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!

Thank you for Speaking Out! We would love to get your permission to share your testimonial. If you would like to allow your testimonial to be used at a later Speak Out!, please let us know by making a comment or a note in your testimonial.

We are holding our spring Speak Out! on April 16th, 2018 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, October 6, 2014

I never said no.

I never said anything that I can remember, in fact. I might have even said yes—I was so intoxicated that I can’t remember. All I remember is suddenly ending up naked in his bed and suddenly he's inside me. I couldn’t feel anything, I felt trapped inside of my own body. I didn’t want it, but I couldn’t break through the intoxication to express it. I hate myself for getting so drunk. If I didn’t drink so much, I wouldn’t have let it happen. If I wasn’t drunk, it wouldn’t have happened.

I can’t call it rape, I can’t even call it sexual violence, because it wasn’t violent. I don’t have the authority to call it that. To him, for all he knew, it was consensual. I have no idea how drunk he was. It was just a drunken mistake. So why does it make me want to cry every time I think about it? Every time I relive the fuzzy details? Every time my friends talk about the guy “I had sex with.” The guy my roommate knows, who’s a “good guy,” who “would never do anything to you.” So what did he do?

I can’t claim to be a survivor, because I was never in danger. I can’t claim to be a victim, because I don’t know that he was a perpetrator. Apparently he bought me a drink, but I was already too drunk to remember taking it. Maybe he should have known better, maybe he was trying to take advantage of me, but how come my roommate who was with us didn’t do anything to stop it? She was sober. He wasn’t. How sober wasn’t he?

I wish I could tell a better story. I wish I could remember the details. I wish I hadn’t gotten so drunk. I wish I knew what to call what he did. I wish it hadn’t happened. But I’m afraid to tell anyone else about it, because the very reason it happened is the reason so many wouldn’t understand why it hurts so much when I was too drunk to feel it. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

I want to thank Project Dinah for hosting Speak Out.

When I was a first year, I walked past the Pit when Speak Out was happening, and stopped to listen to one or two stories before leaving.

Sophomore year, I planned to go the event, and stayed the whole time.

Junior year, I was finally comfortable submitting my story to the blog, but didn’t go to Speak Out because I wasn’t ready to hear my story out loud.

Senior year, I went and was so happy to have found this amazing, supportive community. When the mic was open to everyone to speak, I wanted to get up and say what I’m typing now, but was still scared to attribute my story to myself. That’s why I wanted to post it here, anonymously.

So, I just want to thank you for this event, and this community. Even if I’m not ready to say my story out loud, being able to post it to this blog, and knowing this event exists, has helped me so much. I am so grateful for Project Dinah and the work they do.

Y’all are amazing. 
I'm a survivor of rape. It happened at a college party when I was a senior in high school. It took me months to start feeling "normal" emotions again, and even longer to learn how to have sex without feeling like falling apart afterwards. I healed. I still think about it every once in a while. But, this isn't completely about my own assault. 

A year ago, my sister just brought it up sort of casually. She mentioned this creep who was my age; he tricked her into coming into his house, saying they were gonna get food. All of his friends were in on it, and there was this whole plan for him to "get laid". I thought it was a joke, but then she said “Wait. This is serious.” It was just my sister and this guy in his house. He tried to have sex with her. He kept touching her down there, and she kept saying stop, because that's what you're supposed to do, right? We both thought that saying "no" and "stop" would be enough, because that's what everyone says, right? We were taught no means no. No means no. We both thought everyone knew this until it happened to us. She had to sleep over at his house because she didn't know where she was. She told me "Man, I've been feeling awful lately. 3 am felt awful to wake up to." She sent me poems she wrote. Eventually, she healed, but like me, she still thinks about it sometimes. 

That shit will stay around for the rest of our lives. But I've almost forgotten the way his hands felt on my body, in a way that made me want to never be touched again, and I've stopped really thinking about the look my friend gave me when he brought me plan b at 7 am the next day, and I've mostly forgotten how that rape joke I heard weeks later felt like a stab in my chest. I think we will be okay.
After surviving a very traumatic assault the fall semester of my freshman year, I dissociated myself from a lot of what happened, but I would get flashbacks of this stranger at a party forcing his dick into my mouth. I heard the sounds of his moans and remember the feeling of not being able to escape, held down by him and by the inability to escape what happened. I thought I moved on, but I remember seeing him on the P2P and walking back to his dorm with him, where he assaulted me again. I was supposed to get closure and talk, but it just brought all of the pain to the surface. 

It was at this point where I started looking to other survivors. I learned more about the resources I had and I got better. I dealt with my pain and I got stronger. 

The next year, I was assaulted again, once by an acquaintance and a few times by a close friend. The semester continued on, and so did I. My friend stalked me and harassed me, but I was forced to keep him in my life. I tried to tell him I didn’t have feelings for him, but he told me that he I shouldn't let other things get in the way of our relationship. But I didn’t let all of his behavior trouble me, because I was bulletproof. 

For Halloween, I’m a queen. I go to Franklin Street with my friends and end up at a party where I meet Wolverine. I agree to go back with him. Little do I know, my drink was spiked.

He practically carries me to what he claims is his house. We go upstairs and start kissing in the middle of some lounge area. He forces his fingers up me, like he was trying to stab me with them. “Stop! It hurts” and he agrees to stop, but the next thing I know he’s jammed his fingers up me again. This back and forth goes on for a while, until I can’t take it anymore. I have to run into the bathroom, because I’m in so much pain. 

Eventually, I'm ready to leave after what seems like a lifetime and I go to get my phone, but it’s dead. I ask him to let me charge it somewhere, but he’s too busy playing a game. I take my crown and phone and leave. I start walking in some direction, but I honestly don’t know where I’m going. By some miracle, I find my way to Franklin Street, but I’m livid at this point. I couldn’t accept that it had happened again after I survived so much. I think to myself that I could have prevented this. I finally see people and some guys attempt to catcall me, but I tell them that if they even dare to look at me that I’d chop off their dicks. I felt like I was going to explode. I regain some strength after this and convince myself that I dealt with it. I see a familiar face and walk back with them to my dorm

I arrive at my room and overhear my friends comforted that everything is okay. I knew I couldn’t tell them, so I charged my phone and texted the only person I knew wasn’t going to feel bad, my stalker. I let myself be comforted by the person who was sucking the life out of me, but I thought I didn’t have anyone else. The night ends and I move on, because that’s all I can do. For weeks after, it hurt to pee and it hurt to use a tampon for months after, but eventually the pain went away.

I’m sure everybody would be shocked to know that all of this happened to me. How can one person go through so much and function normally? I don’t really have a great answer to that. Somehow, I did it. Being assaulted as a survivor and an ally was the hardest and most shameful experience for me, but I think I’ve moved on enough that I can accept that I didn’t have a bearing in what happened to me. This stranger hurt me and I didn’t do anything to deserve that. 

I’m putting myself back together again. I’m happier than I’ve been in years, even though I’ve lost so much along the way, but I don’t let it bring me down. It’s been hard. There is no denying that, but I wouldn’t change it. All of this pain has helped mold me into this beautiful and compassionate person. I found this love for people that touches the core of my soul. My life is so clear to me and I know good things are on the way. 
Honestly, it feels very scary to write this down. To write this here gives this incident some level of reality I’ve spent years trying to ignore. In all honesty, I still think it wasn’t that bad. Maybe that’s me internalizing my oppression, maybe that’s me trying to ignore reality, but I do know now my silence contributes to a society that ignores these kinds of problems, and one must “Speak Out” to break the silence. I may never care to seek help, but I know others will, and I can’t stand the thought of my silence getting in the way of what they need from society, so here is my contribution:

It was sophomore year of high school, and I was on crutches because I had injured my foot. My friends had taken it upon themselves to carry my backpack for me various times throughout the day, between classes, to the cafeteria, and even to my dad’s car at carpool after school. I remember thinking how nice everyone was to me, and feeling so glad that I had people who cared. The thought never occurred to me that any one of them would do harm to me, but it happened anyway.

He had always made it a joke of touching me, he played with my hair, poked me at my sides, and I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed it. I liked the attention he gave me, so whenever he crept into my personal bubble, I thought nothing of it. It was just how he played around. Then one day, while he was carrying my back pack for me to the carpool area, he bumped into me hard enough to knock me off my crutches. I held on to the exterior wall of the school in an effort to keep my balance on one foot and asked irritably, “What was that for?”

He just laughed in response. I remember rolling my eyes and wondering why it is boys have to be mean to you to show that they like you.

“Could you grab my crutches for me at least?”

He didn’t say anything, he only got very close to me. He then promptly groped my breast.

I tried to push him away, and chastised him, “Hey, what the hell. Don’t touch me there.”

He only laughed again, and smirked in a way I’ll never forget. A mixture of the look “you know you want it,” and “I don’t even care if you don’t.”

It was also at that moment I had realized how alone we were. The entire courtyard was empty, and inside the school wasn’t much difference. The chance of someone seeing us was extraordinarily low. To this day, I still wonder if he planned it that way or just saw the opportunity and seized it.

I knew I couldn’t run, so in a hopes to appeal to any decency he had, I asked again for my crutches. “Come on, my crutches please? I can’t stand on one leg all day.”

He didn’t even give me a response, He jut groped me again and then made an effort to take off my shirt, that smirk still on his face. 

I tried to push his arms away, but he was too strong. In shear panic, I gave up the defensive maneuver and slapped him across the face. I hit him so hard my hand burned. 

He stopped and glared at me. I could see a red mark forming on his face. 

I took the opportunity to try to shove him away again, this time succeeding in creating some distance between him and me. I knew I only succeeded in moving him though because he didn’t care enough to push back. That thought made me feel extraordinarily weak. 

“You’re such a slut.” He said it so flatly I wondered if he even knew that I didn’t like what he was doing to me. He then stormed off angrily, back into the school building. 

I remember standing there in such confusion. Everything happened so fast that I wasn’t really sure it even happened. I remember taking solace in the thought though, “This isn’t that big of a deal, he didn’t rape me.” 

I never mentioned the incident to anyone at school, and went around in the following weeks as though nothing happened. The only difference was that I made sure that I never talked to him again. 

I made a huge effort to forget that the incident even happened, and told myself constantly no one would believe me or care if I said anything. What he did wasn’t that bad, and besides, he was a fairly popular kid in a small school. They would probably think I’m just some jealous, attention-seeking whore. 

Today, I know it was wrong of me to have not said anything, and let others know what happened. I feel a nagging sense of guilt about that, but I also know that realistically I can’t do much about it. So here, I write this now, telling my story, both to purge the guilt but also in hopes that someone will hear this and realize why they should seek help. I implore you, please don’t think you’re not important enough or the incidence wasn’t that big of a deal, please, Speak Out.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I still don't remember exactly how it happened. 

I remember the night in bits and pieces. I remember drinking. I was 19, in a foreign country, and so being able to legally drink was still a novelty. It was our last week of the summer program and we were having a party. We invited the friends we had made in our 6 weeks there. I had a crush on this guy and I was so excited that he had come. 

The night started out well. Everyone was having fun and dancing. But he kept giving me drinks and shots and eventually I was too drunk to protest. 

I don't know how we got to my room. All I remember is that suddenly we were sitting on my bed. He was kissing me, making me touch him. I remember being confused. I had never had a guy be interested in me before, and I was telling myself I should be happy for the attention. But I also felt uncomfortable and scared. I knew I was really drunk and I was blacking out. But I couldn't seem to get out the words. The rest of the night gets hazy. I remember him forcing me to give him a blow job. I remember the pain when he was inside me, as I protested saying it hurt and i wanted to stop. He didn't listen. It hurt for a week afterwards. 

The next morning my roommate and all the other students in my program were talking about it as though it was a normal hookup. They joked and smiled and I played along, and even managed to convince myself, for a while. That I was just making a big deal out of things. That I was drunk, so it was my fault. I chose to drink, I chose to go with him to my room, even though I didn't consciously remember that decision. I convinced myself it was just a "bad hookup".

But I couldn't stop thinking about it every night. I couldn't sleep. I was constantly thinking about it, replaying it in my head. By the time school started again, I would sometimes cry silently before I finally went to sleep.

But I never told anyone. I never did anything. I was convinced it was my fault, that it was not "that bad", that it couldn't be rape.

That year I took a course on Leadership and Violence Prevention and joined Project Dinah, and it really made me face what had happened. But it also made me incredibly guilty. I was constantly telling other people to report, to speak out, to not be ashamed, that it wasn't their fault. But I couldn't believe those things for myself, and I felt like a hypocrite. How could I tell other survivors to not be ashamed when I still blamed myself? 

At Speak Out that year, I promised myself I would let my story be heard. It is now my last chance to fulfill that promise before I graduate. So here it is.
I was thirteen years old when I fell in love with a boy. Except, he was not a boy… he was a man. He was eighteen years old, five years my senior. And what I felt was certainly not love… a crush, maybe, but at thirteen I couldn’t even begin to comprehend was love meant. He was everything I ever wanted in a boyfriend, so when he began to molest me behind my parents’ back, I didn’t understand that what was being done to me was wrong.

It wasn’t until he was pinning me down on my parent’s bed, crushing me beneath the weight of his body so he could shove his hand up my skirt, that I realized something might be wrong. He kept whispering “be still, I’m not going to hurt you. I’ll only go in a little bit”, and just like that, his hands fought their way up my thighs, tearing through my innocence in one fatal swoop. I fought hard against him, begging him to get off of me, but he laughed in my face. I was fifteen years old. He was twenty.

That day, I locked myself in my bathroom, unable to comprehend what had just happened to me. I vomited into the toilet as hot tears ran down my cheeks. I told myself that he loved me, and that what he did was normal… because that’s what boys and girls did right? I hated myself for crying, I thought that it was my fault for not wanting him, and that I was the one who wasn’t normal.

When I was seventeen, he raped me. To this day, I will never forget the look on his face when I told him no….and he told me yes. He thinks I don’t remember but I do. I was drunk, he forced so much alcohol on me, even pouring it down my throat at times. He carried me back to him room, threw me on his bed, and locked the door behind him. I trusted him so much, so when he began to enter me, I cried out…mainly out of disbelief. I had clearly told him no…maybe he just didn’t hear me? So I laid there…numbly, limply, and with each impaling, violent thrust, the life drained out of me more and more until I resembled a hollow shell, lonely and terrifyingly empty.

Now, at nineteen, I am strong. I will not remain a victim of what was done to me. This man, this coward, this monster of a man, might have stolen my innocence and my childhood from me, but I refuse to let him steal my future. I am thankful every single day that I walked away from him. And to anyone out there tonight who thinks they are trapped in an abusive cycle, please know that there is another way for you, and that you have more strength than you think, and most of all, you are not alone.
We were in love. We were meant to be together forever. At least that’s what I told myself.
It didn’t start out as abuse. We held hands, we kissed, we cuddled, we went on dates. We were normal. We were in 8th grade when we began dating, 9th when I told him what my uncle was doing to me, 11th the first time he hit me, and First years when the bruises became too hard to hide.

I thought he was protecting me. He didn’t want me staying out late, he didn’t want me wearing revealing clothes, and he didn’t want me alone with guys. Then one day he found out that I had been hanging out with a guy and he broke up with me. Just like that. I cried, I begged, I pleaded for him to forgive me.

When we got back together rules began to be made. I had to respond to his texts within a certain amount of time so that he always knew what I was doing. I had to answer all of his phone calls. I had to check in with him so that he could make sure I was “safe.” If I didn’t, there were consequences. It started off as name calling and threats to leave me. I became so afraid of making the wrong decisions I got into the habit of asking him before I did anything—he liked that.

I remember the first time he hit me vividly. We were arguing over whether I could go to Governor’s School. I finally said that I was going and that I didn’t care if he didn’t like it. The next thing I knew I was on the floor and my face was red with his hand print. He apologized. He got down on his knees and cried at my feet for what seemed like hours.

When I got back from Governor’s School it continued. He would go through my phone daily, he would hit me when I disobeyed him, and he chose what college I would attend based on their distance from him.

After entering college I was raped at a party—a party that my boyfriend had told me not to go to. When I told him what happened he said it was my fault and the next time he saw me he forced me to have sex with him. He said that it was my punishment for being such a whore. Then he broke up with me. I cried, I begged, I pleaded, and a few weeks later he took me back. But he wasn’t the same. The smallest things set him off. He began to hit me for random things: tripping over rugs, taking too long to shower.

In between these violent spells we were a normal couple. We held hands, we laughed, we kissed. He would say things like “you’re everything to me” and “I would die without you,” and I said them back. Every hour of every day was about him and what he wanted me to do and what he thought about what I was doing and wearing and going.

I remember the first time my roommate questioned a bruise on my arm. I made something up like “oh he was drunk, it’s no big deal.” I remember her shock, and I remember thinking that she just didn’t understand. She became my best friend. She made it harder for me to make excuses for him, and when things got good she reminded me of how bad they could get. Then one day, during finals week, he broke up with me again. I cried, I begged, I pleaded, but this time I had my roommate. She held me, she comforted me, she told me I was better than the names he was calling me, and she stood up to him for me.

I started to realize that the guy who kissed me under the stars and the guy that punched me in the face were the same person. I realized that he didn’t change, that he had always been the same, and once I saw that he did not change into this monster, I began to understand that he would not stop being this monster. That summer he begged for me back, and for a few weeks we dated. Everything was perfect until I made plans with someone else without asking first, and he hit me. I ended things with him, I moved away, and I began to heal.

It’s been a year since I left him, and I still jump when I’m touched and have nightmares and get confused when my boyfriend doesn’t control me, but I’m improving. I’d like to say that it was that last hit that gave me the strength to leave him, but it wasn’t: it was my roommate—the girl who spent hours and hours telling me I deserved better and continues to help me through it today.