Five years ago I was a high school student. I was 16 when my life turned for the worst. I began having family issues. My home life was not well. The summer after 11th grade came and my mom decided to move my brother and I into an entirely new school district. I was extremely upset by this move because now I would deal with the family issues without my friends who had become my family. I fought constantly with my brother and mother. Until one day my mother came to me and let me move back to my hometown if I could find a friend to live with. It sounds crazy, but I made the decision based on my program I was invested in during school. This decision to go live with a friend that young should never have been given to me. Eventually I moved in with my friend. From this moment on life became really lonely and scary. I rode my bike to get to work. Sometimes miles away. Even at night and the rain. I started moving from friends house to friends house because no one wanted me for very long. There were times that I had to sleep outside and eat a raw can of soup because that was all I could afford. I had a boyfriend at the time who looking back on it now was extremely terrible to me. He constantly took his anger out on me and made me feel worthless. As the summer went on he became more and more aggressive. He would force me to do a lot of things that I didn’t want to. One day I started to have enough of him and I think he could tell. He would come to see me sometimes and it was always random. It was really a terrible feeling when I knew he was coming. One day I was with some friends building a fort for the neighborhood kids in this wooded area.Suddenly he showed up and I had mixed emotions. He asked if we could go for a walk and talk about things. He was being very sincere and kind so I agreed. We walked out of the woods and into these back fields that had paths. I was talking to him telling him how hurt he had made me feel. Then mid conversation he stopped and pulled me over to a secluded area of the paths. He asked if I wanted to have sex. I got mad and was going to say no, but I never even had the chance. He raped me. He then got on his bike and left me there in the bushes off of the path. Afterwards I walked home in tears and crawled into bed. I didn’t tell anyone for a few months because I tried to act like nothing happened. Eventually I could see my life spinning more and more out of control. I was drinking and once the school year began my grades began slipping. The nightmares became overwhelming along with the flashbacks and constant fear. I was finally ready to remember. I told a close friend of mine who was extremely supportive at first, but things escalated quickly. She went and told everyone in the school. The boy who raped me was the most loved kid of the school. He was the top athlete and preformed in plays. He eventually began rumors about me as well. Eventually my school became involved. A teacher had become involved and set up a meeting for me to speak with the school counselor. The school counselor reacted terribly. She was mad at me and didn’t believe me one bit. She began calling the police. I told her that I did not want the police involved because there was no evidence. As much as I wanted justice I knew it would be my word against his and clearly my word meant nothing. I told her I was only looking for someone to talk to. She blew it out of proportion telling my family members before I even could. She proceeded to call the police anyways. Later that day the teacher who set up the meeting said to me that “Sometimes it’s hard to tell if this rape or of you just had sex with someone and now regret it.” This comment ripped through my heart. Not a single person believed me. Everyone tells you to reach out to your school and people around you for help, but this is what happened to me. Nothing but being told that I was a liar. My own family didn’t believe me and neither did many of my friends. I ended up in a homeless shelter. Eventually I ended up back with my family and back at school. Where everyone around me acted as if nothing happened and everyone refused to talk to me. The rumors continued and so did my terrible nightmares and fear. Now five years later my life has gotten a ton better. I have an amazing boyfriend of 4 years who has shown me that love is a real thing. I also even have a son now who is giving me the strength to keep going everyday. He is my purpose and my world. I’m left at a weird spot in my life now though because my nightmares, flashbacks, and fear feel as though they have gotten worse. I recently watched 13 Reasons Why and I loved it. Unfortunately it was very triggering for me, but it’s benefiting me in the sense that it has encouraged me to try and tell my story again. My story is somewhat relatable to the show and I am reaching a part of my life where I cannot struggle alone anymore. I ‘ve been quiet for too long and I can’t heal alone. I am slowly beginning to tell the loved ones around me. It’s really scary, but I know I need help. I also want to show my son that you should never feel ashamed to ask for help and to always take care of yourself. The show also made me happy in a sense that it’s showing what really happens. I was told just like Hannah was by a school counselor that they did not believe me an dismissed me very quickly. These things really happen and I hope sometime soon I can find a way to help others and share my story. After my school shut me down and made me feel so ashamed for 5 years I’m ready to heal and to stand up for anyone who has ever been in this situation. Just know you are not alone and that I deeply understand the day to day struggle. I am now just re-beginning my journey of healing.
— Survivor, age 21