I am straying from my usual happy(ish) posts to share something a little darker today. In light of recent news about sexual misconduct in hollywood, I thought I would share my own story…
I have to start this post off with a disclaimer: this will get brutally personal and to anyone that has dealt with sexual assault, this post will be discussing my experience with it. This is my #metoo story.
I never thought that I would ever share this with anyone, let alone the entire internet. As I’ve grown older, I’ve told a few people here and there usually so they understand my panic attacks and constant anxiety but honestly some of my closest friends don’t know. Overall it’s a topic I keep to myself. My experience with this topic changed the course of my teenage years and in turn impacted much of my adult life. As a teenager that grew up in a relatively small town, I found myself saying: “that could never happen to me. Not here.” My ignorance is bliss approach was naive.
I was 17.
I thought he was my friend.
I was very wrong.
I have replayed that night so many times in my head. For the longest time I asked myself what I did wrong, what did I do to deserve this, why me. I blamed myself for all of it. I told myself things like: had I been a little more cautious this wouldn’t have happened, if I wore a shirt that covered more he would’t have done this, had I fought more instead of just saying no repeatedly maybe I could have avoided it. I felt dirty, the kind of dirty that doesn’t come off when you shower. The kind of dirty that’s on the inside. The thoughts of that night ate away at me, I couldn’t see myself as worthy of any type of human affection. I was tainted.
All I wanted to do was die and yet for some reason he never felt the same. He had the audacity to tell the world (by world I do mean my high school which at that point was the world) what he did that night. Well, his version of what he did that night. His version portrayed me as an overly willing and very eager participant, he never told the world that I said no. He never told the world that instead of being an actively involved participant, I laid there like a rag doll trying to not let him see me cry. In my memories of the night, I see it as sort of an out of body experience. I am watching from above, unable to help myself in anyway. I am for all intents and purposes — paralyzed. When he was finished with me, he sent me on my way and said “we should do this again sometime. I think we both enjoyed ourselves, didn’t we?”
I didn’t enjoy myself.
I hated him.
I hated myself.
Years past before I was every truly able to talk about that night. Up until graduate school I had only ever talked about that night with 2 people, not even my best friend knows (she will find out when and if she reads this blog)…
The best thing I ever did for myself was talk to someone in graduate school. But, that didn’t come easily. it came after my friend Hope, her name is fitting, found a letter I wrote which I intended as a suicide note of sorts. I was spiraling out of control, the guilt of that night was eating away at me and I had just lost my long term boyfriend due to my fear of truly opening up. I was always afraid that if I told him the truth he wouldn’t love me anymore and he would see me as the tainted trash that I viewed myself as. In hindsight I know that’s not true, but hey hindsight is 20/20 right?
Anyway, Hope gave me well, hope. She listened to my story without judgment and without saying a word until I was finished. She hugged me and let me cry it all out. She encouraged me to talk to someone. So I did. I talked a lot. I went once, sometimes twice, a week for a year. With Eleanor’s (my therapists name) help, I was able to talk about what happened. She even encouraged me to use my experience for good, to help others. So I volunteered at a women’s center and call center for while.
But now, even 10 years after the incident, I still get hit with waves of anxiety caused by him. This week was no walk in the park. I have found myself crying randomly, anxious to the point of not being able to function and scared of everything. If this has happened to you, you will understand what I am talking about. For those that are lucky enough to have not gone through this, imagine it like a scar most days it’s fine – you can see it but it doesn’t hurt – but then, there are those days where out of nowhere it starts to ache and burn as if it has been reopened. This week my scar was reopened and there is not much I can do except hope the pain subsides quickly.
Thankfully now I can look at myself and most days see someone that is deserving of human affection, someone that isn’t tainted and someone that didn’t deserve what happened that night. It’s been a long road but I’m glad to have made it here. And I want all sexual assault survivors (women and men) that read this to know that they aren’t alone. It’s not your fault. You didn’t deserve what happened to you. And if you ever need to talk, message me. I promise I will listen. Or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline
— The Lost Millennial
“There will be some things you won’t get over. Some things that will sting you so hard they will set you back to where you started. And you will hurt and hurt and hurt. But you will also rise from it. You will learn from the past. You will adapt and survive no matter how hard it gets. You will shape your own reality and accept how you should never settle for anything less than you deserve” r.m. drake