I was 17 years old. My senior year of high school was complete. My boyfriend at the time came down from Stanford to see me graduate. He was caring, supportive, kind, you know, a great boyfriend. He was a sophomore, grade A student, football player, and community activist. Two weeks before my graduation, we decided to move in together when I went to Stanford. At my graduation dinner, he asked me, in front of all my friends and family to marry him, and I said yes. Everything was perfect, until it wasn’t. The first few months of my freshman year in college, we did everything together. Tailgate parties, fraternity parties, walked each other to class, planning one of the greatest days of my life. I was finally 18, and his teammates threw me a surprise party. Everything went well for the first few hours, but then, he started getting a little too drunk. I walked him to our apartment, that wasn’t too far from the party. He was so drunk, he couldn’t sit up straight. I sat him down on the couch, and went to make him some coffee. Next thing I know, he’s pushing himself onto me. I gently pushed him away, and told him to stop. He tries to take off my shirt, and I tried to push him away again. I have never had sex before because I was saving myself for marriage, and he knew that. I pushed him away harder, and that’s when everything changed. He hits me, right in the face, and I fell to the floor. He starts hitting me, kicking me, even spitting on me. I screamed and cried and begged for him to stop, but he wouldn’t. He grabbed me by my hair, and dragged me into the bedroom we shared. He then me into the wall repeatedly, bashing my head. Everything didn’t make sense. “Why was he doing this?” “I did nothing wrong!” Next thing I knew, I was on the bed, with him on top of me, kissing me all over. My body was limp, bruised, and beaten. Then everything went dark. I woke up the next morning, beaten and bloodied. I couldn’t move, and he was nowhere to be found. When I regained my mobility, I immediately started to pack up most of my things, and headed out the door, but unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to leave. This went on again and again for two straight years, and those ended up in multiple hospital trips, two miscarriages, and low hope for life. Until, one day, I finally got the courage to stand up for myself and fight back. Now, he is serving 18 years for what he’s done to me. Even though I will never forget what happened, I am finally able to move on with my life. I AM a survivor.
— Lauren, age 20