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

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We started dating in the first few weeks of college. We were so different, yet so compatible – it was easy when we were around one another. The first time he kissed me, he asked my permission first, said he’d never want me to feel uncomfortable when I was with him. I trusted him, he was older, wiser, he made me feel wonderful. He knew my boundaries, he knew I wanted to move really slow, he knew I didn’t want to do anything more than kiss a boy until marriage, and he respected that. We talked about marriage, our futures, and what it would look like if we spent the rest of our lives together.

A year into our relationship, he told me had been doing a lot of thinking and he didn’t think he really believed in a lot of the same things spiritually as he used to. I was taken aback, but trusted that he would be fine and we would be fine, because everyone has doubts. He assured me that everything would be fine too. But then his attitude toward me started changing. It started with small things – not returning my calls, not pursuing me as he should anymore, not caring for me, asking things from me sexually that I wasn’t comfortable with. Then he started pressuring me. I kept saying no. I wasn’t ready. But he was bigger, he was stronger, and he knew he could take things from me. And so he did. He raped me for the first time on the night of my birthday. He held me down so I couldn’t move, covered my mouth so I couldn’t say anything, holding my legs apart with his. I was so confused. I couldn’t even leave my house on my birthday I was so confused and ashamed. I didn’t know what had happened, how I had gotten myself there. I broke up with him the same day. He apologized over and over again. He said he didn’t know what happened, and that emotions had gotten the best of him because I looked so beautiful.

For the new few weeks, he called me daily, leaving me apologetic voicemails, sending me flowers, bring me lattes to class on the days I had tests, asking me to forgive him and allow him to take me on a date again and prove that he was sorry. At first I resisted, so confused at what was going on. How could I get raped? I knew nothing about this type of abuse at the time. I thought it was for girls who partied a lot. I had never had a drink in my life. I was in my pajamas after cooking him dinner in what I thought had been a stable relationship that was headed toward marriage. Was it even rape because I was dating him? I had told him I didn’t want to. He knew I didn’t want to have sex. He knew I didn’t want him to see me naked. I didn’t know who to talk to. I thought my friends would judge me because I had sex. I thought they wouldn’t believe me, because he is such a great guy, and would never do anything like that. I thought maybe if he really was sorry, and if we got back together and everything went back to normal, then it could redeem this past experience, and it really could be a fluke. So I got back together with him. Things were great again for a few weeks. I felt like we were back to normal. I was starting to trust him again, depend on him emotionally again. I let him kiss me again.

It was almost as if he could sense my vulnerability. As soon as I became comfortable again, he started again. But instead of just raping me, he started hurting me violently too. He’d bite me until I bruised and bled – my neck, my breasts, my inner thighs, my vagina. I could barely move the days after he did this to me. He’d eat me out while twisting my breasts so hard I couldn’t bear the pain. He’d take all of my clothes off, trap me laying down, and he’d masturbate on top of me, forcing me to watch him do it until he came all over me. He’d claw at my vagina, scratching me so hard that I could barely use the bathroom or shower without screaming in pain for days. He’d hold my head or my hands on his penis until I gave him a hand or a blowjob. He’d hold me down or pin me down with something so I couldn’t escape. He’d make me do things to myself while he watched and masturbated. He hurt me over, and over, and over. If I asked him to stop, he’d just do more. I tried to avoid him, but he would find me. After these things would happen, he would act normal everywhere else – taking me out on dates, doing nice things for me, calling me, buying me really nice gifts, wanting to hang out. This continued for six months.

During this time, I wondered if I was actually alive. I didn’t tell anyone. No one would believe me. He was a famous face on campus, everyone knew him, everyone thought he was wonderful, they wouldn’t believe me when I said he was doing these things to me. My life had become a roller coaster. I feared if I broke up with him, he would just find a way to hurt me more. So I stayed with him.

I broke up with him on the eve of his graduation, knowing I’d never have to see him again. I got on a plane and flew out of the country for two months for a summer internship, numb. I couldn’t trust people. I couldn’t make new friends. I feared my old friends, I wondered when they were going to start hurting me too. I didn’t want to leave my house. I lost touch with most of my friends. I told no one. I started drinking with the few people I did trust to numb the pain. I had vivid flashbacks. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, screaming and sweating, thinking he was in my bed with me. I couldn’t fall asleep at night. I was nauseous, anxious, and nervous all the time. I couldn’t focus. No one knew what had happened to me. Back at school, he’d show up at my house unannounced, driving seven hours from where he was living, wanting to hang out. I told him if he did it again, I’d call the police, and I’d tell people what happened. I was terrified. I refused to be alone because I thought he could find me. I never heard from him again.

A year later, I met a girl who was courageous enough to share her story with me, a complete stranger. She had the courage to face her attacker, the man that had taken so much from her. She gave me strength. Her story, her courage, helped me know that I needed help. I couldn’t keep wondering around living half of a life, living in fear. We weren’t created to live in fear; yet, it had become my daily reality. I didn’t need to struggle alone. I wasn’t an isolated incident. A community existed. People would believe me. I told my few closest friends. They believed me. They supported me. They listened. They helped me find professional help. They helped me start repairing my life. They still help me today. They’ve started helping me learn how to smile again, how to have fun again, how to trust people again. I’m starting to be able to sleep again, make friends again, live normal life again. Now, I’m a senior, all I want is to enjoy this year, to live it fully, to embrace everything that comes with it. And I think I can, I know I can, even if it is something I have to convince myself of every day. I am beautiful, I am strong, I am intelligent, and I can overcome this, because I know I have a God on my side that conquered death, and He provides. We all do.
“Every time you see him, you smile” That was the words that my mother told me when and if I see him. How could you smile at the person who changed your life forever, created the deepest wound in your heart that is currently still healing? It was my first time, and it was the first year of college. It was truly a college experience. I still don’t know how to feel, whether to be angry, to cry, to be sad, to scream, to love or to lie. I don’t know and today I am still searching for me, and the part that gives me deepest joy and the deepest sorrow is that I will never get me back. I’ve changed from this experience and will never be the same again. I feel like damage goods because someone decided to force the package open.
I trusted him, and I knew him. He told me that he is falling for me and that he is in love with every part of me. He was the sweetest guy and the worst part is, he was the only and is the only guy to this day who understands me. I didn’t think it could happen to me, I thought that it wouldn’t be him, but it was. Actually, about 90% of rape survivors know their attackers so it could happen to me, I just did not see it coming. I wish I could rewind the hands of time, but that was then this is now.
Now, I have grown through the situation and matured from it even though I am still healing. Through friends and family, and the wonderful help that I received from UNC, I was able to make it because without them, I do not think I would be living right now. Many people do not realize that this is a traumatic experience that takes years to heal. It takes time to heal, but time heals the wound, it does not remove the scar that is left in its place. Relationships, friendships, the idea of love, this thing called trust, will never be the same as I thought about it before. How do I expect someone to understand? When do I know when it’s the right time to tell someone? Do I even tell? I don’t know… what would you do? And unless you’ve been through it, you cannot understand nor do I ever want someone to understand so the worst thing you could EVER say to a rape victim is “I would have…” because you never know. This attitude, questions, and ideas that come up on a daily basis is something we have to fight and hear EVERY DAY. And this justice systems of ours, blames us not them. Therefore, we have to face them, we have no other choice even if he does not think that he did that to me and gave me a fake apology when he realize the potential trouble he could get into. So I smile when I see him so that he knows that I am growing and moving on, and I smile even though I am still bleeding from the emotional pain. I smile because that is all I have left.
Eight years is so long ago. I hardly even think about it anymore. I barely even remember all the details. I can think and talk about it logically rather than just feel raw emotion. My relationship now is wonderful: We respect and appreciate each other. We communicate. We have a healthy sex life, and we worked together to discover that I could enjoy certain acts of intimacy rather than shy away from them. On the rare occasions that I overreact to what I wrongly perceive as attempts to control me, we talk and joke and laugh about it.

So in looking back, I was wondering what it was that still got to me. And I realized, it wasn’t memories of the actual abuse but memories of how people reacted that still bothers me. How our friends heard the way he talked to me and saw how he treated me, and never said anything to either of us. How one friend told me later that it didn’t really seem like that big of a deal, especially considering he didn’t hit me. How someone had the nerve to call what happened with the other guy a ‘one night stand.’

I have moved away from self-blame. These instances don’t make me tumble back into self-doubt, thankfully. But they do make me angry. I find myself wanting to tell the entire, long, complicated story, because I want them to KNOW that what happened was not right. I want them to understand that there’s not just one way to be abused or assaulted – every instance looks different, and it usually doesn’t look like what you’ve seen on TV. I want to name things for what they are, but I’m not sure I have a name for what I went through.

This many years later, I don’t carry a lot of anger for how these men hurt me when they were boys. I carry anger for people who minimize and trivialize other people’s experiences, for people who blame their own friend for being a victim of violence, for people who think that recognizing one person’s trauma somehow invalidates someone else’s trauma. The more we engage in fighting each other over whose experience was rape and whose wasn’t, the less time and energy we have to fight violence and those who perpetrate it. No matter what you name it, no one asks to be treated badly or abused or assaulted or raped. And no one deserves it.
How do I start this story? Do I tell it from beginning to end? From the moment he asked to go for a walk to the moment I washed off the blood. From the day I fell in love with him to the day I said, "Enough." From my birthday to Christmas. From innocence, to darkness, to never whole again.

It was my fifteenth birthday and the beautiful boy wanted to take a walk with me. He held my hand and he made me special. He kissed me hard and his hands on my body made me feel like a grown woman, my first memory of feeling sexy. The attention electrified me and I felt my body react in unfamiliar ways. But I was a child that wanted to sit Indian style with him, in my dirty sneakers and gym shorts, and talk about movies and classes and marching band. With every refusal, every time I pushed away his hands, he reminded me that I was not strong. And when he shoved me down, and my head hit rock, I was too confused, too upset to run. I watched him kick my ankles apart. I viewed the unnerving first sight of an unclothed man and I felt his weight on top of me. I saw the limbs of the trees and the clouds and the birds as I looked everywhere but in his eyes. Nature had not stopped for me. I felt the dirt and twigs grind into my hips and mix with my hair. I felt the tearing of tissue and the warmth of blood. Later, I cried and choked as he gripped my head in the palm of his hands, and more than once I thought to bite down, but never did. And when he cried and apologized and asked my forgiveness, I did not hesitate.

And this was the way we were. Several times a week from October to December. Too dazed and afraid to leave, too bloody and broken to endure.

How do I end this story? From the breakup to the next boy I kissed. From nightmares to therapy. From finding my strength to finding pleasure. From failed relationships to falling for her. From broken, to rebuilt, to survivor.
Sometimes,
I spend my hours—God knows how many hours—fast-forwarding and rewinding through that day, as if I’m watching from behind a screen. It’s like a movie I’ve seen time and time again. I see all of the characters. But I don’t particularly identify with any of them. I know all of their lines.

Sometimes,
I think of that day as only a play that I know really well. I’m sitting in the audience each time. Sometimes, I daydream that the overhead lights turn on during the middle of the play and the cast of characters all look up, confused, waiting.

I can see most of them clearly from my seat:
The actor on the left who sits on the couch.
The actor who is trusting after a sensitive conversation.
The actor who has another drink.
The actor in a strange person’s bed, saying, “Remember our conversation earlier?”
The actor whose face is always shadowed, whose face I can never quite make out from my seat.

Sometimes,
I spend my hours—God knows how many hours—determined to find where I went so wrong.

Sometimes,
I daydream about leaving my seat, turning on the overhead lights myself, running through the auditorium, climbing on the stage, and handing the cast the perfect lines to sabotage their play, so I don’t have to keep watching it in my head.

I wish it had been a play and not my life. I wish I could have slammed open the bedroom door, held my hand, applauded me if I told them courageously “fuck you,” driven me home.

I want to get out of repeat. I want to get out of self-blame. The only way I know how to turn it off is to think that nothing happened to me, to believe that I’m overreacting, that I’m just being stupid. It’s easy to believe; it hurts a lot less. I don’t want those to be the only options. I want to love me again.
I don't hate them.

Instead, I feel nothing and sometimes I think that this apathy is the worst thing they did to me.
Worse than the scars that I’m forced to look at every day.
Worse than the nightmarish memories that are always present.

I can’t go an hour without thinking about my past, and worrying that it somehow marks me. My own feelings scare me; they make me vulnerable, remind me of those years when I was slapped, held down, choked, threatened…

So, forgive me if I’m cold.
Forgive me if I’m distant.
Forgive me if I don’t speak about it.

I’m not ready yet and, at this point, years later, am unsure if I ever will be.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The pain and hurt that I am reminded of almost every hour of every day will never amount to the life that you destroyed. You took away more than you'll ever know. I live in so much misery that I often wonder if I should keep on. The mask that I wear is my front that I use to try and act like everything is fine, but inside I'm slowly fading away because the memories, flashbacks, nightmares, and triggers of what has been done haunt me every day. I can't hear a door slam without being terrified. I can't hear people make jokes without remembering what has happened. I can't live my life the same because of what you did, what you said, what you made me do. I hate you with everything in me. I want nothing more than to just be happy and "normal" like everyone else around me. It's not fair. I'm broken into a million pieces that I have to now gather, pick up, and somehow piece back together. I'll never be the same. I'm not the same.
I am writing this for the survivor who can’t see out or past. Consider this a survivor’s guide.
  1. The violence is not the end of the story. It’s not even the beginning.
Your life is a beautiful thing. It’s filled with many stories and many memories. Sometimes it’s hard to remember who you were before and who you are in the aftermath. The violence can be overwhelming, give you nightmares and wake you up. It can feel like it’s the only memory that matters. It can pervade your present, fill you up and drain you out. Fight to remember the memories around it that have made you smile. And laugh. Laugh like hell. Fight to find the present in today. Notice the world and take note. It’s hard to see, sometimes, but it truly does get better. There is strength and good in you and around you.
  1. I believe you.
I believe you. I believe you. I believe you. No, really, I BELIEVE YOU. “I believe you” are the most important words you will ever hear. They were the most important ACTIONS anyone ever performed for me. I was not only told I was believed but I was shown. My friends believed me audaciously. They stood by me adamantly. They testified in court for me. When I lost my case, they told me I had the truth by my side. They believed me when I struggled to get the words out. They believed me when I doubted myself. To this day, it can feel unreal. I make so many excuses for what happened. But I know deep down the truth. I am believed. I believe you. I believe you.
  1. It’s not your fault.
It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. I could say it again. It’s not. No matter what crazy justification you will try to come up with, it’s not your fault. A few months ago, my roommate came home to me curled up under a blanket on the couch. “What’s wrong?” She asked. She knew my story. I sat there and struggled to tell her. “Just tell me.” She said. Finally, I started to cry. “I just need to know it’s not my fault.” It’d been years since everything I went through but I still could not believe that I had not done anything to make him hurt me. She cried and started saying those words, “It’s not your fault.” She said it again and again. She made me look her in her eyes and said it again and again until we couldn’t cry anymore and reached that line of emotion between tears and laughter and began to laugh. She held me. It’s not your fault.
  1. This IS the most painful thing you will go through.
Yes, you have to find the good in today but nothing will change that this is the most painful thing you have gone through. But find a healthy way to deal with the pain. I’ve drunk and smoked and done drugs and self-harmed. I’ve overdosed, been hospitalized. I’ve tried to escape. You will not escape but you can find a way to make the pain hurt less and it fades, it really does fade, in time. A year ago I stopped cutting and started dancing. Dance party became code with my friends for “The pain is really, really, really bad and I need it to go away.” My friends and I would dance. Blast music. Laugh. Stand on furniture. Dance, dance, dance. So, please, dance. Construct something, build something, write something, do something but don’t hurt yourself to escape the pain. This is the most painful thing you will go through. But believe me, your beautiful self needs healing, not more harm.
  1. You are the solution.
You can’t change what happened but you can change how you deal with it. Think of the people you can relate to because of your pain. Think of all the people you can connect to because you share that experience. You have so much power. Do good with the horror you’ve been dealt. And don’t give up. You are the solution.
  1. Be honest.
Tell people when you can’t take it anymore. Be honest with them and yourself. Acknowledge how much you can handle. Don’t be afraid to walk away. When you are triggered, it’s the most overwhelming and terrifying thing. Sometimes, my vision would go white. I couldn’t stand anymore. Do not be afraid to walk out. Do not push yourself further than you can handle and do not let people ask more of you than you can give. Ask the professor for a break if you are suffering a lot of PTSD or otherwise struggling—and if s/he won’t give you break, ask a dean or CWS for help. There is no reason you should have to pretend that you can do it. Sometimes you can’t. Be honest.
  1. People are gentle.
Not everyone is as callous and hurtful as the person who assaulted, raped, or beat you. Find friends who are gentle. Find a partner who is gentle. Be gentle with yourself. Allow people to treat you gently. Sometimes we survivors are so strong, we resist being taken care of. Allow people to care for you. Being vulnerable enough to let people help you is sometimes the strongest thing you can do.
  1. You are tremendously brave.
You are so brave. You are so brave, my friend. You are the strongest person I have ever met.
  1. You don’t have to be a survivor.
This is a funny idea but for me, I feel so far past my assault and so healed that I rarely identify as a survivor anymore. You don’t always have to identify as a survivor. If you feel like a victim right now, then definitely call yourself a survivor. You are not a victim. “Survivor” can become your identity for a while when you are lost and traumatized. It can help you realize your strength. You can be a survivor if you want. But the goal should not be to “Survive” but to “Thrive.” Be a thriver. One day, you will THRIVE every day and not just survive each day. It does get that much better, I promise. Don’t just survive.
  1. Please don’t you ever feel like you’re less than perfect.
You are whole. Not damaged. What I want to change is your feeling you are hurt irreparably. I had a counselor once who had to straight up tell me, YOU’RE OK. I was going to therapy wondering why I felt like I was healed. Shouldn’t I be struggling with this for the rest of my life? No, the funny thing is that I don’t struggle with it as much anymore and it can be that way for everyone. You are perfect and whole. You are not damaged. And that brings me back to the first point. The violence is not the end of the story. It’s not even the beginning. You are the story.
No one ever told me that it was okay to say no to moving forward after things had started. I was so attracted to you, that when you started to kiss me I was really excited. You were definitely the hottest guy at the party, so it made me feel special that you were interested in me. I was so inexperienced; I had never more than kissed a boy. I wasn't quite sure what to do as you were unbuttoning my pants, so I moved your hands away. You went back to kissing me, and I thought that would be it. You kept trying, and I kept deflecting. I never said no with my words because you never asked if I was okay. I wasn't okay; I just didn't know how to tell you. I finally gave up on trying to stop your wandering hands. I still thank God that sex wasn't your end goal. I was so relieved when you stopped. I felt humiliated and exposed as I looked for my underwear. My friends all congratulated me for making out with you. As stories of the weekend were told and retold, our story always started with, "But the best is that she finally got with Mike!" Then I would have to tell the story, making up some details, leaving others out. I still have trouble being emotionally intimate while being physically intimate. The two are separate for me; I wonder how much of that is because of that night.

I will tell all of you what I wish someone had told me: It is never too late to say no. Not after you've started, not if it's something you've already done. If you feel "no," say no.

Monday, October 10, 2011

So the story goes:

I was sexually assaulted by my best friend when we were both drunk at his fraternity's formal. That is the long and short of it. I didn't include a description of the incident, but instead a stream of consciousness about the feelings that came rushing back to me tonight. I have been debating posting on this blog for a long time, and this just seemed like a good moment for me to add to the conversation.

At first I blamed myself for the whole thing. I led him on, I was really drunk, what did I expect when he invited me to formal, I was silly to let this happen, I could have done more to stop it...

But then I realized that I told him NO. Not once, but multiple times. It was not my fault. And then I was mad. Really mad. I couldn't believe that my best friend had betrayed me like this. Even if I was drunk and he was drunk, there was no reason for him to have behaved like that. I couldn't stand to see him.

Then I ignored it. I pushed everything down. Ignored all the feelings that I had been having and rationalized the entire incident. He didn't mean to hurt me. It was just a mistake. It was nothing. It didn't mean anything. He still loves me. We can still be friends.

What's that quote? The worst lies are the ones that I tell myself...

And this was one of the biggest.

Current man friend doesn't even know this story. I think I'm scared to tell him because of the way he would react. Would he be on best friend's side and suddenly see me as dirty and less than what I was before. Or would he take my side and stand up as my protector, but then he still wouldn't see me the same way. I don't want to tell him.

But tonight. As I was talking to best friend for the first time in months, formal came up... And he apologized for the first real time (I had told him a month or so after the incident that he had really hurt me, I had told him no and what he didn't was not okay. Though I can't really tell you where that strength came from, it was nonetheless one of my better moments). And that apology just brought back rushing feelings of how I felt the days weeks and months after it happened.

This is not the time that I want to be dealing with this, but for the time being I do feel a bit better about myself and about him. I haven't fully forgiven him, and I don't know if I ever will be. I still have issues to work through, but tonight certainly helped.
When I was 18 and first moved away to college, I thought I knew it all. I'd partied and experimented with drug use. I was pretty, smart, and untouchable. Quickly I fell into a close-knit group of friends. Amongst us was a charismatic magnanimous guy. We were all drawn to him, we all listened to everything he had to say. He and I grew close. We had a lot in common then. I took care of him, gave him food and a place to stay. He had us all fooled.

We decided to play a trick on people and pretend we were dating, then stage a huge fake breakup to see how people would react. Unfortunately, when the day came he backed out and said he didn't want to do it. It was then I realized that he'd trapped me in a relationship. I rationalized it, we got along, we liked each other. It would be fine. Maybe one day I'd learn to love him. For several months things didn't change. We barely acted like a couple. We spent most of our time intoxicated having a good time with friends.

Then he got an apartment and convinced me to move in. Once all my stuff was there, once we brought home a puppy that we'd found under a car, that's when everything fell apart for me. We'd been arguing and then arguing turned into verbal abuse. I was constantly insulted and demeaned and in return I grew cold and bitter. When he couldn't get me to back down he would pin me against the wall and scream in my face. He would physically bar me from the door so I couldn't leave the apartment. One night when I tried to run away from a fight he grabbed me by the neck and threw me down on the bed. I couldn't believe I was trapped in an abusive relationship.

I had lost contact with my family and all our friends were mutual. I didn't think anyone would believe me if I told them what was going on. No one came to my side when I screamed for help.

Eventually I shut down physically and emotionally. We went months without having sex. SO he started taking it from me. At first I would scream and cry for him to stop. Once I realized it wasn't of any use to fight back, I would just lie there and cry silently, wishing I was somewhere else. Still I didn't tell anyone.

My parents caught on that something was wrong and convinced me to come home. I was never more thankful for them than I was that summer. Unfortunately I had to go back. He picked me up from the airport and took me to a friend's house. Around 2AM he woke me up, screaming that I'd cheated on him. I snapped. 9 months of his abuse caused me to jump on him, grab his neck, and press down hard. The rest of that night is a blur of arguing and physical abuse. At one point he told me he'd drive me to the airport. I was so desperate to get away that I agreed and got in the car. He dropped me off on the side of the highway with nothing and drove off. I sat there in the rain and the mud thinking that I deserved it. Eventually he came back. As soon as I got my phone I called 911. When the police came I turned myself in for assault. Sitting in a jail cell was better than being with him. After hours of questioning the responding officers forged a fake incident report and drove me to the airport so I could fly home. I had a police escort in the airport because he had called my parents and told them he was going to the airport to get me.

I tried living at college for another year but he knew where I lived. He vandalized my car and would come over to my apartment and insist he come in "to talk." I transferred schools, changed my name, and decided to hide everything from the world.

I'm ashamed I fell into that relationship. I feel dirty, tainted, and unworthy of love. Only five people know my story. Most people know the relationship was unhappy. No one knows the toll it took and is still taking on my life.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

He beat me a couple times a month for two years. The last beating I remember the most. He was drunk and I was really scared, I called 911 but it didn't stop him. He backed me into the bathroom I had no where to to run. While I was on the phone with 911 he took off his coat and told me I was going to die. I begged him to go, he punched me in the face so hard I hit the ground. That's when he began to kick me in the head while wearing his heavy construction boots over and over again, stomping on my head. I couldn't get up, I couldn't catch my breath. I thought I was going to die. In that very moment I wasn't afraid anymore I just felt a great sense of sadness in my heart. I believe God was with me. I thought of how I will miss my two children. I didn't feel any physical pain anymore and I couldn't fight back, then he stopped I think because he was physically tired. He saw my cell phone on the floor in the hallway because I had dropped it when he punched me. He began stomping on the phone, I got up and ran outside in the cold to wait for the police. The police arrested him, he went to jail, I went to the hospital. My head was very swollen and bruised and had lumps all over it. He broke two bones in my hand because I was trying to protect my head while he was kicking it in. I had to have an xray done on my head to make sure there wasn't any blood on my brain, which there wasn't. I had to wear a cast on my hand for three weeks and couldn't work for two months. Even while he was in jail I remember some nights I would have to sleep with a light on. I am no longer with this guy and I refuse to let him have any control over my life. I have a pyschologist now that I can speak to and get help from. I don't want to be afraid anymore.

I created my own blog to tell my story http://noexcuseforabuse.blogspot.com/

Friday, April 15, 2011

My story. I have a story? Until tonight, I had no idea that I had a story. All those signs about 1 in 4 women... I wasn't one of those women. Wait. Am I?

I'm not sure how to say what happened; I'm still trying to sort that out, face my emotions, and accept that, yes, what happened was sexual assault. But I think this is a start.

My boyfriend told me it wasn't my fault. He listened to what happened, and he believed me. He really, truly believed me. And he called it sexual assault. The problem was I couldn't believe it myself. Deep down, I still felt like I had sparked the whole situation and that my boyfriend saw me as a cheater, as a slut. I kept trying to just put it behind me and let it go, but the guilt and the thoughts about what happened kept coming back.

I was reading an email for my dorm community tonight, and it had information about Project Dinah events for the month of April. I stumbled on this blog, and I started to read some of the personal accounts that other people have posted. I couldn't believe what I was reading... these were the EXACT feelings and thoughts that I was experiencing too. When my boyfriend came by, I could barely get the words out to tell him he was right. I was just so completely struck by the realization of what my experience actually was.

I want to thank all of you for sharing your stories with me and so many others. I truly admire your strength. Be proud of the steps you are taking to heal, and know that you are touching so many people through being open about your experiences. I'm not sure when I would have recognized the true nature of what I went through, but reading your accounts has put me towards the first step in getting better: acceptance.

My blue "24 Hour Rape-Free Zone" shirt is hanging over the back of my chair for me to put on in the morning. It's meaning has grown so much tonight.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

These are things some people know about me:
I like pretty dresses and wearing makeup.
My favorite pastimes are eating, talking, and dancing.
I like having a plan, but I need spontaneity.
I can be really loud and share more information than most people want to know
I trust too many people.

I trusted him that night. I trusted that he was just a kid who really believed all of the things he said to me. I trusted that when I told him about my past heartbreaks, he really cared and understood. I trusted that he knew that “no” meant “no.” After ONE time. After TWO times Even after ONE HUNDRED times.

I told people, but I treated it like just another funny story from a night out. I didn’t realize it was a problem until the definitions were on a giant screen in one of my own trainings. I never thought that I would have to use those resources. They weren’t for me. They were for those “one in four women.” Not me. I wasn’t one of THEM.

That’s when I started getting quiet.

Some people know that I can’t refer to him by name. Some people know that I can’t refer to what he did by its definitive name, or any name at all. IT just happened.

But what people don’t know is that it’s because I still believe it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have drunk so much. I shouldn’t have left with him. I shouldn’t have taken off my dress. I should have known that lying in his bed would end with him straddling me, with him stripping me of my virginity. I should have anticipated all of this.

People don’t know that I have a constant battle within myself to practice what I encourage others to believe. They don’t know that I’m still unsure of how to define what happened or if I even want to. I mean, I should know, right? Shouldn’t I have the answers? I am an educator, an advocate, and a listener. I talk about interpersonal violence, what it is and what it does to people, every day. One in four women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime—WHY DON’T I KNOW WHAT TO CALL THIS?

I’m afraid to scream about my pain because I’ll have to explain it and I can’t give it any name but that thing that happened with a boy in a room that I CHOSE to visit. I am afraid that people will think I deserved it, that all my feelings of guilt will be validated.

These are things no one knows:
I scrubbed my skin raw and cried on the shower floor the morning after it happened.
I haven’t been able to wear that dress since that night.
I take a detour to my first class to avoid passing him.
I had sex with a friend because I wanted to prove that I could be in control of my body.

I’m tired of feeling dirty, angry, scared, and ashamed. I don’t want to feel guilty and undeserving. I want to love myself again. I’m learning to trust myself again.
"We'll look back on this one day and laugh."

That's what he said to me the morning after it happened. A group of us had gone camping for the weekend. It was supposed to be relaxing, a break from the stress of our first year at college.

He was my best friend, more like my brother, really. He was always there for me, and I trusted him with everything. I knew he needed this camping trip... his girlfriend had just ended their two year relationship, and he was heartbroken. Even though I was unsure about the booze he managed to bring with him (I didn't drink at the time, and had never seen him drink either), I didn't begrudge him it.

Later on that night, he stumbled away from the campfire where everyone was gathered, and plopped down in the grass. I left the party to go join him, thinking he may need to talk. As we were looking at the sky, we saw a shooting star. He said, "That's our star." I remember thinking that it would've been romantic if anyone else beside him had said it. As I closed my eyes to make a wish, I felt something on my face. I think he was trying to kiss me. I laughed him off and pushed him away. I knew he couldn't be serious, but somewhere else in my mind I knew I didn't want to be there anymore. I told him I was cold, and I dragged him back to the campfire. I don't think I believe in wishing on shooting stars anymore.

The five of us slept in a medium size tent that night. Entering the tent was like entering some mystic portal. Time became an unmeasured entity; I knew it was passing, it had to be, but I had no way of knowing its real pace. We were barely settled in when he started touching me. First it was a hug, which was fine. Then he pulled me tightly into him and started kissing me. I told him no and tried to pull away. I whispered, just loud enough for him to hear. I didn't want to wake the others up and embarrass him. I don't know how many times I said no. They eventually became like breaths. No. Inhale. Stop. Exhale. I would try to roll over, but he would pull be back. He told me it was what I wanted, that he had liked me for a while. He told me I was drunk, that I knew I liked it, that I should just let it happen. I finally forced myself away from him and turned over, pulling my sleeping bag over me like a blanket. I laid there, still, listening to his breathing, waiting for him to fall asleep. I must have drifted off, because when I woke up, his hands were running up and down my body. It was still pitch black and everyone was still asleep. I threw his hands off me and told him again to please stop. He's just drunk, I rationalized. He's a good guy and he would never hurt me. Again, I waited for him to fall asleep, and then against my will, I fell asleep too.

I woke up in a nightmare. The night was too dark for me to see anything immediately, but I could feel him. I could feel his fingers, exploring and exploiting me. This isn't real this isn't real this isn't real. Denial. Fear. Hurt. Anger. I don't understand how, but in what must have been seconds I felt and thought a thousand different things. I yanked his hand out of my pants. I shouted at him sternly and kind of loudly. He backed away, like a beaten puppy, and moved to the far end of the tent. Two of my friends had woken up, but now I didn't care. I laid back down on my sleeping bag and silently sobbed until I fell back asleep.

I was the last to wake up the next morning. I laid in the tent, not wanting to get up. I wanted to pretend I dreamed the whole thing up. I wanted to rewind the night. I felt stupid. So many things I could have done differently, and it wouldn't have happened. I decided I needed to talk to him. Maybe if we talked about, if he felt bad about it and apologized, it wouldn't be so bad.

I stepped out of the tent to see everyone gathered around the small fire, making breakfast. I looked at one of my guy friends who I had accidentally woken up the night before with my final order. He knew there was something wrong, but he didn't ask questions. We all sat around and ate, as if nothing had happened. I'm not sure how I did it (I managed to continuing doing so for almost a year). While everyone was cleaning up, I pulled my newly sober friend aside to talk. When I started talking about what happened the night before, he first said he didn't remember. He told me he was drunk. Then he told me he thought I wanted it. He told me it wasn't a big deal... nobody would think it was a big deal. He even talked about it later in front of the rest of our friends. That's when he said those infamous words that began this recollection.

He never apologized. My friends never said anything. Even after they knew, they were silent. They didn't know how to talk to me, and they never thought to try to talk to him. It eventually became an unfortunate memory locked in the past; we distantly acknowledged its existence, but we never talked about it again. We all stayed friends over the summer, and they would still hang out with him frequently. Even after I finally told my roommate, a guy I had known for five years, about it in tears months later, there was no support. No hugs, no outrage, no reassurance. Just silence. I began to believe what he told me. It wasn't a big deal... nobody would care.

This was my life for almost a year. He ended up transferring to UNC, so our facade of a friendship was continued into the fall. I didn't like who I was around him, I didn't like who I was period. I was difficult to be friends with. I spent more and more time alone. But then something wonderful changed everything. I started taking this Women's Studies class, and I am grateful every single day that I did. The people I have met and the stories they've shared and the things I've learned have given me back so much. I'm starting to be myself again, and I've since ended my friendship with that guy. I know that if I ever need to be heard, they will listen. That's all I ever really needed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I don't know when it started. The first time that I can recall is when I was 4, but who knows how long before that it started. It happened every day and every night until I was finally able to get out which wasn't soon enough. I woke up every day even as a child knowing that it would happen and hated every day. Eventually he started bringing his friends and then it turned into gangs coming too. She would just be there and support them all saying things like "you like it don't you, this is what you get, I can't believe how stupid you are" to me in the midst of everything. Their "tools" of choice horrify me. I don't know how I am still alive with all of the cuts, tears, stitches, scars, and more. I want more than anything for people to believe me and not say that it was my fault. It isn't fair.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Over the years I have heard people ask--sometimes maliciously, but just as often completely earnestly--if there is *really* a difference between sex one regrets in the morning and sexual assault.

There is a difference and it's not, in my experience, particularly subtle.

When I was 21 I drank heavily. I drank to relieve social anxiety and to make it easier to talk to people. And to flirt with people. And, not surprisingly, I engaged in more than a few drunken hookups. There were mornings afterwards when I awoke thinking, oh fuck, what was I thinking? I did things I would not have done otherwise; some still make me laugh or blush or cringe. I have regrets, things I would take back in a second if I could. But I don't call those things rape.

Yet there are things that happened to me during this period that are qualitatively different. An ex and I used to hang out together as friends after we decided dating wasn't for us. We drank together -- a lot. We frequently had sex when we were drinking or bored, which in retrospect probably was confusing and a bad idea. One night at a party at my house I was drowning my sorrows over an unrequited crush. My ex and another friend followed me around all evening: "Oh, you're so adorable when you're drunk. Come here and give me a hug. Let me make you feel better." It became so intolerable that at the end of the evening I dragged a chair to the center of my living room, climbed on top and screamed "Everyone stop fucking with me. The fact that I am drunk and sad is not an invitation for you to hit on me! Fuck you all, I'm going to sleep now." (Anyone who's seen me really drunk knows that "adorable" is probably not the first adjective most people would use to describe me in this state.)

When I woke up the next morning, my ex was lying next to me. I was dressed, but some of my clothes were on inside out. I asked him what the fuck he was doing there. He got this goofy grin on his face and said, "um, well, you know..." I told him no, I didn't know since I had gone to bed alone the night before and had explicitly asked him to leave me alone in front of a crowd of our friends. After an intense period of interrogation I managed to get out of him that he had come in "to check on me" after I went to bed and "one thing led to another." Had I told him that I wanted to have sex with him, I asked? Well, no. Not in so many words. Had I given any indication that I was into what was happening? Well, actually I had been "pretty passive." Did I take my clothes off? No, he did that for me. Did I cooperate with that? No, I seemed "kinda sleepy" so it required extra effort. In fact, after he undressed me I "rolled over and was really still." That, he assumed, was an indication that I wanted to "try something different." I shit you not. Those were his exact words and I will never forget them. Did he not have any inclination, even the slightest inkling, that something was not right about this? And why, if he thought everything was cool, did he try to get my clothes back on me after the fact? Seriously, what the fuck? He started to panic and this point and I told him to leave.

When I told my housemates the story, they freaked out. They called my ex, yelled at him, threatened never to see him again. He cried. He apologized. And after two days all of our mutual friends were pressuring me to "just let it go and stop hurting him." He was, after all, so very very sorry.

Yeah, that would make two of us. Only I am still sorry today and I am willing to bet money that he never gave this another thought as soon as I let him back into my life.

Just a few months later I drove to see an old high school friend who went to a university two towns over. It was his birthday and I met him and some of his college friends at a bar, where everyone proceeded to get hammered. This was someone I had fooled around with when we were teenagers. I had very strong feelings for him at the time, but dating would probably be too strong a word to describe our relationship, primarily because he had preferred to keep things clandestine and informal. (Which is to say--though I did not recognize this until much later--he was using me.) With time and distance, I outgrew my feelings for him.

At his birthday celebration we drank and danced and talked about old times and dank some more. The drinking and dancing gave way to drinking and kissing. He walked me to my car and there was more kissing. I have a pretty filthy mouth that tends to kick into overdrive when I am drinking. I said some things that horrify me to this day. My behavior very clearly communicated that (a) I was still pretty attracted to him and (b) I was far too outrageously drunk to actually get in my car and drive it home. So he asked me to take a ride with him while I sobered up.

We drove and drove and eventually it became obvious that we were not heading in a random direction. He was talking to himself and becoming agitated. He was mentally going through a list of places he could take me and realizing that none of them seemed to suit his purposes. At some point he pulled into a cheap motel parking lot. I asked him, "Um, what are we doing here?" He told me to stay in the car so he wouldn't get charged for an extra person. I asked him why he seemed angry. He told me to be quiet and stay in the car. I was scared now. I was alone and far from my car and this was years before I got my first cell phone, so I had no way to call anyone for help.

I went with him to the room. He brought a bottle of cheap champagne with him that someone had given him as a birthday gift. I kept saying "I'm not sure. I'm not sure about this." I should have been more forceful, but he was already angry and I had to rely on him for a ride back to my car. My hesitancy only increased his agitation. He angrily suggested that I have some champagne to "help me relax." I drank a lot and fast, hoping that I would pass out or fall asleep and that would get me out of the situation. It worked -- the passing out part, that is. When I came to my "friend" was on top of me. He had taken off my clothes and was having sex with me. His hand was over my mouth. When I opened my eyes, the first thing he said was "shhhh."

I remember thinking "shhh? I'm not making any noise, asshole. The only thing quieter than unconscious is dead."

He finished, told me to get dressed, and he drove me back to my car. He called me the next day to see if I was "okay," but he seemed to mean "Did you get home safely?" and "Are we still cool?" He never acknowledged that what happened was incredibly fucked up. And I never called him on it. I just never called him again. About 18 months later he randomly appeared at my apartment. He was "just passing through town" and wanted to give me something he had made for me. It was a collage from that night, with a copy of the party invitation and the bar tab and the champagne label and the hotel receipt. How fucked up is that?

Really fucked up. And I can tell the difference.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I have never been raped. I have never had my “no’s” forcibly ignored. I’ve never been held down or trapped and violated. I don’t have a horror story. I am not a victim or a survivor.

I have a less traumatic, seemingly non-violent story. Many stories actually. The details of the events are unimportant. All that matters is on several occasions I have initially said no to sex. And somehow on multiple occasions, I’ve had those “no’s” worn down and turned into “yes’s” or passive nods of acceptance. I have said no and then been convinced that I really wanted to say yes. I have said no and been forced to come up with excuses for why I was saying no. I have had men convince me that I wanted it. I have been guilted with thoughts like, “well he did buy me dinner” or “I mean this is our third date, I should just do it.” I have said yes simply so it would be over and I could leave. Once or twice I eventually consented because I thought if I kept saying no I would be raped. I have woken up in the morning feeling dirty, degraded, and alone. I have felt that I had no one to talk to because I had said yes…eventually.

I have realized over the years that these experiences, while not “technically” rape were not consensual. And after talking to friends and being involved with Project Dinah I have realized that stories like mine are far too common. 1 in 4 women are raped in their lifetimes; probably many many more have had sex when they did not want to. Either because she was worn down and convinced that yes was the right answer. Or because she felt like she had to, like she owed him something. Or because he was her boyfriend so her body belonged to him and obviously no was not an option.

I am writing this for any woman who has ever felt this way. For women who feel like they have been violated but can’t talk about it because they said yes…eventually. I want every woman to know that your body is yours, always. $50 spent on dinner DOES NOT GIVE HIM A RIGHT TO YOUR BODY. Being his girlfriend and loving him DOES NOT GIVE HIM UNLIMITED ACCESS TO YOUR BODY. Wearing a skirt and flirting with him all night DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO FUCK HIM. Stick to your choices. If you say no, do not let him twist that response and convince you into a yes. Don’t feel guilty; don’t worry about his feelings or if he will call you later. Own your decision and get away.

Men: if she says no, stop. Even if you bought her dinner, even if she has previously said yes, even if you think she might say yes…eventually, even if she said she would, even if you’re her boyfriend. Just STOP. A NO IS ALWAYS A NO. Go home, grab the lotion and enjoy yourself knowing that she will feel good about herself when she wakes up in the morning.

Lastly, if you have ever said yes because of guilt or exasperation or simply because you couldn’t say no anymore, you are not alone. Talk to your sisters, I’ll bet you will find many stories similar to yours. Heal with each other and take charge of your future “no’s.” Reach out to others and educate men about what a yes is.

Talk, reach out, educate, heal.

If we refuse to shut up we cannot be ignored.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

He was my friend. I know they always tell you that its more likely to be your friend, but I was trusting. I was good. I kept myself out of bad situations.
He called me one day asking for a ride home from work. He said his car broke down. Of course I would pick him up and drive him home, and yes I would love to come inside and hang out. Then he kissed me and I noticed that he smelled like beer. He pulled down my skirt and I told him I wasn't ready, and I knew it was just because he was drunk. He pushed me onto his bed and said he could convince me otherwise. When he put his fingers inside me I screamed and he hesitated. I ran, miniskirt and panties in hand, to my car. All I can think of when I remember that night, 4 years ago, is that he was my friend. I trusted him, I was doing him a favor, and now because of him I have a hard time trusting anyone.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Slut.
Noun. Someone who has acted in a way inviting, asking for, deserving
Rape.
Noun. Verb. Something that you should hide, act casual about, get over.

That's how I felt. That's how I feel.

It was study abroad. I was torn to pieces over my boyfriend. He had been deployed to Iraq and decided to end our relationship. I was still in love and I think he was too.

I thought the only way to make it through the loneliness was to seek as much external affirmation as possible. Sex. The boys in Mexico thought I was beautiful. It wasn't hard to find.

Word got around. A boy named Diego asked me on a date. I didn't like him all that much, but I said okay. Afterward we went drinking with his friends. He was on his phone the whole time. He asked me back to his place. I said okay.

We got in the door. He started taking off my clothes. I didn't really want to that much, but I guessed it was okay. I was tired and just wanted to go to sleep. I pulled back and told him "I don't want to have sex." He agreed. He took off my pants. I told him "I don't want to have sex." He said okay. He was on top of me and all over me. I started to realize what was happening. There was nothing I could do. I moved away from him trying to penetrate me. I wriggled. He did it anyway. I felt hopeless. It happened. It had already happened. I just let it. I am such a slut.

The next morning I tell my friends. I don't use the word rape. They do. They insist. "You were raped." But they're not my real friends. They're my study abroad friends. My real friends don't know. My family doesn't know.

I spent the loneliest months of my life there. My grandmother died and I cried on my own. I left to come back to equal amounts of loneliness. My best friends were studying abroad now. I was alone. I was realizing I was not straight. I was confused. I hated myself.

I met a girl. She said she was bi. She pushed me into a bathroom. She asked me to come home with her.

I did. Her boyfriend did too. I didn't want to touch him or for him to touch me. He didn't. I told her I didn't want to have sex. She said okay. She took off my pants. I told her I didn't want to have sex. She said okay and then pulled my underpants to the side. She was putting her mouth all over me. He was touching us. I let it happen for a moment because I was in shock. I told her to stop. She did and then she cried.

She said I made her feel like a slut.

Slut.
Noun. Someone who sexually assaults someone. Similar to
Rape.
Noun. Verb. Something only the victim gets to define and to
Forgive.
Verb. Something I'm close to doing.
I was a child. When adults asked how old I was I replied "I'm five and a half" proudly because that meant I was a big kid.He was an older cousin thirteen years old and I idolized him. He came to live with us one winter. I remember it was winter because my parents had to buy him a coat after his dad dropped him off. He came into our home with nothing but a trash bag full of clothes. He lived with us for many months before we played the "game". I wanted to play house and he said okay and played the daddy. He said we had to do what mamas and daddies do, it hurt and I was scared. He covered my mouth so I wouldn't scream. There was blood sticky and warm. He cleaned me up and told me to keep quite or else he'd hurt my little sister. She was three and had watched helplessly the whole time. Only many years later would she remember vaguely what had happened. He lived with us for two years and I was hurt a few more times.I never told. I had to protect my sister. I didn't have symptoms of a trauma victim and my parents trusted him, there was no way they could have known. When I turned fourteen the memories flooded back. I told my mom, she cried. I have a best friend that has helped me deal with the pain, but other than that I've sat in silence. I was just a child, it wasn't my fault but I'm still ashamed and still afraid.What's worse is that I'm always trapped in the silence. I can't say the word "rape" or "molestation". It is hard to even type them here. I don't know why, I guess it's because saying those words makes it real brings it back. I think you guys are doing something really great here. Giving people like me a voice. A voice that we can't reach on our own.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Prom night. It’s supposed to be the best night of the year. For seniors, it’s a time of celebration and of things coming to an end. It’s supposed to be great, right?
Sadly, prom night will always represent something horrendously different to me. It marks the beginning of sad neuroses and terrible dreams. It isn’t a night I remember fondly with friends but instead a night that I still struggle to talk about. I will always remember what I wore, but not because I will always love that dress but because I will always remember what I was wearing when my prom date tore it off.
My story begins at the after party, where the drinks were flowing and I actually was happy for the moment. I had many drinks. I very solidly still don’t remember most of that night when apparently my date and I were making out in the club. He had been drinking too but he was very much aware of his actions. Towards the end of the night, my friends and I were making arrangements to go home when my date suddenly grabbed me from behind when my friends weren’t looking and dragged me to a taxi outside the club. I don’t remember the taxi ride. I don’t remember the walk to his apartment complex or the ride up the elevator. I don’t even really remember the walk to his room. I do, however, remember him taking off my clothes without asking and holding me down as he took his off too. He didn’t have the courage to have sex with me, although at one point I remember thinking “it’s OK, this is how most girls lose their virginity, isn’t it? It’ll be OK, I’ll be able to deal with this if it happens.” He did other horrible things to me, however, that I can’t erase from my mind. He finished his business and then put me in some of his own clothes. He left me on his bed and slept in another room.
It was all about the power, in the end. He lied when I confronted him at first, saying he didn’t do anything. He told all our friends that I was a slut and a liar. He told me I was being ridiculous and that I was crazy.
He wrote me a few years later to tell me how sorry he was for everything, and that he was wrong to have done what he did. He was my date that night; I was supposed to trust him. He was also my on and off boyfriend of 6 months; I was supposed to believe he would never hurt me. Did that make any of it right? No. Did it make the pain go away? Not really. Even if he had gone to jail for what he did, I don’t think I’d feel any better. Retribution isn’t a cure.
There is no cure, really. But writing this blog and actually seeing my story on paper helps. Knowing that I have taken important steps in my life to protect myself also helps. And knowing that events like this happen and that I can support others by sharing my story and encouraging people to come forward with their own stories significantly helps.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I've been trying to get through life for so long now as my past haunts me again and again. I'm not exactly sure how I've gotten to this point so far, but somehow I am. I've never shared any of my past with anyone so this is huge and extremely frightening at the same time. I am so thankful for this speak out blog and those who have created it. Even though it might take me a while to tell my whole past this is definitely a start. I know this is safe and I still have a great deal of hesitance with this, but hopefully this will help me to heal after so much. It began before I can fully remember, but I was really young. It went on and on. There was more than one person so many times. I was their property. The pain and torture I endured was their pleasure. I hate them all, but more than anything, I still don't understand why.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The beginning of my freshman year at UNC, I went to a party with my suitemates, without my new boyfriend. The party was fun, but when I was chatting with a friend from french and one of my suitemates, my friend's suitemate - completely drunk - kept saying really sexual things to me. It ended with him pinning me to the wall where we all were talking and started kissing me while grabbing my breasts.

My suitemate didn't do anything at all, but luckily my french friend stepped in. still, I felt so ashamed, I never told anyone until this year. I told my boyfriend (the same one I had when it happened) and he got REALLY mad at me for not telling him. It became a very long, drawn out fight between us, and although he admitted he was wrong and apologized profusely, it's taught me to not say anything. I don't want to be judged.

Girls: If you go to a frat party, only go with people you trust. I learned who my real friends were that night, and it wasn't my suitemate.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I wasn't necessarily raped, although the select few individuals I have ever told about what happened, believe otherwise. My sexual past hurts me more than I can ever express.

I lost my virginity at 14 to a guy who was 19. I thought I loved him, but I absolutely didn't want to have sex. But he convinced me that if I loved him, I should have sex with him. So after the pressure of him wanting to have sex, I finally gave in. I can't even begin to describe the guilt and shame I felt after it happened. He was possessive and controlling and the worst, jealous. I didn't feel that I was able to have a life outside of him. After a year and a half of that, I finally ended it despite his threats to end his life if I left him.

Then I went on my first date after the break up. He was a Marine, who had already been overseas. He was 22 and I was 16. Our first date he tried to have sex with me. I said no, not yet. Yet again, I was being pressured to have sex with someone. In my mind, in order to make these guys like or love me, I had to do it. Whether I wanted to or not, it didn't matter. He wanted me and as a good girlfriend, I should give it to him. He was experienced, so if I didn't have sex with him, he would find another girl. One night, we had sex and he decided not to wear a condom. I assumed he would pull out. During sex, he informs me that he isn't going to pull out; he said he wanted to go inside me. I tell him no, that's not okay. Don't. But he does. So at 16, I am facing a possible pregnancy with a man who is 22. After I panic and cry, he manages to get a friend to buy the morning after pill for me. I beg to stay with him while I'm taking it because it can you very sick, but he leaves me. He breaks up with me to date the girl who got me the morning after pill.

Next, my best friend and I start dating two best friends. My best friend decides to have sex with her boyfriend. Then both her and her boyfriend pressure me to have sex with my boyfriend because they're having sex and we should too. Plus he wants to and he knows I'm not a virgin, so what's the problem? The problem is I don't want to, but of course that doesn't matter. One night, after he pressures me to give in, I do. Yet again instance in which I don't have to sex, but don't feel as though I have a choice. Things end between us.

I began talking to a guy who was in my circle of friends. He was a little older, but some of my friends had dated him and now we were all friends. One night, he texted me and asked me to just hang out. I didn't think anything of it, so I agreed. He picks me up and we go back to his house, where I discover his parents are out of town. We go upstairs to watch a movie and next thing I know, he is trying to have sex with me. Every reason I gave him for not wanting to, he rejected or tried to reason me out of. After he has pressured and rejected all of my reasons, I feel like it doesn't matter anymore. I tried to refuse, but it didn't work. So we had sex.

4 different guys who pressured me. 4 different guys who heard my reasons for not wanting to and ignored them. 4 different guys who didn't care what I wanted.

I live with shame and guilt for what happened. A million times, I think that I should have said no more forcefully. I should have made myself clearer. But lately, I've come to discover I can't blame myself for what happened. These guys should have been respectful of my wishes. When I told them why I didn't want to have sex, they should have listened, not forced me to do something against my wishes. I'm not the one responsible for what happened. They are. And it's time for me to finally set myself free from what they did.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I’ve been coping for years; it’s time to finally begin to heal.