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Moving On

College is about finding yourself, finding your friends and ,finding who you want to become. While there is more freedom that comes with the title of a college student, there is more adulting as well. The movies make college seem like an endless party where all the boys are cute and a nice body is granted to you, which it a total lie (that I too bought into). For many freshman, myself included finding balance between the new found freedom and responsibilities is difficult. People try to prepare you for the course load, and the dangers of drinking, but no one could have prepared me for what I was about to walk into. Within my first year of college I was survived rape and overcame alcoholism.
I started attending college in the fall at school where I knew not a soul. I spent the first weeks hiding in my dorm and secretly regretting not staying at home. I only left to attend classes and then came straight back. It was lonely and I was craving that sense of belonging, so I signed up for formal recruitment and rushed a sorority. Through that experience I made so many connections with girls and gained instant friends. Soon enough I was being asked to lunch and to hang out with my new sisters. I started coming out of my shell and my social life picked up. A party once a week was how the semester started out, until I was introduced to fraternity guys, who started extending me invites to every party. It was fun at first, I liked getting noticed. Since I wasn’t really turning heads in high school. But all it took was one night to destroy all my new found confidence. This night wasn’t like a normal Friday night, because my new sisters and I were going to pre-game with the cute and foreign golf boys. I was excited to meet new people but also nervous, so the second I stepped into the golf house I started taking shots. Being the only one taking shots made me feel like a bad ass. After minutes of begging I finally convinced a guy to take a shot with me, directly after pounding it back he made himself throw up. While this should have been a red flag, it wasn’t at the time. After that last shot my memory goes black. I woke up in bed with a boy, confused with a bad feeling in my stomach. Almost like when you have a bad dream yet don’t know what it was about or any details. When I woke up I was naked with bubble gum smeared across my skin. I slide out of the bed to find my clothes. As I re-dressed myself I noticed my thin body was stamped with many hand prints, blue and purple in color. I ran out of the unfamiliar dorm and frantically tried to find my own. I spent that day running the “what ifs” through my head trying to fill my b lank memory. That night I agreed to go to the doctor with the encouragement of a sorority sister I confided in. I filed a report with the school, got a rape kit and tried to move on. But moving forward with so many unanswered questions is difficult.
My head became a war zone, as the results from the rape kit came back positive yet my recollection from that night was still negative. All the scenarios from that played in my mind like a never ending horror film, each harder to stomach than the last. The dorm walls become depressing. Making a dent in a bottle of whatever become easier than facing my reality. Finding a party every night became my major as I stopped attending classes. While drinking at first was enough to numb the pain, it eventually wasn’t enough. I started going home with guys I didn’t know and drinking until I didn’t know my own name. I just wanted to feel something, and while you’re hooking up with a guy it sure does feel like love for that night. For that night I felt empowered but the morning followed with even more self-loathing. I started day drinking to forget the mistakes I made at night. Pretty soon I was never sober and didn’t know how to stop. The thought of driving my car into an 18 wheeler creeped into my mind more often than I’d like to admit. My friends were getting fed up of babysitting me but worried because it wasn’t a secret I had a problem. Eventually they got my parents involved, although at first I was mad but looking back I’m grateful. My parents started urging me to get help and to stop drinking but our relationship was so damaged from the rape, they blamed me for. I didn’t feel supported by my family and I was embarrassed for being a freshman with a drinking problem. But I had friends step up and attended classes with me. I see now that the girls who held my hand and walked me into AA are my support system.
The semester ended and over Christmas I got extensive therapy to work on drinking and better accepting being attacked. I came back for second semester ready to tackle the world. When I started college I was clueless that life could be this brutal, and I seriously doubted if I could stay here on this earth. I promise you everything gets better; I am living proof of that. In my first semester of college I experienced more than most people do in a life time. Yet in that semester I learned that mistakes don’t define us, you are not was has been done to you. I have learned that we all deserve real love, not the fleeting kind a drunken frat guy makes you feel. Life is hard and we are not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and just take it day by day. All we can do is try to better ourselves.

— Survivor, age 19

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