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The Night That Changed Me

I apologize for this being a tad on the long side, it is the first time I am sharing my full story with anyone and it was very therapeutic to write out every detail. I thank everyone for taking the time to read my story, and sharing in my healing…..
January 30th 2015 is a night I will never forget, but also one I can’t fully remember. It is a night that a man I barely knew took so much from me, and a night that still haunts my dreams 2 years later.
To understand my story fully, we need to look back… I have always struggled with my weight even as a child and adolescent. In school, I was often ridiculed for being overweight, I never let it bother me and was even a cheerleader and in many school activities. Like most high school girls, I had boyfriends and was confident in myself and my sexuality. As I got older I continued to struggle with my weight, the heavier I got the less attention I got from the opposite sex. After years of nasty comments and teasing I started to feel inadequate, I had lost all self confidence I ever had. I felt like no one would ever like or understand me for who I am. I knew I needed to make a change, on Aug. 1st 2013 I underwent gastric surgery to help me lose the weight, that I had been fighting and struggling with since I was a child. It took me a year of hard work but I finally hit my goal weight, I had lost over 130 pounds. I was proud and happy with myself, and for the first time in my 25 years on this earth I was confident with the way I looked. I was even getting a lot of attention from the opposite sex; guys I just met would call me “hot” and buy me drinks. I reveled in the extra attention, and let it build my self confidence and I placed my self worth in the attention I got from others. The problem with that is, once you stop getting attention you feel like you are worth nothing, and that is exactly how I felt.
I had always been a fairly religious person, and even worked for a Christian school ministering to kids. But even with my religious background, I let all the extra attention from the opposite sex affect me. I don’t want to say I became a promiscuous person, but I definitely went through a wild and crazy stage and after a few months of indictment sex with multiple partners, I started to feel guilty. I went back to church, and started looking for a serious relationship. In December of 2014 I created an online dating profile on a well know Christian dating site. I had met and went out with several guys in the next 2 months, but nothing ever felt right.
I met Brad on Jan. 14, 2015, he seemed like a very nice guy and we chatted online for hours. We went on our first date on a Monday night, just a week and a half after we first met online. Our date went pretty well, a typical dinner and a movie. As I had coffee with a friend the next day, the only negative feedback I could tell her was a weird vibe I got from him all night. It wasn’t something I could fully describe; just to say I didn’t feel entirely comfortable around him. We texted back and forth the rest of the week, and he asked me to go out with him again that Friday evening. I agreed, pushing the strange vibe I got from him to the side, brushing it off as first date jitters after all we did meet on a Christian dating site. I figured he was a Christian and a good person, and that made me trust him more that I should have.
On Friday, January 30th I got ready wearing a cute black dress and strappy heels, and met Brad at a steakhouse for dinner. We had a nice conversation and laughed a lot, but I still remember feeling that strange vibe. After dinner he suggested we get a drink at a bar he knew around the corner. As we walked from the restaurant he held my hand, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with this considering the weird vibe I continued to get from him but hand holding seemed innocent enough. We spent a couple hours at the bar, laughing and having fun, but I still couldn’t shake that strange feeling. We had several drinks, and I knew I shouldn’t be driving home in my inebriated state. Brad suggested we watch a movie
and sober up at his apartment as he lived within walking distance of the bar. I reluctantly agreed a choice I probably would not have made had I not been drinking.
Once we got to his apartment we put on a movie and he started kissing me, after a little while I pushed him back stating I wasn’t comfortable continuing to making out with him alone at his apartment. I didn’t trust myself to stop if we started something, and I didn’t want to fall back into my promiscuous ways, as I was looking for a lasting relationship. He stopped stating he understood but I could feel his disappointment and see the anger in his eyes. He offered me a glass of wine, I accepted stating “just one, as I still have to drive home”… I never drove home that night. I remember sitting on the couch watching “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, I remember feeling groggy and very relaxed like my body was weighed down and it was hard to move, I remember laughing more than I should have, then I remember nothing…….
I have flashes in nightmares of what really happened in that black hole of nothingness in my memory. I cannot be sure if these images are true memories or something my mind made up to fill in the gaps. I have a flash of him tearing my dress from my body, as he lay on top of me on the couch. I have a flash of falling and hitting my head on the wall as we made our way to the bedroom, and pulling me from the floor by my hair. I see his face between my legs as I lay naked on his bed unable to move. I can see myself in a mirror with tears streaming down my face, bent over the bathroom sink as he takes me roughly from behind. I can feel myself trying, unsuccessfully, to scream “NO” as he entered me again and again, leaving bruises and bite marks on my body.
The next thing I truly remember is waking up with the need to vomit at 6am the next morning; I was completely naked in his bed without even a blanket covering my body. I remember the sticky feeling between my thighs and feeling so cold I could hardly breathe. I found my dress and torn undergarments near the couch as I made my way to the bathroom trying to be as quiet as possible, to not wake the rapist in the next room. I remember getting dressed as best I could with my torn clothing, and running from his apartment building. I stumbled barefoot back to my car a few blocks away, and drove home trying unsuccessfully to clear the fog in my brain and remember exactly what happened the night before.
I remember getting home just before 7am and showering to trying to wash the bruises from my body, I sat in the shower staring at the white wall until my lips were blue and my teeth were chattering from the cold water. I can still remember staring at my naked body in the mirror as more bruises from the night before started covering my body. I remember cleaning the wounds he left on my inner thighs, from where he bit me and broke my skin. I remember thinking it was my fault that this happened to me, if I had just listened to my instincts and not pushed the weird feeling I got from him to the side. I felt as if I had just given him a blow job while were making out, it would have satisfied his desires and none of this would have happened. It would have been just another night that I made a poor life decision. I remember thinking I can never let anyone know what happened to me because I was embarrassed, and admitting I was drugged and raped would also be admitting to my promiscuous activities over the past several months.
So I stayed quiet, not telling a sole of what happened that January night. I turned away from my religion, as I blamed it for getting me into this situation. I left the school had worked and taught at for over 2 years. I could not continue to work at school where we taught the gospel, when I did not completely
believe it myself. If there was a God, why did he let this happen to me, what had I done in my life to deserve this?
I had isolated and withdrawn from all my friends because I didn’t want to lie to them and pretend that everything was okay. So, I just stopped hanging out with them, I would go home to my empty apartment and have a drink to forget, it was a very dark cycle. I didn’t spend much time with anyone outside of my family. I wore a mask, trying to convince everyone that everything was fine and I was still the happy person I had always been. But that night forever changed me, and I can never go back to the girl I was before. He took every shred of self confidence I had and any value of self worth I had built in one night. I remember thinking that things like this didn’t happen when I was heavier, and I gained over 50 pounds in an attempt to never let this happen again. I let him take the pride I had in myself for losing the weight along with everything else he took from me. I began drinking regularly, as a way to forget what happened and used it as a crutch to get me through the day. My drinking was added to a long list of things I was hiding from those closest to me, and solidified the mask I wore around everyone in my life. I was going through the motions of the day but I was not really living. I was in this alone, as to not burden anyone else with my demons. I had always been the good child, the easy one that my parents didn’t have to worry about, they had their hands full with my brothers and I didn’t want to add to their stress levels.
Thankfully, I started a new job in March 2015, in an entirely new profession which has turned out to be one of the best decisions in my life. I continued to keep to myself for the first year choosing to eat alone in my cubicle, afraid a man might accidentally touch me in the cafeteria. I started healing when I made new friends, and started to become healthier again. There is a guy in my office that has a lot to do with my healing, though he may not know the impact he had on my life. We started becoming friends via email in Nov. 2015, and flirted back and forth for months. He introduced me to a great group of friends, and I will forever be thankful. The more positives things I have in my life, the better I felt and could feel myself starting to live life again. But, the thought of ever being in an intimate relationship with a man again terrified me. On two occasions, I remember thinking I was stupid for feeling the way I did, and I thought I could just get over my fear of men by jumping into the bed of a stranger. I went home with a man from a bar, and had the worst panic attack I have ever experienced as he started to pull my shirt from my body. I ran screaming from his apartment, leaving him wondering what he did wrong. (If you ever read this I am very sorry for that night)
It took me 17 months before I was brave enough to have sex again, and even then it was as if I was not a fully active participant, I spent most of the evening trying to keep memories and flashbacks out of my mind. It was with the same guy from my office, I had been friends with for several months and I trusted him without question. He knew the basics of what I went though, and was gentle and caring even staying and talking for hours. He will never know how important that night was for me to heal.
I have slowly stopped drinking as much as I was, refusing to drink alone. Depending on alcohol was never a place I ever wanted or planned on being. But after Brad took so much of me away, it felt like one of the few things in my life I could control. For a while it was the only way I could forget the events of Jan. 30th and dreamlessly sleep through the night. It’s only in the last couple months that I have mentally been in a place where I could come to terms with the fact that if I didn’t change, I was really going to have a problem. I came to the realization that hiding my drinking and a large portion of myself was holding me back from life. I had to realize drinking alcohol wasn’t the problem; the problem was that I
used it to escape reality, to forget the struggles I had going on in my life. For a while I just looked at it as way to hide what I was really going through, and make people believe I was still the same happy person and that things were normal. But that wasn’t true, and it was something I had to mentally deal with. Drinking every day to forget was only prolonging the inevitable breakdown. And I did eventually breakdown, and have to face my problems head on. The only good thing was that I had positive things happening in my life to ground me. Without my career to go to everyday, and now having a group of friend around me I am not sure where I would be. They are big part of me mentally healing, even if they don’t know it. I have now shared my story with a few friends, but am unable to reveal my story to my family. It would be too hard to see the disappointment and pain in their eyes.
It has now been 24 months since that night, and I regret how much I let the actions of another person change my life. I know I will never be able to forget that night and it is something that will always be in my mind, but I am done letting it affect my life, and from now on am going to try as hard as I can to get back to the person I was before.

— Survivor, age 27


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