When I was 16, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain on a full scholarship for a year to further my Spanish-language abilities. I was so excited because I had dedicated my whole life to the language and would finally be living it. My foreign exchange included staying with a volunteer host family for the academic year (my junior year in high school) and attending a public school in Madrid. I struggled through the first half of the school year with the language barrier even though I had studied it for four years, and only really understood my English class (because I’m American and an English speaker). In my English class, we had an American as our assistant English teacher, and it made me so happy to finally make human contact with another native English speaker during my exchange (not many people spoke English that well in Madrid during my exchange). After a few months, he asked me out for a coffee after school. Being 16 and having been asked out by the only English speaker I know, I was naive to think that the 30-something year old smooth-talking American was a compliment. We went out to a cafe where he ordered me alcohol instead of coffee, which I accepted and drank so I wouldn’t seem “uncool”. I had two drinks before I began to feel the effects of the alcohol, and I really wanted to go home. Instead, he walked me to his apartment and laid me down in his bed. At this point, I was still in control of my head and my body, but I was slowly slipping. He started cuddling me and undressing me, and before I knew it, he was having his way with me while I was unable to connect my words to my brain to my mouth. I passed out there and awoke naked and ashamed later in the night. I had to walk home in an area I was unfamiliar with and find my way home. I hated seeing him in school after that and constantly blamed myself for what happened. He asked me out multiple times after that and referred to the incident as “a good time”. I didn’t tell anyone because I thought they’d send me home from my exchange and I’d lose my scholarship. I later found out at the end of my trip that he had done the same thing to at least three other girls between the ages of 15 and 17. I’m still coping with it to this day and am still finding the strength to face it and admit that as much as he doesn’t believe what he did was wrong, I was raped at 16 by a 36 year old man.
— Survivor, age 21