Content Warning: Sexual Assault

Hello,

I always think it's the last time I'll run into you again. It seems you keep reappearing as a new man each time, unfortunately. You first, showed up when I was fifteen years old. I was hanging out with some friends and you were there.

You had the storyline written out in your head. I was on another page. I kept making all the gestures I could to show I was uneasy. It wasn't enough.

Only when I was crying, you stopped midway through committing an act that would impact my psyche, my worldview, and ultimately, my perspective on myself.

I was at the house. I sat on the couch. It's my fault, right?

At least, that's what I was told by my parents. I lacked the tenacity and affirmation from my family to report you, so you were able to evade any reprimanding. I saw you in the news a couple of years later, for doing it to another underage girl.

I'm glad you were put to a halt by someone. I wish it could've been me, rather than another girl who paid the price for my feeble nature.

Somehow, you showed up as another variant of the same person. Only, you were a person I chose to give my affections to for four years. We embarked on our relationship when I was the ripe age of fourteen, the "fresh meat", as freshman girls are called.

You were my first everything, first hug, first kiss, first boyfriend, and the first who took my virginity. The way you had me from my first kiss to losing my virginity in the span of three weeks, should've been a forewarning to the event that would lie ahead.

I told you "No" firmly. We had rehashed over and over, that this would be the one sexual act I would not do. You begged and begged. "Just the tip?".

This was the time you didn't listen. You violated my right to my body for a selfish desire to be satisfied. I just cried. It hurt, not just physically, but the vulnerability I had to let you see, the right to share an intimate act with me, only to be used as an object once again. You knew the trauma I had experienced the year before. But, I stayed with you anyways.

Why? My self-esteem was at a low. After having struggled a lot in my personal life, it didn't really feel like I amounted to anything. I rather have someone than be alone.

Later, my senior year I finally broke up with you. Only afterward, when getting into a new relationship I realized what we had wasn't healthy. But, little did I know you were in that relationship, as well.

My freshman year of college, you had shown up, yet again. Only, this time you were a photographer. I had done some modeling with local photographers since I was 15 years old. You contacted me for a photo shoot.

I saw you were an established photographer that had worked for reputable brands and I obliged. The first photo shoot went well. It was clear you had a knack for photography. It was clear why Adidas would hire you to take pictures for them, I'll give you that.

A couple of months went by, and you contacted me again for another photo shoot. I was, of course, excited because you are pretty well known in this area and it was flattering you would want for me to model again. This time you wanted a more seductive vibe for the shoot.

Everything went well last time, so why not? You've done other shoots like this with other girls from Missouri State. It clearly was just a professional shoot. When I got there, you offered some substances to help me "loosen up".

You were quite insistent that I needed some because it helped these type of shots turn out better. So, I obliged. I wanted to stop at one point because I felt sick, but you made it quite clear I should keep doing it because it was necessary for the pictures. During the shoot, it all felt quite normal, at first. Though, I was quite out of it, so maybe it wasn't.

As the shoot went on you started complimenting me inappropriately. I wasn't sure how to react because I didn't want to be seen as the girl who took words out of proportion.

For each pose you kept getting touchier and touchier, but I wasn't sure if I was just being dramatic and possibly an accident or if it was intentional. You knew. All of this was set up to get me into a position where I wouldn't be able to stop what would happen next.

Only three weeks later, you came back into my life. Only this time, it hurt the worst. You came in the form of my best friend. I still ask why. Why, you?

The person I let see all of me. You are the one wiped away my tears after the last incident had happened. It would be the last time you wiped my tears away, as I ran to you again for emotional comforting after disputes I had with my family.

It was then, you joined all the men in this letter. It went from a comforting hug and drawing away from the emotional turmoil I had inside me, to two "No, stops", to one of the most hurtful betrayals I have experienced in my short 18 years.

You cried afterward, and I spent the night comforting you for causing me pain. You brought me candy for forgiveness the day after. It hadn't settled in quite yet, the hurt you had bestowed that came alongside Sour Patch Kids.

I snapped as you sat down next to me to help me with my homework, two days after. The repression could go on no longer. I went for crisis counseling and cut contact after you had sent me messages of "I don't know what had taken control of me.".

What do you mean by this? What could have possibly taken over you to commit something like that?

I see the same man now as I did at that moment. I see the same man who walked to visit me every day in the mental health facility after my suicidal ideation got the best of me.

I see the same man who spent all night painting my graduation cap after I had too much anxiety over having possibly messed it up. It's you. It hurts my head to think about because how could people be capable of doing such unspeakable things, but have been so caring.

I spent a long time thinking about this though, about this idea of these two spirits being in the same body. I have come to the conclusion to forgive you. All of you.

My point of view has always been the people are inherently good and it still will continue to be, despite all of this. I don't know what all of you have gone through in your lives, but I know you can be different. Whatever the cause, whether it be the fear of rejection, the sense of powerlessness; find a way to love yourself.

Self-love isn't blind love. It's not accepting your faults, it's facing them. I have mine, and I have learned to face them. I don't thank you for the PTSD I've had, or the therapy I've had to get, but I will thank you for showing me how strong I am.

I have cried several years of tears, but have grown a garden of flowers. Every flower has its lesson. My rose is for the love I have learned to give myself. I don't need someone for love anymore, because I have enough in me.

My lotus is for the persistence I've had to have for climbing the mountains that get placed in front of me. My daisy is for the purity of my idealism that I won't let be tainted. My lilies are the empathy that has grown from the new perspectives I gain from my experiences. How do you ever know the highs of life without knowing the lows?

How do you know how to help the ants when you have only ever been a bird in the sky? I am a bird with an ant on my wing. The ant tells me what I can do from the sky to help those below.

This is why I thank you, not for what you've done, but for what I've learned. This is why I forgive you and this is why I have hope.

Best of Wishes,

Florangel Ramirez

If you have been victimized, please know that you are not alone. There are so many resources out there if you don't feel comfortable sharing with someone in your life.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

RAINN

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center