Guilt and shame almost killed my soul. I was 20 when I was raped. Me and my cousin finished what would be considered a disrespectful line of work for women “GoGo dancing.” She was seeing this guy from Juarez, Mexico who invited us over with his friends after work. So we headed somewhere downtown in El Paso to his townhouse, where I met one of his friends. I thought he is cute. I can say it started out consensual, I cannot say it turned out consensual. I remember him video taping me in my struggle to get away from him. I told him to stop, I tried to leave him, but he was to strong. He had a tight grip on me and he continued to hurt me and record me; I couldn’t breathe, I could barely speak, and my mind went numb. In my mind I couldn’t fully understand what was happening, for me it was surreal. I remember laying there after thinking what happened? I walked out of the room. I looked at my cousin who sat in the living room looking for answers and nothing. I remember after that, just drowning myself in alcohol. I became an alcoholic. I partied a lot, I tried drugs, and I never told anyone because I believed it was my fault, like it was the truth. I put myself in that situation and I knew that’s what everyone else would say. I remember one day, I was up late and there was this TV broadcast for rape victims and the lady speaking shouting it doesn’t matter how severe or mild your trauma was “No means NO,” “Stop means NO.” And I cried because I knew what happened to me was wrong, I WAS RAPED. Finally I was free from guilt and shame, and I knew I had to get better, but I couldn’t do it alone and sadly I could no longer hear the cries of my family telling me to stop drinking and partying. I prayed to God, I knew he was there, but I lost connection to him. I prayed to God to bring someone to help me get back to him. Three months later I met my now husband. I to ld him I was rape, I told him I did drugs and my virtues were gone.. and despite that he stayed. He was patient and he had God with him. He helped me find myself again. When I finally told my family, I soon found out my little sister was raped when she was 16 from a friend in high school. For me I finally understood why she rebelled so much…she was crying for help and no one could hear her; we had a long good cry. I can never forget the images or feeling helpless, but with God in my heart I can be put at ease. I know people ask me why I didn’t report him? Or If he recorded me then I had proof for him to go to jail, or why I didn’t scream? I believed I was at fault, and at that moment it wasn’t real, this man is somewhere in Mexico now, while I’m here in America, how can the police do anything now? These are my answers, they don’t justify my rape, they justify how lost I was at that moment. I know there other women and men who have been in my situation, where they blame themselves and say they put themselves in that position. I say to all men and women that you didn’t make that decision to harm yourself the perpetrator did. Release yourself of shame and guilt and love yourself again.