In my time of need, I was surrounded by people and yet I was alone. I was 18, it was 2013. I was about to go to college and was the happiest I could be, almost. My best friend was murdered just six months earlier, and while I was coming to terms with her death, it was still fresh and I had no one to talk too. I was alone, but I still had support from my family. My family and I had traveled halfway across the world to stay with my father’s family. I was so excited, this was something I’d dreamed of my whole life. Meeting my other family was supposed to fill that other half of me I felt was missing.
I and my sisters and brother were to stay with my aunt, uncle, and their 4 children. They were around our age so we were pretty excited. My cousin was the one who did it. He raped me while everyone was sleeping in the same room. We had just finished watching a movie and had such a great night. Then I felt him kissing me but I was half asleep and thought I was imagining it. I woke and begged him to stop. I said it wasn’t right. He wouldn’t stop. I didn’t know what to do. I knew it wasn’t right but I was in shock and wasn’t thinking clearly. I didn’t want to wake everyone up. He continued to rape me over the next 20 day and I didn’t say anything. My spirit left my body. I was just flesh being mutilated. I did what I knew how to do best, act and ignore my emotions. My family knew something was going on, but they didn’t know what and I wasn’t about to tell them. I was ashamed. Ashamed that I couldn’t fight back, ashamed that I let it go on, even though I didn’t have a choice and ashamed that I didn’t tell anyone.
We left for America and I pretended like nothing happened. I made new friends, went to classes, did all of the things I had hoped I would do. Then it started getting to me. I partied too much, had sec with scummy men, I couldn’t get out of my bed, even to shower or go to the bathroom. I was smoking pack a day and drinking at least 4 times a week. My family had no idea how I was living because as far as they were concerned, I was in college and that’s all that mattered. I dropped out that year. I decide it was time to stop caring what everyone else thought. I was going to be better for me. It was hard, I made a lot of mistakes, but in the end I triumphed, I’m working at a great place supporting people with intellectual disabilities, I told my friends and two people in my family. I’m dating again! That was the hardest part I think. How was I supposed to trust men? I was a vir gun and I had a crush on this guy back home. I had never even kissed a guy before. N ow I’ve met men and realized that there are good people in the world. I’m going back to college in a month, and I realized that while I making progress I still have a long way to go. It took a lot of work. I saw this movie and I related to her story in the sense that she didn’t just move on but she moved up. That’s what I intend to do. In my opinion there are two ways you can go when something like this happens to us. We can run or we can do something about it. I’m here to fight for a better life and a better world. I thought I stood alone, but I don’t. I’m going to be braver for each and everyone of these stories I just read. Your strength is what will help me move forward.
— Survivor, age 20