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.