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

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

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I was a junior in high school when it happened. I still don't know if I could call it "violence", because that has a certain connotation. But it was certainly a violation. I was volunteering with Habitat for Humanity- we used to do an event called ShackAThon, where you built a little hut out of cardboard and decorated it and slept in it in a parking lot for a night to raise awareness for the homeless (and money through sponsorships).

He was a really popular kid in school, and he's never really talked to me. That night, he came to hang out in my little box house, and I thought it was weird, but also awesome. I thought he sort of hated me, so feeling like I might actually be "cool" was amazing for my awkward self.

I don't remember how we fell asleep. It must've happened while we were talking late into the night. When I woke up though, he was holding me, and I guessed I was okay with that. Maybe he was interesting me, and who doesn't love cuddling? But then I noticed he wasn't asleep, and his fingers were creeping into my waistband. I wiggled and sort of snorted to make it seem like I was slowly waking up. He moved away. But after I'd lain still for a while and I guess he thought I was asleep again, it continued. I didn't know what to do.

I just stayed awake all night, wiggling as necessary to try to escape, sweating and wondering what I would do if he ignored my "waking" motions. I never said anything though, because I thought that's "just what boys did". What could I expect, anyway? I was sleeping in a tent with him, of course he was going to touch me. (I wish I could go back and tell my 15 year old self that that's now how any of this actually works...)

In a nightclub in Mexico 4 years later...THAT was far more violent. Dancing with a seemingly-kind stranger suddenly turned into him violently shoving his hand up my skirt and into my body, all the while I screamed at him to stop and hit him. He held on to me so tightly that I couldn't get away, and no one could hear my protests over the music. He kept whispering in my ear that I should go back to his place with him. I won't ever be able to thank my best friend enough for finding me in that club and noticing that something was very wrong.

It's weird that I still consider myself lucky. Like I have no reason to complain or to use my experiences as examples of sexism and sexual wrongdoing, because it could have been so much worse. And I don't know how to be there for those who have experienced levels of hell far deeper than those I breached. I feel lost and I feel sorry.

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