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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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I’ve been through so much worse that I don’t feel justified in sharing this story. It pales in comparison to the assault my first-year and the stalking and assaults that happened the year after that, but no matter how hard I try, I’m going to have to let the pain in. All I’ve felt these past months is empty. 

He was charming, and he cared about feminism. He was a graduate student, so I trusted him. I’m not sure quite why, but he didn’t seem threatening to me. I ~thought~ that he was different.

So when I texted him to meet me on my birthday, I didn’t think that it was going to be much harm. I just wanted to see him and spend some time with the people I liked. He was completely sober, but I was close to black-out drunk. He left his apartment to see me, even though I was clearly not in a state to be interacting with him. I know that a good person would have taken me home or not came. I technically know that it’s a big deal that he took advantage of my weakened state, seized the opportunity, but I cant shake the feeling that all of this would have been so different if I never sent that stupid text. I “know” it’s not my fault, that he should have known better, but I can’t help feeling that I could have prevented him from hurting me. How dare I let myself think I could trust someone?

I remember sitting in TOPO, and I remember walking to his car, because it was “right there.” I don’t remember saying I wanted to go to his place. I felt sick, but he was so strong, you know, and supported me to his car. We go to his place, and I’m taken to his room. I’m not sure how I got to the bed, but at some point my dress is off. I remember flashes of him holding my arms down. I try to break free, but he just holds me down harder. He gets off on it. I’m turned face down, and he’s on top of me. I can’t breathe, but I hear his panting on my ear like a fucking dog. He touches me everywhere with his, his fingers. I ask him what he’s doing, but he just responds by saying, "pleasuring you." It’s sick. My body responds, but I don’t want it to. At some point I fall asleep, but I don’t know how or when. I’m gone.

I woke up, and I didn’t know where I was. Naked and confused, I found his arms around me and his dick between my legs. I took a minute to process, but I got good at shoving it down. The room got blurry and I rushed to find my clothes. I felt so ashamed. As he offered to drive me home, I saw the word “feminism” on a book on his desk. I wanted to throw up on it, but I just tried to ignore it so I could get home. He noticed that I started crying and tried to reassure himself. "You wanted this, right?” What a joke. 

When I am finally back at my apartment, I spent 2 hours in the shower. I felt the unexplained bruises he left me with — the ones left while I was asleep. A week later, I can still feel the bruises on my thighs, near my vagina. I keep getting this weird watery discharge and pain near my vagina, but I know he didn’t penetrate me when I was awake. I didn’t get my period for more than 2 months after the incident, but the 3rd month I can finally get some solace knowing that I’m not pregnant. 

To this day, I still hate the fact that I don’t know what he did to me while I was sleeping. What made him think that he was entitled to my body? He should have known better.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The day after you raped me, after I spent all morning with you, I went to my best friend's J's dorm and told him I had sex with you. Because I didn't know how else to phrase it. Because I couldn't explain why I didn't push you away or scream or why I fell asleep immediately in your bed after. I didn't know what it meant to not be able to remember most of the night before, and my best friend worked with me for a month before I could even label my experiences. He helped me cut contact with you, and you told all of your friends about how I was a bitch for not trying to hang out with you again.

You unfriended me on facebook, and called it cleansing. You posted things on your tumblr about how you were so glad to have gotten rid of this toxic person from your life.

You weren't the victim.

You didn't have to deal with an inability to trust, aversion to touch. You didn't disassociate. You didn't struggle to keep up with classes when all you wanted to do was sleep. You haven't had to learn how to reclaim and love your body. And you've effectively cut me out of my life but I am not allowed to forget you or what you've done to me.

Last weekend marked the 3rd anniversary of the night you raped me. You can go back to Durham Pride. I can't. I can't listen to wye oak without wanting to vomit. I can't go bowling in raleigh because you mentioned that you wanted to go there once. I can't eat NY Pizza.

When I was planning J died, I was ready for a lot of things. I collected pictures, put together 2 terabytes of music for his mom to play in his room. I wrote down everything I could ever remember doing with him so that when his sister grows up I can tell her who her older brother is. I was learning to deal with the disappearance of the one person who knew everything about that night, a story I don't think I can ever tell again. I was even ready for the possibility of you showing up. So I didn't break when I had to look at you in the 5th row while I delivered J's eulogy. I was prepared.

But how the fuck dare you come into my space at reception, and plant yourself directly in front of me for half an hour when I couldn't get away. How dare you taint everyone's last goodbye to J, and what did you think you were going to achieve by daring me to make eye contact with you?

When I submitted to SpeakOut two years ago, I was still angry and raw. Everything hurt and I saw you everywhere. 

Now, not so much. When you made your seating choice, I felt a lot of things. Anger. Disgust. Hate. But I didn't feel fear. Because you don't hold any influence on my life anymore.

I am still working through a lot of things. Losing J has left me reeling in that the one person that would ever know the entirety of what happened has gone. I don’t think my experience will ever exist intact again. I’ve had people assume I wasn’t a survivor. I’ve had people shut me out because I’m a survivor, or because I wasn't a type of survivor. There are still days when I’m a puddle of tears, or I can’t school. But while you caused all of that pain, I don’t have to associate it with you anymore. Your face doesn’t pop up randomly, and I am no longer scared to run into you. Because i’ve done that already, and I didn’t break. J was our last common connection, and right now, I’m hella excited about never having to see you again. 

It happened over a year ago. 

It took another month to realize I had been raped, another 3 months to begin processing it. That’s nothing compared to 8 months before I could talk to anyone about it.

Because my rape wasn’t violent, it wasn’t a stranger. It was a night in a college dorm room where I wasn’t heard when I said no, I was too scared to make noise and attract any attention. To have to explain how I got into this situation, a night where everything happened too fast to react to before it was over.

“You don’t want this to end here, do you?” 

But I did.

I hate that I didn’t say more, louder, fight back. I hate that I kept it to myself for eight months because I was too ashamed to go to anyone, too scared to talk about it, because once it’s aloud, it’s real. I hate that I didn’t have the courage to confront him, to tell him that I consider him a rapist when he probably sees me as “that Bitch that led him on.”

He contacted me for half a year afterwards. That’s half a year to confront him about that night. Six months of chances I didn’t take. It’s a full year for him to do this to someone else. That’s hard to get over, I’m not sure I ever will.

That night in Fall 2012 taught me how dangerous the world is. It’s the night that causes me to walk at night with a can of pepper spray in one hand and my keys Wolverined in the other. Even though if I were really in a serious situation, neither of these will be of much use. At least now I can even walk alone from Morrison to Davis at 8 pm on a well lit street without inducing a full on panic attack.

That night has made me so paranoid about my surroundings that when I had the opportunity to spend 3.5 weeks in Bangkok, the number one tourist destination in the world, I spent a total of 5 nights out of the dorms past 10. Of which only two were spent in the actual city. Because Bangkok might be a tourist hotspot, but it’s also #1 in sex trafficking, a threat that all of a sudden seems much more tangible.

There are nights I wake up in a panic wondering if what I had experienced was really rape or if it’s a sick, desperate, ploy for attention. That the identity that has been forced upon me, the one that I’ve been slaving away to accept is completely artificial. Because no matter how many times I remind myself that mainstream media’s definition of rape is limited, that bruises and scars aren’t necessary to be violated, it doesn’t stick. 

I’ve lost friends because of this. Friends that I loved for years that couldn’t understand what I went through and why all of a sudden I acted so differently. Friends that simply didn’t want to hear it.

But I’ve also become so much closer to many other people. People willing to buy pregnancy tests at 8 on a Wednesday morning to help me deal with my paranoia, Friends that were okay with me showing up at their door unannounced and sitting in their rooms for hours without any explanation. People who still sit me down and remind me constantly that it wasn’t my fault, that I’m worth something, friends that insist on walking me home even though it’ll add an extra twenty minutes to their own commute. 

Many terrible things happened that night in Fall 2012, but I’m sick of obsessing over them. Sick of the nervous ticks that appear every time I try to tell this story, the fear that I’ll be rejected for what has happened to me. 

I’m done with it. I’m done being a victim. I’m tired of living in fear of a memory and an overactive imagination that has constructed each and every way I can be taken advantaged of. I’m fortunate enough to have the support of some of the beautiful people in the world, and this really strange sense of empowerment, the knowledge that I can face anything because I’ve already been through one of the most terrifying things that can happen to a person. I’ve seen evidence of my own healing. The anxiety isn’t nearly as bad as before. I’m learning to control it. Fall 2012 is a sick place to draw strength from, but better me than him. It’s been a year. I’m ready for change. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

This summer was supposed to be the best one of my life. A free plane ticket to Europe, free housing, a stipend, what could go wrong? I certainly never thought I would be here, writing this story to be read aloud in a sexual assault.  

I went on a daytrip by myself, excited to be on my own for once. I had a fantastic day, I was able to explore and go at my own pace. I decided to stay a little later than I planned to watch a soccer game in the square, because I figured I would be fine getting home, mistake number 1. The soccer game was great, and even going back to the train station I felt completely safe. I sat down, thinking about my amazing day when a man came up to me and started a conversation. He seemed nice, and we got along well. We found out we were on the same train going home, so we ended up sitting together, mistake number 2. We sat down and I sat diagonally from him, making sure not to touch, but he moved so he was across from me. He started to touch my knee and then my arm, holding my hand, I shifted every time he touched me to try to get him to stop. By the time he had my hand in his, caressing it lightly but very sexually, I started to freeze. He pulled me over next to him and put an arm around me. I started shrinking against the window as he began to caress my arm. As he leaned in to kiss me I pulled away and repeated No multiple times, he stuck his mouth on mine anyway, but eventually stopped. He put his arm back around me and started to caress my breast and kiss me on the neck. I froze once again and then realized that he wouldn't take no for an answer, so when he went to kiss me on the lips this time I didn't say no. He started to kiss me and I didn't kiss back at first, but realized once again that being frozen wasn't making him stop either, so I figured I would give him what he wanted to make sure I could get away. As we began to kiss he would move my hand to his crotch, and make me rub it to feel him getting harder. He would aggressively pin my shoulders against the window, and bite at my lip or tongue hard. We were on the train for two hours. Two hours of him kissing me, trying to penetrate me and succeeding mostly, trying to finger me despite me crying out in pain, trying to get me into the bathroom to give him a blow job. When we got home he started to ask me where I lived. I didn’t want him to know because I was deathly afraid at this point, so I gave him a bogus address. He followed me to the bogus address and when I told him we were almost there he started to kiss me again and asked me to go into the dark park close by with him for 5 minutes maybe 10. I said no a couple times and he eventually started to pull me towards the park. He sat me on a bench and started to kiss me. He grabbed my hand and put it on his crotch as he was pulling out his penis. I wrapped my hand around it to get him off as soon as possible so I could leave, when he said no, with your mouth. I said no over and over while I shook my head, but he grabbed me and pushed me on to his penis. He held me down there until I thought I was going to pass out, when he finally let up a little, and I could breathe he pushed my head up and down. He said faster, faster and then said wait. He pushed me off of him, got up and started to masturbate, coming into the bushes. He looked at me and said Did you like it? I crossed my arms and said yes, watching him start to walk out of the park, expecting me to follow him. Eventually he left and I went to a bar to find a cab to get home. The nice bartender gave me some free water and then called a cab. I got home, ran into my coworkers, pretended like nothing happened, and then got in the shower for almost an hour. I went to work the next day and told no one what happened. 

I struggle with the fact that my body responded during the rape. Despite my mind screaming, my body responded, and he took that as an excuse to continue. When I told the woman at the consulate that, she told me that there really wasn’t enough evidence to go to the police. Even though she didn’t say it out loud, she essentially said to me, you consented, don’t try and pursue justice, he only physically held you down during oral, and that doesn’t count as rape. Eventually I was able to go to the police from the encouragement of the women at the clinic who did my STD testing. The police were very kind and very confident that he would in fact be arrested, and possibly serve time. Once I finished with my part of the police work, I realized I couldn’t stay when I felt so incredibly unsafe everywhere I went, so I went home. I spent the rest of the summer in bed. I had a pregnancy scare, got diagnosed with PTSD, found out the soft tissue in my neck was damaged, and got diagnosed with mono. Every night it took me hours to fall asleep and when I did the smallest noise would wake me up. I didn’t eat much because I was never hungry. I thought about suicide quite a bit. 

This summer did not go according to plan. And now I’m here at school trying to pick up the pieces of my soul that he shattered. Before this incident, I had had my first kiss, but that was the extent of my sexual encounters. My first intimate encounter with a man and the loss of my virginity are now forever linked with the feeling of fear and that I was near death, a lust filled aggressive monster, and an unspeakable amount of pain. It doesn’t seem fair that he probably thinks it was nothing, just a scared little girl that he had to seduce to get her to fulfill his needs. 
My freshman year of college I attended UNCW. During my first semester I got sick. I have been sick most of my life but this flare knocked me out pretty bad. But I was tired of letting my illness ruin my life. So I asked a boy in my freshman seminar class who was a music major to teach me to play the piano so i could take a secondary piano class the next semester. After our class ended around 7pm we walked to the Arts building together and I shared my story of illness and frustration and allowed myself to be vulnerable for the first time in years. We walked into the practice rooms. He closed the door. It was soundproof. He asked me for a hug. I gave him one to be nice. But he didn't let go. He kept jabbing his face towards mine trying to kiss me, his breath fogging my glasses and his body pressed against mine. Taken aback I asked him what he was trying to do. I had never kissed anyone before. I told him. I asked him to please teach me the piano. That's what I was there for. He backed off and showed me some simple steps, laughing cruelly at my mistakes. He jided me about not having kissed anyone. I stood up. I told him he was being mean. He backed me into a corner, again pressing himself against me. He told me if I ever talked back to him again he would bitch slap me and imitated the motion of smacking me across the face. I slid out from under him. I said excuse me? Are you kidding? He backed me into another corner, jabbing his face at me like a beady eyed bird. I could feel his stomach pressed against me. He then said I couldn't do anything about it because he was a man. Because he was bigger than me and stronger than me. And that I couldn't tell anyone. I pushed him off me. I grabbed my bag that was behind me in that corner and ran. He called after me that he was joking but I ran out of that building and rode my bike back to my dorm as fast as I could. The next few months were torture. I was an art major and a music minor so I had to see him every day. I remember giving a presentation to my class and he didn't take those beady eyes off me the entire time. I was afraid to go out alone. I would barricade my door at night because he knew where I lived and I was afraid. I remember the night I filed a report to the Dean's office to arrange a no contact order. He called my phone twice and texted me 3 times. I hid between the shelves in the corner of the library until my roommate could come walk me home. I felt so much guilt and I still carry it around to this day. "Maybe I just overreacted" I tell myself. "He was only joking." "I wasnt raped. It cant count as assault. He didnt even kiss me." Eventually I couldn't stand the fear I was living with every day as I walked into the arts building for class. I didn't feel safe. I couldn't go into the practice rooms at all even though I needed to to practice my vocal solos. They scared me too much. I intentionally showed up to class late since he had a class before me in the same classroom so I could avoid running into him. I lost 30 pounds and began a rapid spiral into an eating disorder. I just wanted to saw off the parts of my body he had touched and since i couldnt do that i was going to starve them off. I couldn't live like that any longer so I left. I transferred schools leaving behind my friends and teachers and connections because I couldn't live with it any longer. I have since stopped studying music and I haven't concidered learning to play piano since that night. But I feel safe. And that is more than I could say two years ago. I guess you could say I have trust issues. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I didn't think it could happen to me while I was in college. 
It happened, first, when I was between the ages of 5 and 8, but I didn't think it could happen again, now that I had already experienced it. 
Well it did. 
I only had one drink at a co-ed that I trusted. Then, I went alone to another fraternity. 
Then I went to another...one far away from campus. Not that many people have heard of. But nonetheless, it happened. 
He drugged my drink with aderol. I know, because he mentioned that he sold it while we were at the party. But it was too late by that point; you see, I already took my first sip. 
Afterwards I found myself on the ground in front of the house. there were no neighbors awake, and the people that were outside didn't notice me throwing up on the ground. 
Thankfully, my best friend came to get me in time before something worse happened. 

So to my fellow survivors: I want you to know that you are not alone. You are the strongest, loveliest, and most important person to me right now. You are the reason I still fight. You are the reason I still continue to live and be brave, when i thought the easiest thing to do was end it right there. So if you ever feel alone, know that the person whose post you are reading loves and cares for you, even if you aren't aware of it. 

I was sixteen then, bright and hopeful for my future as a student, but I was very lonely. Back in my previous school, I had no friends or anyone to talk to. I wanted to have someone who I could love and who would love me back. I had my parents with me, yes, but they were rarely emotionally supportive of me, so I wanted to look for support somewhere else.

Then, I saw him... a tall boy with blonde hair and icy blue eyes. I instantly was infatuated with him. He said he liked me and that he wanted to be there for me.

At first, everything was rosy and beautiful. He took me out on dates, and I would play the piano for him telling him how much I have loved him. Then things started to change. He started pressuring me to have sex with me, since we both loved each other very much. Due to being raised Catholic, I adamantly said no to him and he became more distant and stopped holding my hand or showing affection in public. He blamed me for the relationship going sour and told me that I was holding out on him and being a selfish girlfriend.

I felt so bad that I "failed" him that, one day, when I decided to play piano for him, I let him have sex with me. It became heated, and we ended up on the floor of the piano room; at first, I felt excited and loved for once in my life.... Then, I felt the sharp pain in my nether regions, and told him to stop, but to no avail. The pain was so much, and I just froze and could not scream for help. I pleaded with him to stop, but he said that it was wrong for me to stop him, and if I did not want sex, I should not have led him on.

I felt so terrible and hurt that I cried myself to sleep that first night. Even if I cried in my bed afterwards, I kept going back to him in hopes that he would love me. People have asked me, "Why did you not leave?", and all I have to say is that, during that time, all that mattered to me was feeling like I was loved for once. I did not know what love was, so for me, sex was the closest entity to it. 

The painful sexual experiences went on for two years until I came to UNC-Chapel Hill this year. At UNC, I felt that I would never ever find someone who would like a broken girl like me. But during my first few weeks here, I found out that sex can be a beautiful union between two people who love and respect each other, regardless of gender or sexuality. 

It is hard to fight the pain and struggle of not trusting anyone when you are in new relationships with people; however, I can assure anyone that there is still hope. Everyone deserved to be loved and respected. Just hold on, have hope, and remember that there are still good people in this world. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

You never expect your innocence to leave you so early in life.

You never expect that someone you love and care about so much can do something so harmful.

At the time, I didn't know it was wrong. I was young and clueless, and for so long, I had used that as an excuse for what happened. But now I know that it's not my fault.

We were both young. I remember going down to his room after school and just hanging out, talking about Pokemon and Gameboy games. When he asked me to lay with him on his bed, I didn't think anything different of it. He was family, and this was totally okay because we were just two children.

I don't really remember a lot of the details about it now, but I do remember the feeling of guilt and disgust I felt with myself after we were found out. I remember sitting in the bed of my father's truck while he was washing something, holding back tears as I could feel his disappointed silence penetrate the air around me.

All I wanted was to play computer games with one of my then favorite people. Sometimes I wonder if I was too scared or too distracted to say no when he would sit behind me not wearing any pants, and he told me to take my pants off. When I felt his body against mine as he laid on top of me on his bed.

Sometimes I wonder if any of this really means anything because I don't remember explicitly saying no. But I know that I didn't want it, even though it felt good. My body felt like a betrayal, and I was torn between two completely opposite feelings.

Nothing will ever feel the same as that rush of relief and fear that I felt when my mom found out, when she saw that his zipper was undone and that we both looked nervous. I never want to feel the way that I did those days ever again.