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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.

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.

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