It’s hard talking about what no one wants to talk about. It’s hard writing down something no one wants to hear. It’s hard remembering something you wish you would just forget, but here I am, remembering. It has been 15 months since I was sexually assaulted. I know that is a heavy statement to read, because it’s a heavy statement for me to declare.
I remember everything vividly, as if it was not months, but days ago. I remember the pain and the fear, I remember the betrayal. I had spent years obsessing over the same boy that was now gripping me so tightly against him that I thought I might shatter. I spent years ignoring the signs that were warning me of the inevitable, and since then, I have spent months blaming myself for it. I never thought this would happen to me, and I never thought that he would be my perpetrator.
I remember everything when I see his truck parked in the Sheetz parking lot. I remember everything when his eyes meet mine from across the cafeteria. I remember everything when I smell his cologne, as it burns my nose and causes my breathing to catch. It is hard to run away from something that is always there. It’s these moments when I think back to 14 months ago sitting on that brown couch in my counselor’s office. I remember how tense I was, I remember how red my knuckles were as I gripped the pillow in my lap. She asked me if I wanted to file a report, and she told me I wasn’t alone. I still felt alone, and the idea of facing the world with this embarrassing personal trauma was unbearable. It had almost been a month, I figured he had already forgotten it, and I should too.
As I write, my heart breaks for my past self, because I feel so differently now. I was so ashamed then. No one should feel that way. It’s hard talking about what no one wants to talk about. It’s even harder for me, because this shouldn’t be something no one wants to talk about. It’s unfair to me, and it’s unfair to victims everywhere. I shouldn’t have been afraid to speak out, and I won’t be afraid anymore. I hope to one day be able to encourage others to do the same.
— Survivor, age 17