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.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

I submit one of these every semester and every semester I find that I can't bring myself to feel fully one with myself and with what happened to me. 
But this time, it isn't about what happened to me in my past, it is what happened to me LAST WEEKEND. The fucking weekend before Easter. 

My brother and I were out to dinner and we were having a good time. I bought his dinner...I even paid for his fiance's, too. But we went to his friend's house and he started drinking. Sure, I had a drink. Why not? 

Later that night my brother and his fiance and I went home and he started asking me to hit him. When I wouldn't he slammed me into the couch, burying my face into the couch. Then he made me stand up just so he could take my head and slam it into the hardwood floor. I laid there crying until he pulled a gun on me. I was motionless. I thought my life was over. But now that I look back, I realize that that wasn't what scared me. What scared me was the thought that he would do to me what my father did to me so many years ago. I was afraid I would have to learn to say the "r-word" again. I was in fear that I would have to go through what I went through when I was a little girl and when I was in high school. 

I don't know how to say this, but sexual assault, RAPE, has not ended. The fear, among all things, is still present among us. It still eats us, the survivors, NOT VICTIMS, alive. It curses us and makes us feel stamped. We are branded by the people that did this to us. But like all brands, they can be covered and healed. The scars will never leave but only become a mere memory of the pain we SURVIVED. 

To all my fellow survivors, and to anyone who might ever read this: I hope you will always know that I think of you often. I live for you and I get through my depression because of you. If for any moment you feel like you don't matter or you feel like you don't belong in this world of hate, you do. Because I need you. And I need you now more than ever. Because if you can't get through this and show the world you are meant for more in this life, then no one will be able to. 
It was a couple of days after my birthday and halfway through the first week of classes. How would you feel if one of your “so-called” best friends brought up the worst thing that ever happened to you, blamed you for it and pretended like it was the hot gossip of the week? That was me, except it wasn’t some childish gossip…it was one of the two singly most traumatic experiences that has ever happened to me. I was sexually assaulted in my ninth grade year of high school. Did I know that? No, but I felt uncomfortable. I thought I was helping one of the closest friends I made at school with a crisis. I thought he was going to get abused by his uncle if I didn’t help him. It was just his way of deceiving me. My “friend” had also done this to other guys at our high school…and he even got a restraining order placed on him. Where was I when all of this happening? Hiding. I was trying to dissociate myself from my assault. I was afraid of being blamed, feeling stupid, judged and knowing that I shouldn’t have let that happen to me. I didn’t know that was me. “How did you not know?” Said my “so-called friend” that goes here. All of us were in the same friend group. My perpetrator confided in you. He told you everything that he did…and you took his side. AND you blamed me!!! I have struggled with having two of my closest, best, whatever friends stab me in the back (over and over again with two machetes)…and just wanting everything to go back to normal. I have been depressed. Experienced suicidal ideation…like every other day on a weekly basis. My grades and academic ability have suffered. I have felt worthless, ashamed, stupid and victimized. Thanks my “so-called” friend for being the only other person to know and hurting me just the same. However, I am not going to let either of you curtail my road to success anymore! I thank God, because I wouldn’t have made it without Him and the angels he’s placed in my life. Yeah, this year has royally sucked. Yeah, I have felt like giving up. And yes, I have felt l was trapped and alone. But I am not alone. I am a survivor. I’m making it. I am thankful for growing this year…and being able to reach out now. If there’s one thing I can be grateful for…is that my pain doesn’t have to destroy me. I can help other people understand that if I made it…so can you. 
I don't know if I've experienced sexual violence, and I haven't known for about five years. 
I was thirteen years old going into high school, soon to turn fourteen, and eager to make friends. I laughed at everyone's jokes even if they weren't funny, and I tried my best to get along with everybody... even the obnoxious 16-year-old sophomore boys in my "Fundamentals of Technology" class, which was really just wood-shop. Maybe I was an easy mark to them, these three sophomore boys in my class. I don't remember the names of the other two, but one I clearly remember... blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skinned and short. 
I don't remember much, so I can't tell you much. I know that for the first few weeks they gave me attention, talked to me, and joined my group projects. I know I wanted to be "the cool kid", I wanted to be likable. I know it gradually got worse and worse. He would come up behind me when I wasn't expecting it and touch me, even while I was having conversations with other people. Every touch happened so quickly, so that one moment he was there and when I turned around he wasn't. I remember one time when he held me down and touched me while his friends took pictures. I'm sure I could've escaped his hold, if only I had put up a bit of a fight, but I didn't. I hadn't yet been taught how to say no, firmly, audibly. 
I remember coming into class early one day to finish some homework and leaning over the sharp edge of the wood-shop table, writing answers. I heard him come in with his friends, and I felt him as he pinned me against the table, my legs pressing into the sharp edges. "This is how you rape someone", he said, and he laughed, and they laughed... and I think I laughed. I laughed and laughed. He fumbled with the back of my shorts. I laughed. I laughed and I struggled, and I kicked the table so hard with my thigh that I thought I'd bleed. And I laughed. 
Maybe if I laughed, then it was a joke. 
It didn't feel like a joke. 
The teacher came in and he ran away, back to his own table to laugh with his friends. Within thirty minutes I could barely stand on my right leg, a baseball-sized bruise swelling on my thigh made it difficult to walk. My mother picked me up from the bus stop. When she asked about it, I told her I had just tripped and fallen, oh so clumsy. Over the next few days it became more difficult to ignore, and she stopped buying my clumsy story. In embarrassed thirteen-year-old words, I told her some of what had happened. She demanded I go talk to a counselor, seek punishment and justice for what had happened, and so I did. The counselor asked me where he had touched me, and I looked down as I gestured meekly with my hands. The next day, I was called into the Vice Principal's office to discuss the situation. 
He told me, "We want everyone at this school to feel safe... so I need you to not talk about this with anyone else". After I left he called in the Sophomore Boy, and threatened him with detention. He was told exactly who had complained about him. Me. And when he came into class later that day, he laughed.
He laughed.
It's been five years. I am not laughing anymore. 

I wrote my story out for Speak Out in the fall. I attended the event and sobbed as I heard my words read back to me. It was simultaneously healing and heart breaking. I just barely got through that semester, and I'm on my way to finishing this one. I can tell you that 5 months later, I am doing better. Not all the way back to where I used to be, but I've grown. In the last 5 months, I have taken a trip to Europe by myself- a trip that helped me prove to myself that my rapist wouldn't scare me away from the whole continent of Europe. I was able to reassert some power in a continent where I lost all of mine. That would be my big win of the last 5 months. But I also recently was able to look in the mirror while I brushed my teeth for the very first time since my rape. I have finally gotten to the point where I can leave my door unlocked while I sleep- the next goal is to leave it cracked. I've met someone that makes me believe that not all men are the same. A man that I've only known for a short time but has already showed me such kindness and tenderness. One that didn't try to be physical the first time we met, but when we were finally intimate was so incredibly gentle, I couldn't even begin to compare the two experiences. 

I guess why I'm writing this is to let the people in the crowd that are probably feeling exactly the way I did 5 months ago, recovery doesn't get easier, dealing with triggers doesn't get easier, but you become stronger. Suddenly the little things that used to be incredibly difficult to deal with, feels like chump change. I have a long way to go, but I can't even express to you how excited I was the first day I looked into the mirror while I brushed my teeth. How small it may seem to some, but what a huge victory in my eyes.

So survivors that are sitting in the crowd, you are absolutely loved and so brave to be fighting through each day having any experience with sexual assault weighing on your heart. You can step backwards and then forwards and then backwards and then forwards, but eventually you'll get to a place where you can handle a lot of it. You'll have your days, but you will be able to handle it. You are so so loved, and so so brave. Take care of yourself and find people to surround yourself with that will remind you of what an incredible person you are, because you are worth it. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My rape didn't happen on campus, but my road to recovery did. I was just about to leave to study abroad here at UNC when I was sexually assaulted. I had been drinking but nothing out of the ordinary. We were in an LGBT nightclub so I was less wary than normal, less precautious. I felt safe. I was wrong to. My friends say I wandered off (alone) in the direction of the loos and they didn't think too much of it until I didn't come back. The first thing I remember I was at an ATM with a guy I've never seen before standing over me, waiting on me to withdraw cash. I didn't know where I was or who I was with. I know I shouldn't have but I was drunk and confused and I didn't know where I was or how I got there so I told him my address and trusted him to get me home safely. I thought if I pretended to be asleep he would leave me alone. He didn't. All I can remember is the pain. Saying "stop, you're hurting me" over and over. It was as if I wasn't even there. I felt so guilty for so long about why I didn't kick or scream or punch him. I just lay there, paralysed with fear. At some point I managed to run from him and lock myself in the bathroom. I also managed to write my flatmates a note for when they returned from the club, asking them to help me make him leave because I was in so much pain. I don't know when I did that - all I can remember is laying there, not fighting back, just whimpering about the pain. When my flatmates found the note, the male one of them came in and made the guy leave. The next part was the clearest of it all. He said "Did he make you do anything?" and I just cried and nodded my head as my other flatmate watched. My flatmate then took chase after my assailant, who had the nerve to stop and give my friend my purse back which he had obviously tried to steal as he left. He thought the theft was why he was being chased. My friends tried to make my call the police but for some reason I had been doing the health forms for student blue and they ask if you had ever been sexually assaulted and I didn't want to not get my visa to come here so, not thinking straight I didn't call. I spent the next 3 days crying and showering. I had to sleep on the sofa in my friend's room because I couldn't bear being alone. It was at this point, after searching everywhere for my keys that I realised my rapist had them. This is when I called the police, went to a sexual health clinic and rang my landlord to have my locks changed.

The initial police team were not the sexual assault specialist team. The main cop kept telling me that I was embarrassed, took my male flatmate's statement but not the female flatmate's, did not take the evidence that the lady from the sexual health clinic had told me to provide, and as I found out the next day when I was contacted by the specialist team, he had written in his notes that the sex “was consensual”. I didn't go to class at all for a couple of weeks but my university was understanding.

I had a pretty rough break but was okayish until I moved here, that was when I had my first panic attack. CAPS have been fantastic. When I initially seen this thread I was reluctant to share my story. However, I recently found out that one of my good friends in my home city had been raped last month, just 2 months after me. She didn’t tell me, because I hadn’t told her about my experience, until she was hospitalised after attempting to overdose. I was so ashamed that my own fear stopped me from helping her.

I know it is not my fault that this happened to me, nor is it my fault that it happened to others. However I feel guilty to have not been there to provide my knowledge and experience of the aftermath process. Groups like this are so very important and I am grateful and proud of all the women and men who have survived through ordeals of this nature and used their pain to make change and help others. Thank you guys so very much, you’re inspirational. 
It's sometimes hard for me to recognize my right to say that I've been sexually assaulted. I think that's because the person who did it to me was a woman, because I didn't really fight back, and because my story isn't as violent as the others that I often hear. But through the help of others and of hearing more diverse stories, I've come to accept what I've been through. When I was just getting into my teenage years, my "best friend" found out that I was bi and decided that she wanted to experiment with me. I was okay with it at first, but it kept going on. It became more than just kissing or exploring. I started to feel ashamed and didn't know how to ask for it to stop. Because I was never really educated about same sex relationships, I didn't even really know where the sexual boundaries between two women were. This lasted for years and to this day I don't really know at what age I lost my virginity, I'm just sure that it happened during that time. I had no one to talk to when it was happening. I still believed she was my friend and she manipulated me so I had few others to go to. My parents were already rocked by my sexuality so I didn't want to upset them by telling them about this development. I became withdrawn and anxious. I found out much later that I've always had an anxiety disorder and that those events caused me to have a severe bout of depression. Thankfully I got out of it. With the help of other friends who I still had and being able to gather the courage to reach out to my family I was able to separate myself from her and from what happened. Though it was really only when I came here to UNC that I started to accept that those years and that friendship consisted of sexual assault. Repeated and manipulative sexual assault. I was pleasantly surprised to find new friends and lovers who understood that I had suffered but not to think less of me. It was hard for me not to think less of myself. But somehow, I've been able to separate myself from what happened to me. I realize I just didn't have the skills or the knowledge to really avoid what happened. It was her that had started it all and who had taken it so far. I don't think I hate her, but I'll certainly never trust her again nor even associate with her if I can help it. I still think about it and it does still affect my relationships, but it doesn't control me anymore. I am so grateful to have found strength and support. To any other women out there who have suffered sexual assault at the hands of other women, you're certainly not alone and you have a right to say that it happened to you. All of us survivors, no matter our identities or who hurt us, have the same rights and we all deserve to move on and in time we will. 
Growing up the tension in my home was usual and almost normal. My mom and I would stay up late at night on the weekends waiting for my dad to come back home from his nights out. Sometimes my mom would just go to bed frustrated because he didn’t come back from his drinking binges. I was probably 7 when I first saw my drunken dad smack my mom on the face after she was arguing with him about how drunk he was and the fact that he would regularly drive like this. My mom sat there and cried and then went to sleep in my room. I was probably 10 when my dad pointed a rifle at me and my mom as we sat on my bed. He said he would kill us both if my mom didn’t come back to their room. I felt fear for my mom every time he got drunk because of course she didn’t want to sleep in the same room as him but he would get aggressive about it. Time after time I endured his drunken shouts, him threatening us and slapping my mom and sometimes he would punch holes in the wall. Our house was full of huge holes in the wall where he would kick and punch them in his rages. But we never spoke about this and the next day after his rages it was like nothing had happened. My mom finally separated from him last year but can’t legally divorce him for financial reasons yet. Mostly because of my financial aid and it kills me that she has to stay legally married to him until I graduate in two years. He takes advantage of this to stalk her and show up at the house at night to threaten her. He tells her he’ll kill any man that she dates or that she’ll regret talking to men. He tells my mom that he’ll leave forever and never contact me and my sister again if she doesn’t get back with him. He also says he wants to die in order to make her feel bad. Yet this is so usual to us that my mom insists I still maintain a relationship with him. So I have to answer his texts and talk to him when he picks me up from campus on weekends and we act like everything is normal. I actually wonder sometimes if I’m overreacting for wanting to never talk to him again. It has taken me so long to realize that he’s a manipulator and emotional abuser especially when he acts the victim and starts crying about how my mom ruined their marriage. I honestly don’t feel that I know what love is or what normal relationships are like. I don’t know whether or not I should stop talking to him despite my mom’s insistence that I do or if I should demand apologies from him. I don’t know if one day he’ll show up at our house at 4 am and punch my mom or if he’ll escalate the stalking. I don’t know if one day some man will slap me and threaten to stalk me and all I’ll do is think it’s okay or feel helpless. I honestly feel crazy sometimes for questioning whether or not this has been as bad as I’m saying it is and the fact that intimate relationships with guys make my anxiety go through the roof. No one knows about what my life growing up has been like, not even my family and I feel so much shame for my mother, me , and my sister.

Friday, March 4, 2016

He was my housemate. We'd had a couple of things in the past, so when he came into my room and was having a rough time emotionally, I let him spend the night. In the morning, he started making a move on me. I said "I'm not really feeling it" and he put his hand on my neck, pushed me down on the bed, and went at it anyways. I just lay there as still as possible until he left. It honestly didn't even occur to me what happened. Two weeks later, he came into my room and told me he was going to kill himself. I didn't feel comfortable with him staying there, but I let him anyways because I didn't want him to hurt himself. In the morning, he tried making a move again. I said more strongly this time "no" and he tried making a move anyway. I shifted away from him. He held on to me and continued humping me until he got bored and left. It took 6 people to convince me that both of these instances were sexual assault. Two months later, I moved out, but I still see him all of the time because I could only move one house away. Looking back, this event taught me a lot about self respect and friendship. The people who lived in my house with me, who I considered my friends, still hang out with him, and invite him to their parties, even though they know what he did to me. They say "it's more complicated than that," and "you're being over-dramatic." But it's really not. I deserve to be with people who take into consideration who I am and am not comfortable being around, and who do not attempt to belittle my feelings. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I was age 13 and it happened I lost loads of weight and felt good in my own skin I had met this guy and was head over heels in love with him but he wasn't the one who did it he was my best friend I loved him dearly. It took my 3 years before I told anyone about my incident that I what I call it. It was a normal day I went to my mum friends house everything was good there was her next door neighbour  little boy round he loved the tumble dryer strange child. Well my mum friend had a son who ive known since I was born he was and I felt very close to him like a brother. Turns out I was wrong on this normal day he took my shoes and hid them in his brothers room for a joke we always use to do it to each for some fun. But this time was different he followed me and shut the door I was confused at first until I knew what he was doing. I hit him and punched him and thank god I got out I pulled myself together went to the bathroom and wiped my tears away. NO ONE COULD KNOW this is all I thought in my head but I was in shock I couldn't stop shaking I had to go down stairs and act normal and some how I did no one thought anything had happened. See In my head I thought this would never happened to me I thought I would scream and get help turns out I was wrong. I am still trying to build life back together and be in a happy relationship but it hard as the flashbacks happen often and I know it not my partners fault it mine. 
I had been home for only two weeks and went to a party at my best friend’s house. He was an acquaintance from high school. I don’t remember interacting with him besides a brief “hey how are you” very early on in the night. I had had way too much to drink and hardcore blacked out. The last faint memory I have of that night is laying on the couch catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen since high school. All I can tell you from there is that at 9 am, I woke up on a love sack in the basement in unfamiliar clothes, feeling strangely sore. Then I go to the bathroom, and see my underwear is on backwards with blood in it. While leaving, two of my friends stop me and ask if I remember anything about last night. When I say no, one of them hesitantly says, “We need to talk about it. You hooked up with ‘acquaintance’ and…”
At that moment I knew I wasn’t a virgin anymore, that my rights over my body had been taken away from me. But that was all too scary to admit. Instead, I sat in silence and nodded as my friends chronicled the night. They saw me making out with him and interrupted to ask me the year and who the president was. When I couldn’t correctly answer either or stand up on my own, they pulled me away from him. Thinking that was the end of it, he and I ended up alone in that basement.
They came back down with two other people from the party after a while to find the door locked. After knocking and yelling for ten minutes, he opened the door and immediately yelled, “I swear she said yes!” I was sprawled out on the love sack, basically unconscious, with my pants unbuttoned. Then they noticed the pool of blood between my legs, the trail of it into the bathroom and even some on the toilet and the wall. They decided not to call the police because, “we couldn’t risk everyone else getting in trouble for drinking.” Instead two of them cleaned up my blood, while the other two undressed and showered me, because there was blood on my clothes and body, and I was still too drunk to stand on my own.   
Factually, I knew that it was rape. I knew that it wasn’t my fault. But that wasn’t enough to make me feel ok. Because there were two possible alternatives here that were equally terrifying to accept. One being that I was at fault, I asked for it, and I’m responsible for my decisions under the influence, and I have to live with my guilt for as long as it takes to get over it. The other alternative was that it wasn’t my fault, I have no control over what happens, and that there are people evil enough to take a person’s bodily rights away.
Since both of those were too scary to accept, I coped that summer by pretending to be ok, hoping that would translate into me actually being ok. Instead I just spent countless nights crying myself to sleep and internalizing my freak outs at things as innocuous as my co-worker putting his hand on my shoulder.
Once I started talking more about what happened, I received countless words of support from friends and family. However, what people need to know is that the few insulting words pulled my recovery back so much more than the supportive ones moved me forward. A couple examples include,
“OMG things like this are exactly why I don’t drink.”  
“I mean it’s not his fault he didn’t know that you were a virgin.”
“What were you wearing? How much did you drink? Were you flirting with him?”
“I guess that’s what happens when you drink too much.”
“Why don’t you just talk to him? Straighten things out and get a timeline of everything?”
I thought coming back for my second year of college would halt the crippling seesaw between numbness and pain that became my life this past summer. It didn’t, it only brought back my on-and-off depression and anxiety that I’d had for years. It’s been almost a year now. I tried counseling, I tried medicine but I’ve never been good at sticking with things that I know are good for me. 

I’ve spoken up to my immediate family and close friends. It’s been the best thing I’ve done for myself in terms of healing. But my courage falters. I go through periods of time when I can’t acknowledge or talk about it, even with people I’ve confided in before. It’s so hard to find consistency in anything being a survivor. I hope one day I will get to a point where I can find consistency in being able to speak up.
It was going to be a fun night. Some drinking, some dancing, nothing out of the ordinary. I'm not typically one to drink liquor, but it felt like a special occasion, celebrating the end to a long week of exams, so why not, right? The night started fine, I was very drunk, my friend and I killed a fifth, but I was still functioning. Later in the night, I ran into a mutual friend who I started to talk to. He handed me a few beers, seemed like a nice gesture. We aren't close but having overlapping circles of friends, we've definitely talked a decent amount at quite a few parties prior to this, so this was nothing unusual. Following some dancing, making out, I don't remember anything. Nothing. We then must have left together. I have no recollection of going to this person's house, no recollection of going to the bedroom. I must have been very obviously drunk, at least I thought. Some other friend I spoke to the next day commented on my drunkeness, apparently we had ran into each other that night, of course I didn't know that. Then it happened. The next thing I faintly remember is one of my friends coming into this bedroom helping me put on clothes on my naked body while I vomit off to the side. This person had called a friend to come get me. Unable to be moved, I ended up sleeping there and he disappeared. When I woke up to leave I was wearing a shirt and pants my friend had helped put on me, but no underwear, no bra. I could feel that slight tenderness down there and begin to panic. What the hell happened. I still don't know. Whatever did happen, I had no way of consenting to anything. I feel guilt. I was THAT girl, blackout drunk, it's my fault, I can't remember, I probably didn't say no, making me sick to my stomach. But when in that drunk of a state there's no possible way of giving consent, I have to remember this. But I am still confused. I am in a perpetual state of nausea. It's consuming all of my thoughts. You hear the statistics about sexual assaults on college campuses so many times: "1 in 4 women, usually someone you already know"..... okay, I know that this stuff happens. The hardest thing is realizing I am apart of that statistic.