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Trader Joes

I was 19 and buying food at Trader Joes, when an older man came up to me and asked me for my number. He said he wanted to take me out.

I thought he was assertive and this quality was refreshing to me. He asked me to come over for dinner. I was a little uncertain. I knew it was safer to meet him out, but told myself I was overreacting. I did know how to ask to meet for dinner out. This nervous feeling continued. When I got to his apartment door I saw a mezuzah and felt comforted because I was Jewish too. I kissed my hand and touched it and knocked on the door.

We had pasta and a couple of glasses of red wine. He told me he was 34 and worked in real estate. His apartment was very nice. After that things got hazy. We kissed on the coach and ended up in the bedroom. Things moved quickly. I said, “no” and “stop” and tried to push him off. He choked my throat and told me, “you know you want it bitch.” He pushed his tongue into my mouth. passed out. In the morning he made me breakfast. I was confused. He did not act like he did anything wrong. I went along with it and left.

The next day he texted me asking if I had any STDS. He said he didn’t use a condom and knew he was clean. I felt disgusting and dirty. There was a lot I did not remember. I was confused about what happened. I did not have a lot of experience with sex. My best friend had told me about rough sex. I figured that he must have not understood that I was being serious when I was saying, “no” and fighting him off. I blamed myself. II did not consider it rape until later. I saw him for a few more times. In my head I tried to pretend it was a normal relationship dating relationship. The reality could not have been further from the truth. He was mean and degrading to me in person and over text.

I was confused about what happened and unconsciously searching for answers to why people hurt each other. I took a college course on, Violence in the Family and began teaching a health workshop on Rape and Sexual Assault to high school students. It was only when I started teaching this course, that I really processed that I had been raped. Before then I did not understand date rape fully.

Much later I google searched his name later., I learned he was not involved in real estate. He had been arrested for dealing drugs. A year later he came to find me at an old apartment. He got my number from my old roommate. This scared me.

While I was taking some small steps to heal, I also abusing alcohol. I blacked out frequently. I had casual sexual relationships. I was easily pressured into sex and felt nothing about it. The shame, confusion, and personal responsibility I felt made me not want to share my story with anyone. Even writing this now, I question was this really rape? Was this my fault?

— Survivor, age 26

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