At only 25, I have experienced more in life than most individuals my age but have remained unconquered despite the challenges thrown at me. Being a Psychology major, I have done countless assignments that centered around the topic of rape and assault, but never did I imagine that I would become the 1 in 4. There is no ‘perfect victim’ and there is no ‘perfect rape’ scenario, my studies to become a therapist assure me of that. There is only rape. Saying no to sex is your decision and your right and it is a decision that can be revoked at anytime, even during sex. There is no amount of studying that can prepare you to for the violation of your own body or convince you that your rape is worthy enough to report. I knew my rapist and he was: charming, charismatic, and amiable. I am honest with what I saw in him because I did have feelings for him; as I had spent weeks and endless hours talking to him before the rape took place. I ha d been asked if I ever felt the vibe that it was just about sex for him and I essentially mistook rough sex for rape. This question was burned into my brain and I began to second guess every last detail that I thought I had been sure of. Following my rape I confided in a very small number of people and only those who I felt needed to know and who I thought would support me. Again, being a psych major I knew how vital it was to be open and seek support in order to move forward in recovering. I only found true support in a couple of those individuals, and temporary support in those I thought would be there wholeheartedly. I chose not to report my rape for multitudinous reasons. Victim blaming was at the top of that list but it was not something I immediately thought of. I struggled with my memory and whether or not I remember saying ‘no’, or at least anything that could slightly resemble ‘no’. I asked myself how could it be rape if I did not clearly say no. It was not until I broke down while talking to a professor whom I highly respected that I unexpectedly confessed what had happened. I had spent weeks keeping this secret inside and I found the words just kept pouring out without control. This was the first time that I realized without a doubt that my consent was not respected and outside telling my therapist, the first person in my life that I told. The guilt and self-blame that comes with the trauma of rape is real and it is intense. Everything I thought I knew about the subject was gone far from my mind and I was slipping quickly back into a darkness that I spent most of my youth climbing out of. Questions of “what if” encumbered my mind every second of the day; “What if I had never slept with him in the first place?”, “What if I fought harder or fought at all?”, “What if I was just over-thinking the situation?”. Questions that I should not have to be asking myself because in the end, my consent was what mattered. Those types of questions can and will eat away every part of your life if you allow them to. The months following the rape were the worst months of my life and I silently struggled every moment, of every day. I found myself using coping methods that were exceedingly unhealthy. I felt immensely numb but at the same time fear, rage, and guilt coursed through me until I became someone I could no longer recognize. There was a period of time that I spent most of trying to find new ways to numb the thoughts and the anger I was feeling. My future was far from thought because I was not in a state of mind that allowed my to see past the pain and I did not envision myself in the future I had planned for myself. There was this voice deep down that was just screaming and she was screaming everything I wanted so desperately to say but could not. I felt that I was going to burden those around me by confiding in them with my rape and it just be another unfortunate situation, of many, that I found myself in. Depression and anxiety will distort any good thought you have about yourself and your life. So many stories online were similar to mine and the comments people left were odious and it just fueled my doubt and depression further and broke whatever part of me that was left hanging on. The stressors of my life outside of the rape were already edging me towards a limit I knew not to surpass. Suicide is and has never been something I could truly consider but the thoughts have been there. There is a difference in being suicidal and having suicidal thoughts and those thoughts were loud and they were invasive. I felt unworthy and broken to a point that I just wanted the noise in my head to stop, but I did not want to die. I wanted silence. Deep down I could recognize that I was seriously struggling and needed to reach out but the words were not there and I did not know how to access them. There are many untruths that I tell when I am asked how I am doing because I never wanted to have any role of being a victim. I found myself craving a sense of pride that I thought I would find by getting through the grief alone. Rape is not only traumatizing, it is humiliating. The details are not ones that you can just come out and share without feeling some form of shame (this is where the voice of anxiety is lying to you.) I have yet to confide in someone with every detail of that night and part of me is okay with that and the other part is dying inside to get it out. Fear is that asshole that keeps you from finding the courage to just tell your story with doubting that it was rape and doing so without shame. He took more than just my consent that night and I might never get back parts of me that were left lying on my bed. For five months the sheets , clothes and bedspread laid crumbled in the corner of my room because I did not know what to do with them, but I could not shake the feeling that I kept them just in case. I put them there immediately after he left and I then sobbed in the shower until exhaustion set in. That sentence is was assures me that my subconscious felt and recognized the violation that occurred that night, even if I could not clearly see at the time on my own. My recovery is far from over and in many ways has yet to begin, but I know I can and will get there. My rape happened for a reason and while that reason is unclear to me right now, I know that one day my story will have a purpose greater than I can imagine. I am not a victim, I am a survivor!