This person has decided to stay anonymous, but this person shows so much strength sharing their story with you all. If you have been sexually abused or sexually harassed, I want to warn you that this may be a trigger for you. Please read with caution if you choose to read.
I’ve never really wrote about this. In fact, as I type it out now I’m having a hard time putting my feelings into words. For a while I never talked about what happened. If I didn’t say anything then it never happened, right? But that’s not true.
When I was 17 I was in an abusive relationship that ended in me being raped. After it happened he told me I was damaged goods and that no one would ever want me. I believed him. Looking back now I wish I was stronger. I wish I could tell that 17-year-old girl that I was beautiful, I wasn’t damaged goods, and that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. But unfortunately, I wasn’t strong enough then. It took me three years to gain my strength and when I did, I knew I needed to get out. I finally told someone about what was happening and my parents immediately took action. Although they tried to help, my rapist still walks free in the same town as me. It’s been three years and I’ve gone through night terrors, anxiety, and depression.
When the truth came out, I lost my “friends”. They took his side. Said “well he’s nice to me” even though they saw the bruises on me. “It’s not rape if you guys are dating”. “Did you say no?” “Did you try to fight him off?” “Were you drinking?” “What did you wear?” “It must not have been abuse if you stayed so long”. The list of things I’ve heard is never ending. But I’m not alone! When I talk to other survivors they have all heard the same thing. And this isn’t from strangers, these are questions asked by those who we care most about. My story isn’t unique, in fact many of us go through this daily. This came out when #metoo took over social media.
I didn’t post #metoo. I’m not even ready to put my name on this story. But something beautiful happened that day. So many fearless survivors put their story out there for everyone to see. There is power in numbers and the number of women uniting together to show the world the truth in what many of us live has been unbelievable. When I see all the #metoo post, I am so proud of the strength and support that comes from each other. When people hear about sexual harassment or sexual assault they believe the number of victims are small. That it isn’t true. And part of the blame is from the social stigma surrounding sexual harassment— “its locker room talk”, “he’s joking”, “he’s a player”, etc. But when does the excuses end? By making these statements after something has occurred, its numbing the fact that what happened was not ok and we surely didn’t ask for it! It wasn’t locker room talk. He was not joking when he made those lewd remarks. And no, being a player does not give you the right to put your hand up my skirt. Such a simple hashtag has shown that we never walk alone. During those dark times, it may feel like it, but it isn’t true.
One lesson I had to learn was that there is beauty in everything we go through. It might be hard to think about and for a while I didn’t believe it but I started seeing the positives in what I had experienced. I now have the strength to speak up for myself, I know what I am worth, I am now at a point that I love myself more than ever before, and I know that my experience has helped others too. I had a “friend” reach out and thank me. She unfortunately was hit by her boyfriend but said because of me she had the strength to leave. She told me she knew she could survive because she saw me do it. I promise you it will get better. For all those that have gone through this, I am so sorry. I would never wish this upon anyone. And for anyone who knows someone who has gone through this, please support them. Stand by them even when they say they want to be alone. Help them see the beauty in who they truly are.
Remember, these experiences never define us, only we have the power to write our story.