Tonight, I was reading a book called full frontal feminism. I felt empowered and strong until I reached a certain chapter. The chapter was about sexual assault and domestic violence. I could feel a ping in my heart as I began reading because I knew it would bring back up emotional trauma I haven’t properly dealt with. This is the story about the night I was sexually assaulted, and as hard as it is I have to share it. I was thirteen years old, I was with my two best friends at the time. We were staying the night at my friend’s house, where I’ve stayed the night many times before. I grew up thinking I would have to fear the strange men on the street, but I wasn’t prepared to fear my friends dad, a familiar man. I remember the events leading up to that night, we went to taco bell and then went back to her house. I fell asleep a little early that night, I guess the taco bell took it out of me. I remember I woke up in the middle of the night on the edge of the bed, closest to the door. It was open, and I saw her dad walking past into the kitchen. I remember feeling really anxious and afraid but I fell back to sleep. The second time I woke up that night I woke up to her father leaning over me grazing my breast from the outside of my shirt. I didn’t have much time to analyze what was happening but I knew it was wrong. I remember in a cracked voice, asking him what he was doing. He stood up with a really devasted look on his face and he left the room. As soon as he walked out I jumped up and felt adrenaline take over my entire body. I shut the door and went for my phone, I was going to call my mom. My phone had died and I hadn’t brought a charger with me. I woke up my friend who was laying closest to me and told her what happened. She was tired, and I remember shaking and trying to explain what I barely had time to comprehend. The next thing we did was woke up my other friend, she was the one I was staying the night with. At first I was so scared to tell her, afraid she would be angry, afraid that her heart would hurt. The first thing she said was “I’m so sorry, I’m so so sorry” through her tears. I told her I needed a charger to call my mom. We searched her entire room and couldn’t find one. She remembered there was one in the living room. I didn’t want her to leave the room but she did for me. She grabbed one and with my shaky hands I plugged in my phone and waited for a few minutes for it turn on. When it did I went right to my moms contact and called her. She answered the first call, and through tears I told her what happened. She told me to call the police but I was scared, I just wanted my mom. I told her we would be outside waiting for her. When I hung up I slid open my friends bedroom window. I told her we had to leave, but she didn’t want to jump out of the window, that we could run out of the back door. So, that’s what we did. I had no shoes on just my phone in hand and friends by my side. I remember it being so cold that night. I told them we would have to hide behind his truck because he had cameras. It felt like I was in auto pilot mode. I didn’t have to think much about what to do, I just knew. We waited there in silence until my mom pulled up, jumped in the car and went around the block. My mom called the police and we waited for a minute. I don’t remember much about sitting in the car or the look on my moms face. I remember writing down information for the police and then dropping my friends off and going home. When we got home I was too awake to go back to sleep, I remember being alone. I went to the bathroom and pulled down my pants and saw blood in my underwear. My heart stopped beating, I remember thinking that I might have been raped. I didn’t know the real difference between rape and molestation at this time, but I had an idea. No one ever really sat me and down and talked to me about it. I told me mom, and she took me to children hospital. When we got there, she whispered to the front desk lady what happened, I was embarrassed I felt outside of my own body. I felt really numb at this point, like I wanted to cry but was also taking in so much information that I couldn’t. When I got to my room the doctor told me we they would be doing a rape kit. I had to undress completely and wear a gown. I felt so uncomfortable, I had never been completely naked in front of strangers or doctors before. I had a sheet and covered my face through the entire thing. The doctor told me they didn’t think it was rape, that I had started my period. The feeling of relief was overwhelming, I’m sure it was for my mom as well. The doctor said I would have to take medicine just in case it had happened before without me knowing. That’s when it really hit me. I had stayed the night there so many times, so many times things could have been happening I was unaware of. It hurt because I remember her dad telling us to be careful walking around and to make sure our chest wasn’t showing because there were creeps around there. It was him, he was the creep. He was the one who would cause not only me but his daughter so much pain. Back to the point, these pills they gave me were huge I could barely swallow them, and I can still remember the god-awful smell. They caused me to vomit and feel nauseas. I think the hardest moments of this experience were the days following it. I had told one of my other friends whose father was basketball coach, why I couldn’t attend basketball practice. My mom had told all of my siblings, and my siblings must’ve told other people. I remember going back to school and hearing so many rumors about what happened. One rumor in particular was that I had woken up in a pool of my own blood. There were so many people talking about it and it killed me. Not to mention, my friend (whose father assaulted me) would message me asking why I was telling people all these things, that I wasn’t saying. She was hurt, and I tried to explain to her that they were rumors and that we lived in a small town. During all of this, no one asked me how I felt. No one offered me any explanation for why this happened, it was all so weird. I feel like I had no one to talk to about this, I could feel myself becoming more and more depressed. Days passed and I had to speak to my attorney. She was really nice and empathetic with me. She would ask me questions, and it became easier to answer them. One thing in particular she asked me was “What were you wearing?” I don’t think I realized the context of this question until now. I remember being told not to wear makeup at court so I wouldn’t look older. I mostly remember, I began blaming myself. While I know it wasn’t my attorney’s intentions I started to look internally at what I could have done to cause this. At thirteen years old, I remember asking myself “Was I flirting with him?” “Was I being a tease?” No thirteen-year-old girl should ever have to ask herself this question. No girl no matter what age should have to ask themselves this question. The worst thing I remember is what my abusers attorney had said. In front of the judge his attorney asked “He had lost his job hasn’t he suffered enough?” I will remember those words forever. I guess the judge did believe he had suffered enough because his punishment was drug classes. (Surprise, cocaine causes you to sexually abuse children in their sleep) I was drowning in guilt thinking I was the cause. I thought if it weren’t for me, my friend would still be living with her father and wouldn’t be hurting. I remember being glad it was me and not my other friends sleeping there that night, because I wouldn’t have wanted them to feel what I had felt. Not only did I blame myself, but my peers thought I was lying. I remember my friend saying I was being “overdramatic” about it to her boyfriend. I was being overdramatic about being sexually assaulted by her father. I was so hurt when I heard that she said this. I already felt like I was the cause of her pain and for her to think I was lying hurt me the most. I assume her dad must have manipulated her into believing at thirteen I had motives to tear a home apart, I don’t know. Years had passed, I was getting better. Me and her stopped being friends. I guess it somehow happened in the mix of all of this. I was okay with it though, I understood. Things were okay, until my senior year. Her father came to our senior family picnic. Not only did her father come, but her mother who was well aware of what happened let him come. That’s when I realized, they must all think I’m lying. I left my picnic early, I was so angry I could hardly breathe. I couldn’t believe that they would bring him there knowing I would be there, knowing what had happened. For so long I kept this to myself, other than with my family and close friends. For so long I felt guilty and wouldn’t talk about it for the sake of my ex-friends feelings. My abuser was not only at my senior picnic but my graduation. Part of me felt sorry for her, I knew she wanted her dad to be there, but he ruined that chance. He ruined his relationship with her, not me. It took me so long tor realize that but now I know. I know so much better now. I’ve always wanted to share this story to bring awareness to other girls who’ve been sexually assaulted. I held it in for so long for her, but now its my turn to think about myself. She’ll probably read this, and if she doesn’t I’m sure someone will show it to her. I won’t apologize for writing this, and I won’t be guilted into silence. It took me seven years to realize that what happened wasn’t my fault. It took me seven years to realize that even if this story might hurt her, its real and it happened. This is something I thought I healed from, but I know now I was wrong. I thought there was wisdom to be taken away from the assault. I thought it had happened to make me stronger, or some bullshit that I had to tell myself to make myself feel better about it. I know now, that I’m not healed that I still think about it at least once I day. I remember everything that happened, and it replays in my head. It’s caused me horrible anxiety, depression, and intrusive thoughts. It’s caused me to lose trust in men, and people in general. It caused me to grow up way younger than I should’ve had to. When reading the statistics about how many girls have gone through the same, or worse, I became overwhelmed and angry. Angry that this is so frequent, angry that so many girls suffer in silence. Angry that women feel so unsafe in this world. That was my inspiration for writing this, in hopes that other girls who’ve suffered like I have know its not their fault and will never be. No matter what clothes you were wearing, if you were intoxicated, or if you were on a date it will never ever be your fault. The victim blaming needs to end, rape culture needs to end. 52% of the world population are women, we should not feel unsafe. We are not items, we are not here to please men, we are not just faceless, soulless, women. If you are reading this and you’ve been sexually assaulted, know that you are intelligent, strong, and fucking amazing.