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


By an Anonymous Contributor 

To the teacher who thought helping me in the highs and lows in the economy meant helping himself to feeling up past my knees.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I don’t want a drink.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My eyes are up here.
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.
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.
I don’t want a drink.
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.
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.
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.
I don’t want a drink.
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.

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.

Shared Stories

“Let’s actually get together, start talking about it and start helping”

By an Anonymous Contributor

I have re-written this article several times.

First, I kept deleting it and writing it out again because I didn’t want the memory on my computer. I didn’t want someone to find it. I didn’t want to speak out and be the voice the 1 in 3 other girls who have been sexually assaulted on university campuses in the UK.

I decided to tell my story because of a recent scandal at my university; a student published a short story called ‘Nights at the Disco’ about a boy who spends his nights taking drugs and finding drunk women to take advantage of in clubs. A girl found it and reported it to the university on the grounds that the story was so similar to real events, it could be at best harrowing and at worst true. The university demanded the story be taken down because it brought the institution into disrepute- not because it was insensitive. But it was only after reading the victim’s statement from the Brock Turner sexual assault case that I had the confidence to actually get this published.

After I was sexually assaulted in my own bed, I googled “what to do if you’ve been raped”. The websites that came up suggested help lines and not washing but going straight to the doctor so that the perpetrator could be caught and swabs could be used as evidence in court.

My case has not gone to court. I chose not to. As the victim of the Brock Turner case so eloquently explained, taking a rape or sexual assault case to court is extremely harrowing. You have to repeat what happened to you every day so that you remember it clearly and your character is completely questioned. I don’t need my character questioned. I have spent enough time blaming myself, thinking it was my fault; that it wasn’t rape; I wasn’t forceful enough; I am over-reacting.

I was not and I am not overreacting. I now know, although there are still moments when I am unsure, that my reaction is valid. This was my reaction:

In August, I was sexually assaulted by my ex-boyfriend. We had both been drinking. I don’t quite know why that’s relevant but apparently it is (c.f. Brock Turner’s statements). I had not drunk as much as him. I was pretty sober. This does not make his actions excusable. If he had mugged someone when he was drunk, it would still be considered a crime. This was still a crime.

He convinced me that I wasn’t safe going home alone and that he needed to accompany me. On the way back he was verbally abusive, telling me he wasn’t a rapist and that I wasn’t so desirable that he couldn’t resist me. This was all mixed in with compliments about me being special but not that special. So that’s nice isn’t it? Except it’s not because I didn’t feel worthwhile at all. I just felt guilty for not giving him what he wanted when he complimented me, as though his words indebted me to him in some way. He ended up in my house. What happened happened and the next day he apologised. By text. He wouldn’t speak to me on the phone but he sent me a text to say he was sorry. I didn’t really understand why he needed to be sorry; I hadn’t computed what had happened. So I convinced him to speak to me on the phone and I said I was fine: what he did was bad but I was fine and maybe now we could be friends.

I was not fine. I am still not fine. And we are definitely not friends.

That day, at work, I had my first ever panic attack. I couldn’t breathe suddenly- I had to force myself to breathe, to do something my body has been doing on its own for nineteen years. The next day, I had another one. Then I started crying on the tube home out of the blue. I told my friends that I had nearly had sex with my ex-boyfriend again. Actually, I tried to tell them the full story without labelling it as sexual assault to see their reactions. They didn’t really know what to say, they just asked me if I was ok with it and I said I thought this was good; maybe it was better to have things out in the open.

It took me a week to understand what had happened and why I was having panic attacks and crying. By then, this boy had gone on holiday. I felt out of control. I felt like I had no control over what happened to my body. So I messaged him to say I wasn’t ok. I thought maybe he would apologise properly and I would be fine and we could move on but I was wrong.

At first he said he was profusely sorry and he asked how he could help. I suggested he tell his mother. This is where people tend to question me: why get parents involved? That’s such a hard thing to have to tell your mother. The truth is, I didn’t know what to suggest. I just wanted someone with more experience involved. Now I realize that people find his mother’s involvement unfair because it makes him feel guilty. It is the same mindset that pities Brock Turner. Why should this young boy have his “life ruined” for “twenty minutes of action”? To some extent, I understand that. I don’t think people’s lives should be ruined because of mistakes but the fact is that my life has been heavily impacted by what happened. The perpetrator of the crime has continued a normal life and insulted me since, calling my behavior “vile” when I brought his mother into it.

A big part of the guilt I felt and still feel (although less so now) was the guilt and pain I could cause this boy and his family by labelling him a rapist. The severity of the punishment for rape if the defendant is found guilty deterred me from reporting my own experience. I think that’s a deterrent for a lot of women and men. They don’t want to be bitter or cause more pain- I, at least, didn’t and don’t.

It is a very difficult circumstance when you know the distress you feel can deeply hurt others. Especially people you care about. I cared about this boy, I didn’t want to ‘ruin his life’- I still don’t want to. I don’t think it would be productive or helpful to anyone. That’s something that I haven’t really found talked about much- the responsibility you can feel after you’ve been assaulted. Hearing a relative or a good friend has been sexually assaulted is confusing and distressing. I’ve experienced it on both sides and each time I have felt uncomfortable, I haven’t known the right way to have the conversation. How do you comfort someone who’s been assaulted? How do you comfort someone who’s friend’s been assaulted? It’s scary on either side.

I am still not over what happened to me. I try not to let it but it has taken over my life. I think about it all the time. To say daily is an understatement. It defines the way I see the world now. For the first few months I suffered panic attacks and depression, yes, but I still have more complex issues and lower self-esteem than ever before. My relationship with food has changed for the worse. I used to love it; eat when I was hungry and enjoy it. Now I binge. I try not to drink too much anymore but in the months following the event I did. I drank far too much. I was desperate not to be a downer and to appear fun. It wasn’t fun. I was not having fun; I was trying to hide how sad I was and not bring sadness into the room. My interaction with men also changed. Rationally, I know it shouldn’t have but it has. I don’t trust romance now. I don’t get excited at the idea of it for me. For others I do but not for me.

The night I found out this boy had a new girlfriend was particularly bad one. I went upstairs and sobbed in a room at a party. And I don’t mean quiet sobbing, I mean uncontrollable sobs of fear, anxiety and impotence. My friend- who’s birthday it was- had to console me while I repeated “it’s going to happen again”. I ended up throwing up on myself. I don’t even think that was alcohol. I think that was fear. I know this is bad behavior. I know you shouldn’t cry at a birthday party. You should know that I don’t do that much and that I am mortified. Just as I am embarrassed at all the other inappropriate times I have cried this year. You should also know that I can’t really control it. I have tried very hard to and if I could, I would.

So how is this relevant to the recent controversy over ‘Nights at the Disco’ and the issue of free speech? To be honest, reading that particular story did not make me feel more distressed than other things have but I know it has made others feel uncomfortable. The way the university dealt with it was wrong, yes. The way universities deal with sexual assault is, frankly, wrong. There is very little counselling and aid available and the aid that is available has a waiting list. When you are in that vulnerable a position, you do not want to wait four to eight weeks. It should be made as easy as possible to get help. The help should come to you.

Ideally, rape would also be something we can talk about openly without embarrassment. That does not mean no trigger warnings. I don’t think they’re tools for militant political correctness, they’re informative of the content. The fact is that there is a rape-culture at universities in this country that we are, for some reason, choosing to ignore even though this article is by no means the first of its kind. The issue isn’t just rape. The issue is the way women are still blamed for sexual encounters whilst men are congratulated.. I know it’s been said before but it’s still going on so I’m saying it again.

The “oppressed party” in ‘The Night’s at the Disco’ scandal is not the censored writer, it is the victims of sexual assault whose very real cases and reports are being ignored for the sake of the university’s reputation. The university is openly trying to cover up the issue instead of dealing with the fact that sexual assault and rape has become almost normalised by its commonness on campuses and yet is barely being combatted or talked about.

This is a societal problem. I’m not innocent- I have seen unsettling situations and not intervened because I didn’t want to be rude. Ridiculous. We need to change the way we look at sex, the way we educate children about it. I’m not in a position to know exactly how sex should be addressed but I do know that the way we are addressing at the moment is damaging.

So this is my attempt to slightly change that. The Brock Turner statement is what motivated me to share my story. Hearing someone else say that they had felt similarly to how I felt reassured me that I wasn’t being mad and dramatic so I’m hoping this might do the same for someone else. You are not being crazy or dramatic or selfish or whatever else might be thrown at you. If you have been made to feel uncomfortable or damaged by a sexual encounter; be it with a stranger, and acquaintance or someone close to you, you are not alone and you are definitely not to blame. There are millions of women and men who have felt like you feel and who want to help you. So let’s actually get together, start talking about it and start helping.

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“A Not Guilty verdict a double blow”

Submitted by an Anonymous Contributor

ANGEL EYES…Yesterday I felt sick, today overwhelmed, tomorrow I may never recover. You see, I too was abused as a little girl, likewise my closest friend, my only friend. We suffered in silence, we needed each other, it was our secret, no-one knew. Over the years it was not mentioned much, but the psychological effects of that abuse was clear to see. We have lost our childhood, our youth, adult years… even today you catch your breath once in a while get back to reality today – my life is not so good. I was a witness for my friend, she took a giant leap of faith and jumped, past all the obstacles, she was believed the CPS approved, marching forward to hope and a conviction, but devastatingly the defendant – you guessed it – a resounding no. I went blank, got very emotional when mentioning the sexual act that I lost all concentration. Normally I am OK, I now blame myself, and a not guilty verdict a double blow, another cross to bear, they lied on oath, now proof came forward too late, case closed, a paedophile walking the streets yet again. This wasnt a robbery, ,or a fight even though I dont discredit how serious but sexual abuse of any kind affects a life permanently if it was down to money all the money in the world can’t bring the dead back to life but I know a man who can and I have to trust him. I made a mistake in court I said a wrong thing not thinking straight and to fearful to speak up my friend. I never wanted to pursue court, I encouraged her, I will carry that burden the rest of my life, my friend devastated but oh so brave. She said we may have lost the battle but not the war, yes so true. If I could get the law passed that in child historic cases to allow the defendant to give evidence, first victim last, I believe a fairer trial would happen. Everything is stacked up for the abuser, he has the advantage already and you only have to sound convincing enough to be believed… not necessarily fact. So yes I’m trying, no sleep, eaten much but not backing down, there is hope for the living. I have written to the prime minister, I hate injustice and if I can help people like you and me im not going to stop until we get justice xxx

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A Letter To You Both

A letter to you both… By an Anonymous Contributor 

8 years ago you walked into a friendly local pub and saw me; what you saw was a 16 year old girl who on the face of it was a confident, outgoing person, enjoying the social life that came with living in a pub. I was old before my time; life changes had made me grow up quicker than others my age. I didn’t like people knowing how low my self esteem was, I didn’t want them to know that I was always the target of fat jokes even though I was only a size 12-14 so I put a brave face on. To the outside world, the girl you saw was me.

You must have noticed the vulnerability though; I think you saw how I reacted when you would give me a compliment. To have someone a couple of years older than me saying I looked nice…I had never had that before. You noticed that and you kept it in your mind.

Over the course of a few months you worked on becoming my friend; you would regularly pop in to the pub and chat with me, you would text me, message me online and always be a smiling face for me to see. You started flirting with me and of course I flirted back…I was 16 and enjoying the attention. But I never thought it would go further than that. You were just a guy in the pub who I thought was nice.

I remember the night you invited me out; you said we could go for a drive along the coast and have a chat. I knew you pretty well at this point so I jumped at the chance. I knew my mum wouldn’t approve though, so I told her I was going out with a female friend of mine. She wouldn’t want me going out with someone older than me.

When I got in the car your friend was there, but I knew him too so I didn’t mind. It was just friends going out after all. You offered me a bottle of vodka and straight away I started feeling on edge; I was sure the bottle had been opened. I took a sip and said that my lips were sore; any excuse so that I didn’t have to drink it.

Then you started driving, along the coast like you said we would. But you pulled over in a car park. I was naïve and thought it was just to get out and have a walk along the beach. But that’s when you did it.

You locked the door and your friend jumped over to sit in the back with me. He started touching my leg, and put my hand on his. I moved it away but he kept on asking me to touch him. He was rubbing my leg, kissing my neck and grabbing my breasts. I asked you to let me out but all I heard was “go on suck it for me” as your friend got his penis out. I told you both that it wasn’t funny and kept on asking you to let me out.

Eventually you did, and as I started the long walk home I saw you drive away. I can’t explain how I felt at this moment; I suppose I felt stupid. Why would an older guy be interested in me?

A little while later you text me; “please let me give you a lift home, I don’t like the thought of you walking, it was his idea, I promise, I am really sorry”. Text after text read the same thing. I agreed. You picked me up and started to drive me home, which I was grateful for. It was a long walk and I was freezing cold.

But then you pulled over again, into another car park. You locked the doors. You did exactly the same thing, but you were different about it…you knew what to say. You were telling me how much you liked me, how bad you felt about what your friend had done, how you wanted to be more than friends. But then you were just the same…you started touching me, putting my hands on you and asking me the same question as before. I told you to let me out and I remember you laughing…telling me to lighten up.

I got out after what felt like a lifetime and started walking home. This time I couldn’t stop crying; I text my friend and asked him to come and meet me but he was busy. I cried the whole way home until I got to my front door. I remember walking through the pub and straight up the stairs to my house. I ran a bath and sat in it for at least an hour just scrubbing myself. I felt so…dirty. I told my mum I was just tired and needed an early night, and cried myself to sleep in my room.

It wasn’t until I went into school and told my friend what had happened that I thought about telling someone. She told me I had to report it to the police and walked me to the station straight from school that day. The police drove me back to my house and sat me down with my stepdad. They had to tell him what I had told them; I can’t imagine what that was like for him. Knowing it had happened days before but not being able to do anything as I hadn’t told him. But it wasn’t telling him that worried me, it was my mum. They called her back from work and went through it all again with her. They took my phone, laptop and my clothes. I was totally cut off.

But I am not writing this to tell you what happened; you know exactly what went on. I am writing to tell you what you really did to me.

No you didn’t rape me. I was not hurt physically in anyway; no bruises or cuts. No black eyes. No scars. Except for the emotional ones.

I felt nothing but guilt and blame since that day. I should have told my mum where I was going, I shouldn’t have flirted with you, I shouldn’t have gone out with you, I shouldn’t have got back in the car for a second time.

It was my fault. The police did nothing as they didn’t have enough evidence so obviously they saw the messages we had been exchanging and saw that I was flirting back and thought I was asking for it? Thought I wanted to have sex with you?

Fast forward 7 years and there I was. Sitting in a counsellor’s room asking them for help. I had no self-confidence, I had difficulty in trusting people and I was suffering from extreme anxiety. I thought all of this was because my dad died; I saw a counsellor before and they told me I was hyper aware of mortality, which is why I was feeling so anxious. I thought the low self-esteem was only because I was in a relationship with someone who didn’t find me attractive. I thought the trust issue was because I had been burned by friends so many times.

I remember sitting there feeling stupid. I had lost my dad 5 years before and had managed to somewhat move on from that. I had battled with depression and anxiety and had got to the stage where I was managing it. I returned to university after a year off and I was doing it…I was succeeding. Yet I still felt crap. How can I move on from my dad dying, but not from what you did?

I didn’t want to be seen as a victim. That sounds weak. I had gone through so much that I no longer felt weak and vulnerable, I felt stronger than before. But something was still holding me back; that something was you two.

You are the reason that I had no confidence, the reason I ballooned to a size 22, the reason I feel anxious when I see men in the street, the reason I couldn’t move forward.

But my counsellor taught me how to see things differently; no matter what I did, what I said to you, you NEVER had the right to do that to me. It didn’t matter if I lied to my mum about where I was going; we have all done that at some point…that still didn’t make it acceptable. And NO I am not a victim; I am a survivor. Victims don’t need to be weak…they can be strong.

There is no way that I am over what happened; the emotional scars you left are still there. I sometimes feel like I am fighting a losing battle. But every time I think about you I feel something deep inside…I feel pity. How sad you must have been to prey on a 16 year old girl because you couldn’t get someone your own age to have sex with you. How pathetic it is that you had to physically lock me in the car to stand a chance of getting any action. How ridiculously boring your lives must have been that you sat and thought of this together; down to the finest details of the alcohol that you got for me.

I don’t know what you are doing now or where you are…but if you have a daughter, think how hard it would be for her to tell you this story. The story of how two men took advantage of her, locked her in a car, wouldn’t let her out and sexually assaulted her. I had to tell my two big brothers who live 300 miles away, my uncles found out and so did my friends. They told me they would fix things…they would find you and they would hurt you. But that wouldn’t make it any easier for me. Looking back now, honestly, I wish they did. It wouldn’t have made me feel any better at the time, but it would have made you hurt…just like I did and I still am.

But at the end of it all I am not a victim. I have learnt from what has happened and I am now helping other people who have mental health issues. I have empathy and understanding that I never had before.

You have no power over me anymore.

It’s time to let you go.

Goodbye, and good riddance to you both.


“I Did Not Choose To Be Raped”

By an Anonymous Contributor 

I was told by Police ‘he’s had his telling off, he won’t do it again’
‘I haven’t just had my purse stolen, this is very serious’
‘but you chose to go back to that house’

I did not choose to be raped.

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The Year In Between

By Ione Wells 

Today was a great day.

Sunday morning, a day off. One of those gorgeous sunny but crisp mornings when spring is just teasing into summer. The park is heaving with Londoners, wearing shorts and flip-flops despite the fact it is still barely scraping thirteen degrees outside, and there is a jingle of an ice-cream truck in the distance. My body is seeping with endorphins (even if admittedly everything hurts) after completing the first session in one of those intense fitness bootcamp courses that I roped myself into as a 4-month-too-late-New-Year’s-resolution. Better late than never right? I make time to read the papers, and ignore my attention-sapping phone, over breakfast. I started the afternoon by accepting an exciting new work opportunity for the summer. I can’t stop grinning. My best mate is back in town and we make plans to go for a drink. I can’t work out how or why, given I’ve let work pile up for weeks, have bills to pay, and have many an undone to-do list floating around, but everything just seems to be going right today. Today, I can’t help but speak in clichés – I feel on top of the world.

Back home, I sit and fill out my student finance form (a menial task, but who cares, today is great!) I sign the form and date it. The date stares back at me, rather like when you’ve looked at a bright light for too long and can’t quite remove it from your field of vision.

Anniversaries are a weird thing. They are artificial, really. There isn’t really a point to them other than marking that something significant happened on this day once, at least a year ago. Yet we use them as an excuse to revisit all occasions both positive and negative: marriages, deaths, shops opening, wars ending. Reading the newspapers this morning, I came across a feature about Easter 1916 regarding its own anniversary. What struck me about the feature, though, was not so much its focus on the event itself, as we so often dwell upon with war memorials, but on the ripple of events that this one event triggered. The way it influenced how we have seen other conflicts since, the way it changed the shape of a nation, and the progress that has been made since that day, which we recognise all the more in remembering what happened in the past. Indeed, the only real purpose I can see for anniversaries is that they remind you to take stock of what exists today in light of, and sometimes in spite of, what has passed.

A year ago, today, this day ended and I was rock bottom. I spent the end of 10th April, or more like the early hours of 11th April, 2015 having the cuts and bruises on my naked body photographed in front of the police for forensic evidence, after being violently sexually assaulted on my own street on the way home from seeing friends. This day, a year ago, nothing could take off the bleak lenses that I was seeing the world through. It was, contrary to today, one of the worst days of my life.

Not every day is, or has been, a great day like today. There were the days of post-traumatic stress, the days of flashbacks and night terrors. There were the days of intrusion and invasiveness by a few notorious newspapers that, unlike the others, forgot that I was a human being and not just a news story. There were the days of court hearings, police visits, anxious waiting for phone calls, Twitter trolls, hate mail, rape threats – you name it. There were also just those ordinary crappy days that are a fact of life – the days of exams, of bad weather, of people being a bit shit, of getting the flu, of missing your bus even when you’ve just run a mile to catch it and everyone at the stop is staring at you like a fool. Not every day is a perfect day, for anyone. Of course it isn’t. It might look like it is for some rich kids on Instagram, but inevitably the days we project for others to see aren’t ever the whole story. We’re all human. ­(Back at it again with the clichés.) We can’t always pick which days we will feel on top of the world, and which days we will feel like the world is a dark place to be.

But when I take stock of this year, and the significance of this day, it is not those darker moments that stand out for me. This ‘anniversary’ does not make me want to think about this day last year, but about the year that fell between. I don’t want to define the year that fell between 10th April 2015 and 10th April 2016 by the incidents that tainted it, but by the incidents that transformed the energy of injustice, upset and anger from the negative incidents of this year into things to feel positive about: by the community on here; by the fantastic people I have had the chance to collaborate with through #NotGuilty to encourage social change: The Schools Consent Project, My Body Back, The Clear Lines Festival, Amongst Women Festival, Women of the World Festival, TED, Cambridge4Consent, The Survivors Collective, Goblin Baby Theatre…the list goes on; by the incredible, brave contributors we have had to this site – sharing their stories and, through every word, standing up for fellow survivors and themselves, stressing that no individual is alone or to blame for what they have gone through; by the inspiring survivors of assault that I have spoken to at our support groups and events, in the street, via email; by the people who have found solace and felt encouraged by #NotGuilty; by the days like today that remind me that I, and my life, are so much more than something that tried to define me and overcome me for a while, and that I can aim to have days like today every day if I want to; by the people in my life who I see every day, the people I share meals and stories with, the people who make me laugh.

#NotGuilty started as a tiny article in a student newspaper, not even half a page, towards the end of the paper, past even the blind dates and adverts. Little did we know it would ever catch public attention, let alone travel worldwide. Before we launched the campaign, I remember saying to my family that if we managed to reach out to just one person, to make even just one individual feel a little less alone and a little stronger, then I would feel that it had all been worth doing.

The world feels a lot closer with all of you who have read, contributed to, written about, engaged with, reached out to, and been part of the campaign this year. In the letter that kick-started the campaign, I told my attacker that he had not proved any weakness in me or my community, but had only demonstrated the solidarity of humanity, and confirmed my opinion that there are infinitely more good people in the world than bad. Infinitely more people than even I could have imagined, it seems. Without whom, I could never have anticipated such a transformation from negative to positive events ever being possible.

When I clocked the date today I wasn’t initially going to write about it, fearing that it could all too easily make ‘the year in between’ into an ‘anniversary’ of one especially bad day – that day changed my life, but it was people who transformed and shaped my experiences.

Once I started, though, the words simply poured out and I am glad they did. If only so I can say to all of you who made it possible: thank you.

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YOU don’t control me anymore

  By Stephanie

Remember playing with your neighborhood friends when you were little? Riding bikes and flying down a hill without fear of falling or a car coming? And when you did fall no matter how bad it hurt you always got right back up and kept riding. Most of us today still bounce back from falls just like that. I did, until I was raped. I had and did a lot of things before I was raped. Like freely express my mind, sleep at night, not fear anyone, not fear myself and most importantly I had self worth. I swam, I enjoyed hanging out with my friends, I adored my family, I had healthy relationships. Life was simple, not easy, but simple. Before I was raped I had enough self worth to know that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. I had enough self worth to make someone else laugh and smile. I had enough self worth to set goals and run after them while knocking everyone down in my way. A guy named Tom not only took my innocence. He took my voice, sanity, power, and focus. He took Stephanie away and turned her into a self destructing pity party. I am not proud or by any means want your pity. This is bigger than me. This is for the little girl riding her bike and having to go home to an abusive dad. This is for the little boy that is too scared to tell anyone he’s been assaulted. And this is for all the teenagers who lost their voice.

Approximately 4/5 sexual assaults are by someone the victim knows. In my case that was true. It is also true that only 68% of sexual assaults are reported to the police. All the other brave boys, girls, men and woman who do report their abuse only 98% of rapists EVER spend a day in jail. Rape is complex, its not about sex. Its about violence, control and power. It’s about intentionally hurting someone to belittle them into thinking they didn’t do anything wrong. Most of the time they win, ask anyone who has been sexually abused. They will tell you before they started the road to healing they thought it was their fault. And the ones who don’t heal will always think it was their fault. I was abused for 3 years. I was 16, 17, and 18. This is a crucial time in anyone’s life to figure out who they are. I lost the chance to do that and I’ve suffered from transitional issues because of it. I couldn’t go to college and sleep at night. I couldn’t be a good roommate, girlfriend or teammate. But I went anyway because I worked my whole life not only to swim in college but to go for free. I couldn’t let Tom take that away from me could I? Well, in the end he did for 3 years. I lasted one semester in college because I truly believed he was following me. I would see him walking to class. In my swim locker. In my bed. I pushed and fought and refused to get help because I was too embarrassed to tell anyone what he did to me. Today, I know I was suffering from PTSD and I have a piece of shit rapist to thank for that. It still doesn’t hurt any less today but when I see him places I can assure myself he’s rotting somewhere not in my presence. Not talking, not getting help and lashing out at anyone who truly loved me has made me bitter and shameful. Is this all he wanted? To continue to control my life even when he’s not physically hurting me? And I have people tell me today “Why didn’t you tell anyone?” “How could you let it go on for 3 years?” “Didn’t you know any better?” How about a big fuck YOU? THAT is what is wrong. Why am I being questioned? Why am I being blamed? Why is rape so much different than any other crime in America? Rape victims keep quiet out of fear. For one, it is invasive, traumatic and confusing. Gathering the courage to say something and to be questioned like I have is NOT encouraging. I hope this little piece that I have written can give someone the courage to know they can say something in confidence and have a system to back them up. The system let me down and many others, but I hope that doesn’t keep anyone from fighting because YOU matter. YOU are not guilty. YOU deserve to heal. And one day you will be walking down a path full of love and support. You don’t owe anything to anyone. Draw the line where you want to and never feel guilty for not reciprocating. If you’re uncomfortable, it’s not your job to make sure that they’re satisfied. When someone tells a rape joke and you feel like running away, stand up for yourself and everyone else fighting. Not being a fly on the wall is the best thing you can do for yourself.  Guys you hook up with won’t understand how much power it took you to open yourself up to a man again, so they have no place to judge you if you draw the line at some point. The first time you start liking a new guy you may feel guilty, since a guy is what got you here in the first place. Some men you meet will think your rape is baggage and won’t know how to “handle” someone like you. Remember that trusting will always be hard but that you will one day find a partner who can support you emotionally, will read articles to better understand how to help you, will be there for a shoulder when it becomes too much, will be cautious during sex but not focus on it during sex, and will love you unconditionally because they couldn’t believe that someone would ever do that to you. These are things no one will tell you, but its how you break the chain with the one who assaulted you. You can be free. And you are SO loved.