Welcome to the SpeakOut! Blog

Break the silence that surrounds sexual assault, sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, relationship abuse, stalking, hate crimes, and identity-based violence. Share your story here on our anonymous blog.

To speak about an experience with any form of interpersonal violence is difficult, but it is also empowering. Breaking the silence reduces shame and helps others to speak out about their own experiences.

End the shame. Be empowered. Speak Out!

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We are holding our 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.

Monday, November 5, 2012

“Come Forward, you will be believed.” This message is plastered everywhere. On the bus, in residence halls, on bathroom doors. What the message should say is “Come forward, someone will listen, someone might believe you, but someone will definitely not.”

2am and I’m in a ditch. What just happened? But I know what happened. But that can’t have just happened can it? People are arguing nearby, and I can tell it’s about me, but I don’t really hear them. All I can hear is my brain. This didn’t happen to me. No. No. No. I’m being dragged home by a friend. I’m vomiting. I’m crying. I’m shaking. I’m laying on the floor, with literally no motivation to ever move, ever be seen, ever be heard again. Someone comes to me. Says a lot of things, but all I hear is “hospital.” That’s when it hits. This happened to me. Like those people on TV. And I should go to the hospital.

When you check into the emergency room, there should just be buttons to press. Green button if you have a fever, red if it was an accident, purple if it’s 5am and you are a bruised crying woman who can’t stop digging her nails into herself. This would be much simpler than saying to the check in nurse “I’m here because I got attacked.” 

I am finally seeing the nurse, she asks what happened. My voice sounds like someone elses when I tell her about the drinking, the dragging, the hitting, me saying no, them saying yes, the crying, the confusion. Do you want a rape kit? No, what’s the point. I have no idea who he was. I will never know. I’m never going to tell anyone that this happened. 

I am making a blind report at the Chapel Hill Police Station. What did he look like? White, average height. Do you remember his name? No. Did you talk about anything? Not that I remember. Why didn’t you scream/leave? I was trapped in my own body. Frozen with fright. Disbelief. Shame. Why do you remember so much, even though you were inebriated? Because that’s how fucking trauma memory works. I’d forget it if I could.

I am telling my parents. There’s going to be a claim on our insurance, but don’t worry, I just got attacked. What? What happened? Oh I just got attacked by a guy at a party. What?

I am officially “coming forward.” I’m meeting with my “friends.” I am asking them what they remember. Which isn’t a lot. I am in meetings all the time, retelling my story to strangers.

I am months removed from the attack, and I still have no answers. Most of the friends I met with are not talking to me anymore. I am told “it didn’t count.” “it wasn’t a bad rape.” I am asked “why are you still sad? That was months ago.” “why are you drinking so much?” “Why aren’t you drinking anymore” I am blamed “you being sad makes me sad” “why can’t you just ignore it” “why aren’t you working on getting better” “it’s been long enough”. I am pitied, I am guilty, I am ashamed. I am a problem people can’t get rid of.

I am in the court room. I’m being told my PTSD could be from something else. I’m being asked if this is normal behavior for me. I’m being scolded.

I am sitting in the small room in my nice clothes. I hear the words “not guilty”

I am numbing. Numbing my sadness, my anger, my happiness, my talents, my future, my past. All numb.

I don’t like the word survivor. It has now been 10 months, and I do not feel like I have survived anything. I still lose friends. People still get angry with my PTSD. I still cannot focus on homework. I still do not have the confidence to do well on tests. I still hate meeting people. I still have to sometimes run out of class to have a panic attack in private. I still have paranoia to the extreme. I still hate my body for what it let happen. I still hate myself for letting it happen. I still hate the University for refusing to believe me. I still act with a logic only a victim of rape would understand.

I still see him on campus. I still hate him. I still know what happened. I still have nightmares. I still think about running away.

I still wish I told no one.
It was my first time away from home- an anxious but bubbly freshman in high school, I was traveling 6 hours away to attend a leadership conference.

The first "leader" I found made my skin crawl. To everyone else, he seemed like an average, ordinary 17-year-old boy. My discomfort around him wasn't shared by anyone else in my group, so when all the other seats on the fancy charter bus were taken, I convinced myself that the bad feelings I had were all in my head; I needed to just suck it up and sit down next to him in that last row. The result was an hourlong, torturous nightmare that left me feeling dirty, used and paranoid.

No one made any motion of stopping him from his slow but thorough invasion of my body. This was NOT how I pictured my first interaction with male genitalia: my hands forced behind my back, and then down his pants, moving further and further into unwanted points of sexual contact. I thought no one knew, but an anonymous tip notified my group leader when we arrived at our destination. Knowing someone else shared in my torture was disgraceful and horrifying. The boy was ejected from our group and sent home with a slap on the wrist from the program director.

Um, hi? What about me? I was scoffed at by my group members- told I was making a big deal out of nothing, and I should consider myself "lucky" that I wasn't fully raped. Oh, I'm lucky? Because feeling unsafe at every turn is lucky. Never trusting anyone again is LUCKY? Losing crucial relationships and becoming physically detached wasn't lucky.

I was miserable for months until I realized that what happened to me WAS real, and no one could make it any less legitimate or upsetting. Time has healed the emotional wounds, and I realize I WAS lucky- too many women have these atrocities continually inflicted upon them, without even the most minimal of interferences to stop the pain. I escaped with minor scars, but even those are reminders of things that never should have happened.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I don't know what affects me more: the fact that I was raped as a child, or the cognitive dissonance of the constant struggle to find self worth as a result of my rape. She did more damage to me that afternoon than anyone could ever do in my lifetime. I feel like a minority of a minority: a male victim (survivor) who was raped by a female. The toll that this has on me is of no bounds.

My baby sitter in elementary school would also babysit other kids and housesit in order to make more money to survive. None of the parents involved minded, because she was genuine and full of warmth. She started taking care of me when I was 3 days old, and the bond that she shared with me and my family was unbreakable. Through her I met many other children in the Chapel Hill and Durham area, in addition to some teenagers attending Durham high schools. There was this one family that I got to know really well because my babysitter would bring me to their house all of the time. I have good memories of that place. They had a rope swing in the back yard, a big TV where I would watch the Anamaniacs, and a nice spiral staircase upstairs to the teenagers' rooms. I don't remember exactly how old the teenagers, Julie and Brian, were but I remember looking up to them and going with my babysitter to pick them up from school to bring them home and to stay with them until their parents got back. I felt close to them as well, as close as a little elementary school kid could feel to teenagers. But a single afternoon would take away my childhood, more or less personhood, prematurely.

She called me to her room - I don't remember what for, but it was like any other day. I think she started playing with some toys with me, I always felt really cool having teenagers spend time with me. I don't remember what she said to me to stop playing with toys, but we both stood up. She said something about playing a game. Then, she slowly put her hands down my back, and told me to do the same to her. I froze, I didn't know what was going on. We, quote, took turns, with this game, even though when it was on me I generally skipped. Each time she went deeper and deeper from my back down into my pants. She kept assuring me that it was OK and that it was a fun game. What seemed like hours passed by until she said that we were going to play from the front. She put her hands down my pants from and molested me. She then made me touch her genitals. I didn't know what was happening to my body. She told me to get naked and to get into her bed, which I did. I can still remember how the sheets felt, because that is all I could focus on as I was trying to not pay attention to her as she stripped down naked and got into the bed. The entire time I just wanted to scream, I felt trapped in my own body, not knowing what was going on. My babysitter was just downstairs and just saying anything would have made it stop.

I can't dissociate the pain, the vulnerability and the humiliation from sex now. How can something that is supposed to feel good cause this much destruction to me? You have ruined it for me. I have lost the ability to be intimate with anyone, I cannot bring myself to trust anyone again. You have taken my childhood from me.

I hate you.

I am broken. I am damaged goods. I am full of shame: I'm not sorry I make mistakes - I am sorry that I am a mistake. Society seeks to support rape victims, but male rape victims are often pushed aside in another stigma. Let me tell you that this is real to me, and my life is forever affected as I still wander through the darkness of my mind. Maybe one day I'll uncover my self worth, or even find someone I can feel intimate with. But I have given up hope, as my past dictates otherwise. 
Growing up bilingual and bicultural was a unique experience, and I was singled out as la rara since I can remember. Around my Spanish speaking friends I was “too blanca,” around my white friends (the few I had) I was “la chica with the accent.” Language has always been a big part of my identity, and I never understood how English and Spanish made me more Latina or more gringa. To those that aligned with Latino roots, I was never dark enough, always too “palida” to look Latina, my eyes too bright to seem “morena.” Endless pools of confusion and searching, my eyes symbolize the place where my identities clash. I am one of five people in my family to not have brown eyes. I struggled to understand why my eyes were not brown like other Latinas, and not blue like the white – why was I in between? My grandfather always told me that I was “solamente blanca,” only white and nothing else. 

But, this is about my lips – what silence looks like. It’s difficult for me to see so many friends be assaulted, battered, attempt – so soon after my own destruction – so soon after having a personal experience with sexual violence. They were scared and embarrassed to tell her story, in that her friends would be disappointed – I too felt that way. I was raised with high morals, with a life enlaced in strong religious duties that always led me to believe that the woman was to be pure till marriage. I did not have that choice, even if my loose liberal American mindset had always challenged it. Upon hearing stories, all I can do is boil tears - smile in rage - laugh to myself with all the hatred I have for the system of oppression that targets women as sexual objects, that portrays Latinas as being only one type of creature: hypersexualized, submissive, ignorant, desperate, alien. It’s easy for me to channel this anger into speech, but to explain it is to feel it in a constant cycle: to feel those weeks of denial and of refusal to accept that it was not my fault, and that I am still whole. But the reason I smile is because it is what the feeling of being a survivor manifests as. Along the journey, I felt like one of many numbers of Latinas that have been sexually assaulted, and just like my sisters, my family knew nothing of what happened to me – nor will that be an easy task for me to fully disclose. I can’t help but laugh at the fact that, when filling out that blind report - shaking, guilt screaming in my head through self-blame, anger sweating through my pores as I remembered all the bystanders ignoring me during everything – all I could think is that I was like a little check box – Hispanic/Latino. – my blind report went to another stack, and just by the national average, it seems like there are a lot of us Latinas being stacked into binders. I wore the veil of a victim for weeks before I could remove it and accept that I was a survivor. But, I’m not alone in my silence, nor am I alone in my rage an determination to break it.
It started when I was 8 years old. The touching, the back rubs, the inappropriate words and raspy breathing... all of it was wrapped in a cloud of confusion. I froze every time. I didn't stop any of it. I pushed the memories away, locked them inside of me, and everyone thought I was fine. On the surface, I looked like a normal teen, bubbly, a bit emotional, and involved in everything possible, but underneath there was a layer of desperation. I needed out of that cycle of terror. Of twisted touches and fingers that burned acid scars across my body. Of his leering looks and soft words that were negated by the twisting stab of each time he molested me... then one day I couldn't forget. He'd gone too far. I couldn't just bury it. What if he went after my sisters? It wasn't self-preservation... it was for their protection... and I tattled... all hell broke loose. Memories of the past came flooding back in a torrent, and all the questions and inspections, with me being treated like some scientific specimen to be studied and quantified, not a 15 year old who just spent 7 years living with a grandfather that sexually tortured her - it left me empty. Feeling more betrayed than ever before, and hurt beyond measure. He'd succeeded - he'd broken me. I was depressed, angry and hurt. I was suicidal, I hurt myself to feel some sort of release... to feel other than the emotional pain. I was told by some that I was to blame for his crimes. I was told by others that I shouldn't tell anyone for fear that they'd see me as vulnerable, or think that I was defined by that moment of my life. I was shut up, made mute, incapacitated. That was then, when I allowed others to control me, but not any more. I've had it. I'm present, and I am strong. My past does not define me, but shapes my future. He cannot control me. HE cannot break me. I am in control now. I know now how to protect myself and others from something as terrible as what happened to me. I have learned that silence comes at a high and awful price. I've learned that silence isn't worth it. I've learned to speak out.