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The year that changed me

I had my first kiss and lost my virginity at 19, I was also raped that same year. I wish I could say that my first time was with someone special, someone I genuinely trusted and cared about but that would be a lie. The truth is that I only agreed to sleep with him in fear that if I said no it wouldn’t go over well, that my ‘no’ wouldn’t be heard. That is something I never wanted to tell anyone, I think it was because I was embarrassed… Embarrassed that I was scared, embarrassed that I was dumb enough to even let someone like that into my house and into my life. After that sex had no appeal, I was self conscious after being somewhat verbally abused and belittled by this man and couldn’t think of a situation where sex would actually be enjoyable. My second time was only worse. My second time was with the man who raped me, those words still taste bitter on my tongue. We’d been seeing eachother for about two weeks and as I’m about ready to head home one night I get a call, he says that him and his buddies have been drinking and he needs a ride home. What I was told would be a couple more minutes until we could leave turned into 3:30am, I was utterly exhausted but just functional enough to drive the short drive to his house. With a 7:00am alarm waiting just around the corner I decided to stay the night, he’s obviously drunk and I expected him to pass out quickly. As a make out session starts to intensify, mostly on his side, I very firmly state (twice I might add) “I’m not having sex with you tonight”, to this day I can’t think of a way that I could have made it any clearer. As we were still somewhat fooling around I managed to fall asleep, a few minutes later I wake up and realize what is happening. I still have a very difficult time recounting the details after this but I promise, every detail is burned into my mind. The intense feelings of fear, shame, confusion, and anger at myself for letting this happen all flooded through my body. I didn’t sleep that night, I remember in the morning I chose to believe I was being dramatic and playing it up in my mind. So I tried to move on and forget, I tried doing that by spending the entire day and that night with him. I didn’t blame him, it was my fault and he was drunk, I should have known better. It wasn’t until a few days later I realized that I couldn’t shake it, I was reliving every moment. But it wasn’t rape, I wouldn’t let myself believe it. I finally opened up to a friend, and their concern was what made it hit me full force. I.was.raped. I said no and he didn’t listen, I wasn’t even awake to consent when it happened. It sent the depression, that I’d finally gotten under control, off the deep end. It started with drinking more and then I almost wanted to force myself to get over my hatred for sex so I began sleeping around. In a 3 month period I was sexually assualted 3-4 times and raped, all by different men none of those include when I lost my virginity. Those who saw the struggles behind the smile I wear grew increasingly concerned as I continued to put myself into less than ideal situations that I used as coping mechanisms. I would beat myself up because it wasn’t like the rapes you read about, I wasn’t drugged, I wasn’t drunk, and it wasn’t violent so why did it consume me and drag me under. I didn’t have anyone to tell me that I was right in feeling scared, confused, angry and mentally exhausted from the never ending flashbacks. I want people to know that rape doesn’t have to be violent, you don’t have to have physical marks for it to leave scars. I didn’t report him and I wish I had, but I didn’t believe it was rape at the time and I was embarrassed that I didn’t do more at the time, to this day I feel like I’d disappoint my family if they found out so I continue to keep my mouth shut. That is a very summed up version of my story but I needed to get it off my chest.

— Hannah, age 20

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