*Trigger warning: this piece describes instances of rape and sexual assault.
It took me a really long time to find the courage to write this piece, but here it is. I’m sharing this story for myself and for everybody who’s ever felt invalidated after an assault. You’re not alone, and you deserve to be heard.
My first year of university and there I was,
eager to make friends; eager to find myself,
but the only thing I found that night
was my rapist.
Never once did I think that I would ever be one
of those girls that they make episodes of Law and Order
about because that only happened on TV.
I had a group of friends that I trusted –
I trusted they would never take advantage of me like that and
I trusted that if I ever got into a situation like that,
they’d get me out of it.
But I realized that, in moments like those,
all you have is yourself, and I didn’t even have that.
I don’t remember much from that night,
because of the alcohol,
because being raped makes you want to rip
every memory attached to it out of your head
one by one
and hide it where it can’t hurt you anymore.
I remember laughing and taking pictures.
I remember drinking and throwing up.
I remember saying ‘no.’
I remember saying ‘no’ more than once.
I remember saying ‘no,’ and I remember him doing it anyways.
I don’t remember how the bruises that lined my spine
and covered my back the next morning got there.
I don’t remember how I ended up on the bathroom floor
with my clothes carelessly thrown about.
I remember being frozen, unable to take control of the situation;
of my body.
I didn’t understand how someone could do this to me.
I didn’t understand why I felt so disgusted with myself
or why I felt so cheap and used.
I didn’t understand why I hated the thought of him
so much if my friends all said it was consensual.
“It’s fine, you wanted it.”
I didn’t understand any of this until over a year after
because I hid every memory of it-
every memory of him.
I hid everything deep in my mind for a year
until I finally told someone, and
they believed me.
And that’s the thing about being a rape victim
that nobody believes –
you keep it all inside because you “wanted this;”
because “you led him on and you were both drunk;”
“because you kissed him back, so what was he supposed to think?”
But listen to me.
If you ever get into this situation,
think of me as the friend who will help you through it.
Think of me as the friend that I never had when I was raped.
Think of me when you want to keep it all in.
Tell someone until they believe you.
Tell someone until you’re no longer disgusted
and terrified of the idea of being touched.
Because you do not have to carry
the weight of what someone else did to you.
You do not have to suffer alone.
You do not have to be ashamed.