This is the first time I’ve ever written down what happened to me. I watched Brave Miss World and Linor’s strength has inspired me to share my story. I was 18 years old when I was sexually assaulted. I knew the man who hurt me for just under a year. We met in a first year world religion class in University and became friends.
The following summer, he asked me out on a date and I agreed. When driving me home after the date, he confessed to me that the first time he had ever seen me in class he began to watch me, he became determined to get to know me and wanted to date me. I was shocked and a little uncomfortable when he told me this. To me, this seemed strange. He dropped me off at home and I invited him inside to see some art prints that had been gifted to me by a local art dealer. I remember explicitly saying “Don’t get the wrong idea about me inviting you inside. I just want to show you the prints. I’m not going to have sex with you”. I knew it was a brash thing to say but I was a ‘good girl’ and wanted to make sure he understood.
I kept the prints upstairs in my bedroom. I showed them to him. He pretended to seem interested. He walked over to the light switch and turned off the lights. I was confused. He pushed me on to my bed and put his hands in my pants. he began kissing me. I felt so numb and confused. I kept thinking to myself “did I ask for this? Did I say something to make him think that this was okay?”. He opened his pants and placed his hand on the back of my head. He forced himself into my mouth. At this point, I wanted to cry but couldn’t. Wanted to scream, but couldn’t. I was home alone, in my own bed. I knew if I screamed or bit him, no one would come to the rescue. I had no where to run to. If I fought, I knew who would hit me. I was so terrified. He finished in my mouth and told me to swallow. He got up and told me to walk him to the door. Again, I started questioning myself. Did I do something to make him think this is what I wanted? Does he realize that I didn’t want this? Before he left he kissed me goodbye and said he would text me. My brain didn’t understand. Doesn’t he realize what just happened? Why does he think this is okay?
After he left I went into the bathroom and stuck my finger down my throat. I didn’t want his semen inside me. I walked back into my room and curled up on my bed where he had just assaulted me. I told myself this was my fault. I felt dirty and disgusting. I must have done something to make him think this was okay. Maybe if I had fought back he would have realized that it wasn’t okay, that I didn’t want that.
The next day I messaged him and told him I didn’t want to see him again or go on any more dates. I blamed being stressed about the upcoming school year and my parents going through a difficult time. I didn’t tell him it was because he had sexually assaulted me. I blamed myself too much and had convinced myself that he didn’t know what he was doing. That I must have given him some sign or signal that it was okay. I made excuses for him in my mind and tried to rationalize what happened. I felt worthless and undeserving of love or anything good. I punished myself mentally and constantly put myself down.
One month later, I found myself in a new relationship. I didn’t want to date but felt ignoring what happened and trying to be normal would fix me. Maybe a relationship would make me stop hating myself. Eventually, I worked up the courage to tell him what had happened to me. My biggest fear came true, he blamed me. He yelled at me and told me it was my fault. He told me I should have known. After this, he became verbally and emotionally abusive. He cheated on me multiple times. Every time telling me it was my fault he cheated. That I wasn’t enough. The seed of fear that had been planted inside me when I was assaulted grew with every negative word this person said to me. For 2 years, I stayed. For 2 years I blamed myself for my assault. For not being a good enough person. I felt that this relationship was my punishment for what I allowed to happen to myself.
I began reading about rape and sexual assault in articles online. I started to question if what had happened truly was my fault. I told my mother what had happened to me. What my relationship was really like. She shared her story of childhood trauma with me and the verbal and emotional abuse she faced in her first marriage. I began to tell my close friends what had happened to me. So many of them had similar stories. Hearing stories from other women began to help me heal.
I began to plan how I would end the abusive relationship I was in. I felt that if I just ended it suddenly, he would try to hurt me. He was a gambling addict and a cheater. I knew that eventually he would mess up and I would have my excuse to leave with a little less fear of violent retaliation. He cheated again and when I caught him with her I ended it right there.
A huge weight was lifted from me once I was free from his abuse. I felt closure. I felt courageous and empowered. I finally let myself accept what happened to me during my assault. I no longer blamed myself for the assault. I no longer took the blame for the verbal and emotional abuse I had endured. I came out the other side strong and sure of myself. I finally accepted inside my heart that I was beautiful. One of God’s creations deserving of love and a happy, fulfilled life.
I have found love in an incredible man. He knows my story and has been beyond supportive. I no longer let what happened to me control or define me. I am embracing the good of this world.
My message to women who have been assaulted and raped:
You are strong. You are courageous. You are beautiful. You are deserving of everything life has to offer. What happened to you is NOT your fault. Do not blame yourself. As difficult as it feels, never stop loving yourself. Know that you can and will get through this. Use your voice to be a champion for other women; I’m convinced this is one of the best forms of healing.
Above all, know that you are loved. I love you. God loves you.