To many, April is simply another month; one month closer to graduation, to summer, to finals. For me, it is a month of remembrance.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and this is my story of becoming a survivor my first semester at college.

Growing up, my family always warned me of things that could happen if I was not careful. I always listened but I simply thought, "This will never happen to me. I am careful. I can defend myself." But my life drastically changed when I had met this cute boy on Tinder, a dating app. He seemed sweet and I wanted to get to know him as friends, so I invited him over. I knew the moment I met him that I shouldn't have but I like taking risks. We went through the process that we have of registering cars on campus and then went to my dorm.

Everything was fine until my mother had noticed that I had alcohol in my room earlier in the day and confronted me over the phone. I was so upset and felt so horrible that I locked myself in the bathroom and cried. I want the boy gone and I wanted to go to bed. He wouldn't leave so I crawled in bed and tried to sleep. Sometime later, he kicked my roommate, my best friend out, so that he could talk to me alone. This is where I should've sent him home but I gave up trying to convince him to leave. He convinced me to go out that night one last time before I decided to stop in respect to my parents. I didn't want to, but he begged me too. So a few friends, the boy and I went out.

The party was fun at that point, I had gotten drunk off a four loko. He left me to go with his friends that supposedly went to this college. In the wee hours of the morning, we all decided to head back after becoming exhausted and getting beer dumped on us. We all stumbled back across campus to the dorm. I made my roommate stay the night and I am so glad I did. After passing out, I was assaulted as I drifted in and out of sleep. I remember crying and threatening to wake up my roommate.

The next morning, I got up to go to the bathroom and realized that I was in so much pain. I ignored it and went to the bathroom. I frantically messaged my roomate, so she would wak up from all the notifications. I remembered what happened and I sat in the bathroom hyperventilating and in pain.

We devised a plan to get him to leave. It worked but I wanted to punch him. I hated him. I despised his existence. My friends convinced me to go to the campus police. The detective on duty was extremely helpful and calming. I remember sitting there crying as I watched tv in a conference room with my best friend and another close friend. I had texted my dad many hours later at the hospital because I knew that he was 900 miles away and couldn't do anything.

My father and I had a bond and if I told him something that I wanted no one else to know, he would keep his word. I told him not to tell my mother as I spoke to him over the phone. I cried once more, feeling disgusted and like I deserved it. He comforted me and helped me calm down. I remember getting a text from my mother asking odd questions like what I was doing and where I was doing it. My brother had seen through my Snapchat that I was at a hospital and when I refused to tell him why he contacted my Mom. I didn't want her to know. If I could have, I would have told the police I didn't what them knowing anything. I was terrified that my mother was going to hate me, yell at me and tell me that it was all my fault.

That didn't happen. My parents have been the biggest support since this traumatic experience. They have helped me through the nightmares, the anxiety, and the legal processes. Since then, I have turned my anger, fear, and frustration into a healthy coping mechanism: Makeup.

Personal photo

While I still struggle with nightmares and PTSD and insecurities that have developed because of this, I have been surrounded by love. I am not ashamed of my story. I am not what happened to me. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I was. I'm choosing to share my story so that others may know that they are not alone. This world is a scary place but when we stand up for each other and care for one another, it is bearable.

To every survivor, it isn't nor will it ever be your fault. If you have never told anyone your story, I pray that you may find the strength to tell someone and go to the police. You are not alone and you are not your story.

A makeup look for sexual assault awareness which is represented by a teal ribbon Personal photo