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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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We are holding our first fall Speak Out! in October 26th, 2017 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.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I remember waking up on his bed. I was still drunk, but sober enough to know that I needed to get the fuck out of there. I hooked my bra, slid on my shirt, and stumbled home, hearing the rooster just begin to crow. Waking up in my bed the next morning, all of a sudden, I remembered the night before. What happened? I know he didn’t rape me. But I also know I don’t like what he did. And I definitely didn’t tell him it was okay. Am I allowed to be angry at him, though, since it’s not rape? Am I allowed to be upset? Embarrassed? Ashamed? I saw him the next day, and he knew I wasn’t happy. So he apologized. Or did he? Did the word “sorry” ever leave his mouth? No, only “forgive me,” over and over, and the demand to not tell anyone to ensure that his flawless reputation remained intact. Maybe I could forgive him. I mean, he didn’t rape me. Just kind of took advantage of my intoxicated state – by far the drunkest I’ve ever been and ever will be, for the record.
It was my fault, anyway, right? I shouldn’t have gotten so drunk. I shouldn’t have trusted this person whom I had only known for a few months. I shouldn’t have danced with him, leading him on. But he knew I wasn’t interested. He said so later: he said he shouldn’t have done what he did because I have a boyfriend. Yeah, that’s why you shouldn’t have assaulted me. Because I’m someone else’s property already; my body has been claimed.
It took me a long time to acknowledge that what happened to me was sexual assault. Walking around campus and seeing those signs – you know the ones: “1 in 4 women is sexually assaulted during her lifetime” – I questioned whether I was part of that group, hoping I wasn’t; I bawled when I realized I was. Of all of the statistics to be a part of. And that humiliation, that depression, that shame is all so minimized when you’re simply counted as part of that 25%. Because every 1 in 4 of us has a story completely unique, equally terrible and deserving of a voice, not just to be part of a statistic.
Three months later, the self-blame is gone, thanks to a counselor and some incredible friends. But the assault will always be a part of me: each time someone uses rape language; each time I’m alone with a boy, afraid, and wish he would leave so I can lock my door; each time I make love to my boyfriend; that moment is there.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Part 1 of post:

What is rape? Who does it happen between? If I said yes to some things and no to others, was I raped? If it was another woman, was it rape? If I went home with him, with her, was it rape?

Wasted. She was wasted .I was drinking, maybe drunk, don’t we all want to say we were drunk? She pulled me aside and asked if I wanted to come over for a while. Yes? I guess? When would I see her again, I should just take this chance now. Unnecessary urgency. So we went, but someone else is there. A man. A boy? Another college student, a male. He sits in bed with us and we watch TV. This is weird. Why am I here? I want to leave. Instead, he leaves. He goes to the kitchen. She leans over and kisses me. I like the way she kisses. We kiss until I realize he is back. I stop. She tells me it’s okay, he likes to watch. I am uncomfortable. I say no. She tries again. I let it happen for a second. I like it. But I am still uncomfortable. I pull back. Pretend he’s not here. I don’t want to, but after we kiss for a while it gets easier. She kisses my neck. She takes off her shirt. Can you say no to someone else removing clothing? I tell her I want to keep my clothes on. How did it get to a point when I needed to say this? He is sitting next to us in the bed. We are some kind of show. My new and fragile self esteem is shattering. Do you call it coming out when you’ve only told 4 people? When one of them is a bisexual woman trying to remove your pants? This is not good. I tell her no. She kisses me more. She tries again. Okay, but panties on. Okay. We kiss some more, she takes off her bra. I realize that this is nothing the man in the room has not seen. I do not feel good. I feel anxious. She goes down. I tell her no. I tell her underpants on. She says okay. She slides them aside and begins. I let her for a second. I am confused. She found a way around my rule. I am stupid. This is my fault. Why did I let it go this far? I can’t let her anymore. I don’t want to. I tell her I better go. She is shocked. She is offended. She is hurt. He has left the room. Now I am apologizing for asking her to stop. It’s not you. Yes, I do think you’re sexy. I’m sorry. I am just uncomfortable. She tells me I shouldn’t have come over. She asks me what I asked myself: Why did you go this far? She is crying. She says it’s been a hard year. Shit, I don’t even know this woman. I am reassuring her. No one is reassuring me. My panties are wet and uncomfortable. They make me feel dirty and guilty. Obviously I wanted this. He drives me home. I cry to him and tell him to reassure her again. Tell him that I am sorry for denying her. I get to my room and hate myself for being so stupid. Stupid girl, I should have just given it up. Or not gone in the first place. Why did I think I could do something in between? It is my first time with a woman. Or was it? Was it rape? Was it assault? Was it just an unfortunate and unclassified instance? I am ashamed. I don’t tell the other 3 people that know about my sexuality. Half a year later I have only told this blog.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I'm done speaking out for myself, I'm done speaking out against "violence against women." I want to speak out against sexual violence! Which doesn't discriminate based on gender, race, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status... I am just as guilty as the next person to say "1 in 4 women" ... but what about the 1 in 33 men? That alone should tell you that sexual violence hurts more than just who you "expect." We always say, this could happen to your sister, mother, daughter. Why not say, "this could happen to your friend" ? No matter WHO your friend is. It can happen.

It happened to my friend. And he was laughed at. He told me the details of his aggressive, frightening date rape (by a female)... this, my tall, strong, funny best guy friend was taken advantage of, and he told me that everyone he told afterward laughed at him. He wouldn't look sad but he said, "I understand when girls get raped and they just curl up in the shower... I didn't do that, but I understand why they do." It's the feeling of helplessness and hurt. I wanted to hold him when he said that. I wanted to hold him and never let him go. I want to take all the WRONG away. I want to cry for him--not for me anymore.. me, your "typical" female survivor-- I just want to put my arms around him and keep him close until he knows that I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I want to take the wrong away.

I hate the woman who did this to him and I want to beat sexual violence-- I want to BEAT sexual violence... until it stops beating us, until it stops affecting us, tearing us apart, until it stops hurting me, my friends, my school, my world.

This is a horrible battle against a crime that baffles and overwhelms us. We're on a battlefield covered in wounded people with no real enemy in sight. And the wounded people keep saying they're OK, saying they can get up and keep going, and the enemy keeps striking, again and again and again... without rhyme or reason.

I don't have a solution but I want this monster dead. Stop saying this enemy can only hurt your female friends-- this is bigger and worse than you could even imagine. It's perverted and it's after whoever it can get its hands on. Imagine. Everyone. Men. Women. Children.

So educate yourself. Research how you can help end violence, google statistics, take a class or train to work at a rape crisis center, speak to anyone who will speak to you about the violence that is happening in this world and try to be someone who is devoted to ending this, to uncovering that monster and to healing the wounded.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bi-cycle

It was a year ago today. I was riding my bike on a cold morning, late to my college mandated health and wellness course. It had rained a night before, the brick sidewalks slick with a fresh wetness. There were so many people littering the path before me, scurrying to class, attempting to make it on time. I was one of those possibly tardy people, so I jumped on my bike and began pedaling hard into a coast down the hill in front of my dorm. I saw him coming, a fellow biker, flying down the hill from the opposing direction. Riding against the pedestrian flow with sunglasses on and earbuds in, he didn’t see me coming. I had nowhere to go, so I veered off the path, careening over the dewy grass as his handle bar clipped my side. My tires lost traction as I attempted to avoid the people on the walk, my bike now completely sideways. I lost control. The front tire of my bike hit a tree then my body followed, the handles bars twisting around my torso, my legs tangled in the chains. The mysterious, accidental assailant was already up the hill, our collision a vague memory. Some of the other potentially tardy students stopped and stared; others cried out and approached me, asked me if I was “okay” and picked me up. One girl, still a stranger, dusted me off and scanned my body for any apparent injury. I laughed the collision off: “worst morning ever”, “SOOO embarrassing”, and “I can’t believe I was in a one woman bike accident”. Hahahahahaha, incredulous head shaking and dry laughter served to affirm that I was in fact “okay” and also to excuse my fellow pedestrians to continue on their frantic, power walk to class. I returned to the scene of the drive-by to collect my bike, handle bars twisted at a ninety degree angle. I winced as I rolled up my pant leg exposing to the bitter cold of that February morning a raw, burning contusion that ran down the side of my shaking right leg. Running a cold hand under the collar of my shirt, I found another raw, open wound along the length of my right shoulder and collar bone. Inspection of my left calf revealed a deep gouge where my leg had been wrapped around the bike frame and dug into the gears on the opposite side. Dirt smeared the right side of my body, sprinkled and streaked across my clothes, my faces and throughout my hair. Ponytail more disrupted than askew, I picked up my bike. I attempted to straighten the handle bars to no avail and was forced to begin the long walk to class with my warped bike and mangled body.

I arrived five minutes late, but received sympathy due to the vision of the mangled bike and the superficial injuries sustained in the accident. The class was only team sports, and I hadn’t yet missed session. The cramps did not begin right away, or at least I didn’t notice them until we had finished our ragtag soccer game. On my walk back, I began feeling strange. My stomach began to hurt, not in a blistering way, but in a dull aching manner. I was uneasy, at the time I did not understand why, but I was definitely on edge. Maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t had my period for two months, or maybe it was the rape that had happened twenty-six days earlier, or maybe it was the fact that I had withdrawn from my friends imagining a child that I knew I would simultaneously love and hate. But, whatever it was, I felt uncomfortable. Hopeful and remorseful, angry and elated, nervous but inexplicably calm for the first time in three weeks: so many emotions swirled around within the folds of grey matter they call the mind. Unable to process, or unwilling, I straightened my handlebars. I took the tire between my legs, I grasped the warped bars and I forced them back into place. For twenty-six daysm I had been jarred. Mangled. Broken. I could not imagine recapturing the essence of myself. I could not imagine returning to being fully me. But in that moment, in that terrible, wonderful, lightening fast, bittersweet instant that I fell off of my bike, I was released. I must document the crash because that quite possibly could have been the death, the unintentional manslaughter, of my first child. I will never posses conclusive evidence, scientific or otherwise, to prove the fact that I was pregnant. The only proof I have is my intuition and the fact that I passed a couple giant blood clots that night and that I began menstruating normally again. Disgusting, exciting, mortifying, terrifying, and lovely, how can all of these emotions be associated with a one woman bike accident? How can these emotions be associated with losing a child? I felt filthy, ugly, and so relieved the moment I discovered the blood clots in my underwear. I think I actually shouted in glee and then felt irreparably guilty. That thing, that person was part me as much as it was part him. It was that part of him still inside of my body that had been slowly consuming me for a month. It was the part of me that I lost that made me upset with myself, disgusted with the other half of my psyche which was actively celebrating the death of my rapist’s baby, but also my baby. I was able to completely straighten the handle bars with my brute strength; I was able to ride my bike again. The incident is a vague memory. Except, on these seemingly familiar cold, February mornings when the grass is still wet from the night before, I remember why I fell off the bike in the first place.
I wish I knew how to ask for support at this point.

These days, my friends know about my childhood. My lovers end up knowing about the more recent things by way of my quiet apologetic disclaimer for why I'm occasionally cold.

I want to stop apologizing. I want my friends and family to stop ignoring the problem.

Mom, don't you know something bad happened when I was little? The memories are still confusing to me, but I know part of it, the rest I have to wonder. Did your dad do to you what he tried to do to me? Why did you leave me alone with some of them? You are a psychologist, you know the signs - the nightmares, the startle response, the eating disorders, the anxiety, the insomnia that's plagued me almost all my life...

I know you can't handle the truth. I know you've never recovered from the rape and molestation in your own life. It's okay. I've forgiven you for the day 15 years ago I told you I'd tried to kill myself and you pretended the next day that I'd said nothing.

I've forgiven you for all of it. I always will. I'll never tell you the truth - just get some help yourself. Because your past enabled my abuse - and if that doesn't motivate you into therapy - nothing will.

And to my future lovers, just know:

My first boyfriend raped me. He was abusive. The nightmares made me scream in my sleep. I'd wake up immediately alert and terrified. But I've tried to learn.

My ex-fiance, he helped me heal. He's my rock. He'd pressure me into sex, but he loved me. We're still friends, he still succeeds with the pressure. I enable him. But I don't know how not to.

The last one, I hesitate to call it rape. Maybe it was. I said no, he went ahead anyway. But I didn't claw out his eyes like we're supposed to. I don't know why I trusted him. I remember the last time we had sex. I was in so much pain. The nightmares then were the worst in 4 years.

I know my last girlfriend only pressured me for sex and wanted to hit me sometimes because she was terrified of losing me. I wonder if we could have fixed it, had I not gone numb and distant in terror as the nightmares and panic attacks started again. I feel like a horrible monster. I still haven't stopped dreaming about her.

And now, I hate dating. I drink alone and I drink too much. I wish the first five dates were truly blind, because I can't help thinking it's always about my body. I just want someone who loves and cares about me - but I'm not sure I'm capable of falling in love again.

Through it all I've been so strong out of necessity, out of aloneness, that my strength alienates most. Stop asking me to be weaker for you. Don't ask me to cry. Don't expect me to trust easily. Forgive me when I'm distant - this is how I've survived and succeeded.

One day I'll get treatment for my PTSD. Until then, I'll pretend I'm pretty much over it, I'll keep trying to move on, I'll keep drinking to stop the nightmares, I'll apologize and pretend I know what my feelings are enough to talk about them.

But in reality, I'm a stranger in a strange land. And everyone that looks at my body is the enemy. Every touch is an attack. And my own desire to be touched feels like yet another violation.

Please forgive me.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I tried for a long time to twist my emotional reaction to my being sexually abused as a child into something positive, thinking, "I would never hurt anybody the way that I was hurt", "I am sexually experienced/desired/desirable" (eventhough, in the past I have typically avoided or felt conflicted about situations involving touch), "I won't put myself in a situation where I can get hurt--I'll just be really responsible" (aka--not drink/do drugs, not get too attached in relationships).

In my family, my siblings and I were encouraged to see the bright side of any situation. We didn't have a vocabulary to talk about negative feelings, and for me that meant the inability to deal with these feelings.

I am working with a counselor to help me as I try to identify, understand, and overcome the obstacles that I have faced in the past, and to some extent in the present. It has been difficult and necessary for me. It is difficult to identify needs that I feel have not been met, like support from my family (who didn't know that the abuse had occurred--but who I told over the past summer), like the need to experience physical touch, and the need to believe in myself and actions. It is painful to think that I haven't had these things for so long and have had to cope on my own. I feel that this process is simultaneously necessary because in the present and future I want to have these needs honored and met.

I'm also trying to reconnect with my body. I've had a good share of digestive issues in college, which are probably related to stress in school and in relationships. I have had a lot of internal conflict over the years--it's hard to believe that it has been over 16 years since I was abused--and I think that my body has been affected by all of my struggles. I have been doing some yoga and deep breathing which is helping me feel relaxed. I'm also trying to pay attention to how my body reacts in certain situations, like when I have doubts about a course of action that I plan on taking (like post-graduation plans). My counselor is encouraging me as I do this work, and has helped me reach out to my parents and other sources of support.

I'm putting a lot of energy and effort into myself at this stage of my life. I think that I should feel selfish for doing that. But the truth is, that I don't feel selfish and I don't feel that I'm some sort of evil unloving woman (like I once thought I was). To my surprise, my family and friends have been supportive of me and even re-affirm my needs to focus on myself and what I want to do. It's bizarre to me, because for so long I thought that the only way to "fix" myself was through service to others. Somedays I still find myself being attentive to the needs of those who I care about, and somedays I focus exclusively on myself.

I have a lot of work to do still, and it is the kind of work that I want to do for my own sake, primarily, and secondarily for those who care for me in the present and future (a grouping that also includes myself).

Monday, February 8, 2010

In response to the post "I feel like whenever bad things happen, you need a lot of support"

It always amazes me to come by and see that this is still here. Sometimes I feel like I don't know who this person is, and sometimes I know it's me.

Why is this so hard to talk about? You feel like it's been "enough time," and that people won't care when things trigger you. Or that they are ready for you to be over it. Or that since so much time has passed, it won't have the same effect on you.

And it does change, to some extent. The immediate scary-ness diminishes. You feel less ashamed of your body when you look in the mirror, since you see what YOU see not what he saw. You are less fearful of running into him.

But some of it just doesn't leave. And how in the world are you supposed to explain that you are afraid to fall for a guy because you are scared of having to explain everything?

I feel like it's been so hard to open up to any guy since then. I don't want to let this experience color all of my future interactions with guys, but it's really hard to stop that from happening. I feel like my defenses are up, way up, and I still just feel like guys only want sex. I see other people in relationships, even getting married, and it just feels so foreign to me. How could you know that the guy you're with really wants you? It feels like sex enters into the equation so quickly, and then how are you to know or trust anyone's true intentions?

When do you bring this up in a relationship? I don't want to stereotype guys. But how do you announce, "oh, I was sexually assaulted, so I will probably think you just want to have sex with me" in those early days of a relationship? If you bring it up, then all of a sudden perhaps you "hate men," and if you don't bring it up, you are always left wondering.

It really is a problem, and it really doesn't go away.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I’ve come to understand that the effects of my sexual assault will never go away, but I don’t know that I can accept that. Why do the twisted actions of another person from a summer more than 10 years ago still get to interfere with my life? Why can’t I go to therapy and then be over this, whatever that means. It doesn’t control my every action, and I’m not letting fear from what he did rule my life. But the triggers are still there.

Plenty of times I go into situations expecting them, knowing that things will be hard. I do everything I can to prepare myself, and I try to schedule some self-care afterward. I recognize that sexual situations will always have the potential to trigger me. I know that reading stories on the SpeakOut blog will be hard. I go to the doctor for pelvic exams halfway expecting to end up back in that bathroom from 10 years ago. I mentally agonize over these situations, trying to find the best way to cope, spending endless unnecessary hours worrying about how I will react and what people will think of me. I tell myself that by obsessing over the worst case scenario, the actual outcome won’t be so bad.

But then there are the times where it blindsides me. When talking with my roommate about how feminist research should be categorized leads to talking about card catalogs and then suddenly I’m back in that library, walking every inch of it, picturing every hallway and shelf of a place I haven’t been for years. Knowing exactly where the books we used to read together were. Standing there in the children’s section over the picture books, talking to him the day after he took me to that bathroom and raped me. Pretending to be mad at his mom for saying we couldn’t see each other, but really just being terrified and embarrassed for being a slut, even though I didn’t really know what the word meant and there was never consent.

It’s those times that I get unwillingly dragged back to that summer that I can get angry at him for how it still affects me so many years later. I won’t let myself get angry at him for what he did. Too many of the negative tapes still play in my head: I thought I loved him, I never fought back, I didn’t say no enough, he was a kid too, he didn’t really know what he was doing. But now even though I can call bullshit on those, I have a hard time being mad at him for his actions.

What I can get upset about is the unfairness of the situation. I can get angry that he doesn’t have to think about it every day, and probably never does. That he can put it out of his mind and go about his life like it never happened. That he never has to tell a partner that he’s a survivor and has triggers about anything sexual. That I spent years denying I was sexual at all, and then was unwilling to admit for even longer that I’m lesbian because I thought it was something his abuse caused. That he’s never dissociated or had one comment instantly transport him back to being 11 years old. It’s an injustice that if I let myself think about, would prevent me from being able to do anything else.

Instead, I try to focus on what I’ve taken from the situation. Things like the empathy that I’ve gained for so many people from the period I consider rock bottom when I was suicidal and cutting myself almost every day. The way that I have been able to use the fact that no one ever thought I would make it this far as motivation to do incredible things. The passion I bring to helping survivors and trying to make sure no one else has to experience violence. I will certainly never thank him for these things, and it doesn’t take away all the pain and hurt and injustice of what he did, but it’s the only way I know how to deal with it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I have four beautiful friends who are survivors. Actually I probably have many more than four survivor friends, but these four women I know well. I know the details of their stories. I have seen them refuse to allow the violence in their pasts to hold them down. I have seen them use their stories to become better people and to help others. They have inspired me. This post is for them.

To my over-achieving friend: Working closely with you over the past 6 months has shown me what a strong woman you are. Since I have known you, you have come so far in your recovery. You are able to talk about it freely now and even shared your story with a group of men, something I’m sure you never thought you would be able to do. You are an incredible person and recently you have made some HUGE life-altering changes, and I know it can’t be easy and at times it probably seems like you should’ve played it safe, as most people would have. But you are doing what you want now and you are being true to yourself, and that takes strength and self-confidence. Perhaps that strength comes from being a survivor or perhaps it was your own inherent strength that allowed you be a survivor, either way it is admirable.

To my activist friend: You take activist to a new level. While most people, including myself, often think there is nothing I can do because I am only person, you are doing everything. You are working with people and writing blogs and beautiful poetry. You are fighting violence halfway around the world and still focused on what we are doing at home. You will light the world on fire and you will make the changes you want to see. You’re dedication and desire to end sexual violence is astounding and the world will be a safer place because of the work you are doing.

To my best friend: Your rape was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. Watching you heal and grow into the extraordinary person that you are now, on the other hand, has been one of my most inspiring experiences. You are strong beyond words and every time I see the new side of you, I am a little awe-struck by your new presence and maturity. I’m sure this growth doesn’t stem only from the rape, and I certainly don’t think it was a good thing. But I think you turned it into something positive, you made it a life experience, and instead of letting it haunt you, you let it help you. That is unbelievable and I know you will help many other women with your experience.

To my partner: When you first told me your story, I was filled with anger and hate but then I was just heartbroken. Heartbroken for you, because you said to deal with it, you just pretend it was a bad dream. I wanted to shake you and make you understand that it was not dream, and it was terrible and traumatic and real. I wanted to do that so you could face reality and heal. I didn’t though and I promised to be supportive and caring and we talked about it a little. Then all of a sudden you started talking about it and asking how to find closure. Now you are facing the reality of being molested and I can see that you are healing. It will be a long road but the fact that you have begun the journey makes me so happy and proud. And I am truly honored that you are allowing me to help you.

Each of you women have changed my life for the better. All of you are incredible, awe-inspiring people and I think all of us could learn from you. I know I will not be and have not been the only one who is encouraged by your successful journeys towards acceptance and healing. I love each of you and want to thank you for being a part of my life.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Denial and repression is one of the best coping mechanisms for children and they both did wonders for my childhood. As I got older it was got more and more difficult to repress painful memories especially the one that so heavily affected my sexual relationships with others. I realized that I needed to deal with this trauma in a more grown up manner.

My parents got divorced when I was in the 3rd grade and my mom had been dating the same man for about 8 years. He is significantly younger than my Mom; in fact he is closer in age to me than my mother. He was so nice to me all the time, and made for a pretty decent 2nd father. I used to joke that he was better than my own dad. On occasion I felt strange by a hug he gave me or something he said but I never read too much into it. Early in high school I would lay in bed with my mom and watch TV and we would both fall asleep and my mom’s boyfriend would come up and lay between us when he went to bed. I knew that it was kind of strange when I was doing it but I just liked hanging out with my mom until one night I woke up covered in sweat, my heart felt like it was going to shoot right through my chest, and my lungs were constricting so tight I could not breathe. I could feel a hand up the leg of my shorts and inside my underwear. I was so confused and scared. I couldn’t move at all. When I realized what was happening I decided to wait it out, that it had to stop eventually. I did not want him to know that I was awake but my heart was beating so hard and so loudly all I could think was “HE KNOWS, HE KNOWS.” I laid there without moving and counted every exhale 1…2…3…4… slowing my heart rate with each breath. I counted to 453 that night before I felt his hand pull away from me. I immediately wanted to jump out of the bed but I still didn’t want him to know what was awake and I didn’t want my mom to find out at all so I laid there staring at the clock. I waited 20 minutes before I got up but it seemed like a lifetime. I got up and went into the bathroom and sat in the bathtub bawling.

It was so easy for me to pretend like it never happened. To just forget; so I thought, until my first boyfriend would try to wake me up by touching me and although he thought it was completely harmless I would wake up terrified and feeling violated. I never told him.

I never told anyone until about a year ago. I told a close friend of mine and she didn’t understand why I never told my mom. I have never told my mom because she loves this man and telling my mom wouldn’t make me feel better and it would crush her beyond anything. I love my mom and although that night threw my emotionally, sexually, and psychological health to the sharks I would still never tell my mom.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I always wanted to sugar coat it. Instead of saying I was molested at 7 and raped at 17, I would say I was touched when I was 7 and taken advantage of when I was 17. Having that realization was very hard and kind-of made the whole experience that much more real. For the longest time I blamed myself for putting myself in a bad position and being so naïve. I blamed myself for staying in an awful relationship full of manipulation and loneliness. I blamed myself for becoming used solely for sex by my then-boyfriend. I dated him because I so firmly believed it was my fault and sought to justify it and to make what happened seem more legitimate. I never told my friends that I didn’t actually want to do it.

However, it took 3 years to acknowledge that it was a huge thing that happened and that it wasn’t my fault. I had been pushing away everyone around me and most of all, Jesus. Please don’t stop reading just because I mentioned Jesus. From the bottom of my heart, I don’t know how I could’ve gotten through without Him and I have a peace about it that I never thought was possible. I have let go of the feelings of anger, guilt and shame and you know what, I really just had to forgive myself and let go of these feelings of self-guilt.

I’m not gonna say it has been a cake walk. Just because I believe in Him and that I believe He rescued me from death it is still a struggle everyday to release the pain and I have to continually forgive myself and the people who’ve wronged me. I have still cried myself to sleep because a guy made me feel uncomfortable for no apparent reason. But I have this hope that I cannot begin to explain. Even through all the heartache and pain I’ve experienced I still am thankful for everything in my life, including this. It has become a part of me and I’ve gotten healing by spreading my story and realizing how many other women have been affected by something like this. There is hope for attaining healing. Please, don't forget that.
Freshman year I met a guy I was very attracted to, “Fred.” I had only had sex with one other person, and I felt that the next time I had sex should be with someone who genuinely liked me and cared about me. One night I started drunk texting him, and I ended up going to his room at 4 in the morning; we were both very drunk. We immediately started making out, and very early on I said “I don’t want to have sex tonight.” They were difficult words to say—I wasn’t sure when to say them or how it would go. I also told him I didn’t want to have sex without a condom. But we did have sex. Without a condom.

He kept asking me if I wanted to have sex, and I kept saying no. At one point, he said “Do you want it?” I thought he was talking about what he was currently doing—fingering me—and not about having sex, so I said yes. I realized he meant sex when he put his penis inside me. I didn’t know what to do. I did not want to be having sex—but it was too late. And I knew my “yes” could have been misconstrued for consent. Looking back, I wish I had slapped him, walked out, and never talked to him again. But instead I said nothing and just lay there, letting him have sex with me. It was not at all pleasurable.

Though I barely knew Fred, I liked him and I hoped that it would turn into a relationship.

I kept hooking up with Fred. I told him that “I wasn’t that kind of girl” and that I didn’t want to have sex with him that night. But I put the blame on myself. I never expressed to him that I was upset with him, that I felt that what he did was wrong and disrespectful. We never had sex again, because I refused to give him head if he was unwilling to return the favor. And he seemed to need head in order to get it up—something I have never experienced before or since. He began pressuring me to give him head the same way he pressured me to have sex with him. One night I remember I was actually crying while giving him head because I didn’t want to anymore and all he said was “I’m almost done.”

I can’t believe what an idiot I was. I finally stopped seeing him, but we are still friends. I allowed his behavior because I knew he’d had a very rough past and I knew he had sex for the first time at the age of 10. That’s bound to screw someone up. But I should not have let him treat me like that, and I would never want another girl to be treated that way.

I’ve never told him how much the experience damaged me and upset me. I think it contributed to some promiscuity after that—it was clear to me that all guys expected sex, and I would rather give it to them than have it taken from me. I just wanted someone to like me, and it seemed like all they wanted was sex, so I had sex with them because that was better than getting no attention. Sex was not special to me; it was just some sort of step in meeting a guy.

I’m now fighting to make myself realize what I deserve and trying to learn how to make decisions based on what I want.

I would not call my experience rape. But it was definitely very emotionally damaging. I posted this because I want women to realize that if he doesn’t like you for you, it is just not worth it. I used to think girls who wouldn’t have sex on the first date were prudes; now I think they’re pretty damn smart. Please ladies, give yourself some time to figure out what you want. If that’s a one night stand, that’s fine—just make sure it’s because YOU want it; no one else’s opinion matters. Take some time to get to know a person. Don’t put up with bullshit, because you deserve someone who cares about you and treats you well.

And guys, that goes for you too. I know there’s a lot of pressure on you to have sex with girls, but you don’t have to. Only do it if you want to. And make sure it’s what she wants, too.

And one last note. My sister was raped, and though she hasn’t talked to me much about it, I don’t think she ever reported it. I can’t begin to imagine the pain you’re going through, but I would encourage you to report the crime, if not for yourself, then to protect other women.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

When it first happened I didn't even know what to call it because I never thought I would be a victim of rape. I didn't want people to think that I was weak. I just don't know what to do because, no matter what I am not satisfied with the situation between him and I. It is as if I need something to be done so I will not have to use my blog as an outlet to say what is on my mind. I have not told any of my family because I don't know what they will do. He tries to make it seem as if I am doing something wrong because I write about it on my blog. I don't think I am wrong I just don't like how he can try to live this life that he lives after what he did to me. I am just so hurt because I really did think he was my friend and then he just did what he did. It's so weird because I can remember exactly how everything happened from beginning to end. The most that I remember is laying there with my phone in my hand trying to think "if I call Chavez will he answer?" or me leaving and as soon as I got back to my room I took a shower and I look at my phone and I have text messages from him saying "I am so sorry". Yeah I cried myself to sleep that night. I just don't know how I should handle this. I know how a juror must feel when they have to sentence someone to the death penalty It's like you are fighting yourself. I just always thought I would be the type of person that would report it like I remember reading the sign on the RU "1 in 4 women are a victim of sexual assault" and I would think "nope not me I refuse to be a statistic and if does I will report it" but its like I can't handle knowing that someone's life is in my hands. I guess I am weaker then I thought I just feel like I should hate him but the whole "love thy brother" is getting to me. I want to forgive but what does that mean how should I do it? I just don't know how to handle the fact that "Dang they know and they don't believe me" I don't like how his friends act funny when I'm around. I don't like that I feel that they might have conversations about me being a liar. I just try to act as if it doesn't bother me but it does because I trust people so much but when it is time for people to believe me I left to be crucified. I guess the fact that I didn't turn him in makes it seem like I am lying but if I was brave enough I would if I wasn't scared of having his family and friends hating me I would. If I didn't have to worry about my family finding out believe me I would.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I wish my dad, brothers, step father, and male friends would realize how big of a problem sexual violence is.

They personally know a survivor, me, and yet these things continue. I wish they would stop making sexist jokes. I try to explain why it’s not funny when you said “that test raped me.” I try to explain why it’s not okay to blame women who don’t leave abusive relationships. I try to explain that language is important. I try to explain that the way the world is isn’t the way it has to be.

And you all just say I’m “doing my little women’s studies stuff.” Bullshit.

This violence is cyclical and systematic. I want to speak out as a survivor of not only sexual assault and interpersonal violence, but also one that is hurt every time you joke about rape, make a degrading comment about women, or grab my ass because you think it‘s cute. It’s not funny. Your actions are creating a culture where it becomes okay to hurt women, and you do it without thinking.

WAKE UP!

STOP IT!

What is it going to take before you realize the effect that your actions have on your daughter, your sister, your friend? When will you stop hurting her?
There were no sounds, no feelings, there were only fleeting pictures of moments I would choose to forget.

This boy had a girlfriend. I was at a party at a friend's house in another city and I had far too much to drink.

I kept hoping that someone would walk downstairs so it would have to stop. I kept hoping that someone at the party would wake up and realize what was happening. I kept saying no. I was drunk. I said it quietly. I was not forceful enough. I did not yell. I did not scream. I kept saying no.

When it finally stopped I picked up my clothes and went into the bathroom and sat on the toilet. I came back out of the bathroom, he was asleep on a couch. I sat down on the other couch.

A few hours later, I walked up the stairs to the large room where my friends were sleeping. I curled up into a ball next to my friend and stared straight ahead. He did not wake up.

The next morning it was time to go home, and everyone said their goodbyes. The boy who had violated me hugged me. I got the chills to the core of my being. He said goodbye like nothing was wrong.

I knew this boy before. This was not some stranger.
When I tell guys I don't believe in relationships, when I say I won't date them but I'll just be their "fuck buddy", they tell me, "You're every guy's dream!"

Well, I don't want to be your dream. I'm just waiting for someone to heal me. I wonder what it's like to feel love. I have sex with whoever and don't feel a thing about it because my first several experiences with sex were abusive and destroyed me. So I have lots of sex but don't feel a thing. Is it normal to be happy with this and run away from love and intimacy?

I may seem like your careless "freaky" girl, but I am totally disconnected. I don't even feel you, and I will laugh at you if you try to connect with me. Long term sexual abuse and one sexual assault has taught me that my body is there for your pleasure. Not my pleasure or my well-being.

One day, I would like to know what it's like to fall in love or what it's like to care about what MY body deserves.
I am no longer a student. I am a professional who has the privilege of working with college students. I have been trained to help support; advocate, counsel, and most importantly listen to those whom have been impacted by sexual violence. For me it started back in high school with a group called Peer Mediators – we gave presentations on sexual assault and relationship violence. In college as a student leader I facilitated workshops raising awareness with fraternities and sororities. In grad school I did the same however with varied student groups. My journey continues on to now where my trainings are still used – more often than I find acceptable.

An example – less then a week ago I sat, uncomfortable, listening to the story of yet another friend who was assaulted. I listened. I leaned forward. I said all the ‘text book’ statements I had been trained to say. Although I have been trained to know I was doing good simply by listening, by caring, by not placing or assuming blame, and in fact pointing out it was not this individuals fault – I felt useless.

I could not take away the pain or shame of my friend. I could not take way their worry and fear. Not even anger – I could do little other than listen and state that I cared.

In my eyes this matter was more complicated. In my job I hear stories far too often. I place levels of boundaries to semi-protect myself from attaching or empathizing too much. With loved ones the boundaries are a little less. With this friend, I feel lost. This was a friend whom listened, supported, and was there for me when I was finally willing to accept and deal with my assault. I am grateful for having had that support and concern. How will I repay that level of assistance?

About two years ago my friend fell in love. It was true love – anyone could see it just by the way they looked at each other – it was beautiful. Many of the friends were envious – we wanted that kind of love. My friend also works with college students as a traveling consultant. The relationship grew through emails, long phone conversations, and occasional visits of a day or two. But their love grew. Everyone knew their intentions were to marry – they had a time line involving graduate school and the end of traveling.

This past holiday season my friend decided to get drunk with some friends of the past. My friend is not a big drinker but decided why not. ‘I’m with friends so it’s safe for me to kick back a few – to step out of character.’ Well, after multiple hours of drinking my friend decided to call it a night. Left a quick I love you voicemail and passed out on top of the bed with shoes still on. Hours, maybe moments, later my friend was half ‘woken to being violated. The memory of what happened is a blur in my friends mind. A rejection was offered by my friend earlier in the night when the assailant made their original pass. An explanation of love to another was provided in a drunken ramble.

You may be surprised to learn – my friend is a male. My male friend was sexually assaulted, my male friend was raped. It’s hard to say. I know assault happens. I have read the numbers and research to know it happens to men too. I have listened first hand to the story of a male student who was attacked by another male. My friend was assault by a woman. Although he said no – his body continued to work. He described it being similar to an out of body experience, or at least it had to be, he was there but he could not move, parts of his body were working, but he could not feel.

Uncertain of what had happened or unwilling to admit or explore the reality that he had been assaulted – he called his girlfriend, his love, and apologized for cheating. As you can imagine that does not go over well in a relationship.

My friend has since come to acknowledge, however not fully accept, that he was violated. His girlfriend has come to acknowledge this as well and has been an incredible support system for him. She is after all his future and his hope. But…

My friend, equipped with the same training as I, still is experiencing self-blame – even self-hate. He knows it is not his fault. He knows rape can happen to men. He knows he did nothing wrong. He knows he did not cheat. He knows it – he has yet to believe it. In his eyes he cheated on his girlfriend, the best thing that has ever happened to him. His confidence is shaken, hell shattered, he is a strong man, a man of principal, a man that believes in fidelity – he believes he violated his own morals, his own code. He is trained, he knows better, but still he does it. As I did it too. He helped me to see that in myself… acknowledging does not mean accepting and knowing does not mean believing.

I share my friend’s story because his is one you don’t hear often. My friend, knowing the statistics that 1 in 7 men in their life time will be victims/survivors of sexual assault, is ashamed to share his story with friends, even brothers. He is an advocate on many tough topics often using himself as an example when the topic aligns with his experiences. Right now, my friend is silent. This is unlike him. I do not expect him to share but I feel as though he expects himself to. But it’s different – its rape and he’s a dude.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I shared my story last year, but it still doesn't feel like enough. What would be enough? What would satisfy me? I wish I could have recognized what you did to me for what it was when it was happening, instead of surrendering to fear and confusion. I wish I would have told someone the very next day, instead of resigning myself to secrecy. Most of all, I wish I could tell it to your face (shout it in your face): you RAPED ME. Physically, psychologically, emotionally. It was never what you thought it was. I lived in fear of you for a year! And for what? I try to view life as a learning experience, but I have learned nothing positive from you. All I learned was never to trust anyone again the way I did you. I never want to let anyone in again, like I did you. I regret it every day.

The worst part is having learned, in the time since, that I am not alone in my pain. There are women in my family, women who are close friends of mine, women in the news, women whom I admire and love, all with a history that threatens to tear them apart. I've seen a woman carry fear in her heart for fifty years, which, when she brought it up again, was still as fresh as if the man who hurt her had just walked out the door. This kind of pain doesn't disappear. In silence, it thrives and lives on. I see the signs every day... and for what? No matter how hard I try to educate myself, I still can't understand why cruelty exists in this world. Why do some people think that they can take what doesn't belong to them --another person's innocence, liberty, physical integrity, safety --without consequence? Why do others let them get away with it? Why did I let you get away with it?

These questions continually haunt me. I console myself with the realization that, even if I cannot erase the past, speaking out in the present is a symbol of hope and strength --even of change. Marches like Take Back the Night and events like SpeakOut are invaluable. Some feelings we try to hide out of shame or fear, but those feelings in fact need voice. By staying silent, we let our attackers get away with their wrongdoing. By pointing fingers, shouting back: YOU DID THIS, YOU WERE WRONG, we get a chance to reflect blame upon those who really deserve it. Speaking out is powerful. It's not just a slogan. Speaking out reveals fault. It empowers survivors. It gives us a chance to scream and cry and beat our chests with the fury that social constraints may never let us express in other contexts. If I've learned nothing else, it's that silence solves nothing, but speaking out can be an impetus for change. It lets us feel the deep-seated anger that we must express in order to feel whole again. It lets us share our anger in the service of educating others. Maybe we can't undo what has been done to us, but we can stop it happening to people like us. That's the real power of sharing your story. For me, it's the ultimate comfort.

Friday, January 22, 2010

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.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I was sixteen and painfully stupid.

I had been recently hit by a car, and I was feeling this odd sense of mortality. I was utterly alone after having moved back to my old area, and I desperately wanted to have someone. I got in contact with an old girlfriend, and we hung out a bit. She told me after a little bit that she worked with a guy that I'd been passing acquaintances with in my freshman year of high school, and upon learning that he lived nearby, I asked that she give him my number (or the other way around, I can't remember anymore.) We talked, and after hanging out for a day or two, we decided to "date".

Now, this guy... Was NOT my usual taste. He was pudgy, a smoker and a drinker, an overall "juvenile delinquent", but I didn't care. Somebody (supposedly) cared about me.

I remember the night it happened very vividly now, though it all sort of happened in a blur.

I had felt him distancing from me, and I knew that my disdain for alcohol had something to do with it. After hanging out with him and some of his friends, I agreed to go out drinking with them.

My father was out of town that night, so after he left, I waited for him to come and get me. We walked to a nearby park and met up with his friends, where we snuck into a part of the adjoining nature preserve. We passed around a bottle of vodka and a bottle of sprite remix to chase. Having never drank before, I quickly became intoxicated. We all hung out for a bit before he led me to a playground nearby, hidden in the lot of a school. We sat there talking on the top platform by the slide for a bit, before he started to kiss me. I remember that he tasted strongly of cigarettes and booze, so I tried to push him off of me after a few moments. I was so loopy that when he started to force himself on me, I couldn't really stop him. He managed to pull my pants off and get inside of me, but I yelped with pain and he quickly stopped, apologizing and coddling me all the while. I had no idea what was really going on, but i accepted a ride home from his friends and went to bed right away.

A few hours later, I woke up to him standing over me. He had broken into my home through a screen in the kitchen window, and wanted to "check on me". I scolded him, but he just climbed on top of me and raped me . After a while, he pulled me into my father's room and crawled on top of me in my father's bed. After a bit (he never finished off) he took me downstairs and had me fondle him, explaining all the while that he just "couldn't take advantage of me while I was drunk like this". I was numb, horrified, and utterly confused. He left, and I ran into the shower and scrubbed myself.

The next day, I called a girlfriend of mine and explained what happened. "It sounds like you were assaulted, honey." I refused to acknowledge it, though it burned inside of me as I swallowed my own lies. I hung out with him for a week or so more, until he completely cut himself off from me and started spreading rumors that I was a "psycho whore".

I never reported it. I have come out, though, and admitted what he did. At first I just said that he "tried" to rape me, but I couldn't lie anymore after seeing my then boyfriend hang out with the guy who did it. The girl that I first admitted it to, through sobs in my high school hallway as my then boyfriend stared dumbfoundedly through my admission, was the girl who I asked to connect me and my assaulter in the first place. She had been through even worse sexual assault in her early adolescence, and she helped me come to terms with what had happened. She was a wonderful friend to me during those times of need, and I thank her, from the bottom of my heart, for being there for me.
On New Year's Day, just before my 17th birthday, I was sexually assaulted by my boyfriend. We were sober. We were young, aroused, attracted to each other, making out and having fun. We had slept in the same bed for the first time the night before, and our sexual exploration was broadening, but we had not yet had intercourse. I wasn't ready for it yet. We were both virgins. That day, we had been away visiting his extended family. We got back to an empty house, and took advantage of it. We were making out, there was lots of touching, and clothes were off. We were in his bed. Our bodies were close, and I was enjoying the feel of our skin on mine. I felt attractive, desired, and adult. Without warning, without asking, there was pain between my legs. My boyfriend had penetrated me. It hurt. I was confused. I said, "Wait. What’s happening? No. Stop." There was one more thrust, and then he stopped.

This happened 14 years ago. I blocked it out, continued to be in a relationship with this person, and decided that since I wasn't a virgin anymore, it didn't really matter what I wanted. I was sexually active through the next few years of our relationship, but most of that is a black hole in my memory. I don't remember feeling anything, or what the sex was like, or how frequently it happened, and I never used birth control or condoms.

Once, I told this boyfriend that if you took my brain and put it in a jar, as long as I was able to think, I would be perfectly happy without a body. Looking back, I can see the intense detachment I felt from my body. To this day, I have body issues, difficulties with being confident sexually, with claiming my right to pleasure, with learning to live in and love the body I have. It is two steps forward and one step back. I think I have healed from this trauma, only to find myself feeling frozen and broken and timid again.

At times, I have diminished my experience, attempting to rationalize away my pain. “This is 'gray rape.' What happened to me is nowhere near as bad as what happened to that other woman, so who am I to call myself a survivor? It’s not really rape because he stopped after I said no." But then I remember how I felt. How confused, hurt, and ashamed. I remember sitting on the toilet the next day, feeling raw and painful. I remember blood on the toilet tissue, and I remember crying. I remember the subsequent years of deep depression and eating disorders.

So, those are the facts. My first sexual experience was non-consensual. I was sexually assaulted by my boyfriend at 16. My boyfriend assumed consent that was not actually there. He may have stopped when I asked, but he never asked for my consent in the first place. I am a survivor of sexual assault.

The sad and beautiful moments of my story have come from those times I have outed myself as a survivor. In my early 20s, I discovered feminism, and it saved my life, and helped me to believe in my own strength. I began telling my story to a few friends. Once I started, they started responding with their own stories. Suddenly, that 1 in 4 statistic became very personal. My dearest friends are survivors of incest, of rape, of abuse, of confusing sexual experiences that they don't know how to name or classify. I look at women on the bus, in my workplace, in my classrooms, and I know that the deafening silence of our stories is there in the room.

So, I roll up my sleeves and do feminist work. I educate men and women about their bodies, about sexuality, about pleasure and consent and communication. I work to heal as a whole person, deserving of pleasure, with a whole and complex sexuality. I challenge rape and sexual assault myths in conversation. And, when I feel safe, I out myself as a survivor of sexual assault so that it has a face, and a name, and a body. It's my story, it's your story, and it's the story of someone you know. Those stories are painful and complicated, but there is strength and healing and change in the telling of them.

Thank you to the other storytellers. I am in awe of your strength.
I have never forgotten the feeling that came over me after it was over and I sat swinging on the porch swing. Emptiness. I felt hollow, alone, scared, used, dirty, unwanted. It felt like the summer breeze was literally blowing through my body. I didn't care to talk to anyone, see anyone....I didn't care about much of anything after that really.

That night my best friend and I met two guys while we were shopping. She called them up and told them to meet us at her house. Like the young, stupid idiots we were, we got into the car with them, my friend in the front with the driver and I in the back with the other guy. The driver parked the car and my friend and him started kissing. I wanted to talk to the guy in the back seat with me. Clearly he had other plans. He started kissing me. I didn't really want to kiss him, but I figured a little kissing was harmless. Then he started to push it farther. He was a marine and he was strong. I tried to push him away and at first he backed off and we started talking again. But then he started kissing me again. And this time when he pushed for more, he wouldn't let up when I tried to push him off. He started to undo my pants. I tried to tell him no, but he pressed his mouth hard against mine and continued to pull them off. After he finally took his mouth off of mine, I told him no--that I didn't want to do this. He told me that if I wasn't quiet and didn't let him do it he wouldn't use a condom. I was so frightened. A thousand things were running through my head. I decided to tell him no again. And when I did, he entered me without a condom. I told him no, just put a condom on. He laughed at me, pulled out and put one on, held me down in the back of the car with all his weight and raped me. I lay there, waiting for it to be over, hoping that my friend would realize what was going on. But she had been drinking fairly heavily that night and was too busy with the guy she was with to notice that I was crying, and trying to quietly say her name. He finally finished, and when he did he took my pants and wiped himself with them, threw them at me, then shook his friend on the shoulder and told him he was ready to leave. As I got out of the car, I never looked back. I shed quiet tears, and as we walked back up to my friends house I didn't say a word. She asked me what happened with us as she stumbled her way through the yard, and I told her nothing. I couldn't bare to say anything. She said she was tired and going to bed. I sat out on that swing for what felt like hours that night and felt the emptiness take over my body. I wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn't come. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, but I couldn't find my voice. He drove off that night with all of my innocence, all of my trust in the goodness of people and with all of my dignity. I felt worthless, like dirt. For years after that, I never told a single person. It wasn't until about a year ago that I finally told someone. And while I know now that I am worth a great deal, I'll often find myself, in an intimate situation with a guy that I want to be with, panicking. I feel as though I need to get up and run as fast I can to get away. I wonder if that feeling will ever go away, and if the hurt will fade all together.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I was always sober, and I was in love. But I was NOT ready. Not even close. And I told him that, he said he understood. But he always brought it up, he made me explain myself again and again until my reasons for wanting to wait sounded flimsy and overdone and illegitimate. He made me question myself, my values, my morals, everything until I decided that making him happy was more important to me than anything else.

All that stupid boy had to do was pout, and he'd get whatever he wanted out of me. For a while I even believed it was what I wanted - but the fact that I was crying at the drop of a hat and couldn't tell even my best friend why I was so depressed all the time because I was so ashamed of what I was doing quickly brought me back.

When I told him I wanted to stop what we were doing, he guilted me into feeling like I was the one ruining our relationship. I remember crying my eyes out on his couch trying to make him understand how he was literally destroying me, but he believed we just couldn't be together without the physical stuff.

What kills me is that I almost left that day. I made it all the way to my car but he came outside and told me that he loved me, and we were supposed to be together forever, and all those things I used to want to hear. So it continued for a few more months.

The really painful part is that I can't see how this isn't my fault - why couldn't I have been stronger and said "no." When he threatened to leave me for being too uptight, why couldn't I just let him leave. When he told me that going off to separate colleges would make it too hard for him to stay loyal, that he would most likely cheat on me because I'd never give him any, why couldn't I tell him to go to hell and run as far away as I could from him. Why was I such a weak idiot.

I used to be so honest and open with everyone around me. I used to be simple and innocent and beautiful. But since him, I feel disgusting. And I can't let anyone in, because I feel like I have to be the detached one, to be on the offensive so that I never get taken advantage of. And my story is nothing compared to some of the other ones out there, and I feel pathetic and small for posting it here. I know that things could have been so much worse, that worse things happen to young women every single day.

But I feel permanently altered by these stupid and completely avoidable events of my life- I still cry about it - and that relationship ended (thankfully) about a year ago. What I feel must be only a fraction of what other women feel, and it is amazing that you all are strong enough to talk about it. Seeing how strong women can be and knowing that programs like this are out there make me confident that I WILL be able to say "no" in the future.
i've posted here before. but going through the testimonials and comments a few years later, I am still pained.

when will it end? i've lied awake nights and cried because my sister was hurt. something was taken from her. someone so beautiful, so sweet, so loving....and a man ignored her as a person. saw her as an object. he raped her.

we know who he is. is that one of the worst parts? knowing you can do something about it...but not really? i can't answer some of the questions that exist here because they are for her to answer for herself.

she is still healing.

maybe the worst part is that it wasn't the first and wasn't the last time it would be taken from her. that makes my heart ache. like someone grabs inside my chest and tears my heart apart. how can something so awful happen to someone so wonderful....so. many. times. why does there have to be a "worst one".

i hate the man who did it. hate him. hate what he did. how could someone do something like that? how could someone be so hurtful?

years later i still cry because i feel her pain. i want you to know sister, i am here for you. always. i love you more than anything in the world. i would do anything for you, and if i could, i would take back that night for you.
I can't remember a time when I wasn't afraid of my father. for a long time, the only things I could remember was that sometimes, mommy would do something and then dad would start shouting and I would run and hide because I learned quickly that he could turn on me in an instant.

I was fourteen when I first became aware of my dad being violent with my mother. I was in my room doing homework and I heard them start shouting. I almost had my earphones on when I heard a pan drop to the floor and I heard my mother scream. I ran to the kitchen. The pot was on the floor next to my mom, who was now shaking and trying to hide under a table. My father stood over her, shouting that she was a pig and should eat off the floor. He wouldn't stop until she did. I almost called the police, but I was fourteen and I was scared. I hid in my room.

Throughout the years, the shouting got worse and the fights go worse and my mother started drinking more and more. I never saw her drunk, but I did see the case after case of six packs hidden in her bathroom.

When I was twenty, my dad started getting violent with me. We were arguing about something that was going on at school and at one point, he grabbed me by my wrists and threw me against a door. I left the next day, swearing to never go back, but I did. Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I'm still scared of him.
At fourteen, I had no clue who I was or what I wanted. The most frustrating part was that no one cared to hear about it. Until one day someone did listen.

One of the workers at the barn where I rode took interest in what I had to say, and I found myself hoping he would stay with me for forever. Then one day he was gone. I was itching to talk to him, so I searched the usual places. But I couldn’t find him anywhere. A week passed and no one said much about his departure. All I heard was that it occurred in the dead of night. In my naive youth I didn’t dwell too much on it…that was until hushed, hurried voices stopped speaking whenever I walked into a wash rack occupied by my trainers. A short time went on before I grew curious and I started observing. I knew that my best friend hadn’t been out to the barn in a while but no one seemed to be questioning her absence. That is, no one except me. Then one day I remember so vividly, I was standing in the cobweb-filled alleyway of the barn, trying to balance on a green hose, waiting for my mother to pick me up, when a girl I barely knew began talking about her. She wasn’t making sense.

“the trailer…”

“when no one was around…”

I asked what she was talking about. The girl’s dark green eyes bulged, she stumbled for speech before managing to say, “oh, you haven’t heard? Well aren’t ya’ll friends?” I drew a sharp short breath. Of course we were friends! Best friends. We shared everything. We always were laughing, goofing off and getting into trouble. So I couldn’t wait to hear what she had to tell me. Until I heard the unforgettable words make their way out of her throat like gravel, the words dropping out of her mouth like rocks. “He raped her. Didn’t you wonder why he left so quickly?”

Everything within me froze. My heart. My brain. My breath. I don’t remember what she said next. I think she explained the whole situation to me. My mind couldn’t grasp any of it. The fluorescent lights illuminating the darkening alleyway buzzed in my head. I had never entertained the idea that something so tragic could happen to someone so close to me. Suddenly I was not so naïve; I was learning how life really worked.

I wound up back at home feeling like a zombie, not remembering how I got there. So many thoughts were running through my head: How could she not tell me? Why wasn’t anyone stopping him? What if it had happened to me? I flashed back to a few weeks prior when he had invited me into his trailer and told me, “I have something to show you. I redid my bedroom. You have to tell me what you think.” He brought me in and I stood in the doorway and complimented the newly painted walls. The smell of freshly smoked cigarettes seemed to be trying to run me out of the room. As I looked, he pushed me. I was surprised by the force of his hand on my back. Then I turned to see a twisted grin on his face. My heart pounded in my temples. Then his roommate walked into the trailer, warning us with a slam of the door and plastic bags on his feet to protect the floor. We both looked back, startled, and I made my hurried escape, head bent and heart racing. At the time I did not know why I had felt the urgency to just get out. Looking back, I realized it could have happened to me. I questioned why it had not been me. I wanted to take all her pain away. I wanted to talk to her. But she didn’t want to talk. She never seemed to want to talk now. The usually chatty girl was now forcing out her robust laugh that used to come so freely. Nothing was right after that.

Later I learned she wasn’t pressing charges for the integrity of our trainer’s barn. Plus, no one knew where he was, and he had been using a fake name. I didn’t see how someone could just get away with something so cruel. Where’s the justice? Did he know how much he had ruined? I stopped talking to anyone and my emotions built up. I didn’t dare trust anyone to hold such a powerful key. I had gone from innocent to alone and betrayed. I had trusted this man, and he had returned my trust by devastating my best friend’s life. She was never going to be the same, and I was beginning to realize neither was I.

I kept it in and started to take out my feelings on myself. I tried to snap myself out of the out of body trance and live normally. My best friend was doing it and the crime had actually happened to her, so why couldn’t I? I kept up appearances for a good while and felt proud of myself for being able to shut down my feelings completely. I reasoned that if I let no one in, then no one could hurt me.

I turned bitter, but now, after struggling with an eating disorder and depression for four years, and after thinking it through over and over and telling people my story, I’m sorry that any of this ever had to happen to anyone, but the fact of the matter is that throughout the course of life, however horrible it may be, we have to endure hardship so that we know how to love and treat one another. Life is about changing, and loss is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we stop living.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On this past new year's eve, I went to my best guy friend's house to celebrate; of course alcohol was involved. We decided to go to his neighbor's house, a girl he had known since they were both in diapers. Of course I trusted him to take care of me around his neighbor and her friends, people I had never met. I only remember having two drinks before we went back to his house, but I could barely walk. I don't understand why I was so far gone after only two drinks.

He drove me back to my house to get another bottle of vodka, because one of our friends was going to be joining us later. I thought I must have drank most of the bottle we already had, why else would I be so wasted? But it was only a quarter empty. On the way back it was midnight, and he kissed me. It was not the innocent smooch I had asked for, but I was too trashed to care and just went along with it. I barely remember it, but I know it happened.

The next morning I woke up and could only remember one thing that had happened since midnight, and even then it's blurry, but I remember what me and my "friend" had done together. We hadn't had sex, but we had done enough. I was horrified and angry, and once he realized that I wasn't sober like he claimed he thought I was, he was horrified too. I tried to joke about it because that's my way of dealing with things, but inside I felt dirty, used, and disgusting. I had no sexual experience at all prior to this, because I was waiting for the right person. Now I have this.

I can't bear for him to touch me now. We hardly even talk. He says that night I told him I had feelings for him, that he thought I wanted what we did. But I don't remember those conversations, and I know that I did not want my first sexual experiences to be with him. I'm not in love with him, and I believe it's wrong when you don't love the person. And he knew that, he knew my beliefs, but his newly revealed feelings for me clouded his judgment.

We have both come to the conclusion that his neighbor or one of her friends gave me some kind of drug. That's the only explanation for me vomiting all night, which I have never done while drinking (incidentally, he told me he'd "had to" give me a bath, which I also can't remember); and my willingness to do sexual things with my friend while his grandparents are across the hall and my other friend is sleeping in the next room.

You would think that knowing he didn't mean to do it would help, but it doesn't. It doesn't make me feel any less damaged. It doesn't make me feel any less that he took something from me that I was saving for somebody that I loved. "I didn't mean to" doesn't help me at all, and it won't help us get our friendship back. I tried to explain to him how I want to believe him, but the fact that I can't remember anything makes it really hard; that someone who I thought knew what kind of woman I was, would think it was really me doing those things.

Does this count as an assault story? I don't really know. I feel like I've been assaulted. I feel that same fear and shame that I imagine many women feel when their body, the only thing that is truly theirs, is taken and used by someone. I wonder how many women who know the person who hurt them, have heard him say, "I didn't mean it, I thought you wanted it." Probably too many. I'm sure many people would say that I am partially to blame, or that you can't blame the guy entirely if he really didn't know. Maybe they're right, but it doesn't change my experience (at least what I remember of it). It doesn't help me.

I posted this because I don't know the answer to all these questions of Am I really a victim? or Who is to blame, if anyone? Maybe there are other women out there who've had a similar experience. I posted this for you because I hope this can help anyone out there who feels just as alone as I do right now. I hope it helps.