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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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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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I post my story every semester. There is just something therapeutic about it being told, even if I’m not the one telling it. 
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 started dating, 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 broke the rules, and he broke up with me. Just like that. I cried, I begged, I pleaded for him to forgive me, and I promised I would obey him from then on.
When we got back together more rules began to be made. I had to respond to all of his texts, answer all of his calls, and check in frequently. I didn’t, there were consequences. It started off as name calling and threats to leave. I became so afraid of making the wrong decisions I got into the habit of asking 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 GSE. After what seemed like hours, I finally just said I was going no matter what he thought. The second I was on the floor with my face red from his hand print. He apologized and cried for what seemed like hours.
But when I got back from GSE 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.
After entering college I was raped at a party—a party that my boyfriend had told me not to go to. I told him and he said it was my fault. The next time he saw me he forced me to have sex with him, and 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 and he began to hit me frequently.
People always ask me “if it was that bad, why didn’t you just leave?” And it’s simple 
In between these violent spells we were a normal couple. We went on dates and he bought me flowers. I never had to hold open my own door and sometimes he would randomly make my favorite foods for me. 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, and I thought that was how it was supposed to be. 
Then one day, I got caught. I remember the first time my roommate questioned a bruise on my arm. I remember feeling nothing but shame and 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 he broke up with me again—I was heart-broken, but this time I had my roommate. She held me, she comforted me, and she even stood up to him for me.
Over time 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 broke a rule, and he hit me. I ended things with him, I moved away, and I began to heal.
It’s been over 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 months convincing me that I was worth more, told me what a healthy relationship was like, supported me after the break up, and continues to be by my side today. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

I experienced sexual assault. It feels so strange coming out of my mouth---I've said it a few times to myself out loud, yet somehow it feels like I'm not really talking about myself, but someone else. In some ways, I was someone else. I went to another school before UNC, and I was in a top tier sorority. We were expected to go out and party almost every evening, and we did a lot more than drink. Every day was a party filled with beautiful people, and I felt so special being a part of it. One evening, we were mixing with a frat I didn't know very well for Valentine's day and there were two bowls of punch. One was red and one was pink. When I reached for the pink punch, one of the brothers said "I think red is more your color" and winked at me. Being the outgoing flirt I'd always been, I snatched the cup from his hand, winked back, and said "I think you're right" and gulped down that punch without a single thought crossing my mind. Within the hour everything started moving in slow motion and the music became muffled. All the sudden I felt like I was walking in quicksand. I could barely move my legs. The guy who gave me the punch started flirting with me as he slowly started leading me up the stairs. I had no control of my body. I wanted to stay still, but he was in control. I followed him up to a room and he shut the door--putting a chair under the doorknob. Then all of a sudden he spun me around and stuck his tongue down my throat and his hand up my skirt. I resisted, but he just gripped my arms harder and pinned me against the wall. My body had gone dumb and all I could do was scream. I screamed and screamed and screamed, but the music was either too loud or nobody cared. Luckily, one of the brothers knocked down the door just in time because he needed to use the bathroom. I bolted and ran into where the main party was. My clothes were ripped, tears were streaming down my face, but everyone looked in another direction. Nobody spoke to me. They just kept the party going. It's interesting how "sisterhood" works sometimes....I later learned that the frat we mixed with is known as "the frat that rapes you"---that shouldn't even exist. Anyway, I am no longer there and I am surrounded by people who love me. I'm even trying to participate in a real relationship, but sometimes my body shuts down during the physical stuff, particularly if I get flipped around suddenly. Everything just goes black--numb. I think he just thinks I don't want him or something, but that's not true at all. I don't want him to ever feel like that. I really like this guy a lot, but I don't know how to talk to him about it without freaking him out. I hate that this happened.I hate that this is messing with my relationships. I hate sexual assault--not just because of what happened to me, but because it's so normalized. Sexual assault is not normal. It's scary. It's disgusting. It doesn't discriminate. It can happen anywhere. To anyone.
My assaults left me broken and shattered. It created an obvious aversion to sex, but tainted the rest of my life as well. I didn’t feel for such a long time that I forgot what it was like to be sad, let alone be happy. When the emptiness faded away, it wasn’t long before the pain set in. Every moment of every day was a battle. I was constantly fighting to get myself to do anything. I felt nothing, and by lying on my bed I could be nothing, pretending my existence made no impact. It was nearly impossible to get out of bed most days and I often slept through important meetings. No one said anything, but the idea was that I was lazy, even worst unapologetic. I didn’t care about school, and I used alcohol to numb myself. I was invisible. All of my thoughts and struggles were non-existent. 

Eventually things got so difficult that I couldn’t take the pain anymore. With therapy, things started to seem brighter but not for long. After a semester of therapy, I was forced into the summer, far away from getting help. I was alone and the depression swept in again. I never responded to messages and I barely talked to anyone. I festered in my pitying and depression, refusing to seek help or acknowledge my friends. Because I didn’t have access to alcohol, I used pills to numb myself. I haven’t told anyone this, but I tried to kill myself over the summer. I swallowed the pills and hoped that the pain would ease away, but I was so lucky that they didn’t. As the impact of what I had done hit me, I ran to the bathroom and forced the pills out. Vowing to never let it happen again, I stopped abusing drugs. The pain was unbearable, but I started looking to my friends for support. Things began to look up, until my friend decided that she couldn’t take on my problems, even though I never asked her to. She completely invalidated my experience and tore me apart. 

The assaults were hard, but the response of the ones that I thought I loved and cared about were even more unbearable. The pain inflicted on a stranger I could have found a way to cope with, but the hurt that my friends had inflicted shaped my view of the world more than I could have anticipated. She closed me off, and it feels like I didn’t even have a choice. How can one trust again, when the one you trust the most takes your weaknesses and breaks you down, ripping apart every last piece of what’s left of your dying spirit? While I didn’t turn to harming myself, I spent all my time alone. I went to class, and then locked myself in my room. I was always lonely. I spent so much time around people, but there was no one really there. 

Cut forward a few months and things are bit better now. I’ve started to let myself be open with others, and I think it’s really begun to change me. The days really look brighter and I’ve found myself smiling about so much more. My life has started to seem worth living. When I share this story, I want survivors to know that it does get better. There are days where I saw no future; I couldn’t even see the next hour, forget the next day. I want you to know that your strength is incomparable. Things are going to be hard. I won’t lie to you about it. Even after it gets better, it can get worse. But after that rainstorm, there will always be a brighter day for you. When it seems like there is no hope, no future, I want you to know that I have unbelievable hope for you. Your future is going to be wonderful and the light inside you will nourish so many other lives. You mean something to me, and so does your future. When the world comes to you with its weapons and words of hate, let me show you that your love can transform even the darkest of ways. Like the lotus, you will grow through the mud of your fear, struggles, and pain and show the world that it can't break you, but it makes you more beautiful. So I beg of you, keep fighting. I know it’s not fair and it’s hard, but keep fighting and a time will come when you won’t even feel the weight of your battles. Fight and one day you will be free. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

I adored him. I thought he was funny, I thought he was smart, and most of all I thought he was my friend. After it happened, I sat in agony for weeks trying to figure out if I wanted it, if I was truly so evil that I was the one who seduced him into it. When I tried speaking out after it happened, every sign pointed to me. He wrote it off as a mutual mistake. He never apologized. The others condemned me too, saying that I was flirtatious and probably wanted it too. Many people thought I was being dramatic. They were disgusted that I would ruin the reputation of a friend. 

The truth is, I am afraid. I am afraid that you will know who I am. I am afraid that you will know who my attacker was. I am afraid that you will not believe me, because he really is such a good kid. 
I want nothing more than to scream his name out. I want people to be disgusted with his behavior, not mine. Most of all, I want everyone to be careful--don't assume that your friends can do no wrong. 
I am a very open and honest person. I’ll tell everyone almost anything about my experiences and myself. However, there is one thing that I’ve talked about with very few people on this earth. I haven’t even told my best friends that both of my high school boyfriends sexually assaulted me. I was young and na├»ve and believed the first one when he said that sexual intimacy was something that had to come with love as he touched me in places I didn’t want him to. It ate me up inside because I didn’t realize that this is what assault is. I was religious at the time and felt horrendously guilty for going “too far” with him. I didn’t realize that the nightmares I had about the experiences and the pictures I sent him were probably from minor PTSD. I told my second boyfriend about how I went “too far” and he insisted that he deserved to do everything that my first boyfriend had even though I didn’t want to do it again. He kept touching me and touching me as I begged him to stop. He later forced me to touch him too.
I only realized that I had been sexually assaulted when I took a special topics class in the Communications Department. While going through the process of creating our show about sex-ed topics, I realized that it wasn’t my fault. Being guilted into saying yes wasn’t my fault. Being touched when I didn’t want to be wasn’t my fault. And I shared my experience with this group of supportive people. I ended up writing and performing a poem for our show about sexual assault and consent and performing it for high schoolers. It was definitely the most cathartic experience of my life but I still haven’t told most of the people closest to me. I haven’t figured out how to yet. But I just wanted to share my story and reiterate that sexual assault isn't just rape that happens in alley ways late at night by some stranger in a mask. It's mostly performed by people who the victim trusts. And even being touch in places when you don't want to be counts. And no, it's never ever ever ever EVER the victim's fault.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

It happened my first semester freshman year. We were in the same small class, but I was having a hard time finding a study buddy since everyone knew each other already. I feel like this was the reason he chose to talk to me - because I didn't know anyone. It started off as innocuous study sessions. Then he started complimenting me on what I wore. He'd tell me I was beautiful and smart. That I was cute and that he was surprised I'd never had a boyfriend before. I started thinking, "Yeah he's an asshole in class, but he's nice as a person." He proposed the idea of napping together, and I said I was fine with it. I got a text late at night around 3 am from him asking if it was ok to come over. I said no because my roommate hadn't gone home that weekend. He kept asking and wheedling so that I finally caved, thinking we would only be sleeping. The first thing I noticed was that his eyes were bloodshot and he smelled of alcohol. I crawled back in bed and didn't realize that he was taking off his clothes until he was only in his boxers. We were making out, but I kept getting nervous my roommate would wake up so we went to the bathroom and locked it. I remember glancing at myself in the mirror and thinking that I looked confused. Next thing I know, we were on the floor and he kept trying to pry my legs open. I kept saying no, but he wasn't listening to me. I just closed my eyes and hoped he'd get tired or frustrated and just stop what he was doing. He finally did and I opened my eyes to find semen on my stomach. He handed me toilet paper, unlocked the door, got dressed and told me to meet him in the lounge so we could talk. He told me that he had a girlfriend and that they were technically on a break, but that I still shouldn't tell anyone about what had happened. "You were saying yes, right?" I couldn't tell if he was trying to make a joke or if he was serious. I felt like crying, but I nodded. Maybe if I told myself I wanted it, I wouldn't feel like I was a "victim". 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I said yes. Here I was, in a completely different country having the time of my life. I had been at a rager- don't tell me I shouldn't have had 'that much.' Everyone forgets their limits sometimes, no matter how careful they are. In my mostly drunken stupor, I agreed to meet up with someone I had been talking to on Tinder. This all seemed perfectly normal to me. He'd pick me up? Awesome. I didn't want to walk anywhere. And next thing I know, there I was, in this guy's flat. Allowing myself to be undressed. There were no sheets on the mattress. Somehow, I didn't mind. I remember consenting to sex. I remember that he was completely sober, and I remember saying "just use a condom, just use a condom." In the dark, I heard enough confirmation that, despite protest, he was agreeing to use protection. I'm thinking to myself that everything is fine now, because even though we are strangers, we are being safe. I'm thinking all of this until I feel him...dripping off my stomach. I am immediately shocked and ask him why he told me he was using a condom, when he clearly had not. His only answer was "Oh, I couldn't stay hard. Don't worry, I'm clean." In my reduced state of awareness, I had failed to notice this switch until it was too late. He threw a towel too me and exited the room, where I could hear his flatmates just outside, congratulating him on what he had just done. He drove me home, and admitted to having a previous 25 sexual partners.

Although I said yes, I had never felt so used, so violated. I was so scared, and I still am. Despite what was welling up in me when I realized what this man had done, I remained quiet on the way home, too shocked to say anything. I doubted that something like this would ever happen to me. I'm careful, I watch myself, I carry a whistle for fuck's sake! Nothing though, no amount of preparation or prevention could have stopped this. I feel stupid for letting this happen to myself, and stupid for being drunk enough to let my body be treated this way. I don't know what I will do now, because I feel like I cannot talk to my friends at home in the states.