*Trigger warning: In this post I talk about my experience with sexual assault.
I am sharing my story because there are thousands of others who are not ready and may never be ready to share theirs. And I want the people around me to know they are not alone. I am not asking for help. I am not asking for opinions. I will not be offering apologies for not including you in this journey until now. If you are feeling excluded or offended because I did not confide in you, then I am glad I chose not to share with you. My story is not about you or your feelings.
I did not want to be reckless with my with story and my heart. I wanted to protect my story until I was ready to take the reactions of the world. The way I chose to heal 4 years ago was, and will continue to be, my choice and my choice alone. The difference between now and 4 years ago is I am ready to handle the inevitable skepticism, criticism, ignorant questions and pity that will come my way.
If I seem defensive and angry, it is because I am. I think a lot people who have survived sexual assault find (for better or for worse) an intense sense of self preservation when it comes to their memories, stories, and healing process. I had to be fiercely protective of myself and my heart in order to move forward. In a lot of ways I am still healing. I am sure it will be be a lifelong process. And I will continue to fight for and protect myself and my story.
I also sound angry because I am. I am angry this happened to me. I am angry men are taught they deserve everything they want, regardless of what it does to other people. I am angry that the blame for my trauma is placed on my shoulders, and not my perpetrator’s, because men are never responsible for their actions – every one else around them is. I am angry that my personhood was taken from me. I am angry I believed all the lies we tell victims to make them believe it was their fault. I am angry I have to write this blog post because people STILL do not see sexual assault for what it is and STILL call victims liars and sluts.
I am sharing this with you because I need to expose this disgusting secret. It is toxic for me to keep this hidden any longer. I think we keep secrets for many reasons – one of the biggest being shame. But this is not something I should be ashamed of. So I am setting it free…
• • •
I was 21.
I was on a Tinder date.
I had been drinking.
Reckless girls drink, and when you drink, bad things happen to you. I drank. So I deserved the bad things that happened to me.
I had chosen to trust a stranger.
I said no with my body, but couldn’t with my voice.
I was in shock. I fought the best I could. But fear gripped my voice. I never spoke out.
I felt stupid.
I felt like I deserved it for putting myself in that position.
If this happened to me, then I must be a stupid girl. Girls who are raped make stupid decisions.
I was applying for law school.
He was a med student.
Lawyers don’t get raped. They know better. Nobody would take me seriously professionally if I was dumb enough to get raped.
Doctors are people who are trusted. Who would believe me if I told them I was raped by someone who wanted to become a doctor?
I knew the kinds of questions I would be asked.
I knew the comments that would be made.
The first person I called told me “What you are feeling is regret. You’re just mad you decided to sleep with him.”
When I told my next partner about the assault, they got angry at me and told me I had betrayed them, even though the assault happened before I even met them.
I was ashamed of myself.
I was afraid.
I wanted it to disappear.
I was fragile and I thought if I had to endure any more emotions, I would crumble and never recover.
• • •
Even as I was running from his apartment, barefoot in the rain at 2am, I had already began to believe every lie we have ever told victims about their assault. I believed nobody would believe me. I believed I was to blame. I believed I deserved what happened to me because I did all the things you aren’t supposed to do. I believed my bodily autonomy was allowed to be taken from me because I had drank. I believed saying yes to a date meant I wasn’t allowed to say no to sex. I believed I was a slut. I believed I was a stupid girl.
Each time I tried to tell my story, I was told a new lie about why it was my fault. Why it wasn’t rape. Why I should feel ashamed.
So I stopped telling my story.
I choose to tell my story now because I think the world needs it.
I choose to tell my story now because as horrible as my experience has been, women and men of color are rarely listened to. And even if they are, their stories are never protected, never vindicated, and never held with care.
I tell my story in solidarity with every victim of sexual assault.
I tell my story to say to every girl who can’t get out of bed because they are gutted with fear and shame, #MeToo.
I tell my story to set myself free from carrying this secret.
I tell my story because I no longer let myself believe all those lies.
I tell my story because we need to do better.
I tell my story to say to every person who thinks they can take whatever they want from someone simply because they want it, #TimesUp.
I tell my story because there are millions of others just like it.
And that is not something I can quietly live with.