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!

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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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

In May of my senior year of high school, I was sexually assaulted by someone who I had considered to be a friend. We were at a party; and I was intoxicated and passed out on a bed when he came into the room. I remember being so confused when he began to finger me and feel me up; I was still half asleep and so drunk that I couldn’t move. I kept whispering, “I’m sorry, I don’t want to, I’m sorry, I really can’t do this.” He didn’t stop. 

It took me a long time to come to terms with what had happened to me. It wasn’t until last winter that I was even able to call it sexual assault. Even now, it feels as though my story is somehow invalid, like I don’t have the right to tell it, because it could have been so much worse. I know abstractly that you can’t compare or quantify suffering, but somehow I still feel selfish for thinking my story is important enough to share.

My attacker goes to school here. I see him all the time. Many of my friends from high school are still friendly with him, even though they know what he did to me. I have had friends question the validity of my sexual assault and the ways in which I’ve dealt with it; who have put my experience up as a topic for abstract intellectual discussion, who have told me to “look at it from a rational perspective.” The trauma of peoples’ responses to my sexual assault was, for me, worse than the trauma of the sexual assault itself.

I struggle to feel empowered in the wake of my sexual assault. A few weeks ago, I went to the Title 9 office to ask about my options. I was told that if I outed him on yikyak or posted flyers, I could go to honor court for harassment or slander. The woman I talked to said that she hoped I could get to the point where I could pass my attacker in the street and not feel anything. To me, this is not what justice or healing looks like. I don’t want to pass him in the street and feel nothing — I don’t want to pass him in the street at all. I wish that I trusted my school to make that happen for me. I wish I had faith that if I took him to trial, I would be believed and supported by my school. But I don’t. So while my attacker moves easily through the world, I hide my panic attacks during my French class because sometimes I run into him as I’m walking into the building, and I am terrified of telling new friends about what happened to me, because I don’t know if I can handle yet another person telling me that I am wrong in how I feel.

More than anything, I want my attacker—and my friends who questioned my story-- to have some idea of what it was like to be me while he was assaulting me, what it’s like to be me now. Of course, they will never understand unless someone does to them what my attacker did to me, and I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. But I wonder: did he feel sexy and attractive when he assaulted me and I couldn’t move? Did he feel powerful when he said hi to me in the dining hall, and I was so scared that I couldn’t speak? Did my friends feel intelligent and sophisticated when they instructed me to look at my assault from an intellectual perspective? Did my ex-boyfriend think he was doing me a kindness when he told me that he wasn’t going to tell me what I should have done because I was doing what was best for myself, but he thought I should have reported it so that it didn’t happen to other women? As though that’s something that I haven’t struggled with or worried about every single day since it happened?

But I have also been lucky. My parents, and most of my friends today, have supported and believed me every step of the way. They have made me feel justified in my feelings and my experience. They have spent hours talking me through rough days. I have had more love and support than most survivors ever get. And I know that there are days where I will still feel like I can do nothing to change the reality of my situation, but this, right now, is a moment where I can empower myself--and hopefully other survivors--through speaking about something that, by its nature, was incredibly disempowering.

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