Welcome to the SpeakOut! Blog

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.

End the shame. Be empowered. Speak Out!

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We are holding our spring Speak Out! on April 16th, 2018 from 7-9 pm in The Pit. For more information, check our Facebook page.

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.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sitting in Women’s Health this morning, I looked at the table on my left and saw a bunch of cards with a dark teal ribbon attached to it. Sexual Assault Awareness month. Funny that the ribbons are the same color as ovarian cancer. So I took a card and plan to put it on my bag. But at the same time, there is a growing dissonance within me about the whole thing, and I’m getting angry about it.

You wearing the teal ribbon does not mean you understand how my life blew apart from one night, the bloody pieces flying everywhere. You do not understand how I searched and searched for every last piece, stubbornly refusing to accept that there are some that are gone forever. Wearing that ribbon does not mean you know what my 4 years of college were like, what I endured at the hands of him and all the other boys I threw myself under. You don’t know how the smell of beer makes my stomach turn, how the taste of it on my lips from someone else makes my heart pound in fear. You cannot imagine what that night was like, the snapshots of memory that are slowly coming back, his face, his body, his weight, his hands his hands his hands. You don’t know the morning after, the didthatreallyhappenMaybeitdidn’thappenhowIthinkitdid. The disgust at the reflection in the mirror, the next month of hoping I wasn’t pregnant. You don’t know the shame at being disposable and used, wrung out and thrown away. You have no idea how it feels to be powerless underneath the hands of someone else, trying to register what is happening above you.

That teal ribbon does not explain how that one night turned into several nights with him, how that first night with him never really ends, it just keeps coming back again and again and again. It doesn’t tell you how for months I had to sleep with lights on, how I jumped at everything, kept seeing him in boys that were really someone else. It doesn’t describe the hatred I developed towards me, when it should have been at him. That ribbon doesn’t tell you that when it gets bad, I still check all the closets when I come home to an empty house, that Pap smears are still triggering, that I hear his voice asking me what my intentions are, that I wake up in cold sweats with a vague, hazy idea of the nightmare I just had.

That neat little pretty ribbon does not represent the ugliness that my life turned into because of one boy. The HPV he gave me that nearly turned into cervical cancer and still damages me to this day. That attractive pin does not adequately portray the damaged goods that I became. It doesn’t show the daily struggle I have to re-inhabit my body, to see it as mine, to learn to trust it again. It doesn’t betray the jealousy I have toward other girls and women, because they probably got to have a choice in losing their virginity, and I didn’t. It doesn’t tell you the longing I have for a consensual “first-time” story. It doesn’t tell you that, at 28, I still feel stupid for caring about this. It doesn’t capture the anger I have at the way my sexuality was hijacked and turned into something sinister. It doesn’t tell you how I panic if I am underneath a boy – by choice – and he’s been drinking beer that I taste on his tongue, or when his body on mine becomes too heavy and I need to escape. It doesn’t tell you how I thought there was nothing good left about me after that first night, and continued to think that for years.

Anyone can wear that ribbon. Are you willing to really support Sexual Assault Awareness? Are you willing to bear witness to someone’s story, even though it’s not pretty, or easy to hear? Are you able to simply sit with that person in her pain, and let her know that it wasn’t her fault – and really mean it? Can you hear her say the words out loud, breaking under the honesty and vulnerability she’s been trying to avoid? She doesn’t need you to make it all okay. She’s past that, because it will never be okay. She needs you to listen without looking away. To see her, really see her, and not shy away from the most violent night of her life. She needs you to just be in the room with her and listen to her speak. She needs you to hear her, every word of her story, and be able to sit with the discomfort and ugliness.

Can you do that, or are you just going to wear the ribbon?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My baby sister and I shared a bedroom, when we stayed at our father’s house. She’s six years younger than me, so when we went over there, I was the one to take care of her, always. One night, my baby sister had a yeast infection, not uncommon for a girl, but since she was so little at the time, it was my job to make sure her medicine was taken care of. My father came into the room when I was trying to get her medicine inside her, when he shoved me off her bed and demanded I get into my own bed. He put down her medicine and pulled out a tube of athlete’s foot cream and forced it inside of her. She cried. I didn’t do anything. I don’t remember why I didn’t do anything; I was frozen. Avoidance was the best way to deal with my father-if you looked the other way, nothing bad would happen to you.

I didn’t say anything at all, in fear of my father finding out I would tell, but my baby sister cried for most of the night, and there was nothing I could do but hold her and try to calm her down. The infection obviously got much worse. We took her to the doctor, who found out what my father had put inside of her and called Social Services. He lied, as did his lawyer, and no charges were pressed. I was punished for telling for years. He was an abusive alcoholic.

I still blame myself for not stopping him in the action. A good part of me feels irrationally that this is no one’s fault but mine, because I could not stop it. If I could go back to that day, I would like to think that I would have done anything in my power to have made him leave. I truly am thankful that she doesn’t remember this, that I’m the only one who has to suffer with the memories, to suffer through the guilt of not protecting her. You never know who will be the victim of sexual abuse: it could be your girlfriend, your best friend, your mother or aunt, and it might be your baby sister. Please: speak out. Say something. Protect her. Do anything you can, everything you can, and stop it now. But, Dad, if you ever hear this: you didn’t win. I don’t care if you weren’t punished at all. I just want you to know, that this had no power over myself, or my sister. She’s a strong, beautiful young woman. You didn’t ruin her. you made her stronger. And I hope you get to live with the regret that you no longer get to know the person she’s become, or myself for that matter. I hope that this regret, this guilt, is so much worse than anything the legal system could have ever done to you.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dear UNC community,
One in four women are survivors of some form of sexual assault on this campus. If something else was affecting our student population in such high proportions, there would be an outcry. Administration would notice. Why isn’t anyone doing anything about it? I want to know why people don’t get it. Why is sexual assault a “women’s” issue?

Dear Rapist One,
I don’t know who you are and I hate that. I want a name or at least a face so I do not flinch every time a male walks by me at night. And I want you to hear this, but I know you won’t. I want you to know how much that one night has affected me. Most every survivor knows her assailant, but I did not. I’m a survivor of stranger rape. You raped me and you saw nothing wrong. Did you plan it? Did you see me and want to attack? Or was it random…was I in the wrong place at the right time? I’m so hurt. Sometimes I can’t touch people, even people I care about because of you. And why? Why do you think struggling and kicking and trying to get away means I want it? Did blood mean things were going well? And then you just pulled me closer. It was disgusting. Every day I think I’m over it and then every now and then I flashback and go away to that night. You’ve affected me in the worst possible way. But you haven’t beaten me; I’m surviving.

Dear Rapist Two,
I really don’t care if you’re in ROTC, I don’t care about you at all. I don’t care if the university kicks you out and you go to jail. I don’t care if you lose your scholarship. You’ve already hurt THREE of my friends and probably more. You only didn’t get caught because people discouraged survivors from reporting you for fear of “ruining YOUR reputation” and “making our group of friends awkward.” Well I don’t give a fuck about you or your damn reputation. You’re a rapist, and you’re certainly not my friend. Don’t flatter yourself. I’m speaking out; they’re speaking out too, and I hope you hear how you’ve affected their lives, and my life. How they have bad dreams and lose time and have flashbacks because you drugged them so you could have some “fun.” What the hell kind of fun is that?

Dear Professor,
Sorry I could not concentrate in class today, that narrative on sexual abuse you had us read hit home. I was numb in class. Stop bothering me to participate. I’ll raise my hand when I’m ready. Stop with your crude comments and lack of understanding. You’re a history professor; why are you using class time to sexualize survivors? Why are you doing it at all? Stop assuming that no one in your class has ever been assaulted. Stop joking about rape.

Dear Partner,
Sorry that sometimes I shy away. Sorry that sometimes I’m in the shower for an hour scrubbing off invisible handprints. Sometimes when you want me to talk, to touch me, and I can’t and I’m sorry. I trust you, I love you…I just lose my voice sometimes. I’m getting it back. Please be patient with me.

Dear Roommate,
I know you try to understand, but do you really? I don’t think you understand how much this affects me. Please don’t think I’m being dramatic. I hide it a lot from you. When I come home to our apartment I haven’t been hanging out for fun always. Sometimes when I don’t come home I’m not out at bars having fun, I’m just too scared to walk from the bus-stop to our house. I stay on campus, and I don’t sleep at all, spending the hours contemplating calling the OCRCC and pouring hot coffee into my body.

Dear Secondary Survivors,
Your support and love is wonderful and necessary. We know you mess up and say the wrong things sometimes, but that’s OK, don’t worry…you’re trying. You save our lives. Literally. Be patient with us, we’re struggling, but getting better. Thank you for all you do…I know it’s hard on you as well. Don’t hesitate to get help for yourselves either if you need it; it’s hard to support us sometimes. You’re doing an amazing job.

Dear Fellow Survivors,
Everyone’s story is different, and just because yours involved alcohol, or drugs, or you were completely sober; just because you were wearing a short skirt, or because you were in jeans and a turtleneck; just because it was a stranger, or it was an acquaintance, a date, a partner, or a family member; just because it was someone of the same-sex, or you’re a guy, or you are transgender, intersex, or gay….does not make your story invalid. If you’re a survivor, regardless of circumstance, you’re a survivor. If you were passed out or didn’t physically fight, or didn’t have the strength to say “no” or simply didn’t say “yes” none of these things mean “yes” and none of these things make your story invalid. All these situations DO have one common thread though: It wasn’t your fault. It’s hard not to second guess and rethink and come up with a laundry list of “what if’s.” Every story is different, and everyone has the right to his or her own body and what is done with it. Unfortunately, this has not been the case with us. We have been molested, raped, abused, assaulted, and groped. It’s definitely not fair, it’s obviously not right and it fucking pisses me off. I’m fighting back though. I have my voice.

On this blog and at UNC, we are all in different stages in the healing process. Only you know where you need to be. Some of us haven’t admitted to our selves we were assaulted, and some have only to find out that we have no support. I believe you and I believe in you. The posts on this blog are incredible and have given me so much strength; I know I’m not alone and you’re not either…You’re believed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I’ve tried to decide how to say this a hundred times, thinking I can put it in delicate terms, trying not to sound like I’m victim-blaming, trying to mask the details to protect my privacy and the privacy of those involved. Maybe I keep rewriting my story because I’m ashamed to say too much. Or maybe I’m scared of rejection. Even if I accept this version of events, I don’t know if anyone else will. Saying the words out loud is difficult, and I’ve only said them this way to one person –the person I trust most in the world. Is she the only one who will believe me? I guess I can’t know until I submit my story to someone else. Tonight, I’m submitting it to you.

I was sexually assaulted.

If circumstances had been a shade different, I really do think my assaulter would have raped me.

Maybe I have trouble communicating this fact because it took me a long time to realize that this is, in fact, what happened. I was assaulted. I still doubt it, at times. Am I allowed to use that word if we hooked up later? Am I making things up to justify my anxiety? We don’t talk much anymore. Does that mean I feel bitter? Am I crazy? People say horrible, unforgivable things about women who speak out: she wants revenge, she wants to deflect blame, she’s vindictive, she wants attention. She was asking for it, anyway. What if people say that about me? What if no one believes me but me?

I know I made irresponsible choices. I was incredibly, appallingly naïve. I was with someone who amounted to a stranger. I got drunk. I was unclear about my wants. Alcohol can make that difficult. (You know you can’t legally consent under the influence? When I learned that, I felt sick.) I won’t say my behavior matched what I desired. I’ll never know what would have happened if I had been sober. But here’s what matters: when he began to kiss and touch me, he never asked for an invitation. He just did it. It shocked me. Maybe my panic played into my submission. I was like a deer in headlights. I never knew if he would have cared had I said I felt afraid. When someone physically drags you anywhere, you can assume he isn’t thinking about your wellbeing.

I remember the objective details. I remember sensations and images. What’s foggy is how I felt at the time. I know I was aroused (I had a crush on the guy), but that’s not an indicator of assent. I know that I agreed to hook up, but only because I thought I would be a killjoy otherwise. In retrospect, frankly, I think that’s pretty fucking stupid. It sounds so harsh to say that. I think I’m angry at myself. Theoretically, I know that the victim is not to blame, and somehow I can accept that as incontrovertible truth in every other situation… but when it comes to my own victimhood, I feel like I coerced myself. If I was afraid, I should have gotten out of there. I shouldn’t have cared about hurting anyone’s feelings. I should have been stronger. I should have said something. I hold myself to such high standards… I really disappointed myself that night. I hate knowing, and not being able to change the fact, that I said yes when the last rational of my mind was screaming NO.

No, no, no. How I wish I would have said no. How easy would that have been? I wish I would have slept alone. God! What was wrong with me? I broke every rule in every pamphlet I’ve ever read about how to prevent sexual violence. Does it surprise you to know that I’m afraid to claim I was assaulted?

Still… that memory sticks in my mind, of being grabbed and pulled, of being too messed up to protest or realize that, in a different context, that man’s behavior would have been deplorable. I won’t say I behaved like a saint, but after that many shots, I could hardly be said to have had control over my actions. I certainly didn’t ask him to manhandle me like that. I couldn’t give consent, even to what happened later, even if I mouthed words and behaved in ways that closely resembled it. If I had wanted to do it, would I have spent an hour alone, in tears, once I sobered up and got home the next morning? Where do you draw the line between trauma and regret?

If you sign a contract when you’ve been drinking, it’s invalid. The law forbids an intoxicated person to operate a vehicle. You might not be at all interested in that contract if you’re sober. When people drive drunk, they often get hurt. I don’t want my story to be a public ad against alcohol (‘cause, hey, I like it, too), or sex, or even hooking up. All those things are fine if you engage in them responsibly, with clear consent and communication, with full knowledge of what you’re doing –in other words, I don’t recommend mixing the first with the other two. But if you’re completely debilitated, like I was, you are vulnerable. In no way does it excuse what people do to you, but it makes it likelier that someone might hurt you. Of course, sexual violence occurs in the absence of alcohol. It happens every day. But statistics show alcohol isn’t helping anyone. I know it played a big role in what happened to me, maybe the biggest role of all.

I waited until the last minute to submit my story, because up until the last minute I couldn’t see how it fit with the others. In the others, lines between victim and attacker were unambiguous. I was afraid people wouldn’t accept mine, because I don’t know if I accept it. I don’t know if I’m responsible for my own destruction. I made so many terrible choices. But maybe I blame myself because I’m still afraid to blame the man who hurt me. I’ve spent so long being afraid of him –and feeling unable to communicate that fear. Really, I can’t begin to address these questions. In the end, I decided to share my experiences anyway. I don’t want someone else to experience this same, excruciating uncertainty. I think my uncertainty in itself should be exposed. I’ve since learned it is a common feeling for survivors. So if you feel this way, I want you to know you’re not alone. If you don’t, and never have, I want you to know how lucky you are.

I don’t know how what was supposed to be a declaration of defiance and self-determination became a quiet plea to you to protect yourself, or to find help if someone has hurt you; but I hope you can see why I’ve spent the last six months in a constant state of frustration and fear, why I still don’t know how to qualify what happened to me, and why, no matter how you define my experience, I feel like I have to share it. It taught me how easy it is to become that woman. One in four. I didn’t think I would be her. I thought I knew all about how to protect myself… but I still wound up in a dangerous place. And I don’t want it to happen to you. I never want it to happen to you, because I love you. Whoever you are, however you’re hearing this, wherever you are in life. I love you. Please be safe.
it took me a really long time to realize and affirm that i had, in fact, been sexually assaulted. i was sitting in a room with around 100 people, and someone was speaking about their sexual assault. slowly, people stood up to support him, each one saying, "i was molested by my brother," or "i was molested by my step-dad" or "i was molested by my aunt", and without even realizing what i was doing, i stood up and said, actually said the words out loud, "i was molested by my doctor."

when i was 15 i was at the doctor, a physical for school, and the doctor that i usually had was out for the day for some reason, so i had a different doctor, a man i had never met. he performed a regular physical on me and then he gave me a breast exam and what seemed to be a pelvic exam, even though he was a pediatrician and that had never been done in the office before.

i felt so awful, my body felt disgusting and i went home and took the hottest shower i could take, i cried and i scrubbed my skin.

i told my mother about it. she confirmed that it didn't seem right. later, we talked to my regular doctor about it, and she said that she agreed that it shouldn't have happened, that thas wasn't standard procedure. and then, of course, there was my body telling me that it wasn't right, in any way. and in spite of all of the things telling me that this was an experience that was not right, i still told myself, "he was a doctor, i'm just overreacting."

this is the lie we tell ourselves. that we are overreacting, that we're hysterical, that of course it must have been ok, or our fault, or just a misunderstanding.

and i am beginning to think that it seems impossible to put a stop to sexual violence--how awful!--and that we have to focus on just healing ourselves. because whenever you look around, you are guaranteed to see someone who has experienced sexual assault.
The first time my body was invaded, I was a mere child. Only six or seven years old, I did not know or understand what was happening to me. I did know, however, that it was a secret everyone knew about.

By the time I was ten years old, I had stopped visiting my grandfather’s house, and so no longer saw his step-son. To cope, I buried the memories of what all happened so that even today it is blurry.

When I was twelve, I was still good friends with my step-brother. With only six months difference in age, we had many things in common and spent countless hours hanging out together as friends. One night our neighbor and friend came over after a day in the summer sun. My friend had gotten a new camera and we were goofing off and dancing around my room while my brother filmed us. Later, she and I watched what he filmed and saw that he had repeatedly focused the camera on my body, sometimes zooming in on my butt or breasts. By this time, I had begun puberty and my small curves were beginning to grow. This was when I first knew something was different. After she went home, my brother and I were talking in my room before bed as we often did. However, this time he started to grab at my body. I knew it was wrong, but I did not know what to do or say. I tried to push him away, but he was stronger than me and it was almost like a game. The next few nights, he would sneak back into my room after our parents had gone to bed and again try to explore my body with his grubby hands. In tears, I told my neighbor friend and she agreed to help me try to catch him on tape. The plan did not work and I was beginning to get really scared. At the time, my history of sexual abuse was a far from the surface of my memory, leaving unexplained residual emotions for me to reckon with. That night, I snuck into my little sister’s room and slept on the floor, half under her bed, pressed against the wall. In the morning, my mother woke me in a rage because she could not find me. I could not explain why I had crawled into my sister’s room, but my friend told her mom, who told mine. My step-father spoke to my step-brother in his office for a little while that day, and the incident was never mentioned again.

Less than a year later, I was flying alone on the red eye from Las Vegas to North Carolina and the man sitting next to me began hitting on me. I was polite but gave all of the clear signals of disinterest and as quickly as possible put on my head phones. At one point during the flight I had to use the bathroom. The man in the aisle seat got up to allow me to pass. The man sitting next to me in the middle made no attempt to move, but instead guided my legs with his hands. After I returned to my seat I quickly put my headphones back on. Once the man next to me had appeared to be a sleep for awhile, I eventually was able to relax enough to doze off a bit. I awoke not long after with his hand on my thigh, gently squeezing and moving up and in. Startled, I tried to inconspicuously brush his off of me. His eyes were still closed, but I no longer believed him to be asleep. I stayed alert for the rest of the flight and once we landed, I dashed off and then to the bathroom, worried he would follow me or worse during my layover.

When I was in high school, I had my first girlfriend. I had thought that I would be able to trust a woman with my body more than I would a man. I was wrong. At every chance, she pushed me to do things I was not yet ready to do. When I told her no, she ignored me. When I tried to redirect her hands, she would immediately put them right back. She begged and pleaded with me constantly and aggressively for three months before I drunkenly submitted to her request. She had not had a single drink that night. I was fourteen.

My whole life my body has been invaded and violated. All of my sexual experiences since my youth have been marked by this history. I have been single for the past four years because I find I am unable to be both physically and emotionally intimate with anyone. While I do not keep my background a secret, I do not readily tell people, either. I have never sought professional help to help me cope with my experiences, but think about doing so from time to time. I do not blame myself for what happened, but I am still haunted by nightmares and flashbacks. I hope that one day I will be able to enjoy a healthy sexual relationship, but I do not know how to make that happen or if it ever will. All I can do is hope and try.
October 2008. Do the events even matter? It’s all hazy now. I can piece together details, creating an incomplete picture of the night. A closet, choking until my face was burning and my eyes were bulging out of my head. Discomfort as I was pinned into the corner, wedged against the floor and the wall. Thrown into clothing racks, slammed onto the ground. My hair knotted around his fist as he wrenched my neck until it could have, should have, snapped. I remember sensations of pressure, pain, and my body being contorted. I did try to get myself out of the situation: used humor, logic, begged, was assertive. I tried to excuse myself to the bathroom. He told me to pee on the floor. That’s why they invented towels. I have a boyfriend. Didn’t care. Stop. No. Really, I don’t want this. All my pleas fell on deaf ears. Not once did I scream. At one point, I was given a choice. He asked me how I wanted it. When my choice of not wanting it at all was shot down, I decided I wanted the option that would cause me the least amount of pain. Slow and gentle. Not rough. I wanted the least amount of pain; I wanted for it to be over. In the end, it didn’t even matter what choice I made. He knew how he wanted it. I remember telling myself it would be over soon, to just ignore his fingers ripping me apart, his inability to penetrate because I was so dry. But that is what Vaseline is for, isn’t it? I don’t know how or why it stopped, but maybe he sobered up. Maybe he saw I was miserable, terrified, in shock. He took the opportunity to address me as his drill sergeant addresses him. He wanted straight answers about why I didn’t want to have sex. He wanted me to know that it was my fault, I should have been clearer. I shouldn’t have lead him on, been a tease. He wanted me to know he wasn’t a bad guy. He told me that if he had wanted to, he could have stabbed me in the back so that it punctured a lung, that I wouldn’t have been able to scream, that the only sounds would have been the hiss of air escaping from my lungs and the gurgle of blood as it mixed with the air. He made sure to point out the spot on my back where he would have to stab me to accomplish this. A real gentleman. And, he wanted me to leave my boyfriend for him.

I cried myself to sleep that night. Not for myself. I didn’t want to tell my best friend, Jessica, that her cousin raped me. I didn’t want to cause any problems in her family. I was upset that I let that happen, that I could potentially ruin a family relationship. I could not hide it from her. She alone has the ability to see through me. She knows me better than I know myself. I don’t know why I was afraid. I didn’t want her to be hurt. I didn’t really care about how it affected me, just her. She was there for me, beginning to end. She stood beside every decision I made. She listened to everything I said. She understood. She returned what had been stolen: the power to make my own decisions and for those decisions to be respected. I don’t know if she consciously knew that everything she did was the right thing for me at that moment. She gave me space when I needed, and trusted me to come to her if I needed to talk. I feel that I will never be able to convey with words how much she means to me. However, I don’t think I have to explain it to her. I feel that she understands. That is all that matters to me.

I didn’t write this so people would feel pity, shock, or horror. I need people to know, that in spite of all that happened that night, that night that SHOULD be horrific, I feel rather indifferent. After an emotional day and a half, my mind had completely suppressed all emotions concerning the event and I returned to my daily routine when Monday rolled around. It happened on a Friday night. Now, I feel as if it wasn’t really me that was raped. It is as if I watched a movie, felt some emotions during the screening, and afterwards moved on with my life. Jessica was the only one who witnessed any true emotion I felt towards the incident. By the time I told anyone else, my mind had already built up a wall and removed myself from the event. I felt bad as my friends offered their condolences, empathized, and were hurt by my “pain and trauma”. My eyes welled up as I realized how much they truly cared for my wellbeing. I felt terrible that I caused them distress when I felt none myself. My shield is up, I have my wall, but it isn’t guarding anything. It is void of emotion. I am a strong woman. But am I really? I cannot embrace my emotions. I must destroy any traces of true feelings before they are raised to my own consciousness. I feel like it is a learned and conditioned behavior, a suppression of emotion and repression of memories, my body’s natural defense to trauma, whatever you want to call it… it has left me empty.

It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that something MUST be there. It took the discovered possibility of a new beginning, the hint of attraction. The opportunity arose to be intimate with someone. I balked. Two days later, watching TV, I broke down. I sobbed in Jessica’s arms. I had been with an ex a month or two after the incident, returning to that old bad habit, primarily to see if I COULD be intimate with anyone. I hated every second of it, I counted the minutes for it to be over, and did everything in my power for it to be over as soon as possible. Afterwards, I curled into a ball and wanted to die. As I embraced Jessica on that couch, crying like a little bitch, I wondered, almost as if in a plea, if I would ever enjoy sex again. If it led to that with this boy, one I actually liked, if I would once again feel like dying, wishing it was over as soon as it began. Four minutes I despaired. Then, it was over as quickly as it had begun, as if someone had drugged me with a heavy sedative. My mind put an end to it and I returned to watching TV, as if nothing had happened. As I wrote the events from the beginning of my story on paper, it was like reporting facts, as if I was trying to write answers to a question on a history exam, trying to include what I believe to be important details. But why are they ‘important’ to me? I don’t feel any emotions attached to those events. I hadn’t until that brief interval, when the floodgates burst open, and now I am back to the numbness. I don’t know if I will ever enjoy sex again, if I will ever be able to have a real and healthy relationship. But those four minutes gave me hope. I can feel something. Something does exist within the void, even if my mind will only allow me to see that for a short moment. The sheer intensity of emotion that I felt as I described fears and feelings I didn’t even know I had let me know that there is probably more emotion buried within. I don’t particularly want to dig it up, nor do I know how. But it is there. It is reassuring to someone who hasn’t felt any emotions regarding the event in the past five months. Maybe I will be able to eventually deal with emotions. Maybe I will be able to have a relationship. Maybe I will find true peace beyond this façade that has fooled even me. I believe it is possible. I guess that is all anyone can ask for in the end, in any situation. Hope.

Monday, March 23, 2009

This is a story for secondary survivors. I was not raped. The person closest to me in the world was. This is a story for those of us who have helped our sisters, friends, partners, and relatives through the traumatizing mind field of life, post-rape.

My friend was raped. Not just any friend. My best friend. My other half. My soul mate. The person who I tell everything to. The person who will be there for me no matter what. The woman who has made my two years at UNC possible and though she doesn’t know is one of the only reasons I am alive. The woman that every man I ever love won’t live up to. She was raped.

This is what went through my head, as she told me what he had done to her, as we were in the car leaving my cousins apartment. She described how he held her down in the closet. How he told her in vivid detail the ways he could kill her with his bare hands. How she had been too terrified to scream. She told me all of this the next morning. We were driving away.

My next thought was of my cousin. The chubby little boy with green eyes I had grown up with. That little boy was now a rapist. He was not a man raised in a closet and set free in an alley. He was a man like every other man. Someone’s brother, someone’s son, someone’s cousin. I knew the statistics before; I knew stranger rape was not that prevalent. I knew most women knew their attackers. I just never dreamed that I would know a rapist. That I would be related to a rapist. That the chubby little boy would be a rapist.

My cousin is currently with his platoon in Iraq. Sometimes I hope he doesn’t come home.

As we were driving the 30 minutes from his apartment to ours I decided I would stand by her no matter what. I would help her through this and that she would be survivor. I expected severe emotional distress, anxiety, vomiting, lowered self esteem, intense crying, manic euphoria, suicide attempts…I was prepared to handle anything. I should have known Samantha would be the exception. She went to class on Monday and was almost fine immediately. I worried she was just faking and would soon deteriorate. But soon I realized that she really was okay, of course not the same, but she was coping. We told her parents and other friends. We discussed her legal options and she declined pressing charges. We went to the doctor. We talked about the Rape Crisis Center. We knew the resources available but she deemed them unnecessary. She knew it was not her fault and she could talk freely about the rape within weeks. She was stronger than I would have thought possible. She will never know how much I admire her.

Five months has passed and everything is back to normal. We talk about the event from time to time. We call it “October.” I will always be here for her, if she needs to talk next month or next year or in ten years, I will never forget “October.”

My friend was raped. My friend is a survivor.
I wrote the entry “I feel like whenever bad things happen” about a year and a half ago. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing everything you’re “supposed to” as far as trying to deal with sexual violence. I have talked to some of my friends; I have gone to talk to a therapist. I can tell that things have changed for me. Sometimes I still feel like I can’t trust any guy. Sometimes I feel like I’m right back where I started. Sometimes I feel like it happened to someone else. Sometimes I actually feel like there is another side beyond all of this.

I wish that I could talk about it more. I wish I could walk around unafraid to say “this happened to me.” Usually I just try not to think about it anymore. But what happens when I want to have sex again? Will it all come back again? I wish more people could understand how dramatically this alters your worldview and your ideas about sexuality. There’s always this constant struggle between letting it define you or not. Do you try to just get as far away as possible from it? Do you try to take control over it?

I wish I could forget this experience more than anything, but sometimes I wonder what I’m supposed to do with it. I can’t believe how many people have similar experiences. While none of them are the same, they are all related. I feel like I can’t pretend that this didn’t happen to me when I know how many people are affected so strongly. I don’t know how to do anything except write another blog post at this point…how can we get through this?
He was the All-American boy: blue eyed captain of the football team, son of a prominent lawyer, and the desire of every girl around him.

I was an awkward introvert with braces and boobs that got bigger every day.

He lived in my neighborhood. Sometimes he walked to the creek with me and we talked. Wanting to be wanted, I invited him over to watch a movie when my mom was gone.

He put a hand over my mouth and told me I would never say anything about what he was going to do if I knew what was good for me.

He raped me. I was 15.

I was too shocked to move. I tried to scream, to speak, but the words got lost in my vocal chords.

It took me almost five years to tell anyone. It took almost five years of struggling with chronic depression, anorexia, and self-hatred for me to realize that it wasn't my fault.

Don't wait five years. Don't wait five minutes. Please, speak out.
In response to the "I am a woman, and I am a survivor..." post:

I have been an advocate against abuse (all kinds/all genders)since the age of 18 1/2, started as volunteer in program with high school guidance counscelor and his wife a Nurse in local hospital. The program was "SURVIVORS: YOU ARE NOT ALONE". In the 1970's in my early twenties I started a national 24 hr. hotline based out of my home outside of Dallas, Texas, for the survival of the abused/various types of abuse/specializing in the advocacy against child sexual abuse. About me: Survivor of sexual child abuse from the ages of 9-18 1/2 approx. I have shared as much of my story as I can currently remember, with women/men/families, since the age that I began as a volunteer as previously mentioned. My stepfather was my first abuser/my mother the enabler to the abuse. She is to this day (now in her 70's)still in denial and does not believe me or my detailed descriptiion of the abuse. She stayed married to abuser until after I had left home and was 20 yrs. old then she divorced him. Her reason was that he had tried to rape my sister who is 18 yrs younger than me and at that time only 2 1/2 years old. He ran and hid from authorities for years/she never brought him to justice/he died a few years ago. I have devoted my life to GIVING A VOICE TO THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAK, whether from fear, feeling alone, or from self-blame. My abuse was violent, degrading, traumatic, details too graphic for here. We are united by a bond, granted one of pain/trauma, but most importantly we are survivors. We deserve to survive and speak out to break the cycle/take away the abusers place to hide. Take away their comfort zone. Support eachother, whether our stories are new or old, they are timeless, there will be abusers long after our generation is gone. But, we will make a difference now provide a safe place to go,to be, to share/listen/learn/heal together. Our journey to heal is not on a time schedule/it is an indiviual progressive moving forward journey. My story and my journey is available for all/at the approval of the blog author here/know this we make a difference together/individually as well, whether you are a survivor or secondary survivor (mate or friend of survivor). I never presume to know your pain/struggle along your journey. Yet, I am a survivor of childhood and adult abuse. I have been subjected to various sexual/physical/mental/emotional abuse. I am a member and moderator of Survivor of Sexual Abuse Site, with coping/grounding/support/24 hr availability. Together we will never be alone again. Thank you all for being here. If I can help contact me. Take Care

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I still remember how in sixth grade my science class learned about atoms, how they are mostly empty space. I thought about that whenever he would touch me. After crying, begging him to stop, and trying to fight back physically didn't work, I would simply be as still as possible and think about how atoms are mostly empty space, and I, therefore, am mostly empty space. The mind-boggling thought of solid things being permeable was just enough, at the time, to distract me from the horrible experience of being molested, to imagine that my body was one with the air, like a ray of light that no matter how hard you try you can't grasp.

I fought hard in the years after to gain back my body. The man who abused me, an administrator at my school, must have gotten a kick out of telling me I was as ugly physically as he must of realized he was making me feel on the inside. When I finally found myself, previously dormant in order to survive the experience of abuse, I realized that I might not survive being abused again so I needed to wait until I found a partner that I trusted fully, that could understand my history, before I tried having sex. Before I could find that partner though, I was raped.

The man who raped me was a neighbor from across the hall whom I invited into my home. He verbally degraded me the whole time, as if continuing the act itself while I was screaming 'no' wasn't enough. If my early experience of abuse had ever led me to think about what it might be like to be raped before it happened, I might have been able to estimate the feeling of revulsion, how I almost instinctively prayed over and over for it to end, but I don't think I would have been able to imagine the physical pain. After it was over, my neighbor simply stood up and walked away. I was paralyzed, probably partially from shock, but at the time it seemed to be entirely from pain. I didn't move from where he left me, face-down on the the floor of my apartment, for hours. For days after that I bled and was so swollen couldn't sit comfortably and thought about telling someone but didn't. I never told anyone about being abused when I was just a girl either; my abuser convinced me that what was happening was my fault. I had thought that the legacy of that experience was long behind me. Apparently, it wasn't.

I thought I wouldn't survive another instance of sexual abuse, but I did. I survived miraculously, triumphantly. Even though I still struggle to tell my story, to reconcile with my past, the second time I was abused I had in my arsenal all the strength and sureness of self that I had fought so hard to regain. I still understand the coping mechanism that I used as a child, imagining my body as little more than air. But I know now, and hopefully will never forget, that the person I am is undoubtedly solid, not in the sense of being cold or unfeeling, but in being whole and sturdy as a foundation. With no fear of this sounding sentimental or untrue, I wish to assure everyone who is reading this who have been abused, have a loved one who has been abused, or have ever felt that someone is trying to make you feel less than you, that you are solid too.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I was raped once. It was a cold December evening in 2007. Ironically, I was dressed in a mini-skirt and thigh high boots. It didn't keep me warm, but it kept me feeling good about my insecure self. I think guys can pick up on my insecurity. Whenever I'm at a party, they all hover around me, all lusting after me with their hungry (for sex) eyes. Don't get me wrong, it feels good to be wanted. But tonight, HE showed up.

A strong rugby player type flirted with me for a good 2 hours, just me and him. It felt like there was no one else in the living room. Maybe that's why I didn't say no. I thought no one would hear me. Then, without warning, he asked if I wanted to go back to his room. I had a little buzz and he was pretty cute so of course I said yes. Little did I know what kind of monster he was.

He asked if it was okay if he kissed me and I thought "one make out session couldn't hurt." But it did. After about 45 minutes of gently escalating fooling around, he slowly removed my mini-skirt and panties. I wanted to say no, but my body wouldn't let me. I looked at him, hoping he could tell by the fear in my eyes that I didn't want to do this. He looked right back and smiled. He knew. He knew I didn't want to have sex. But he wanted to, and that's all that mattered. I can only talk about this so openly because it happened so long ago, but I still have nightmares about this horrific night every once in a while. My friends have been an unbelievable help. I'll love them more than I'll probably love any man, at least for the next 5 years.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I remember thinking that I looked pretty as I left my room that night. I remember I has having a particularly good hair day. It was curling the way it was supposed to, the way I like it best because it made me feel a little wild. I remember too that it was chilly. I was wearing pants and a long coat. And I remember I was so happy. I don't remember why, but I remember smiling a lot. And then it all changed. I remember him reaching under my shirt, then under my bra, unbottoning my jeans, sliding down the zipper. I remember it hurting, and I remember screaming in my head "no no no no!" but not saying it, not actually screaming it because I was too afraid. I remember seeing the blood in my underwear and dried in little patches on my thighs. I remember all the days I couldn't eat or sleep. I remember crying hardest after class on Monday, when I saw the boy I had a crush on the Friday before, and now I was scared of. It wasn't him. Don't think that. It was a boy who lived on the third floor, who I knew through a club, and who my roommated said was a nice guy. I remember saying "I get a weird vibe from him" and her saying "don't be silly; he's sweet." I remember not being able to remember it clearly for a while how it blurred together and I doubted myself. I remember when I started seeing a guy months later being afraid to stay over even though I trusted him. Even though I loved him, it took a long time for me to let him touch me.

I knew all the things to do, and I did them. I never walked alone, I always carried mace, and my keys at the ready. I can throw a damn good punch, and I have strong legs for kicking, but when it happened I couldn't just say "stop" "no."

I don't even know how to grieve. I don't know how to move on. Sometimes I can't even think. But I know that other women have gone through it, and that gives me hope that I can too.

It's not really a secret for me either. I don't go around telling everyone, but I don't hide it either. I think maybe for me, not keeping it like it's some giant secret, like it's something I should be ashamed about, is the answer.

I wrote this poem for class. My professor probably didn't like it, but it's the best I could do.

“Perhaps this is the only way to grieve the big things– in snippets, pinches, little sips of sadness.”
From Julia Alvarez’s In The Time of the Butterflies


You’ll wake with salt crusted eyes
Unsure of how to wash away bruises and blood
Or even how to get from bed to bath.
Until someone or something whispers to you,
Reminds you that you still are
Assures you that even though now
You can only feel and feel and feel
That one consecrated day
You will be able to think again.
This shimmering promise strengthens you
Enough to limp or crawl, to scrub and scour,
And when no skin is left, you can finally begin–
Fist with gulps of hatred, then mouthfuls of self-loathing,
Tastes of righteous anger, and finally reflective sips
While you sit, pondering how best to tell a story.
" Your clean" he says as he shuts of the shower. " You worry me, you are going burn yourself bad. I wish you would stop doing this,I know it is not that easy. Just remember I love everything about you." I do not move I am bright red, huddle down, crying, in the tub. Finally, I lift my head, " I just want to feel clean, I want my innocence back, you don't understand, your a guy, just like they are." Then I realize I really hurt him. "I 'm..." , " I know you are sorry. Just remember what has happened to you is not your fault. "
HE turns around and give me a towel, I just quit my job due a guy choked me and put hand down my pants, it caused me to regress. I was raped but my older brother for nine years and then brutally raped in collage that hurt me for life, I still have physical therapy over four years later.
"why are you so different, I have never let you touch me like that?" I ask
"I would like to think most guys are like me and they are that abnormal. I do not need sex from you, I just need you."
I smile,I realize I may still see myself dirty but the he my fiance does not. I may have nightmares from what these guys did but I will surviive this. I also know that all men will not hurt me. I thought my life would never be the same but there is life after Rape it is not easy but it can be great>

Monday, March 16, 2009

in november 2007 i was raped. I did not want to call it that at first, did not think it was as serious as an anonymous man jumping out at me in the dark. It was not anonymous. i was raped by a guy i knew from high school. from my hometown. I was drunk and said "no" on the P2P to going home with him. My "no" was not respected. he kept asking and pushing and pressuring. I went home with him. We had sex and even though in everyday life i am outspoken and assertive, in this situation of terror, i was mute. Outwardly mute. Inside i was screaming and my head was spinning. i could not say anything as he breathed on me and clawed at my back with his nails. I could not say anything as he suggested i "finish him off". i want to throw up anything inside me that remembers that feeling. Then, as if we were lovers he wanted me to stay and spend the night cuddling. He did not see, as most perpetrators in a society that supports perpetration, that he had raped me and was not a lover but a terrorist. A terrorist invading my body and numbing my voice. It took me a year to get help. I thought my story was not rape because i said yes. I ignored all the times i had said no- just like he had.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I am a woman, and I am a survivor, but I want to point out that women are not the only ones who suffer through this.

My brother was raped when he was a kid. So was my dad.

I can see the struggle in their eyes, and they fight and suffer too. The voice of men survivors is very limited on this blog... and I just wanted to let people like my father and my brother get heard. Rape doesn't just effect women; it touches us all.