This is not just for me, but for you too.
I am not here to give you the stats because it’s impossible to know. Even with the hundreds of women AND men who come forward with their stories, thousands remain silent. It’s hard to come out to the public and say, “I am a victim of sexual assault,” especially when it’s hard enough to say those words to yourself when it happens to you.
I am here today to end my silence. I am here to tell my story. I am a survivor.
November 2012 is a month I will never forget.
It was less than two months after I started college. I was able to push the exact day out of my head, so it wouldn’t haunt me for the rest of my life. I didn’t want him to own a day in my life. It happened in my dorm apartment. My rapist was my roommate’s brother. Without giving the chilling details, I was home alone, in my own bed, held down against my own will. I was sexually assaulted. He took from me something that I can’t even put into words.
When you’re violated, you realize all of those preventive things people told you to do are worthless now.
“Don’t walk home by yourself at night.”
"Don't wear seductive clothing."
“Keep your keys in your hand.”
“Avoid dark, secluded areas.”
“Watch your drink.”
See, none of those things helped me. I was home. Somewhere I was supposed to feel safe, wasn’t safe anymore. I was violated in my home.
I remember the days where I struggled to get out of bed to make it to class. I remember the days I wanted so badly not to sleep in my bed. I struggled to put on the smile to pretend everything was okay because I didn’t want to explain what was wrong. I had seen before how victims were treated, like no one believed them, or it was their fault. I didn’t want to go through that. I detached my body from my soul because I felt so damaged. I hit rock bottom.
Eventually, I woke up. I realized that what I was doing was hurting myself and my loved ones. I was destroying all the good in my life because of what someone else did to me. I didn’t want him to have that power over me anymore. I got myself out of that horrible situation, started going to therapy, and with the love and support of my loved ones, took control of my life again. I still have anxiety, painful flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks from shadows in the darkness. I don’t know if that ever goes away completely, but things can get better.
Sexual assault changes your entire life. It has the power to haunt you in the worst possible ways. It makes you feel worthless. It makes you feel suicidal. It makes you feel alone. It makes you worry about what people will think of you, especially when you see the culture we live in today. But I’m here today to tell you, you are not alone. You are not this awful thing that happened to you. You are not worthless. You are not to blame.
It wasn’t my fault when my roommate’s brother didn’t listen to me say “NO.” It wasn’t your fault either when your assaulter didn’t listen to you say “NO,” ignored your unconscious body, took advantage of you as a child or any other way of not receiving your consent.
I’m here to tell you that you are beautiful. You are strong. You are resilient. You have worth. Those minutes, hours, or days of assault that you endured do not define the rest of your life. You have bright days ahead. Get to a better place. Don’t let this keep you down. Go to therapy. Go to school. Graduate. Fall in love. Stay in love. Love yourself. Travel the world. Create something. Do the things that make you happy. Don’t shut out the ones who care.
To the families, friends, loved ones and supporters of survivors,
You need to know, it is not your fault either. The only person who is at fault are the ones who selfishly took advantage of the one you love. All you can do is be there for them, through thick and thin. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support. Because of people like you, we survive.
It is now November 2016.
It has been almost four years since I was sexually assaulted. It has been a battle every day since then, but I’m still fighting. With the help of my family and loved ones, I am grateful to be alive. I want you to be alive too.
Stay fighting. Stay strong. Stay surviving.
Know where to get help:
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, visit: https://www.rainn.org/get-help
Know your rights:
For information on Title IX, visit: http://knowyourix.org/title-ix/title-ix-the-basics...
For more reading on Sexual Assault on College Campuses, visit: http://www.ss-designs.org/new-blog/10-11-2016/the-...