Shared Stories

“It’s been 10 years and yet I still remember every single moment, every single sound.”

By M.J.M 

It hurts. After all these years I know it shouldn’t but it still does. I wish it would stop. I’ve been reliving these moments so many times in my mind, sometimes I don’t even know if it’s true anymore. And then I remember the pain, the shock, the horror I felt. It’s real. And much more real than the thing itself is the memory of it. The shame of it. After 10 years, the physical damage is well healed, but the shame and guilt aren’t. The constant fear that someone might discover my secret, that I might lose my job, my loved ones, for something I didn’t do, something I didn’t ask for.
The fear that people would judge me and despise me, that they wouldn’t understand why I’m making such a mountain out of this.
But it is a mountain. A big one, one that I’ve been trying to climb for the last 10 years and I still didn’t reach the top. And I keepgoind down, and down, losing hope that I might one day make it back up. I wish it would stop.
I wish I could go back in time and keep it from happening. Maybe I could’ve acted differently? Maybe I could’ve just said “no”? But I did. I said “no”. Only it didn’t change anything. Maybe he didn’t hear? But I said it loud enough, often enough, and I know he heard. He heard my cries of pain. He saw the blood. He saw the tears. He didn’t care.
Nobody cared. They saw the blood on my sheets, on my clothes, they saw the tears, they knew I wasn’t feeling good. They didn’t care. I stopped eating, laughing, living, all they said was “eat, drink, dress up, go to school, act normal, why are you being so weird”
But how could they know what I didn’t tell them, and how could I tell them when I felt such shame… And now I’m 24, all grown up, now I understand what happened to me, how can I tell them knowing the pain it might cause?
What if they told me it’s my fault, that I should’ve screamed or ran or fought, that I should’ve gone to the police, that I didn’t do all I could to prevent it? But I couldn’t scream or run or fight, I couldn’t do anything at all, I was too terrified even to realize I was being robbed of my innocence.
It’s been 10 years and yet I still remember every single moment, every single sound. And it has to stop. Because it’s not my fault, because there’s nothing to be ashamed of, because it’s my life and it’s time I started living it.

Shared Stories

look out for one another not in a fearful way but with the sense that whether I know you or not – we are community

By Sarah

In the light of Ione’s important point about ‘community’ and also the way her community of friends, neighbours and family were looking out for her – I want to say a deeply sincere ‘thank you’ to the mother pushing her baby in a pram and walking her dog along the river bank in a suburb of Vancouver.
I was new to the area, and I was walking down a track unbeknownst to me as isolated and You had spotted a character following me. As we passed each other you warned me who was behind giving me a chance to turn and walk back with you to a safe walking track.
I am still deeply thank ful for your warning that day.
Let’s all – women and men -look out for one another not in a fearful way but with the sense that whether I know you or not – we are community – and that as we do so we can live safer lives and send the message to would be attackers that your power is no longer – your intimidation is weakened – your darkness becomes a chance for light and Human solidarity.
Thank you Ione for this ‘platform’.
With best wishes and healing – deep deep healing to those abused. You are held up and supported by us all in our hearts and in Spirit.

Shared Stories

“I was sexually abused as a child by my own nanny”

By an Anonymous Contributor

I was sexually abused as a child by my own nanny.

I wouldn’t say that it was severe abuse that prolonged for months, but it did happen more than once when I was a very young child and curious about sex. That curiosity started with porn magazines and videos my uncle left at our house. My nanny caught me with the stuff and consequently abused my trust. I am lucky I realized that I was Not Guilty when I was around 17.

In short, I am a survivor of sexual abuse. I like to think of myself as having a growth mindset, so feminism, equality, and human rights are topics that I love getting into.

On Facebook, I posted about how I, like many other women, chose to minimize an incident of sexual transgression for the sake of the party. A guy slapped my rump as I was making my way past him to sit down. Big deal, right? Again, minimizing the situation. But that’s another conversation.

My post invited several other girls to comment, much like this website. One of my friends said, “Your incident reminded me of something that happened to me years ago, and I was called a slut for it…” So I kindly responded to her saying that It is unfortunate that even other girls would slut shame victims. I posted online that I even overheard a beauty queen slut shame someone and it blew my mind because slut shaming has to stop. It is so pervasive in our culture that continuing to do so just brings all women down. The more you slut shame someone, the easier it is for others to call any girl a slut.

So this beauty queen registers my comment and privately messages me. We have an intense exchange, and my only issue is that all people, especially women, need to stop slut shaming eachother. She began her message telling me about her sexual abuse and how much she hated sluts and prostitutes. Her angle is that prostitutes and sluts in her beauty queen world make her job hard. That she takes offense when someone defends a slut because she’s worked her whole life trying not to be one. She also feels like she has the right to call anyone a slut, much like a spade is a spade. Totally degrading, and she doesn’t even know it.

I tried my best to convey to her my message, that slut shaming is wrong and you shouldn’t do it in public no matter WHO the person is. But she made it all about herself and had to defend herself until the end. She couldnt understand why I couldn’t see things her way, and I kept telling her that I did and that I even have the same views as her. I just wanted to tell her slut shaming is wrong.

After watching Ione Wells’ talk on sexual assault on social media, I had to put in my piece. Victims and survivors must know they are not guilty, that in fact we do share common beliefs, and we need to stop talking over each other. I feel so let down by this beauty queen. She’s supposed to be educated and support equality and all the good things women can especially offer. In this case, she was clearly thinking and speaking as a victim, and couldn’t help but show me her prejudice and hate on social media. She twisted my only point and made it all about her, defending herself and simply afraid and defiant to admit that maybe she was wrong. She can’t seem to understand that a slut is a derogatory term for a woman. Her ignorance and defiance made me sick. I am sad some victims cannot think in a healthy light about women’s rights and choose to be so selective about justice. I just hope everyone can realize they are NOT GUILTY, before they go on to spread victim blaming behavior and justify themselves further.

Shared Stories

I was raped by my housemate/best friend and his friend while they were on cocaine, in my own home

By an Anonymous Contributor

Justice is a word that I have been thinking about a lot since the incident.

In a TED Talk, Ione defines justice as “maintenance of things that are right”.

There are handful things that are right in this world.

Social Media can be a tool to amplify one’s voice, she says.

I don’t have to keep quiet.

It is ok to speak up.

I should not feel ashamed or guilty that,
I was raped by my housemate/best friend and his friend while they were on cocaine, in my own home, co-op in San Francisco.

One Thursday night, I had a guest from out of the country who was interested in learning about community housing, and creating organic communities. As I loved my intentional living community and wanted to share how awesome it was, I gave him the tour of the victorian house and introduced him to my housemates. As the night progressed and more housemates came home, my guest, housemates, their friends and I all ended up hanging out and chatting in the living room. Some people were drinking, there were two guys doing cocaine, me and my guest were sober. It was around 2am, I was extremely exhausted, but since my guest was engaged in conversations, learning about the community, I felt bad and stayed awake. Despite my attempt to stay up, at one point I dosed off, people decided to move the gathering into my housemate’s room, which was closest to the front door and noise didn’t carry over to the rest of the house. My guest ended up crashing on the couch in the living room since it was too late for him to walk back to his hotel. Since I was asleep, or more like half-asleep, I was carried by my guy housemate (later become one of the attackers) to his room with other people. There, three of my housemates, one guy housemate (attacker) on my right and a couple (guy and girl) housemates on my left sat up on the bed. I soon dosed off. (and apparently the couples did too). Then I woke up to someone kissing me, pressing his lips so hard against mine, trying to put his tongue in my month. I soon realized it was not the guy housemate, one of the couples, that I remembered was sitting next to me. Who could this be? What is going on? The moment I realized it was my other housemate’s friend P who was doing cocaine in the living room earlier that night, someone started undressing my pants from behind. It was my guy housemate who was doing cocaine with P earlier that night. I was sandwiched by two large men, both literally twice my size, while still in a hazy, foggy and sleepy state of mind. I was in shock that I could not make any noise. The housemate started to finger me and go down on me, while the other guy P shoved his penis inside my mouth. P screamed, “make me cum” repeatedly. I was in a shock, in a fear, and froze. P grabbed my head/hair and violently moved back and forth all the while his penis was inside my mouth. My housemate pressed my back onto the bed while he seized both of my legs while going down on me. My mouth was filled with his friend’s dick. He eventually came in my mouth. I spit out the cum on the bed sheet. He turned around, snorted more cocaine and then shoved his hand into my mouth. I tasted something very bitter. I figured it was the cocaine. My mouth felt disgusting with the cum, cocaine, and everything. All the while, the housemate was going down on me, fingering me and touching my breast. I felt like I was in a violent porn film that I never wished to be in part of. My housemate’s friend left the room after touching all over my body, leaving me and my housemate. Then my housemate started to undress himself and I felt his penis against my butt then vagina. N….No! I exclaimed, rolled out of the bed. I grabbed my clothes quickly put on my underwear and pants, got out of the room and went up to my room.

**After the incident, I was informed that the couple also fell asleep next to me. As they woke up in the middle of the night around 4am and went up to their room, leaving me behind, they saw the guy P doing cocaine on the couch in the same room.

I am #notguilty nor ashamed for what happened. I own the truth.

7 months later
When feeling like exiled from the community I belonged to, by being literally blocked out of the co-op’s FB community group.

As I try hard to convince myself that it is ok to walk away from bullshit.

As I try to wrap my head around what I have done to deserve this kind of treatment from the community I used to belong to and live in.

As I listen to my close friends that I should not burn bridges with people but at the same time should not be even friends with the people in the community.

As I feel that I am so connected to my professional community that will judge and shame me for what happened.

As I fear that there is a serious mental damage in my brain caused by the incident and aftermath of PTSD.

As I fear that some day I will run into my attackers, who tell their peers that they did nothing wrong.

I remain in solitude, questioining justice and faith.

-The following day after the incident, without knowing what is the right thing to do, I ended up calling the hospital, sexual assault dept. Police escorted me out of the house and drove me to the hospital. Some housemates found out what had happened, and rushed over to the hospital to see me. The word reached to the leader of the community (who happen to be a successful male founder of a large Silicon Valley startup, if that gives more legitimacy to his words), and learned about the incident from the attacker. The leader came home telling everybody “I would have done the same if I were him”.

The attacker moved out of his room and the house right after the incident.

I was in a state of shock, for the first time in my life, I was numb to my own emotions, physically felt a heavy block in my brain which seemed to intercept all my thinking process. In that state, housemates began telling me what they thought was right.

Naturally, I listened as I initially believed that my housemates had the best intention for me.

“How can you report him?”

“time will heal”
“You cannot make any noise when you have a dick inside your mouth?!”

“Why didn’t you make any noise?”

I felt belittled, I felt that I needed to prove to housemates, to highly intelligent individuals, startup founders, highly respected, regarded people I always had been intimidated to. I felt like I was shut down and judged as being over dramatic. There was no place for me to be. I felt crazy for saying that all I wanted was to feel safe. In order to seek safety, I needed to lower my voice in my own home so I don’t offend anyone.

The following Monday after the incident, on my way to the usual family dinner with my housemates, my legs shook so much that I sat on the staircase for a long time (about 10 min) before I could go down to the dining room. While we went around the room do our weekly “checking in,” updating each other on what’s going on in our lives, housemates who sat near me said, “you don’t have to speak if you wanted” when my turn came. Instead, I read a letter addressing my state of condition, confusion and needing of help. My eyes were swollen from uncontrollably crying, for the longest period- every single day, I would say 3 weeks straight.

It seemed like the PTSD would never end.

Now, fast forward 7 months later, I am trying to move on, live a normal quiet life, feeling exiled from the community I once loved. Trying to find a new life and friends in the same city. Repressing the memory, while trying to avoid contacts with people who are connected to the attackers.

I don’t hate, just wish I could still be in the loving environment like nothing had happened. Only to realize and feel a pain in my heart that NO, THEY DID NOT CARE DAMN ABOUT YOU FROM THE BEGINNING. THEY DIDN’T GIVE SHIT ABOUT YOU. WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU ONLY BROKE HARMONY IN THE HOUSE. OR AT THE VERY LEAST IT EXPOSED TO THE THREATS AND DANGER TO THE COMMUNITY. THEY DON’T WANT TO ADMIT IT EVEN HAPPENED IN THE HOUSE.

How can we raise awareness that this can happen in any co-op. What I have experienced is not unique. Loving community exists everywhere. But when inconvenient incidents happen, why is it brutally difficult to bring justice to the community? When people care so much about social justice, rally and stand up for good cause, why can’t they even deal with their own housemate being raped?
All of the sudden, they turn away, keep silence, and block the victim out.

How can we make it right? How can we help bring justice rather than suppressing it and putting it behind by ignoring and literally blocking out and silencing the victim?

I WILL NOT CEASE FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE. I OWN THE TRUTH.
#notguilty

Shared Stories

I am 58 now, so I don’t recall how I knew, not to ever tell a soul, but I know that I didn’t ever tell — until now.

By an Anonymous Contributor

At age 8, it was my daily chore to fetch my 5 year old brother from school, at a church, one half block away. Diligently, I’d put down my school things and await my mother’s send-off, when it became time. Indeed, I grew to learn that “time” had arrived for much more than freely frolicking that half block, collecting little wildflowers on the way, daydreaming and imagining — much more than standing in the church yard looking up at the huge, stained glass windows in awe. It became, part of the process to expect to be summoned over by the man under a tree, in a wheelchair whom I came to recognize, who sold gum packets after school to children and their parents and caretakers, who saw it fit to fondle and molest me each day, while I waited for class to let out. It became the norm, a part of what was expected of me, like brushing my teeth and doing my homework, neither of which I understood nor welcomed, the need for. But, I am 58 now, so I don’t recall how I knew, not to ever tell a soul, but I know that I didn’t ever tell — until now.

Shared Stories

I just wanted to be alone. I still want to be alone.

By an Anonymous Contributor

I was 16, and it was a year ago. Though I still I remember it all. I remember dancing with my friends and going out to the car, it was dark and the music was loud. I was only coming out for a second to grab something, but then next thing I was grabbed, so tight I yelped. I was slammed into the car, pushed to the ground. He told me to shut up, told me to stay awake. His nails were ripping into skin, it was like I was covered in warm goo and unable to get away. His knee pushed into me with all his weight. I remember him touching me, laughing, covering my mouth making it nearly impossible to breath, I remember the blood and the pain and the fear. Him forcing himself on me. Me lying there after he ran away, I felt like nothing, sharp pain coming and going from everywhere around me. It felt like it dragged out for ever. One of my friend found me, she was saying my name but all I could feel, all I could remember was his hands on me and the taste of blood. I still see him, around corners and in my dreams. I still feel it. It’s been a year since this happened and no one talks about it, why would they? But I still feel it, I still see it. He’s still free, walking around, enjoying life. They had to sedate me at the hospital because I freaked out when the doctors started touching me. They got my statement and did the kit, but there was no “proof” it was him. The only thing that calmed me down was the nurse who was kind and gentle and treated my like a friend and not a patient. That ended soon. My mom took me out of the hospital the day she could. She was on the fast track to ignoring it and hoping it would go away. My friends started going away, I started making them go away. I just wanted to be alone. I still want to be alone. Being hugged, being “comforted” make me feel physically ill, when guys walk to close, when it’s anywhere near dark. I don’t know how to stop being like this. People don’t want to talk about this, and I think it’s making me crazy. It was such a big thing in my life, it still affects me but I can’t talk about it, it doesn’t always feel real. Thank you for letting me share my story, I hope things will get better. I’m not very certain about the future.

Shared Stories

Will I keep my mouth shut?

By an Anonymous Contributor

People say I am brave. People can’t see the pain in my heart. First time. 2006. I went to study with some guys from my university. I thought they were my friends. Happened, they weren’t. We cheered over one glass of vodka that knocked me out. Next thing I remember was that I was lying in the bed being molested by two of them. I was fighting back with nails and all but was passed out and just stop the fighting and left that place ashamed the following day. Their laughing and all the shame I felt for the following days in campus didn’t help either. Second time. 2007. I visited the doctor because I burnt my face with some dying. He went over my records and stopped by the gynecologist historical. He locked the door and got me naked. Put his finger inside me and I felt something was not right. He had the nerve to ask for my phone number before I left! Third time. 2015. I went to this barbecue. Flirted with this guy and agreed to have sex with him. The condom got stuck inside me and I asked him to stop. I cried. Please no! You’re hurting me…. next day I had to go to the hospital for the bleeding and pain. I never complained with the police about any of these incidents. I felt I allowed this to happen and the shame was enough on me but wanted to keep my family away from this. When is the next time? What will happen then? Will I keep my mouth shut? Who will be the next victim?

Shared Stories

It is more devastating to suppress your pain because of the fear of making it painful for others. Respect the ‘no’, no matter how muted it sounds.

By Rakshita Joshi

Child Sexual Abuse is one of the most heinous crimes against one‟s body and soul. As a child, I never realized that I was being victimized, stigmatized and traumatized and that these incidents would impact the intimacy of my relationships as I grow up. I grew up in horror and my silence, never questioned.

I was six year old, when I was sexually abused by a neighbor for almost three years. As I started resisting, I was sexually harassed by the same person for another six years. Lack of awareness about causes and consequences of abuse is more profound in a country like ours which strengthens the secrecy surrounding the abuse, as it did in my case. For a long time, I held myself responsible for it. I thought that I had an affair. In my adolescence, I received immense attention from the opposite gender across all ages. I craved for it, yet despised it. I was ashamed of myself. There were repeated incidents of sexual abuse by few others, unstable relationships with family and friends, especially with my parents. I had a distorted opinion about love, relationships and intimacy. Often, I felt suicidal. It is bewildering to acknowledge that I was vulnerable to substance abuse, addiction to pornography and promiscuity. The entire cycle of shame and guilt, rage and confusion and ambivalence made me self-destructive. I was extremely vulnerable and that resulted in another sexual assault. I was raped when I was sixteen. In an event that frightens us, our body‟s response would be to either fight, escape (flight) or freeze. I froze in extreme shock. I couldn‟t tell anyone.

I was partly raised by my aunt. I grew up with her from when I was an year old till I was ten. I had strong attachment with her, not with my parents and the abuse would occur when I‟d visit my parents during vacations. I always felt abandoned. I always felt that my brother was more important to them. Around the same time, she survived a major paralysis stroke and it left me paralysed. Isolation and loneliness was persistent. I had nobody to turn to. I was surrounded by people; aunts, uncles and cousins. Yet, I was alone. I never had a sense of belonging. I was vulnerable because I desired to be held, to be hugged and to be loved. I wanted attention. Little did I know that I was innocent. I was very scared to tell anybody. I felt dirty. I felt bad about myself. I felt I was a curse to my parents. In the whole process, I became my parent; a parentwho is extremely critical.

I was eighteen when I first recognized that I was a victim of child sexual abuse. It pained me and I felt helpless. My prolonged silence caused despair. I couldn‟t get any help. I still suffer from anxiety issues. I am still, to some extent, a mixed bag of self-conscious, emotionally sensitive and unstable personality and at the same time, an intelligent human with false pride. There is a deep fear, fueling an ego, changing the dynamics and perceptions of emotions. I‟m filled with contempt.

Even now happiness seems to be a crime; expectation, a burden; imagination, a horror. Often I think of ways in which I can end my life. I don‟t do it voluntarily but I do let my mind sway. I feel hopeless about something or the other. I spoke to every person I could. I wonder if I understand what support is or perhaps I fail to tell someone what I seek. The constant isolation

makes me wonder if I ever had any friends. I blamed myself for that. Everybody has a life and their own priorities. I have a career, parents who support; financially I am not so bad. But there is a void. And I try frantically to fill it but nothing seems compatible. I have a life which anybody might envy. But there is emptiness. I didn‟t feel it much before. After knowing the truth, revealing the truth, and caught in the dilemma whether to rebuke the person who caused it fuels a fear. I seemed more pleased with the elated ego and arrogance I often showed before. It is fearful to be humble, threatening to be truthful and easier to live a life of pretense with contemptuous interpretations of events which hurt.

Amidst the mess, it was a child’s dream that gave me hope; a reason to live, a reason to change. I clinged to my academics and that became my identity. Things seemed to settle down with time. I believed I was selfish but I tried to change. I tried to make everybody happy, yet miserably failed. I sought validation for my character and I believed the lies. I was in a seemingly happy relationship which lasted for three years. I had confided to him that I was sexually abused as a child. But it all blew up when I was, again, sexually assaulted by him. Yes, by the very person I loved and trusted the most! It didn‟t stop at that. I was more devastated when I saw neither guilt nor pain in him. Rather, he used the fact that I had been sexually abused as child to justify his act. He seemed very agitated and blamed me for the situation. Well, I was the one who didn‟t want to get engaged right away. I was assaulted when I cried to him and begged an apology for no mistake of mine. Families were aware of this and people had to be answered and he is a good story teller. While I battled with Post-Traumatic-Stress- Disorder, he was engaged and soon, he got married to someone else.

After this incident which occurred on 20th January 2016, I had only questions to guide me. My past cried out to be resolved. I decided to fight. I wanted to know the damage my past had done to me and I‟m still, fighting a long battle. I reached out to few people I thought would help but most turned away, indirectly. It hurt me more to hear that I ruined someone‟s life. It hurt me when my calls were not answered. It hurt me when I asked them to help me find a therapist and I didn‟t hear from them for months. It hurt me when they reply without compassion. It hurt me when I confronted my parents about it because they responded like it was my fault. Longing for intimacy and affection was my fault! But then, someone helped. I took my chances but found a good therapist. I took a leap of faith and I found a good friend.

I still find it hard to accept that it happened with me and I suffered in silence, suppressing all my pain, agony and humiliation. I was just a little girl, wanted to be held, wanting to be loved. But I will not give up. I will be there for that little girl if there is no one else. I promise to free her from the prison of guilt and shame. It was not her fault.

I pray for the strength to endure this journey, to fulfill the longing of her heart, deeply wounded yet deeply beautiful, to love boldly and pursue her desires passionately.

She walked alone
On stem and stone Ate the leaves Crawled without bone

Ugly they called her Uglier she felt
The leaves she ate
Looked uglier when she left

Alone and scared She built a nest Wound the threads Around herself

Wrapped in the shell She felt warm
She imagined a world That would never harm

Little did she know
That a seed would grow And the cocoon around her Was a hardened dough

The warmth soon turned Into a heat which burnt There was no air
But a soul which yearned

She put her strength
To break the tent
But the fear she had
Had weakened her strength

“Ugly” they would call her Uglier she would feel Blinded to hope,
She was not bereft of zeal

She flew now
From flower to flower Bathed in the sweetness That was unknown to her

“Beautiful” they called her

And beautiful she was
She was the caterpillar Now a beautiful butterfly…

Shared Stories

I stayed in the shower for the longest time ever, trying to scrub off the memory of how his hands felt on me

By an Anonymous Contributor

Why didn’t I call for help? Why didn’t I tell anyone? Why did I smile at him?

I was maybe about 9 or 10 years old, and out to the market with my grandmother. He had a makeshift stall selling cheap plasticware, and my grandmother was busy browsing the goods. He looked at me and smiled, and being a naturally friendly kid, I smiled back. My grandmother had walked a little ahead and I just stood around waiting for her, when he came up and grabbed my breast. My smile faded and I pushed him away, but I didn’t call for help or tell my grandmother. I looked around but all the other stall owners and customers seemed to be busy with their own wares, and nobody reacted. I knew that it was wrong, but I simply was too stunned to respond. I walked away closer to my grandmother, who simply walked a big circle around his wares back to where he was again. Having no choice I walked past him again, and he smiled at me again. Not wanting to be rude, I managed the smallest of smiles and as soon as my grandmother looked away he grabbed my breast and gave it a solid squeeze again. Again I pushed him away and I still did not shout for help. It would haunt me for the rest of my life as to why I didn’t just at least shout in outrage or tell anyone. I was just too ashamed, I felt that I should not have smiled at him, that I should not have gotten so near him again the second time, that I should have called him out after the first grope. I was even embarassed when I thought of how other stall owners might have seen me being defiled. I just wanted to go home.

When I got home I stayed in the shower for the longest time ever, trying to scrub off the memory of how his hands felt on me, and trying to forget. I felt violated but I did not know what to do. I didn’t want to let my family know because I knew I would be blamed for not shouting for help, and my childish mind imagined how I would write a letter to him next time educating him on how he had done a sinful thing, fantasising that he would repent after that.

I would never see him again, and I don’t even remember how he looks like anymore, but I will never forget the feel of his fingers around my breast and how helpless I was when I couldn’t pry his fingers away.

Shared Stories

He said he was sorry and thought that I wanted it.

By Andrea N. Smith 

I was 15 and at my boyfriend’s house. I wore a favourite sundress. We were in his room and he started to want sex. I said no repeatedly. He held me down, pinned my hands under is knees while he took my underwear off. When it was over I jumped up and got dressed. He said he was sorry and thought that I wanted it. He said I shouldn’t have worn such a short dress. I got rid of it when I got home. I fell pregnant and had to tell my mom. I didn’t tell her the truth, I just wanted it to go away and be over. She gave me such a hard time about wanting to end the pregnancy, which I did. My relationship with my mom was strained and she kept bringing up the pregnancy for years, making me relive that awfulness, but she didn’t know.

Shared Stories

You were my best friend’s dad.

By C.B.R. 
You were my best friend’s dad. You knew my family was a mess, knew that I was so starved for love. I thought you were going to be like the father I was missing. I didn’t realize that you had other plans. That you wanted something more. I didn’t realize that the hug wasn’t so innocent nor the kiss several months later. It was so nice to have someone to talk to, I didn’t know it wasn’t just innocent affection. I blocked it out the first time you attacked me, accepted the apology, tried to reformat. By the fourth time, you were so violent it scared me. You yelled just like my dad did when he was mad. You were just more of the same. It ended in pain and fury but not soon enough. And before I could come to terms with everything, you took your own life. I couldn’t even be mad at you because my friend’s heart was broken. And so was mine. So I hated myself for not hating you.

I’m grown up now, but not really. I’m still the child whose soul was broken. I’m still that little girl that just wants a father. I don’t know if you will ever know the damage you’ve done, but I still live with the aftermath every day. I hope that one day it will just be a vague memory of a hard time in my life. Today was not that day.

Shared Stories

I was told, “boys will be boys”

By S.H. 

It took me a really long time to realize that it wasn’t my fault. I was my own worst enemy; I thought I had asked for it. I invited him to my party, I had talked to him all night and probably the thing that made up my mind was that I slept with him before. Once, a few months previously.

That night was my 29th birthday. I decided to have a few friends over for a party at my flat I shared with two friends. Amongst the guests was the man who would become my attacker.

Time passed, music, and drinks, dancing. It was around 3am when I decided to call it a night and head to bed. There were still guests in the house but most were close friends and my housemates were still up. I sat for a while on my bed, enjoying some peace and quiet when he came into my room. I told him I was going to bed and to go back and join the others. He moved closer and closer, I turned my face from his and said no and he told me to “stop acting like I’m going to rape you”.

He left my room and I put on my pajamas and got into bed and it was then that he came back. I told him again to get out but he wouldn’t listen he lay down on my bed next to me. I don’t know why I didn’t shout or push him away. I got out of bed and ran to the living room and told my friends that someone needed to get him out of my room. He refused to leave, convinced that I wanted him to be there. Eventually two of my male friends got him out and I somehow managed to fall asleep. The next morning I woke up alone in bed. When I got up, I found him asleep on the couch. He hadn’t left.

The next day as I sat in my house on the day of my birthday waiting on my boyfriend picking me up, my attacker went to the pub and bragged that I had been “up for it” he said until he put his hands into my underwear then I told him to stop. I can either assume he is lying or that he came back when I was asleep.

It was what came after that was probably the most shocking part of this whole story. I never reported him to the police, I know what the likelihood of anything coming of it was and I didn’t want to put myself through it. I told my friends and they were shocked and disgusted and very supportive. But, from a few I was told, “boys will be boys” “that’s just what men do” and that for him, my attacker “oh, you know what he is like, that’s just what he does”.

I spent the coming months walking with my head down, avoiding social events just in case he was there. I was embarrassed, upset, guilty and felt stupid I had let this happen.

I spent the next two years getting over it, coming to terms with it but also coming to terms with the fact that slowly but surely some of my friends were beginning to speak to him again. This just confirmed to me that people either didn’t believe me or were happy to accept that this kind of behavior is just what women should expect.

Here I am, two years later, writing about this because this past weekend it has reared it’s head again. My attacker sought out a close friend of mines to ask him if I was involved with him, to watch out for me because I’m a slut and that my friend should only get with me if he wants to “know what his dick tastes like”.

My friend didn’t know my story, he does now. I’m devastated he has had to hear someone speak about me that way.

It took me a really long time, medication and counseling to realize that I am not guilty. He is guilty and he continues to ruin me.

Shared Stories

I am his younger brother.

By an Anonymous Contributor 

After hearing Ione’s TED talk I found the courage to talk about my personal experience behind this matter. It happened when I was 7 years old 15 years ago sitting with my older brother watching him playing video games. Suddenly he turns the video game off and commands me to do stuff to him and return does what he has done to me. I am his younger brother. I could have refused when he had told me to, but I was young and naive and did not know what was what, I wasn’t aware of what the nature of this was. I have been in silence for 15 years without anyone knowing this, somehow after the incident I did not speak or even recall what had happened until a few months ago I started remembering this. I hope this message reaches to everyone and to be cautious even with their close ones, including their siblings and those who have children to raise awareness in them at a young age.

Shared Stories

NO.

By an Anonymous Contributor 

No.
To the teacher who thought helping me in the highs and lows in the economy meant helping himself to feeling up past my knees.
No.
To the boy who reached for me like he would a glass of whiskey, as if inside, if he groped deep enough, he might find the answers to the questions his demons called after him at night.
No.
Sir, just because I taught your grandson how to hit tennis balls does not mean I want anything to do with yours. I don’t drink, anyways.
No.
To the one who always thought I owed him more. I’m sorry but my thoughts are worth much more than a pretty penny, so go ahead and pick that up, you still won’t get lucky. Not here.
No.
Look, boy, your height doesn’t make you a man. And proving you’re stronger than me does not make me want to stand my ground any less firmer. So loosen your grip and let me go.
No.
I don’t want a drink.
No.
To the stranger I almost fell for. There’s a reason I stopped dancing with you. You made me feel beautiful. But then the swaying got deeper, and your hands wouldn’t stop roaming. Your smile still plays in my head every time I hear that song, but it doesn’t make me feel beautiful anymore.
No.
To the one who made me feel like I had to apologize for just breathing, or for not wanting you to want me. I’m very much alive, despite your efforts to make me wish otherwise.
No.
I think I lost count of how many times you’ve asked if you can buy me a drink, dude. I won’t be sipping anything that makes me slur my words around you, so maybe I should spell this out for you,
N-O. No.
I know it takes two to tango, man. But I only two step, and you have two left feet anyways.
No.
I’ve had to learn over time that sitting on a couch and watching a movie is not an invitation to introduce your mouth to mine. Go lick stamps and Mail yourself a reminder that you are not entitled to peel back anything not addressed to you. Paper or clothing.
No.
Listen, I know you speak Spanish and that’s supposed to be romantic, I know you wanna talk about my dreams, but believe me when I say you’re not in them. I know my mother gave you my number, but I don’t want to be your secreta, señor.
No.
My eyes are up here.
No.
Just because I was your girlfriend does not mean all of me belonged to you, and saying that you love me while you try to remove my clothes doesn’t make me any more compliant or willing.
No.
To the one who hated my walls, did you ever think they were there for a reason? You said that if I didn’t bring them down you would stop fighting for me. That I was never going to be able to give you enough anyways. You’re right.
No.
I don’t want a drink.
No.
To the hipster. It was really easy to read your “Slave to Jesus Christ” wrist tattoo while you were pinning me down. I hope you like this poem. You inspired it, after all.
No.
To the teacher, it’s not mysterious to call your home a wolf’s den. It’s just creepy. I wonder how many innocent girls you have devoured there. I won’t be one of them.
No.
To the Coach who liked to park next to my car while I changed. You’re a pervert. I know why you really had to change schools.
No.
I don’t want a drink.
No.
To the ex, I found someone who finds something other to compliment than my ass. Or to embarrass me about other than my chest. Speaking of asses and embarrassments, you are one.
No.

Shared Stories

“I hear people joke about rape and talk about it as if it’s a laughing matter”

By an Anonymous Contributor

It’s very hard to talk about my experience because I haven’t felt like I am free to discuss it since it happened. Even though my loved ones care deeply for my wellbeing, they are hurting, too, which makes it hard to bring up. Because why would I want to bring up pain they feel as well?

Almost a year ago, it was a normal Friday night, and I had gone to a get together at a friends house. I was sixteen at the time, and we often hung out at this house. It was a comforting and happy home. Unfortunately, the neighborhood we were in was not a great area. We knew that there were high crime rates in this part of town, but we never thought anything would happen. I had been drinking, but I had sobered up by the time I needed to head home. I frequently took ubers home when I knew that I would be drinking, and in the past the uber drivers have had trouble finding the right building. So I thought that it would be smart to walk to the gas station that was a quater mile away, and get picked up there. My friends made a few comments about walking alone, but I dismissed them and said I’d be fine. When I got to the gas station, I was walking up to the front and a man, who was sitting along the side of the building, said something to me. I wasn’t sure what he said, but being naive, I stepped closer and he grabbed the backs of my legs. I tried to stay calm and relax, but when I tried to push away, I realized that I was not strong enough. Panic started to set it and he told me if I kissed him he’d let me go. I tried to explain that I was just trying to get home and to please let me go. He kept tightening his grab and sliding his hand up my dress. I finally agreed, because I just wanted to get home. He let me go and I tried to walk away quickly. There were so many people around the front and side of the building, and I was so terrified, so I just turned around and tried to walk around to the other side. This was a clear mistake, and many people question why I would ever do this, but I couldn’t think clearly, and I was just trying to get away. He followed behind me and grabbed me when I got to the other side. He then made me do things while his friend watched. I finally saw a chance to run away, and that’s what I did.

The police told me that I was lying, that I was a prostitute, and they asked my mom to look through my phone. People asked me why I didn’t scream, why I didn’t fight back, and it’s soemthing I’ve struggled with for a long time. I’ve replayed that night over and over again thinking of everything I should’ve done differently. It’s hard to explain to people that I was too scared to react. That I was too scared of him killing me to try anything. I find it really hard to not blame myself for it.

The guy was never found, the case was closed after about two months. I didn’t even want to go to the police in the first place, I just wanted to forget.

Often at school, I hear people joke about rape and talk about it as if it’s a laughing matter. It’s something I’ve had to accept and I’ve tried my hardest to not let it get to me. They don’t know what happened to me, and I know they’re just ignorant, but it’s painful to hear. I think this campaign is a wonderful idea, and I really hope that awareness is spread. I hope that people start to take this issue seriously.

It’s been 11 months since this happened, and I’ve really struggled with being alone, thank you for giving me a place to share my story.

Shared Stories

He is the Predator I was just the Gullible Prey

By an Anonymous Contributor 

I was 14, I am now 15 and I regret a lot of things in my life – here is one. I was sitting at home and I got a message from someone on my phone. I answered it not knowing who it was all I knew is it was someone online. We talked I found out it was a male who lived near by and he thought I was hot. I was flattered then he started threatening me saying a whole bunch of things, I got scared. I did what he asked trying to avoid the threats from becoming reality but after the first picture was sent I realized I was played. But I couldn’t refuse more, otherwise I would be exposed. Eventually it became routine go to school go home do homework send nudes carry on for a while go on video chat show my body carry on and go to bed. Then one day he asked my address I didn’t really think of who I was texting so I answered. I immediately realized what I had done. That’s when I started staying up late and sneaking out just so he could make me give him oral and he would do what he wanted I never let him do vaginal sex but everything else I had to let happen. Eventually I had a reality check and said no more. I blocked him the threats never became reality and life was normal again. But then someone found out about it and made me go to the police and thats when I realised how old he really was. More than a decade older than me and married. I never got full justice because the things I had said over text made it all sound consensual. He has very little prison time and that makes me upset and I know I messed up but I’m not guilty completely. He is the predator I was just the gullible prey.

Shared Stories

“The nurses and doctors laughed at me…telling me it could be worse”

By Genevieve Armstrong

Two years ago, on June 21st, 2014 I came home from a long day of work on a Saturday night. I sat with my dad and decides to pick up Thai food for us at a restaurant maybe 6 blocks up the street. I changed my clothes and was on my way. On the walk back, I remember feeling happy, confident, walking tall with my head up like nothing would get me down. 3 blocks away from my home, I felt someone push me to the ground. My first reaction was a jogger had carelessly knocked me over. This was until I was on the ground, being repeatedly punched. Hard, forceful strikes to my head, over and over. The only thing I could do was scream for help and protect my head, struggling to kick. As I screamed, a pair of hands began ripping my clothes off, tearing at my underwear. I was wearing spanx, and my attacker(s?) could not get them off until a couple of minutes in. I continued to scream, thinking I was going to die being raped and beaten. I urinated on myself and a moment later it was over. I remember lying there for a moment before dragging myself up. I was covered in blood, one eye swollen shut, struggling to look for my phone to call the police. I frantically ran into the street, waving cars down. No one helped me. Men looked me in the eyes as I screamed and cried, pleading for help, then drove around me. The nurses and doctors laughed at me, or telling me it could be worse. I was bloodied, and humiliated. My case was one of many known as “The North Park Attacks”, as 6-7 other women had been attacked (all of which but myself and one other had been knocked out immediately). The criticism, judgment, blame, and jokes over my attack was everywhere online. I felt constant humiliation, shame, and overall rage that this is the way myself the other women in the case were being treated. I began going to rallies, sharing my story. Making my social media pages a platform to discuss and give other survivors an ear to listen. Over the next two years I learned to turn my pain into power and make sure survivors always have someone who cares. My attacker, a man who claims he was alone in my attack and the others, was caught the following September of my assault. In April of 2016, he finally plead guilty. April 7th, a “victims” (survivor’s) impact statement and sentencing was held in court. His family made excuses, cried, and stared me down as I spoke. I looked directly at the man who beat me, tore off my clothing, and tried to rape me while he cried. I will never forget telling him, “I see right through your crocodile tears, and when you die I will spit on your grave” before taking my seat. Today when I watched Ione Wells story, I felt a power. I felt the sisterhood and connection of survival. I felt inspired. Thank you, Ione. I see the pain you have turned into power and hope one day I will be able to make an organization like this one. You are truly an inspiration and motivation for me to continue to use my voice.

Shared Stories

I Need To Feel No Guilt

By an Anonymous Contributor to the campaign 

“I can’t wait for sex tonight.” Five words written down on a scrap of paper, harmless on their own, together they terrified me.
I was 6, he was almost 9, my brother. My wonderful funny, annoying, loveable brother. We shared a room as most children do, we’d talk at night when we should have been sleeping. Then it changed. He began asking me to climb into his bed, or he’d get into mine once my mum had left the room. It was never penetrative, but it was wrong and I didn’t understand what was happening. He’d ask me to touch him, so I did, which makes me feel sick. If I didn’t do as he asked he’d say that he would tell mum and dad, so I had to. I wish I’d been stronger, but at 6 are you really strong? It lasted for a few years until eventually we were put in separate rooms. My mothers reasoning for this was that I’d be getting my period soon….This still confuses me…Did she know?

He would come into my room. I somehow made him stop, but he started bullying me massively. For years, until I left for art college, he would tell me intimate details of his conquests and try and make me read his sex diaries. I still love him, he is my family, but I hate him for what he did to me.
My family life was hard, I had no one I could confide in. My mother had my father to deal with, a verbally aggressive alcoholic with bi-polar, she didn’t need my problems on her shoulders as well.
At 11, I broke my own arm to stop my father from coming to watch me at a fun run with my school for fear of him being drunk. Self harm became my release. At 13 I became an angst ridden teenager. Hanging out with all the wrong people. Then at 15, I was drunk at a club and I was raped. I didn’t know him, my “friends” did. Being used yet again for someone elses pleasure. But “I deserved it, it’s what I’m here for” – to be used, I don’t matter to anyone, I’ll get over it, shove it right the way into the deepest darkest corner of my mind, joke and drink my way through my later teenage years, meet the love of my life at 20 but wait a whole 16 years before telling him what happened. I can’t tell him about my brother, I just can’t.

I had a breakdown last year. It all came out. I couldn’t live with my demon anymore. My counselling, with an amazing charity CRASAC, has been an absolute life saver. My counsellor has given me hope, I have my last session next week, I’m scared to have the thoughts growing bigger again. I need to be strong, I need to not blame myself, I need to feel no guilt, but it is oh so hard.

I think I can survive this.

Shared Stories

Why did you ruin our friendship?

By an Anonymous Contributor

Why? Why did you do it? Why did you ruin our friendship? Or was it never a friendship on the first place – is this just what you wanted? After 7 years of ignoring, distracting and self blaming, I am starting to now believe that I did nothing wrong. For 3 years we’d been friends, 3 years you’d slept over after a night out, I completely trusted you. There was never anything sexual when you slept over, it was just convenience so you didnt have to drive home. So why on that night was it different?

I had a few drinks and took some medication that night. The two together made me completely out of it. Vulnerable, but I trusted I was in safe company. It’s why I have blamed myself, I shouldn’t have combined the the medication with a few drinks. I got myself in that state. I excused your behaviour believing that if i’d been able to say ‘no’ you would have stopped. I used to feel guilty for not being able to take control of the situation, everything was just a big misunderstanding. I now believe silence is not consent. Not saying ‘no’ does not mean yes. I would never have consented to what you did that night. It hurt. Sometimes i’m glad I don’t fully remember what happened, sometimes that scares me. Part of me wants to ask you ‘did you rape me?’. I dont think i’d believe your answer, so there is probably no point. I never heard from again since that night, maybe you were to embarrassed since you knew you were wrong or maybe you just got what you wanted.

I am now on the road to acceptance and recovery. I will no longer blame myself for your stupidity and ignorance. I will no longer blame myself for your decisions and actions. I will move passed this and have a happy life.

Shared Stories

“But what if your words aren’t listened to?”

By Kate Wyver

You’ve always believed that words have superpowers. They can bring out the strongest emotions and form the most elaborate stories. They can create new worlds, make people laugh, help you fall in love and spread empathy and understanding.

But what if your words aren’t listened to? What if you say stop but he doesn’t hear, so you say it again but this time he chooses not to? What if he thinks he knows what you mean and he thinks you mean the opposite?

If that one syllable can be misunderstood, mistaken or ignored – if someone can put their orgasm before your consent – then what’s the point of using any words at all?

The law acknowledges that it takes a few seconds for a man to gather his wits and pull out or away, but this is longer than a few seconds.

You tell him to stop because it’s too loud and you don’t want your family to hear and you tell him again and you mean it and you’re more nervous now and he’s not stopping and you’re not turned on anymore and as your body reacts to your brain it’s not exactly painful but it’s not feeling good and he’s not listening and it’s like when you’re on your phone and someone’s talking to you but you don’t really hear them because you’re too engrossed in the conversation and it’s not an excuse and you can see from his face that it’s going to end soon so you stop saying no and you give up and you look to your wall by your right side where there’s a bunch of photos of you and your friends from school and you’re all smiling and you wait and you’re silent and he doesn’t even notice and he finishes and he’s triumphant and he has no idea.

It’s maybe only a minute but for that minute you don’t want to be there, and you told him that by saying no. He gets louder when you want silence and now he’s gone and you can’t deal with the silence so you distract yourself by putting on a scary TV show to scare yourself in a different way.

That night you send him a message. He should have stopped when you said stop. You curl up in your sheets and hug the teddy who has been with you since you were two. You get out of bed and drink a lot of water and brush your teeth until the taste of him is gone.

He gets your message in the morning. He hadn’t realised what he’s done and begins to apologise so much you think his fingers will weave an enormous sculpture of the word sorry and his mouth will turn into a stitching patterned in the same shape. You thank him for accepting it and not being defensive. He says he would never do that. But then he says he only continued because he thought you wanted to. He didn’t think you meant it when you said no.

You keep wanting a shower.

When you ask directly, he admits he wouldn’t have said anything if you hadn’t told him. He doesn’t really realise it’s wrong until you point it out. He says he wants to cry. You tell him it’s okay. You find yourself comforting your – no surely, can you call him that? He’s still your friend, isn’t he? But he did it so surely that makes him-?

You’re fine. You’re not scarred for life. You tell him that. You try to joke. But as you say that you wonder if maybe you are just a little bit. If you’ll be more hesitant about going home with someone from a club, or be more wary of Tinder, or if you’ll ever be able to trust a boyfriend so completely that you know they’d never do that, that they wouldn’t be with you like that without your consent. That they would stop if you asked them to. You wonder if you should give a contract to every boy you ever consider messing around with, make them sign an oath that they will never do that. Insert a chip into their neck that automatically pulls them back to the opposite wall as soon as you say the word stop.

You would say it’s a conversation we don’t have enough, but we do. Everyone knows it’s wrong. And of course he thinks it’s wrong too, it’s just that he didn’t see that he was doing it. He was ‘lost in the moment’. And you talk to a friend and ask if that counts as rape and the friend says yes and you google it over and over on incognito and the time from you saying no to him finishing was only maybe a minute so surely it’s not that bad, you think, but that minute has been playing on your mind and made you feel like you need to hold yourself together slightly in case you fall apart. You hide how much it affects you so as to save him from more concern. To be fair, you’ve just accused him of something pretty hefty, so he’s got thoughts of his own to deal with. You carry on talking and after he’s apologised a lot more you start to talk and joke as normal. Your approach to most things is sarcasm, and gradually it re-emerges, but it’s hard to forget that one minute and carry on joking.

You’re constantly being told off for being too PC, for jumping on everyone’s comments in case they could seem the slightest bit derogatory. And you can’t tell if you’re overreacting, because you both wanted to have sex and up until that moment it was completely consensual, and it wasn’t as if he hurt you or treated you abusively. He just put his own desire over everything for a minute. Is a minute really that bad? And you need to write it down in order to make sense of it. Because you kissed him after and you meant that kiss and you like him and he’s not the type of person to do that at all, and you’d never expect him to hurt you or anyone else, and neither would he, and he’s horrified that he did it, once you told him. He’s probably more scarred from the realisation than you are. And he’d never do it again. But he still did it.

You don’t want to tell your best friend or your mum because you were one who went searching and you’re worried they’ll say you kind of brought it on yourself, by putting yourself in that position. But you also realise how dangerous that view is. That is only a step away from saying a girl shouldn’t drink because if she gets raped it’s kind of her own fault for not being aware or sensible enough.

And you carry on talking and joking but you still feel uncomfortable and you tell him you don’t want to have sex with him again and he understands and apologises again. Then you tell him you want space because his continuing to message you with kindness and smiley faces feels uneasy. Because however nice he’s been to you for the rest of the time you’ve known him, you don’t want to be reminded of that one minute. But he doesn’t seem to understand that’s the reason and sends another smiley face, expecting to hear from you soon.

You’ve just been through an intensely sad break up and you told yourself when getting involved this time – nothing serious, it was just fun and not stressful – that you wouldn’t let yourself get hurt. You thought that meant not getting too many feelings. You thought that meant restricting yourself in some way.

Maybe it’s not that big a deal. Maybe you’re overreacting. Maybe you should just forget about it and not let it affect you. Or maybe you can do without guys for a while, until you’re ready to trust someone else with your body and then maybe your heart and maybe even your Nativity DVD’s, because you really don’t fancy any of them getting hurt again anytime soon.

He sends you another message. ‘Are you just not wanting to have someone at all?’ At first you think: Yeah. Yeah that’s what you want, for a while at least.

But then, on second thoughts: You have plenty of people in your life already.

Writing it down helps. Words may not have had much impact in that moment, that minute, but maybe in the aftermath they really do have healing superpowers.