Why I Share My Story As a Sexual Assault Survivor


When I was 17, I experienced sexual assault. The abuse would continue for eight months. My instructor for a high school fire science program I was in was the one who assaulted me. During those months, he would threaten me, then sexually, emotionally, mentally, and physically abuse me. He took what felt like everything from me and made me feel like the smallest person on earth. 

When I came forward about the sexual assault, I didn’t realize how much of my story the media and people would share, write, and release. I’ll never forget walking the hallway at school and everyone stopping and staring at me as I walked by. Someone stopped and showed me the first of many articles people would release about what I went through. 

That whole week, my abuse was in newspapers all over the state, on news stations, and all over social media. For a year and half those articles would continue. A set of new ones released after every court hearing, update, or change in case. Anyone can find those articles, news castings, and all the shares forever. Complete strangers told my story for all to see without my say or any respect for me as a survivor. 

Headlines would read “Fire Science Teacher Teaches Student How to Handle His Hose,” “Female Student Sexually Assaulted by Teacher,” “Ex Teacher Charged for Sexually Assaulting Female,” and so on. Headlines that were disgusting, disrespectful, and lies.  

No one really knew the abuse I endured but me. Those reporters didn’t care about me as the victim. They knew with headlines like that, they would catch people’s attention. They would profit from my abuse. 

The articles would include details about the sexual assault, details describing me as a person, details that gave my identity away. Those details were supposed to be protected since I was a minor. And the articles gave details about my rapist and how great of a person he was and how involved he was in the school and community. 

People all around would talk about me and my case. School staff would make comments, saying I was a threat to their students and staff. The school board would meet and try to convince me to finish school at home. Some of my family and so-called friends would gossip, laugh, and bully me. 

My world was crashing down and I was at my lowest. I needed someone on my side. I share my story for a survivor who may be feeling alone, scared, helpless, confused, and hurt. And I will never ever forget how these people made me feel. I will never forget the hurtful comments and jokes others made about me. I will never forget reading and seeing all those articles about me. And I will never forget how badly I wanted out of this life back then. 

Everyone but me was allowed to talk. 

For the longest time, people advised me to stay quiet and move on. They said I couldn’t talk about my case. Then one day, I decided it was my turn. I got tired of reading, and hearing things about me. I realized  if there’s a story that’s going to be told, I would rather be the one telling it. The abuse was my reality, not just some breaking news story. My story changed my life forever, changed who I was as a person, and has affected me and will continue to affect me my entire life. 

I realized one day that I deserve to have control over my story. I deserve to share what I’m comfortable with. And I deserve to heal and grow. 

Sharing my story has changed my life. It has finally given me the support system I used to long for. It has led me to not only fight for myself, but survivors all over. Sharing my truth, voice, and story has freed me of so much pain and anger. Sharing my story has healed parts of me I thought could never heal. I was finally in charge. I had my voice back and no one can ever take that away from me again. 

My story is mine and it deserves to be told… by me. 

Feature Image by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash


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