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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.

Monday, October 12, 2015

After having escaped my past abusive relationship in the physical sense, I knew there would be emotional work to do, but I had no concept of the degree to which this trauma would impact me. I physically left my abuser several years ago, but did not instill "no contact" until early this year. I feel like that is when the true healing began for me. Between seeing a therapist who specializes in abuse/trauma/PTSD, joining a support group for DV survivors, beginning an antidepressant, and doing a LOT of personal work (journaling, writing, reflecting, reframing), I am starting to have more good days than bad. However, it makes me sad to know that I am still very much resistant/afraid when it comes to dating and intimacy. I grieve the loss of my innocent, open, loving, somewhat naive self that will not (can not) exist in the same way ever again. I am committed to helping to raise awareness about relationship/interpersonal violence and the devastating effects it can have on a person's soul and life experience. I never believed this could happen to me--I came from a "normal, happy, good" family. And yet, it did. I am grateful for a forum where survivors and others can share their thoughts and experiences. Thank you ! : ) 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

My friend had been crushing on a foreign exchange student who was in America for two years. On his last night in America, we all went to different bars around Chapel Hill and showed him around the place. Because my friend never told him that she liked him, he was completely clueless the entire time, and attempted to hit on me. I was very aware of my friend's feelings for him, so I dodged his advances. By this point in the night, my friend and him had managed to become completely blacked out, while I remained a buzz that allowed me to be coherent. My friend began noticing his obvious advances towards me, and became visibly upset. I attempted to calm her down and insisted that I did not want anything to do with him, but despite that, she left. My other friends had walked home by then, so I had no choice but to walk this stumbling stranger back to our place, where he was crashing on the couch for the night. 

It was the longest walk from He's Not back to my place in my life. The entire time, his attempts to try and convince me to hook up with him were unwavering. He pulled me towards him, pushed me against things, lifted me up and insisted on not moving until I kissed him, among other things. At one point he pushed me up against a tall tree with his body and would not move until I obliged to his kisses. When I finally did, he was all over me, his hands trying to pull down my shirt and get into my bra. I was so anxious about how I had zero control over my body, zero say in what I did or didn't want to happen. I had never felt so much anger towards my friend for leaving me with a monster, or towards the monster himself who was doing what he wanted with me. I managed to pull away and drag him back to my friend's place, and I literally ran to my bedroom, locking the door behind me. Even while turning the lock I can hear him tip toeing in the hallway down to my room, where he proceeded to knock on it. When I ignored his initial attempts the banging got louder and louder, and his pleading for me to unlock the door was relentless. He begged and pleaded for me to unlock the door, insisting that he only wanted to cuddle with me, and only wanted a decent place to sleep. Feeling anxiety in my own home was something I was unfamiliar with, and it was a feeling that remained with me for weeks afterwards. Eventually one of my roommates woke up and demanded that he return to the couch, but the terrifyingly unsafe feeling remained. 

My friend did not speak to me for a few days afterwards, adding to the additional feelings of nausea and anxiety that ruminated with me. I'm thankful that my attacker was too drunk to go through the rape entirely, but the feelings of helplessness with my own body remain. As time has passed, the anxious feelings and thoughts have lessened, but sometimes a certain smell or song from that night will bring it all flooding back. I am not completely healed, but time has made it better. 
My ex-boyfriend was abusive. I was so entrenched in rape culture that I couldn't see it until a year after we were broken up.

He was controlling, jealous, and very scary when he got mad - although he never hit me. He just attacked my sense of self, my emotional state, and my mental capabilities. I was completely dependent on him for my self-esteem, just how he wanted it. He was financially dependent on me, but somehow it seemed that he called all the shots. He would be terrible and mean to me one day, leave me begging for his attention, and then the next day he would call me crazy. The day after he would act normal, and take me out on an expensive date (that I paid for), making me feel guilty for wanting to save money. I tried to forget the bad times and only believe in the good.

He took my virginity. I had thought I wanted to have sex with him, but when the time came I wasn't actually ready. Oh well. Once we did the first time, he would never take no for an answer whenever he wanted to again. I didn't realize this was rape. 

Over and over again, he would use me as a sex object. Only there for his pleasure, unless he needed something else - then I was there as his personal bank or his verbal punching bag. He depleted me in so many ways that made me increasingly dependent on him for all of my validation.

I didn't know he was abusive. I didn't know he raped me. If you asked me why I stayed, I could only tell you that I didn't know I had to leave. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

All I wanted was to have one last night to blow off steam before classes started for the spring semester of my freshman year. I wanted to go out with my girlfriends, and find a cute boy to dance with. I wanted to go home alone.

I did not want to be raped.

I was sober; I think he was, too. I didn't pay too much attention to our surroundings. I was at a frat party, where I knew some brothers, and I was not worried. I didn't notice that he was isolating me, separating me from my friends until I no longer recognized anyone in the room.

I grew up street-smart and would have never pegged myself as a statistic. But that is just what I became.

He asked me if I wanted to meet up with my friends in his dorm room - he said they had left with his friends. Since we had all met as a group, I believed him. I said yes.

That's the only "yes" he received from me that night... Not that it mattered.

I was sexually assaulted in near silence, which in a way was more menacing than any words could have been. I kept saying "no," I told him he was hurting me, and I tried to get him off of me. Unfortunately, he had about a hundred pounds on me, and I was completely pinned. Later, he would say that the bed was too small for us to be in any other position. He would say that I consented. That despite the fact all of my clothes were on, I asked for it. He would say that I had self-esteem issues, and that's why I wasn't comfortable taking my clothes off.

When he was done, I was frozen in terror. I thought he would hurt me, but he told me to clean up and let me leave. I ran out of the building and kept running until I found a friendly face at a bus stop. This face lived on my hall, and immediately knew something was wrong with me. This face was my hope and my reason for not falling to pieces right there. This face got me back to my room safely.

It took me over a year to put words to what happened to me. It took me over a year to connect the blurry, fragmented dots into one smooth horror story. I lost a lot of friends I had thought would be in my life forever. My family tries, but they couldn't possibly understand the hell I live each day. I have found support and strength in the stories of other survivors; they (you) pull me through my darkest times and inspire me to keep living. Survive and thrive, and never let your rapist win. You are better than your rapist. Even when you can't get out of bed, or you are curled into a ball of anxiety, you win with each breath you take. And always remember: it was NOT your fault. 
Unfortunately through an acquaintance who lived in my apartment met this post doc. Initially for some reason I ignored him and after my acquaintance graduated the post doc befriended me. My mind said don't talk, don't smile, but somehow I started talking with him.

He texted and asked me if I would like to buy groceries and took me to Indian store- his roommates were with us. I began being comfortable, ignored whatever my brain had told me before. The next week, he invited me over to his apartment because 'he was scared to be there alone since his roommates were not there'. I went, we had coffee, talked about research, school, life, he seemed nice. I started liking him.

From then on I started spending time with him watching movies, cooking meal together and so on. He slowly began spoiling my confidence- he told me that I am fat, no one will hire me, told me I look ugly, my clothes are really bad, etc. He started his "Hot and Cold campaign" where he will make me feel bad and later would apologize or come over or meet me to make up for it. I felt worthless, started to look upon him for everything- I would ask him if its OK to eat this, wear this shirt, proof read my e-mails before I send them, etc. He told me that he has had sex over 500 times with various girls and I was surprised because he appeared really nice, he asked me if I had any, I said I would like to save it for my husband. Then he questioned my girlishness and said I am a lesbian because I never engaged in any sexual activity nor had a boyfriend. I told him I am from the culture where parents want their kids only to study and not have boyfriends and added that I also went to all girls University. He laughed.

There was these 2 weekends- labor day weekend and a weekend after that when none of my roommates were home and I was so scared on that labor day weekend because my phone could not be recharged. I requested him to spend time with me at my apartment- he refused, then came over and would be very nice. The next weekend, I had my qualifying exam scheduled the next Monday. He made me drink beer (that was first alcoholic beverage that I ever had) that Saturday the Sep 6, 2014 and then talked non-stop all about studies and time was past midnight when he asked me to sleep over stating that we both were drunk therefore it is not safe for me to walk to my apartment. He then switched off the lights and shortly after pulled his study table drawer, took something in his hand and pulled my long pajama pants along with my panties. I said I don't want this, begged him to stop, he quickly wore the condom while I still asked him not to, raped me, pushing blanket inside my mouth when I screamed. When done, he turned the lights on had a smile on his face and said there was blood on it and sealed the condom in a freezer bag and threw in a carton which he uses as a trash can. I was crying- he told me to go wash my parts because there are "condom chemicals" which will hurt me. I cried, he hugged me and said this is how the first sex will be and gave me milk to drink and sleep. He added that I should mark this day- the day for the first time I had beer and sex.

The next morning everything seemed so normal, he made coffee for me, washed his blanket, pillow cover and bed cover (which he washed the day before), cut his nails and asked me to shower because I looked dull. The same evening I asked him what did he do the night before- he smiled and said 'I wanted what I gave you. If you go and tell others about it you will be ashamed because no guy can rape a fat girl'. I was shattered and broken.
Even this day that has not left me, I have night mares, my basic sense of trust is broken, I don't want to be noticed and above all the school found him 'not responsible for any policy violation' which makes me feel dumped. Finally here I am, wasted a year's time, still in shock, surviving with PTSD, my colorful dreams are now far unreachable with a last chance to find my PI if not I will be failed and thrown out of school.

-A survivor struggling to live.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I still love the man who raped me. I still love the man who beat me. I still love the man who sued me for 'emotional trauma' for breaking up with him. I still love the man who told me he would kill himself if I ever left. I really hate myself for being able to love someone who held me down, beat me, and didn't stop until I had covered him in blood because I was too small for what he was doing to me. I was only fifteen. He was eighteen. I barely weighed 90 pounds and he could pick me up with one arm. He took me to a park at midnight once, and he locked the door and told me we weren't going anywhere until I "made him happy". I still have scars from him. And I still have scars on my wrist from when I thought that I could never escape him unless I killed myself. I would have married him. I would have run away with him. But I didn't. I think of him every single day. I think he's married now. And I'm alone. But I'm safe. And I'm here, at the school I always wanted to go to. And I'm getting an education and I'm gonna spend my whole damn life making sure what happened to me won't happen to other little girls in love. Kyle, fuck you. I'm stronger, and I'm bigger than you'll ever be and I'm not your little pet anymore. I'm a big, strong woman and there's nothing you can do to hurt me.