happy and when I think I’ve found happiness it goes away. Why I can’t I be happy and why can’t I do things right and what did I do to deserve this?
I feel like whenever bad things happen, you need a lot of support. You need your friends to be there for you and you need to be able to explain what happened. And when a death occurs, or when you go through a bad relationship breakup, or you lose your job, or you have a housefire, or any other things...there is no social pressure saying "don't tell that, it's scary."

with a sexual assault, that is there. you can't tell because you don't want to scare people and it's akward because it deals with sex and you feel ashamed because, well, "it's just sex." why should it have so much control over you?

but it does. you can't talk about it. you can maybe tell your closest friends and they can support you. so you know you always have a place where you can go and feel safe about it when you need to.

but you have the rest of your life. and everyone else in your life. and the experience carries over into every aspect of your life. and you don't want to define yourself by it because THAT gives the event too much power over you. BUT just by the fact that...it's not normal to talk about it...it takes something away from you.

it still affects you but you can't talk about it and so you aren't yourself but you can't explain why.

nothing should ever take away your voice. nothing should ever take away your ability to find support. nothing should ever make you feel ashamed to talk about it. we aren't in this world alone, and nothing should ever make you feel that way.

and i don't want to relive every detail. i want to move on. part of that is expressing my frustration with the double standard present in dealing with the aftermath of a sexual assault.

i want to move on and form meaningful relationships with people and i want to love and trust again and i want to stop hurting the people that care the most about me.

i don't want this to affect me forever. i don't want to have to hide from it. i don't want to be ashamed of my need for people to understand and help me through it. and i need people to support me when things are hard.

so i'm writing this to feel like i have control again. what happened was awful. i will have to deal with it for a while. i don't want to lose the relationships i have along the way. and it's not fair that you're not supposed to talk about this.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Intrusive

Persuade me to speak
in sleep, and I will tell

you something.

Of shysters standing pants-
to-ankles,

holding my head

like a heavy, potted
fern -- smashed against

the shelf. Oh ivory

trophy. Don’t say a word
says the fat stalk

of a half-man. Crushing
my throat

because it is so soft.
It happened to me. I still can't believe it happened to me. I blamed it on myself -- I shouldn't have been drinking -- I shouldn't have been alone with him -- I shouldn't have trusted him.

It wasn't necessarily violent but I was still violated.

If I said NO the first 40 times you tried to make a move... I meant it the 41st too. Because I was near passed out didn't change it into a YES. The 42nd time was silent -- but, an lack of the word NO does not imply the word YES.

But I can't help but think that it's my fault -- I shouldn't have been drinking -- I shouldn't have been high -- I shouldn't have been alone with him.

He lied to me, told us everyone was meeting us there... I was passed out by the time they did.

He had already taken from me what I never gave him. He stole something from me. NO means NO.

When it was happening... my mind was blank... this wasn't happening to me... this couldn't be me. I didn't feel anything... I just watched him climb on top of me and just... go.

I watched him treat me as a toy -- just some thing that he could play with -- I wasn't a person. I didn't feel like a person anymore.

He took my humanity... my self... my me. NO meant NO.

It wasn't my fault. I know that now. He knew I meant NO. He knew.

Nobody has the right to take something like that from you. But I thought it was my fault... and I kept my mouth shut.

Couldn't tell my parents -- would have to tell them that I was intoxicated. My best friend woke up one day with bruises all over her body -- she thought I had to tough it out. "YOU made a MISTAKE," she told me.

She was wrong. I never told him he could come in... I told him NO. As many times as he tried, I wouldn't even kiss him -- when does that translate into "Yes, Rico, I want to have sex with you"?

It doesn't. He knew.

Summer of 2005. Now November 2007. I'm still hurting.

I was RAPED. It wasn't my fault.
10 months ago he raped me. We'd been hooking up for weeks, catching up ater the bar scene, driving home against our better judgement. I slept with him a few times, sure, but one night, I was just too drunk, and told him as much. He shoved his arm across my neck and raped me, telling me what a bitch, what a cunt I was. When he was done I didn't even cry. I went to sleep, and bade him farewell in the morning. I wasn't ready to call it rape. That morning, I told my curious friends about how "he got rough" that night, but I still didn't call it rape. I laughed it off.

Thing is--I'm a feminist. I'm an anti-rape activist. I know just about everyting there is to know about rape-- responses, rape trauma syndrome, denial, shame, coping, not coping, definitions, both legal and moral. But it just didn't click.... "I know how to protect myself, I know my resources, I know that if I'm ever raped, I would do X, Y and Z....but I did B, C, and D... so it couldnt have been rape."

Last May I saw him in his damn graduation gown. He came up to me looking for a congratulatory hug. I had made a point of not seeing him since that night, but here he was. I stood stock still, clearly not wanting to hug this man. And he barrelled over, wrapped his imposing body around mine (so tiny, so quiet), and I felt so enraged that he took that kind of liberty. I burst into tears and ran to the other side of campus. That's when it started pieceing together. Today, 10 months later, I'm calling him out.
I'm the only woman in my family who has not been raped.

Writing that statement makes me sad. It makes me angry. It makes me cry. It makes me want to do something.

Sexual assault and men's violence against women are unspeakable crimes. And something needs to be done.

It's about power. It's about men's power over women. Until men change - patriarchy is eliminated - women must stand up and fight back. As women, we have to stand up and say that it is NOT okay. Women are not sexual objects existing for the purpose of men's sexual (or violent) pleasure. Men can fight this fight as well.

One way to start to do this, is to report sexual assault. If the crime goes unreported, the criminal gets away with it and is not punished. If they are punished, they learn that it is NOT okay and will think twice before they hurt another woman.

Because that next woman could be anyone.
I toss and I turn.
Images boiling behind my closed eyes
Shifting and changing – amorphous,
Just like the line between
Safe and danger
Friend and foe
Trust and betrayal.
They crawl just beneath the surface.
I switch the pillow
To find a cooler side
As my heart aches
To find a piece untarnished.
Thoughts creep into my mind
New visions into its eye,
They are seen and recorded
But then shoved away
To forget.
To forget my past
Forget his face.
It scars my mind,
His image, there again
Just as clear as it was…
That night.
When all was lost…
His hand reached out
Claw-like and terrifying.
His smile changing,
Twisting,
From my confidant
To my terror.
I wrench my eyes open and he’s gone.
With him, goes my night’s sleep
My peace of mind
My trust
My innocence.

And, just like then, I cry.
I cry goodbye to my childhood,
To who I once was,
For now it seems foreign
Na├»ve … stupid.
Back to that moment as
I watched as my innocence was murdered.
The funeral was held
On the floor
Where I was thrown
On the floor
Where I clenched my arms around my body
On the floor.
On that damned floor
The horrible teacher of pain.
The floor where his knee learned to hold down a struggling girl
Where his palm learned the feel of a friend’s raw and torn flesh
Where his ears learned to block out my screams.
And so, tonight, just like that night,
I will fall asleep alone and broken
Wishing for someone to rescue me.
From this pain of my own making
I know I’m to blame,
For the girl always is,
But what if the girl, best friend, and victim are one in the same?
Who’s to blame then?
Too many questions, still hurting
And still alone.
So, for now, I sleep.