Shared Stories

“I was raped by my father four days before my sixteenth birthday.”

By an anonymous contributor

I was raped by my father four days before my sixteenth birthday. We were together in the hotel sitting at the bar and drinking. Now I understand that I should not drink and he should not give me alcohol. But what is done is done. And regret is a waste of time. At night we went to our room and I fall asleep. I woke up because he was touching me. I was too drunk to understand what is actually happening until he started raping me. At one moment he stopped and went to smoke on the balcony. He thought that I was asleep all this time but the point is that I wasn’t. I was confused, angry , disappointed and upset at the same time. Everything in my head mixed and the only one thing that I knew that this is my chance and I have to run. And I ran as fast as I could. I had only one t-shirt on me , I was crying and screaming. I came to the reception and they called police. The whole night I spent in the hospital, than in the office and only next day evening I came home. I was completely broken. I didn’t know what to feel. The first week was the hardest. I was just trying to mentally survive. And I did it. The most important thing I understood is that how this situation will affect me is my choice. And if I don’t want it to ruin my future life than it won’t. I just told myself that I’m stronger than that. That the stupid mistake of my stupid father won’t change my mental health. So, I want to tell you now that your mental health is your choice. You are stronger than you think. So, don’t let this affect you.

Shared Stories

I was 15 years old and an exchange student in a country with a significantly different time zone than my home

By an anonymous contributor

It was a week to christmas when my host dad sexually assaulted me. I was 15 years old and an exchange student in a country with a significantly different time zone than my home. I wasn’t entirely happy in my host family but couldn’t pinpoint to why that was. Was it awkward me, the different culture or the family?

So I neglected my feeling and didn’t say no. It started with the little things that I didn’t like like him touching me when we were playing around, but it never struck me as being on purpose, so I let it slide.

That day, the week before christmas, I late and everyone else slowly went to bed, leaving just the two of us in the living room. We talked about something, I don’t remember what, when he started touching me. I managed to get out and go to bed somehow but wrote my biological mum that I needed to talk to her. The next day we skyped and I told her, crying. I don’t know how I managed but it was early afternoon when my host mom got a call that I would be picked up and needed to pack because I had accused my host father of sexual assault.

Not only was I not aware of me accusing him, but also not prepared for my host family knowing that. My host mum confronted me when I got my suitcase if it was actually true and wouldn’t believe me. My host sister and I sat there crying while I packed.
Then I was picked up and had to tell my story multiple times even though I wanted to be let alone, treated as stupid because people believed my language skills to be inferior and finally left with no option at all.

There was no proof of course, so I didn’t sue and I wonder to this day if this was the right decision. Of course I know that he wouldn’t have been convicted (rightfully so), but he would’ve had a record. I don’t know if he ever assaulted anyone else, but if so, wouldn’t that partly be my fault?

Shared Stories

“I don’t like to tell people how I met my boyfriend, and neither does he.”

By an anonymous contributor

I don’t like to tell people how I met my boyfriend, and neither does he.

The reason? Harv (Names have been changed) and I had never met until the night of his ‘initiation’ into a gang. The ‘initiation’ consisted of finding a girl and raping her. Harv, being eighteen at the time, wanted to get into the gang; he needed the money that would come from sex trafficking.

I didn’t get raped far from home: I was walking home after I finished babysitting my best friend’s kid, as he was out with his wife. His house was not far from mine, a mere mile. The night was warm, and I decided to walk home. I was seventeen at the time.
Between my street and my best friend’s was a school and a field. I took a shortcut across the field.

There was a group of young men huddled around a bench. Some of them called to me, varying from “Hey, sexy,” to “Nice tits.” I knew I was relatively attractive, and I fit the description of a Disney princess well – blonde, slim, doe-eyed, and was used to thins kind of thing. I ignored the men and kept walking, at least until one of them pushed another towards me.

This guy, to put it simply, was hot and strong. The Ken doll to my Barbie looks. Except, my prince wasn’t charming. My fairy tale was a horror story. I jogged to stay away from him, but eventually he caught up to me. His first words were, “Hey, babe, I don’t bite.” He caught me by the shoulders and pushed me down to the grass, earning cheers of approval from the other men.
When I screamed, he covered my mouth and handcuffed me, then proceeded to pull down my pants, then his, and rape me. When he was done, he left me lying on the field and walked away, not looking at me twice.

I got home in two hours. I knew it was not my fault, and that I was not guilty. That night, I called the police and reported being raped. Coincidentally, in a week, there was a night that the local college was open to anyone who wanted to speak up against sexual assault. I signed up, and my name and picture were put on the website advertising the event. I wrote a letter to my attacker, referring to him as ‘you’.

On the night of my speech, I waited backstage anxiously, listening to other men and women speak up against rape. Before I went on the stage, the guy who had been on before me gave me a hug and told me it felt awesome to speak up. Empowered by his bravery and happiness, I climbed up on stage.
I scanned the full room, looking for my friends. Finally, my eyes landed on the front row. He was there. My rapist. Instead of running out like I felt doing, I smiled at the audience and read my letter. More than once, I locked eyes with him, and every time, a new rush of energy overcame me. Every time, he got redder and redder. FINALLY, he could see what he had done.
I marched off that stage with my head held high. At the end of the night, the person in charge offered the mike to anyone in the audience to speak. To my greatest astonishment , my rapist stood up. He walked up on the stage, in his leather jacket and jeans, and confessed to what he had done. Though he didn’t mention me by name, his eyes never left mine. Here’s an excerpt from his speech:

“I am a rapist. I’m sure nobody expected that tonight, someone in the audience would be one of the attackers mentioned. I have no excuse for what I did, and I will never have an excuse. But – there’s two sides to every story. No, I haven’t turned myself in, and no, I don’t plan on it. I’m not proud of what I did, but being around certain people made me feel powerful, and this was my way of showing it.”

I knew he was lying; he had been pressured into it. After the night was over, at the refreshment table, Harv approached me, reeking of alcohol, and said, “Hey, you recognize me, right?” Like he was a celebrity I should know. I slapped him and walked out.

Fast forward five years, and we met again by chance. Harv confessed to what he had done, and strangely, I felt better, too. I told him my side of the story, and he told me his. He’s now off drugs, sober, and out of the gang. A month ago was the first time I visited his apartment, after dating him for a year. No matter what people tell me, I love him, and the feeling is mutual. He is not the person he used to be, and I’m proud he changed. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s just important to acknowledge them.

Shared Stories

“Is it consensual sex if I was 8 years old and didn’t understand what you were saying? No.”

By an anonymous contributor

Is it consensual sex if I was 8 years old and didn’t understand what you were saying? No.
I was 8 and living with my family in and out of hotel rooms because we didn’t have our own place. My mom would come home with new guys every once in a while so I learned never to get to attached until one guy came around and told my mom he had a place for us to live for awhile. My mom took him up on that offer and we moved to a little white house in South Saint Paul. A lot of people lived in that house but among all of them I remember one easily. He ruined my life for years. What he did to me consumed me. I had never had an older sibling that I felt truly cared about me and how I felt until I met him. When my bike was stolen, he comforted me. When I was upset, he was there. When I was sick, he was next to me making sure that I was okay. I didn’t know better. I didn’t know what he was planning. My mom should’ve seen the signs from him. At the time, he was dating my older sister and at one point during their relationship, he pinned her in the closet and tried to have sex with her. My mom heard her screaming and ran to go help but never stopped to think that he would try anything like that with me or my younger sister. One day, he noticed that I was really upset about something and asked me if later that night I wanted to have a sleepover in his room and we would watch a movie. I thought of him as a brother so of course, I said yes and I asked my mom for her permission and she should’ve said no but didn’t. I walked into his room later that night and he had candles lit and the movie ready to be played. I should’ve known something was going on but I was so excited to watch this movie that I didn’t even think. I fell asleep and woke up to being on his lap naked. He had decided he wanted to have anal sex with me. An 8 year old! He whispered in my ear that “it felt good” and I was frozen. Any movements I made that night were because I felt like I might be killed if I did the wrong thing. He moved me from the couch to the bed and told me to get on top of him and ride him. I did as I was told. I fell back asleep shortly after and I still have no idea why I didn’t leave his room. I suppose it could be because of the way I grew up, sex was a normal thing in my life. My mom did it all the time with me in the room so I didn’t know better. I didn’t know that it was wrong, I just knew that I didn’t like it. He took pictures of my naked vagina while I was asleep. I woke up the next morning and went downstairs to get breakfast and his mom stopped me in the hallway and said “you know he loves you right?” To this day, I still don’t know if she knows what he did to me. My sister and her friend were sitting in his room one day and found the phone that he had the pictures of me on. They didn’t know it was me and I was to afraid to tell them. I thought I did something wrong. I didn’t tell anyone until I was 11. My family was pissed but there was nothing we could do. I talked to so many cops and therapists, they didn’t do anything because there wasn’t much they could do. At the age of 9 I was diagnosed with PTSD and still suffer from that to this day. I am now 18 years old and I am a Freshman in college. He tries to reach out to me every now and then but I ignore him. He doesn’t understand what he did to my life. The thing that haunts me the most is that he came up to me one day while I was playing outside and whispered in my ear “are you ready for round two?

Shared Stories

“I had to relive my rape over and over”

By C 

It was just over a year ago.

I was anxious to get back to college and see all my friends I missed during summer break. At the time I still considered my soon-to-be rapist a close friend. Many times I replay the events of that night and think about how I could’ve avoided being raped. The sad reality is that if he didn’t rape me that night, he would’ve raped me another night. He was patient, waiting for me to be in my most vulnerable state. He knew what he wanted and wasn’t going to let anything stop him from getting what he wanted.

I had intentions to see my friend that night. Unfortunately, when challenging my rapist through my university many believe that meant that I had every intention of being raped. I went out with friends and woke up naked, bloody and being screamed at with texts on my phone from my rapist’s roommate asking if I was okay. I grabbed my clothes and ran out of the dorm room. I wasn’t sure entirely what had happened, I could only remember flashes from the night; the flashes I do remember where scenes from horror movies.

On my walk home I opened the camera on my phone to see my face and lips since they hurt. I saw how beat up I look and felt sick. My lip was double the size it usually is and there was dried blood around my face. I could feel that someone had been inside me and did not care to be gentle. When I got home I knew I needed to shower to get every bit of what was left of him off of me. It was when I got undressed and saw my body that I felt paralyzed and truly understood what he had done to me.

The marks on my body showed where he restrained me when I tried to fight. What I would give to go back in time and not have gone out that night. For a long time I chose to protect him. No one tells you how you are supposed to feel after being raped. I was confused and shocked that this could happen to me by someone I had introduced to my parents. Nothing was safe anymore, or so it felt.

I tried to talk to my rapist about what happened, but he was not receptive. I figured maybe this was one big mistake or misunderstanding. Rape isn’t a misunderstanding. As I can to terms to what he did to my body I gradually became more angry at him. I watched a TED talk that explained that 90% rapes were done by repeat offenders. I knew I had to do something. I was terrified to call my friend a rapist. It took my months to report him for raping me. I actually protected him when people questioned my bruising and swelling. The doctors were forced to document the damage he had done to the cartilage in my chest. But when it was the time for me to report, I did.

Reporting my rape and standing up for myself may have been harder than enduring my rape itself. It lead to months of ridicule and blame. People want to assume that rapists are innocent because if they believe victims, they are believing a very sad truth about mankind. It is sad to be forced to understand how evil the acts, even for the individuals closest to us, can commit. People assume they know more about your rape than you do, even though you were the one that lived it and relive it everyday.

I learned a lot about my rape through my rapist testimony. It wasn’t until months after reporting that I read his statement. I learned then that I had been raped multiple times. He described where he came each time like he had been bragging to the investigator. He talked about my body and I could almost hear how he would’ve spoken his testimony out loud. I felt revictimized.

I contemplate whether I am thankful or not that I can’t remember my rape in its entirety. Throughout the Title IX process (the process my university follows when a student alleges another of sexual assault or rape) I had to relive my rape over and over as I told my story to investigators and a board of faculty. It’s embarrassing to tell adults about your sex life. They asked questions about your sex life before and after your rape like that changes the fact you were raped.

My rapists was expelled from the university and asked to never step foot on campus property again. Because my Title IX case resulted in the proper disciplinary actions, people congratulated me on “winning” my case. I did not win my case. There is no winning for me in rape. I can simply tried to live with this as my past.

This event was horrific. This is not something I can simply get over. This event is part of me now. My rape has shaped the individual I have become. I have learned how resilient and badass of a woman I can be. I will continue to fight against rape culture and victim shaming. No one deserves to be violated in this way and no one asks for it. I think it’s very difficult for people to understand if they haven’t gone through it and its okay to not always know exactly how to respond to hearing about these horrific events, but always showing support to victims is vital. I had a few people who supported me and reminded me that, contrary to campus culture and belief, what happened to me is not my fault and I am #NotGuilty.

Shared Stories

I’m not sure how to stop the PTSD

By an anonymous contributor

When I was three years old, my father got a brain tumour. Shortly after that, my great aunt discovered my father had been sexually abusing me. She walked in to my room and heard him moaning and found him on top of me kissing me in a way he should not have been. She never called the authorities. Rather she spent every night on the floor of my bedroom, guarding me. Meanwhile my mother was dying of cancer as well. She never knew. I struggle with this every single day. Why a father would do such a monstrous thing to his daughter who he was meant to protect. He died before my mother did, I was 5 years old. I’ll never know why, and I’ll never truly get justice. This event has haunted me for years, I’m not sure how to stop the PTSD and depression that has come with this trauma. But I hope that one day I will be able to share my story without being anonymous.

Shared Stories

5 years ago today I spoke up

By an anonymous contributor

A quick way home.

5 years ago today I spoke up. I told a trusted teacher that my best friend, the guy I loved, had forced me into having Oral sex.

I blamed myself. After all I bore the name of my biological father, a man unlike my friend, so maybe this was to be my life.

I was destined to be the ‘sweet girl’ the girl that whilst being pressed up against a headstone (I can laugh at the irony, a quick way home could lead to this) I wished for death.

He pushed me to the ground, his privates in hand and looked me in the eyes. Those beautiful eyes I grew up adoring became the eyes from every horror movie, the monsters under my childhood bed became his essence. My best friend was dead, and in his place was it.

It has haunted me for 5 years, during in my darkest times where no one believed the cries, of my best friend sexually assaulted me! My best friend touched me in a place no man bar my husband should, my best friend got let off scotch free- because of me.

I never screamed, I never moved, I let it happen, no I am not guilty, no I did not ask for it to happen.

But I didn’t scream. I was scared, not of what was happening, not of him, but of loosing him. Because in my young, screwed up mind, I thought that if I moved, or made any noise, he would leave me and I only had him, he made sure I only had him, he conored me off from the world, told teachers that I was a lier, told friends to leave me to fend for myself, he did everything I thought he would never do.

But in my head, I still thought of him as my hero, the boy that saved me from bully’s, the guy that gave me my first kiss, the man I was going to marry. So I let myself close down, I became numb, I never moved, I think I let myself go, just go.

Now he is the boy who’s eyes are the stuff of nightmares. The boy that tarnished my past memory’s and has engraved images into my mind.

For years I have not trusted men, for years I have gotten comments, at times it gets too hard. But then I remember that even if I feel alone, even if I get shut in rooms and forced to recount every detail over and over again, until I’m in physical pain, I’v not done anything wrong, I spoke up, I thought against my demons and whatever crap the world threw at me and I carried on.

I see him sometimes, he is always with his mum or alone, and I can’t help but feel.. Something, not fear, never fear, but sad, not because of the past, but for his future.

Because I know the truth. And for along as I live, I won’t give up the fight. Not just for myself, my rights as a human on this earth, but for every girl and woman and man who have been harassed, hurt, or worse by the people they love.

Shared Stories

To the Caregivers of the Son Who Sexually Assaulted Me in Foster Care

By Olivia Johnson 

To you.

If you’re reading this you know who you are. I don’t need to address you by name. I don’t think that is right for me to publicize your personal information like that. It would be legally and morally wrong. And NO this isn’t a letter to your son that assulted me. This is a letter to you, the caregivers

7 years has passed since that horrible night. A night that has been ingrained in my mind for the past 7 years. The night your son sexually assulted me. What happened that night is not something you can “just get over” or “pretend it didn’t happen” but god do I wish it never happened.

I have gone over that night an unbearable amount of times. Thinking about all the countless different ways I could have changed the outcome. Which sounds ridiculous because I had NO power to change the motives of your son who assulted me. It wasn’t MY fault. Although when I took him to court the defense tried to tell me it was my fault..that I was “obsessed” with him..I can count on ONE hand the amount of times I had previously BRIEFLY had any communication with him. I barely knew him!  And if was up to me he would have had NOTHING to do with my life but that changed the night HE decided to sexually assult me. Only after that night has he contaminated my mind. I am disgusted and repulsed by him. And NO (defense lawyer) this did not happen because of the clothes I chose to wear when I was 15. NO i did not “make it up” and NO my sleeping pills did not cause me to “fabricate a story”. NO my past mental health issues did not cause me to “create this story” in my mind. I am not as crazy as the defense made me out to be.

Back to you, the caregivers. You were my favorite caregivers. I loved being around you. You’d call me your “favorite girl” I was so happy when I was with you. I could truly be myself. Your house was my “home away from home”. A place I felt safe and secure. You were a funny, entertaining couple who from day one I just “clicked with”.You ate my favorite foods, and drunk my favorite drinks and you always made sure to have my favorite things in the cupboard for when I came over. I loved you guys. I am an EXTREMELY sentimental person but remember when I gave my favorite childhood toys to your granddaughter so she’d have toys to play with? Those toys meant the world to me but I was willing to give them to her because I valued you guys and wanted to make her happy.

Remember that time I heard you say “I check her nappy” (referring to your toddler granddaughter aka the daughter of your son who sexually assulted me) to “make sure he hasn’t toto(ed) with her” and when I asked what “toto(ed)” meant you replied “touched”. You were already SUSPICIOUS.

W H Y would you be even remotely shocked when I came foward and told the police that he sexually assaulted me..you had your suspicions..what happened to me just CONFIRMED them.

Let’s say the defense was correct(they weren’t) but let’s just say I did “fabricate this story”…what exactly would my motive be? What exactly would I have been gaining?
The answer is simple.

N O T H I N G.
Doesn’t that mean anything to you? Doesn’t that make you think “oh maybe she did tell the truth”.

I gained nothing but lost so much. I lost my favorite caregivers. I lost my home away from home. I lost the people who made me laugh, the people who I could be myself around. I lost you. And more importantly I lost control. I lost my 15 year old self. I lost my sense of trust. I lost me.

Despite thinking of myself I thought of you. When I told someone what had happened I defended you and said it wasn’t your fault. I never attacked or blamed you if anything I did the opposite I defended you from day one. 7 years later I still don’t have hatred for you. I hate and dispize your son but I do not hate you. Because it wasn’t you who touched me.

Once upon a time I was your favorite girl..then that night happened and from the moment you found out I was a disgrace in your eyes as you stood by your son. You chose him over me. I know that blood is thicker than water but by you supporting him you are telling him that what he did was OK and (I hope to god this doesn’t happen again) but what if it does?  What if it’s already been done to your granddaughter…that same granddaughter you were worried about..will she end up like me and become a disgrace to you too?

For years I have wanted nothing but to talk to you, to explain to you every detail and to just have you hear me out. Because in my mind if you just listened to what happened from me directly maybe you would believe me and see the ugly, disgusting, smart, cunning monster that your son is.

I’ve spent a long time trying to understand why you made the decision to support your son. I can only speculate..maybe you know what happened to me and you know it’s true but you don’t want to believe it, maybe by you believing it it would cause too much pain maybe it’s easier for you to just pretend it didn’t happen and just pretend I was some “mentally ill foster kid that made a story up”. Writing that sentence breaks me heart because you of all people knew the type of person I was. Notice I used past tense because you have no idea of the person I’ve become.

I was a teenager when the police took him to court on my behalf. I was a teenager when I gave my testimony to the court room. I fought for myself and spoke honestly. I was articulate and when I left the court building that day do you know how I felt? Amazing! I spoke my truth while being doubted and nit picked on every tiny detail by the defense. But I stood my ground. The verdict didn’t matter to me. I knew in my heart i spoke the truth that day and I’ll forever be able to live with myself because I don’t have guilt of lying in a court room.

I fought for not only myself but also for anyone else who has been a victim of sexual assault or for anyone else that may become a victim due to your son assaulting them -past, present, future.

Although I felt amazing after the two court cases. Reality of life after a traumatic sexual assault slowly began to cause devastation on my life. But now years later I have been receiving help for it. I am starting to think of me and putting MYSELF first NOT you. I am starting to see my life again. And starting to LIVE life again. Because for the past 7 years I’ve lived in fear.

Despite being burdened by what happened that night seven years ago along with the PTSD that has come with it..I have grown and changed so much as a person. I have overcome things that I didn’t think I’d be able to cope with-but I have. I am not where I want to be but neither am I where I used to be. So much has changed but one thing that has remained the same is the painful memory of that night and the two court cases that followed. I am a work in progress. One day I hope that memory is a little less painful. One day I hope it has a little bit less power and control of my mind. One day I hope it becomes a distinct memory one that does not bring tears, greif and heart ache. Ultimately I hope one day that night means nothing to me..that him, you and your family mean nothing to me. No more pain. No more hurt. All I want to be is left with is a peaceful mind where you and your family play no part in. One day I will overcome the devastation of that horrible night.

Tonight 15/5/2017 marks seven years. Today seven years later I tell my story.

As I said in the beginning. To you, the caregivers. All these years have passed. I hope you understand the gravity of this situation. I hope you question that night and this helps put the pieces of the puzzle together. I wish you well although I believe you don’t wish the same to me. I hope you know what happened that night DID happened- whether right now you believe it or not I hope one day you see the truth. I don’t believe you directly are bad people and I don’t wish harm on you.

Although this letter isn’t written to your son. I hope he remembers that night for the rest of his life and I hope that the guilt of him lying eats away at him. He was an adult I was 15. What he did was sick, disgusting and horrible. He is a disgusting human being but he made his bed. Time for him to lay in it.

To this day i still suffer from the traumatic events that happened 7 years ago. But I am doing well, considering. I still fight for the truth of that night. I fight for my freedom from the PTSD that remains long after the assult. I fight to be heard. I fight to be taken seriously and not labeled as “mentally ill” and have my story disregarded or have my mental health used against me. I refuse to “keep quiet” in order to make others comfortable.

[To anyone who knows this family. Don’t contact them. Don’t harass or attack them. If they read this then so be it if they don’t it doesn’t matter. I wrote this because it’s what I’ve wanted to say to them. I’ve said what I wanted. It’s done]

-From Olivia, your ex foster kid.

Shared Stories

It has made me feel hatred and paranoia about men

By an Anonymous Contributor

One day, during a 6 month stint travelling around South East Asia with my long-term boyfriend, we stopped off at a beach for the day. We set up in a quiet area directly in front of some fishing boats. Whilst I was reading my book, I noticed a man leaning on one of the boats and looking at us. I tried to ignore him, but soon after I noticed that he had his penis out and he was masturbating whilst staring at me. I quickly told my boyfriend who jumped up, but the man ran away. I know that this is not a terribly horrific story, but it has made me feel hatred and paranoia about men, and I hope that the process of sharing my story will help me to overcome it.

Shared Stories

Love’s Cry

By Diane Kaufman

When I read that Gessica Notaro’s ex-boyfriend had thrown acid in her face and she might go blind, as if her being attacked might not be merely enough violence to warrant a headline, as domestic violence is so commonplace, I was galvanized to write a poem. Or put another way, the poem was galvanized to have me write it. I had been reading of women being assaulted and women being murdered by their ex-boyfriends, lovers and husbands for years. I found myself within the last six months saving articles about women being hurt and killed. All those stories of these women, all those words and images stirred wildly inside me. A chaos trying to organize itself into some kind of meaning, even if that meaning might feel like “meaninglessness,” at least now it has a shape, a container, and can be shared with self and others. This is how “Love’s Cry” entered the world. It is a poem about domestic violence that has such powerful energy. This poem is alive and its intent is to do good in the world. The sickness which is violence must be cured. It must be prevented from ever happening. I found images to go with the poem and collaborated with other artists to have it become embodied as a poem video to prevent domestic violence. I am a poet, a child psychiatrist, and a humanism in medicine awardee. As a child I was molested. I grew up afraid. Of all that I have ever done, I am most proud of Love’s Cry. Please help Love’s Cry be heard around the world.

 

Shared Stories

I am not a test, I am a human who deserves respect. Do not make me feel guilty.

By Andy 

My body was paralyzed and it seemed like an eternity before I was able to move again. The rush of adrenaline circulated my body and I was alerted by what was going on. The wetness of his lips moved its way down from my lips to my neck as I attempted to move him away from me. I attempted to run, but the strong grip he had around my arm pulled me back to where I was as I faced yet again the sloppy unwanted kiss. I felt his hand around my waist as his cynical smile gleams down upon me as I repeat the words “stop, no, please” over and over again. His hand began to slowly move up from my waist to the inside of my under bra where he attempted to grab my breasts. I pushed his hand away and yet again, another faint whimper as his fingernails dig into my breast, leaving a mark of displeasure. Tears began to swallow up the image of his face. I push him off, only to have myself get pushed to back onto the wall behind me. Where was everybody, in a school of 1800 and not one came along to try to help me?I gather all my strength as I give my final push and run to the staircase. I run down to the first floor, in hopes that he had not seen where I ran off to. I drop to my knees and begin to cry, I didn’t want to look at anyone for the next 3 days, I thought if I made eye contact with someone they would realize what had happened.
I didn’t speak to no one. Days later, I decided to tell my transgender group counselor about it. I was rushed to the dean, who then later called the superintendent who then called my parents. “Did you want to do it? Was he your boyfriend? Are you sure you didn’t ask?”, they all kept saying. I was given a restraining order, but what use of it is it if every time I walked out of school he was standing there looking at me? I called my detective but all I got was, “If he doesn’t make contact, we can’t do anything.” My guidance counselor said that this was bound to happen to him. Do I look like a test monkey to you?
The system is broken, I was not granted safety in my school and to make matter worse, this case was not accounted for. I lived under the shadow of their abuser and forced to live with the memory of that night where their dignity was ripped away from them. Constantly crying in the shower and having nightmares of that day. Everyone deserves to be safe, no one should be a product of abuse. I am not a test, I am a human who deserves respect. Do not make me feel guilty.

Shared Stories

He had assaulted me physically. He had assaulted me emotionally.

By an Anonymous Contributor

He wrapped his arm around my neck, held me close and put his ear very near to my right ear. He was drunk, married with one child and 20 years older than me, and most of all, I didn’t like it at all. It was so disgusting that I hated my guy friend in front of me who wouldn’t do or say anything.

I hated myself to let something like this happen to me again. After all that had happen to me in the past? How can I let someone do this to me again? Why am I so stupid and hopeless?

I couldn’t forgive myself. I told my sister about it. I doubted myself because the unpleasant gesture wasn’t dramatic. She said, “Big or small. You didn’t like it. Then it’s sexual harassment. And, it’s not your fault. He is the asshole. He is to blame. You? Not even a little bit.”

Yeah. She was right. It’s not my fault. He had assaulted me physically. He had assaulted me emotionally. His repression made me believe it was my fault when it wasn’t.

Today, I found a new group chat. There were 5 people in it. I opened it and he was asking me how I was and where I was, three years after the incident. He called me a few days later after the incident then as if nothing had happened and he was in a good mood. I hung up right away and we never spoke. At present day, drunk again, he complained about this divorced life and how the dating app wouldn’t let him sign up because he was too old. I quickly got out of that group chat.

Shared Stories

I was more sad from the loss of a chance to reconcile than from the death itself.

By Nike 

At the ages of 6 and 7, I was molested by my older brother. He was a very abusive older brother, far beyond the typical “boys will be boys” or “older brothers kick butt” expressions. Our older sister found out and told me to keep quiet or I’d cause too much pain in the family. My parents were distant. Years later, I came out to my sister. She told our parents against my wishes. That was when my parents cut me out of their lives. Ten years of no communication went by when my mother suffered a stroke and passed away, during the holiday season. My mother was the more likely to accept me for who I am. I was more sad from the loss of a chance to reconcile than from the death itself.

Shared Stories

This epidemic in our country and our world and especially within the Church.

By Megan

My name is Megan and I was sexually assaulted. It feels unreal to write these words as I have been in denial and misunderstanding about the event for 17 years. I was 15 when it happened. I was a child, even though -ager was the suffix to my age. I had only been a teenager for 2 years. I couldn’t drive and had only finished one year of high school.

I was assaulted by someone I trusted, someone in a position of leadership and authority over me, and someone whose attention I enjoyed. I was away at a youth camp and Youth Leader was always there, always around, and even though I had a boyfriend at home, who was a jerk, this guy seemed like a real person of faith who valued me. Even though he was a college leader on a high school camp trip and 5 years older than me. A big gap when those 5 years are 15 and 20.

He would secretly show me his attention which was somewhat confusing, but I guess I understood the secrecy since he was a “leader”? I am a romantic at heart and was even then. I have also always struggled with my value and my physical appearance. I was at camp with a bunch of beach blonde beauties and I always felt inferior to them. What guy would like me?

So when someone showed me attention instead of them and I kinda liked it. Because I kinda liked his attention I thought what happened was a result of me liking it, and therefore I was deserving of it. Or maybe I deserved it because I wasn’t a valuable person. Or because my dress was too tight…

My interactions with Youth Leader at camp were relatively elementary. He was always around talking and flirting, secretly holding my hand sometimes. Like on the bus ride home.

When camp was over I don’t remember if we talked anymore. It was 1999 and there was no texting and he definitely didn’t like me enough to call me.

Weeks, a month later, I am not sure, but Youth Leader was back in town from college for some reason. He came to our Youth Group Meeting and in my blurry memories of 17 years ago he picked me up from my house (along with another one of my guy friends) and drove me to the meeting.

That weekend he also came to our church group. We used to all go out for bagels afterwards and he came along. We were sitting at a table with OTHER people. In a booth I still walk by weekly because I still live in the same area of the same town and go to the same damn bagel place. Underneath the table he started touching me under my dress. I don’t know what I thought. This is weird? He must really like me? Why do guys always want to touch me down there? I guess its ok since he’s a christian and he’s a leader…maybe this isn’t wrong like I always thought it was?

Somehow, I used to think because I was an idiot, but the real reason is probably because I was a naive 15 year old, I let him drive me, alone, to where my parents were having lunch at their club. He stopped the car off to the side of the parking lot. And he took that opportunity in that parking lot of the place where I still go to eat with my parents, where I had my wedding reception, where my kids love to go and look at boats, where I spent every summer after that working out like a crazed athlete, laying by the pool eating pineapple and nothing else, trying to get tanner and skinner by the minute…

In that parking lot is where he assaulted me. No asking, no romantic gestures, no gentleness, or “I really like you”, just full on aggressive painful touching and “kissing”. I say “kissing” because I felt like he was going to bite my face off. I am pretty sure I tasted blood. And it hurt. A kiss that hurts??? I don’t think that is actually a kiss.

And then the other stuff, which I felt like I brought on bc of the strange touching in the bagel place. Which makes me feel sick to talk about and remember. I could throw up right now. But full on aggressive down the underwear “object penetration” (a new legal phrase I have learned) painful touching.

I remember it hurt, I wanted it to be over, and when I got of of the car I felt nasty. Scared my parents would be able to tell.

I also thought later that night…”that felt so wrong and bad but maybe it was ok because he is a good person. He was my Youth Leader”. But the shame was so heavy, I had no way to deal with it, I was too scared to talk about it, so I just minimized it, denied it, ignored it. For years. We never talked again, he never looked me in the eye when I ran into him at church. Which led to me feeling even more shame. He called once not long after the apologize and though it’s very blurry I have some memory of him asking me not to tell anyone. I had no plans to tell because I felt like it made me look bad I didn’t even think about how royally he had fucked up. I also remember the realization of “Wow, he really didn’t like me. He didn’t do that because he liked me or wanted to be close to me.” Which in turn led to even deeper shame and struggle with my value. Someone took something from me and he acted like it was because he liked me, but he didn’t.

It took my (other) youth leader being indicted for doing something similar 15 years ago to my friend for me to realize this was actually a big deal. Also talking to my friend who was worked with victims of assault and very educated on how often people minimize or don’t understand their own assault.   And now, 17 years later, I am processing both events at the same time. The denial, anger, rage, depression all balled into one are not easy to work through. But it has given me a new passion for this epidemic in our country and our world and especially within the Church.

I ask God why he let it happen, but I already know. He can use my story. He can use my righteous anger. Even if it’s just in educating my own children and being aware of the victims all around me, he can use it. He can come into these wounds and heal them, redeem this story, and maybe I can help at least one other person.

Shared Stories

I feel like everything is my fault

By an Anonymous Contributor

My husband and I have been together for almost 7 years. We have always had a explosive relationship since we were dating. There was always signs of controlling and jealousy from both ends of the relationship. But he would always victimize himself and turn tables as if I had everything to blame for. Unfortunately, it worked because til this day I feel like everything is my fault. I started noticing his insecurity after our 2 year of being married he would always bring up comments about I was going to leave his side after I finished my career he was always making sure I wouldn’t be talking to any guys or else he would be extremely suspicious. It wasn’t until I told him I was not ready to have a third child with him that I needed time to finish my career to think of a possible third baby. He started forcing himself on me I didn’t really know how to react because he was my husband but I did not feel good at all I felt like I had done something wrong to deserve this. My reaction was passive and submissive I have always let people do what they please with me and sadly when it came to the point of this whole dilemma it was my natural reaction. I started befriending a young man I knew from before and soon I caught myself in a love relationship with him. My feelings were mostly about feeling safe and protected which I felt with the young man. Soon after that I found myself pinned down on the bed trying to push myself up but unable to from underneath my husband. It had been the worst one yet and I definitely felt like I deserved it; it was my fault. The moment I tried to get myself untangled from his grip and couldn’t I let my mind drift away I turned my face away and felt warm tears run down my face at the same moment I was telling myself that I deserved it. I had it coming. Up until today I still feel like I am a bad woman.

Shared Stories

The saddest part of all this is…my assaulter doesn’t think he raped me.

By Faith 

I was upset after work one night in a foreign country and decided to make use of the free-flow bar I had access to. I messed up the job that night. I underestimated how much I knew this country although I have been there plenty of times before and I was late. My boss gave me an earful and I threw up my walls, my brain had stopped recording (or so I thought).
I turned to new friends I made that week, hoping to find comfort in friendship so I left the venue to meet them. By this time I had no control over my actions, I slurred the address to the cab driver and off we went. I arrived and I was given more to drink, in my upset I gladly accepted. Suddenly it was me and him. Suddenly I woke up naked next to him. I panicked. In my hazy state, I struggled to remember what happened and I panicked even more. Instead of letting that panic show, I pretended.
As I left to go back to my own accommodation, the haze on my brain slowly faded away and I started to remember bits and pieces. I remember saying that I felt very drunk, I slurred and giggled something about my boyfriend. I don’t remember asking you to rape me. Did I mention that I had a boyfriend?
I got back to my room and started crying. Crying and crying. I called my boyfriend and cried about what happened, but I didn’t get the response I expected at first. His defences went up due to being cheated on in the past. This was akin to that. I was to blame because I drank too much. But I don’t remember ever asking to be groped or kissed or raped. I was upset and so I drank. I didn’t want to be raped. I didn’t want to be raped. Why is it my fault to want to drink?

The saddest part of all this is…my assaulter doesn’t think he raped me. And neither does his group of friends. I do not dare call them my friends any longer. I was drunk, I was upset, I was taken advantage of and I was RAPED by your friend whom you cheered and congratulated and high-fived. Thanks to all of you, I will never trust a new face again. I have hesitated being alone even with old faces. My trust was abused and broken. You are all part of the problem. And I have become a victim of it.

Shared Stories

Tomorrow our country’s new president will be inaugurated.

By an Anonymous Contributor

Many people think of me as someone who is always happy. I am constantly told that I give great advice. That I am a nice person. While I appreciate these compliments I don’t only want to be known as the happy, nice person. I, just like everyone else, have bad days, experience pain, and some days wish I could just disappear forever.

Wednesday October 5th. Today is 105 days since I was raped. It is now Thursday January 18th. I was raped by someone I had invested time into. Someone I had cared about. Someone I forced myself to trust. Someone I had let into my life in hopes of helping them and in return they crushed me.

If I could go back in time and warn myself I would say, “You’re right to feel uncomfortable when he pressures you for your phone number. You’re right to want to scream at everyone who is laughing while he continuously asks if you want to hookup with him in the middle of your english class. Listen to your gut”. But instead, this constant harassment was warped into a feeling of flattery. And that is not my fault. Society tells us that we should be flattered when boys continue to pursue us, when they give us unwanted compliments, and when they are mean to us. We are told “it’s because they like you… They’re just boys, they’ll mature someday… It’s because they don’t’ know how to show their feelings”.

This is never the case.

Tomorrow our country’s new president will be inaugurated. He is a person whom our country has enabled to sexually harass, to bully, to rape. No matter what he says it seems that there will always be people who back him up, and who defend him. He has given a voice to those who hurt. He does not care who he hurts.

One week, my therapist asked me to practice saying no. She said, “Your Nos sound like like semicolons instead of period to boys” and that because of this I should practice saying no when I go out to eat in restaurants or when I am in class or with my friends.

This is the problem.

Maybe it was conscious and maybe it was her subconscious, but in that moment she blamed me. It was my fault that my repeated “no” wasn’t respected. My fault that no matter how many times I let him know that I did not want to have sex, he didn’t understand it. It was my fault because I am “too gentle”.

This was frustrating to hear and I bit my tongue from screaming when she said this. I know that in that moment where I gave up and he took over me, I had tried my hardest. If I were to relived that moment I could not have done anything differently. I know that I was clear. I know that I said no. There was nothing left for me to do.

In the moments after he hurt me, I felt physical pain and after only a few tears I was emotionally vacant. I got out from under him and we did not exchange any more words. I was a shell. I wanted nothing more than to cry but I couldn’t. For the rest of the day I told people that I was just tired. And for the rest of the week I felt sick at the exact same time each afternoon. And for the next few months every second I was reminded of it, but especially on Wednesdays as the time crept on.

I took comfort in hot showers. There I was clean. I could wash the feeling off of me that he gave me when he looked at me in the hall. Staring at the ground as I passed him did not make it any easier when I heard his threatening voice, “Heyyyyy Kate”. Fighting back tears each time I kept quiet and kept walking. I never felt anger. Just fear. And sadness. And confusion. These were things I soon learned could not be washed away with scalding water.

I was encouraged to say something, but how could I? How could I drive him deeper into the pure anger he had? After he had told me so much, how could I knowingly add to the burdens he was carrying? I had to protect him because that is what I do.

After a particularly hard day I broke down and said something to an adult. I said something because of the girls after me. I had to protect them. Two days later was the last time I saw him. I wonder if he took anything from it all. I hope he did, but I have an intuition that he didn’t. And that saddens me. I can’t look at men the same way, and I feel that he looks at women just the same as before. I hope more than anything that he learned to respect and love women the way they deserve to be loved. The way his mother wants him to love women. My heart breaks for her when I think of that moment when she was told what he did to me. All of her biggest fears came true and I hope that she is able to heal from that.

Recently I’ve been minimizing the situation. I stopped going to therapy. My friends stopped asking (partly because they don’t care and partly because I don’t think they realize). Most of the time I don’t want to talk about it and other times I want nothing more than to heal and get help. I am still hurting

He did not receive any sort of punishment in the end as he left quietly and without a fight. He is allowed to live his life, go out with other girls, go to his choice college and follow his dreams, and never have any regrets about leaving me with scars. I am just barely getting through my senior year of high school. I am scared for the people he is around now. I care mostly for the other girls, but I know I can not do anything more for them. I just hope he thinks twice before hurting another one. I know I have to let go.

And I will. Just not yet.

Shared Stories

I will never again apologise for voicing my opinion or doing something that doesn’t please someone.

By an Anonymous Contributor 

This is for the woman who still feels guilty for being too naïve, too trusting and whilst she is not afraid to fiercely announce that she was raped, is too afraid to admit that she will never be the same, or really talk about her feelings and lives in fear of being caught crying on her bed with no explanation but the truth that she doesn’t want to share.

The first time I had sex, the time I lost my virginity wasn’t my introduction to what sex felt like, it was and always will be an introduction to the violence and sexual harassment that would not only become a norm, but eat away at me until I find myself here, writing this.

Maybe this whole letter is stupid, but what is the definition of stupid is shame and guilt I felt after being raped, even questioning whether I was raped, knowing fully well that whilst I had consented to sex with you, you trying anal without me saying yes and not stopping when I said no, and then after what felt like an hour long struggle of me trying to leave and you forcing yourself into me, not even anally, just vaginally. The thought of “I’m being raped” but not being able to do anything about it invaded my mind as you penetrated me. I jumped up as soon as I could, running to the nearest bus stop I could find, only to have you follow me all the way home, presumably to ‘make sure I got home safe’.

I sat there shaking for hours, during which I made the decision not to report you. I didn’t know your address, your last name – any of the basic details and I felt hopeless. I did what they advise you not to do after being sexually assaulted, I showered to cleanse myself of your scent and threw my clothes in the bin. I did the only logical thing that came to mind to calm me down and stop the shaking, I made myself a tea, hoping it would magically make everything better.

It hurt to walk, I bled for days after, even the simple task of going to the toilet hurt. I was ashamed, spending most of my time in a dark room not even able to shed a tear until months later. I took the morning after pill which made me feel sick, or maybe I felt sick before I took it, I hadn’t been able to eat. Then I’d receive them, the texts you sent me, from new numbers after I blocked the numbers you sent them on, telling me you were thinking of me and my body, the texts that made me curl up in a ball and want to die. The reminders of you and everything that I wanted to forget so badly, and forget I did. Or at least I thought so.

I told people. At the start not many, but a few. Some would urge me to report the rape, even pressure me a little more than I felt comfortable with, I even started to feel judged as weak for not reporting it. Others stopped talking to me completely. I found out later on that they just “didn’t know what to say”, as if not responding to my messages and attempts to reach out was the best course of action. But even though I shared what happened, I never shared the extent to which it had impacted me, because at that stage not even I understood. I was told countless times that I was handling this surprisingly well, possibly too well. I just kept living my life, eventually unable to recall what actually happened that day, just remembering the after effects. The bleeding, the pain, the fear, the UTI that I got afterwards because I didn’t empty my bladder after sex, as if I was going to stay to use your toilet.

Months passed, and I had sex again. Thinking everything was fine. I even had a boyfriend. But looking back, I rarely had the courage to have sex sober, and I was often treated badly or disrespected by men, but let it pass because nothing was as bad as my first time. I thought I deserved it, from the times I let men pressure me to have sex with them even though I’d initially said no, to the men that constantly harassed me on the street, making me fear walking alone. But then there were even those men that I’d trusted, that I thought I had something serious with, or serious for my age, that I would tell about being raped countless times only to have them forget, to brush it off like it didn’t matter or had never happened. Like it was nothing.

And then months later, there was a friend of mine who woke up after a night out, believing she had had her drink spiked and was raped. There were the police visits and reports where we were told that because we were drinking, it was impossible to do anything, with the implication that women put themselves in danger by drinking. I knew that I wasn’t drinking, but all my worst fears about reporting were confirmed, it seemed a painful process that didn’t yield any results.

Sometimes, usually late at night I would break down crying, sometimes it would be whilst reading about other sexual assault victims, like the Brock Turner case. Like today, my motivation for writing this being all the stories I read on the #NotGuilty Campaign site. Though this isn’t my first attempt at writing down my feelings and thoughts.

Maybe its because I’ve never processed my emotions properly and will only superficially talk about what happened, maybe it was my determination to be a “survivor” and not let what happened shape me that continue to make me feel like I’m broken.

After moving back to Australia, away from France, where it all happened, 9 months after the event, I come to realise that maybe I will never be able to “forget it” that after watching countless videos of impacts on victim’s lives, I too, have had who I am changed forever, whether it be trying to reclaim my power through meaningless sex, or now calling myself a feminist – a word which I always thought had a bad reputation of being man hating, something I didn’t want to be associated with.

I don’t hate men, I hate people who hold the belief that they are entitled to something they’re not, like my body. I still know men who ignore consent for maybe not sex, but what I want and firmly say I want.

I’ve learnt to speak my mind, have my voice heard, even if it makes me unpopular, and I regret that I had to learn it the hard way, but I am and always will be stronger for it. I will never again apologise for voicing my opinion or doing something that doesn’t please someone. I am not afraid to be me, even if people consider me a bitch or a slut, just for making what I want known and pursuing what I want.

Thanks

Shared Stories

“I felt so ashamed that I banned all thoughts about what had happened”

By Hanna 

I was seventeen when it happened. I no longer struggle to make sense of what had happened to me. I know now that it was rape. But what I struggle with very much is my reaction to it. I am confident, I am independent, I am strong. I have a loving family and good friends. I have no problem speaking my mind and talking about my feelings. I travelled alone through the middle east and I backpacked through south america with a friend. I walk home alone in the dark and I am not afraid. But yet, I let it happen and I kept silent about this for a very long time.
I was seventeen and I was spending a few days of my summer holidays with my best friend Lisa. I had recently broken up with my boyfriend and she wanted to cheer me up and so she took me to a party in a different city. I had never before been to this city and I knew no one there except Lisa. We slept at the apartment of a good friend of hers, his name was Christopher and they were from the same city and went to school together. It was Lisa, her boyfriend, me and Christopher. Before the party, the four of us had dinner and drinks and I was going along well with Christopher, he was a nice and funny guy. We went to the party but after a while I was tired and I wanted to go home so I was looking for Lisa. She wanted to stay with her boyfriend so I asked Christopher if he could guide me home since I did not know the way home and I did not have a key for the apartment. He was a little angry that he had to leave the party I think. On the way back, we were walking over a bridge, I remember that he grabbed my hand very tightly, it hurt a little. When we were home, I wanted to go straight to bed. I went to the bathroom, washed my face and undressed myself to put on my pyjama. In that moment he came in, the bathroom door did not have a lock. He threw me over his shoulder and carried me to his room, where he threw me on his bed. He then undressed himself and tried to have sex with me. I struggled with him, telling him “no” again and again. I tried to keep him from me, using my legs to stem against his body. He did not listen. I remember that he succeeded to penetrate me this one time. It hurt since I was having my period and was using a tampon. I do not remember when, but he stopped and fell asleep right next to me.
The next morning he woke up and was very angry. He did not talk to me and wanted us to leave the apartment since he wanted to drive home to his parents. There were bloody spots all over his bed. I felt so ashamed. I said nothing to Lisa, I took a shower and we packed our bag and said goodbye. We left the apartment and walked through the city. She asked me teasingly about last night and if I had sex with Christopher. I said yes. I sat down on a bench and my legs were shaking, my muscles were aching because of my struggle with Christopher. I never told her what really happened that night.
At first, I did not think of it as rape. I tried not to think about it at all. I felt so ashamed that I banned all thoughts about what had happened. Back in school, my ex-boyfriend and I got back together and I tried to tell him but I could tell that he did not believe me. So I stopped trying to tell anyone, because if someone you trust does not believe you, who else would?
A few years later I tried to talk to my friends about it again but I did not succeed to name what had happened to me. Nevertheless, I started processing what happened one how I felt about it. I felt ashamed, I felt guilty. Did I flirt with him and did he think I wanted to have sex with him? Did he just have too much to drink? Did he not hear me say no? But I clearly remember my sore muscles and the bruises I had from the struggle. And I know that I did not want to have sex with him and that I told him to stop.
I struggle very much with my own reaction that night. Why did I not scream, why did I not hit him, why did I not run away? I know that what stopped me from a more radical response to his efforts was that he was a good childhood friend of my best friend. That I was in a city I did not know and that I did not know where else to go. I could not lock myself in the bathroom since there was no lock. He was strong and he was drunk. But still, how did I let this happen to me?
I wonder what kept me silent. I wonder how I was able to convince myself that it was ok. I wonder why it is still so hard for me to talk about it. Why I only think about what others might think about me if I tell them. Will they believe me? Will they think I am damaged goods? Will they think I am mentally ill because of it? But I am making progress. I told my story to a good friend of mine, she believed me. She also told me that something similar had happened to her, too. In fact, many of my female friends experienced something similar. It is easier talking to my friends who made similar experiences than talking to my family. I don’t want them to think that I am hurt, I don’t want them to worry about me.
Recently, Christopher added me on Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin. I blocked him. We have 30 friends in common and many of them think he is a great guy. I would really like to tell them but I am afraid no one will believe me and that he will ridicule me when I speak openly about what happened then. I am thinking about writing him a letter.
I also want to tell my boyfriend about it. We are in a very serious relationship and I love him very much and I have this urge to tell him but I know that he will be furious, that he would want me to report it to the police. I am not sure that he would understand my reaction and why I am still keeping silent about it, why I don’t want to report it. I don’t understand it myself.