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No one owns your story but you

Two years ago, I was sexually assaulted and raped by a man I barely knew. I met him on a dating app. I invited him into my home. We chatted, had a couple drinks, and I offered to him that he stay the night. Not once did we ever kiss, and the topic of sex never came up. In the middle of the night, I woke up to find he had his finger inside me. I was shocked. I felt like I was paralyzed. That moment felt like it went on for an eternity. He took his finger out of me and tried to get on top of me. I was able to turn away from him, but lay awake in the dark trying to figure out if what just happened actually did happen. I’m not sure how I fell back asleep that night. In the early morning, we woke up and he started to kiss me. I told him I had to get up to meet a friend, but he climbed on top of me and forced himself inside me. I pushed him off of me and was able to get up. He said goodbye to me and left like he hadn’t just violated one of the most intimate parts of myself. I stood in my kitchen in denial, and went to meet my friend.
I didn’t realize what had happened until later that day. I had to cancel plans with friends that night because a 30 second conversation with my roommate had me in tears. I was so ashamed. I couldn’t even imagine how I could begin to talk about it. This brings me to the main reason I am sharing my story: after I realized what had happened, I called a sexual assault hotline because I was so distraught and just needed to tell somebody, anybody, what had happened. I described the incident, and the person on the other end of that phone call said, “Well at least what happened to you wasn’t that bad.” In that moment, I thought that was pretty rational. But looking back on it now, I realize what a terrible thing that is to say to someone who has just been traumatized. I think that phone call still plays a role in my on-going hesitation to share my story.

I read stories of people who have experienced several years of sexual abuse, violent assaults, or multiple instances of rape, and it’s tempting to feel like my story or other stories like it don’t belong here. But they do. No one owns your story but YOU. No one gets to decide where it fits. No one gets to tell you that your trauma “wasn’t that bad”. If you have experienced something like I have and have felt invalidated by a friend, family member, or someone whose job it is to support you, know that what happened to you is real. Your story is not any less important than anyone else’s. We all stand together.

– Ginna, age 22


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