When I was younger I got fed life in the wrong way. I watched the right television shows, made the right friends, didn’t cause too much trouble, did good in school, participated in any kind of activities. I did this thinking it would be enough. That the decisions and choices I made weren’t only right but they would keep me safe; they would keep me on the right path. Never to falter, always to see the clear ending.
But then I grew up. I started understanding that those television shows were feeding me underlining truths that were brushed over my head and from the words of people older than me. I made friends with people who would end up hurting and leaving me. I was branded the “good girl” the one whose too naive to know what certain things are. I failed my first class and immediately changed my major because I wasn’t used to failure. I stopped playing sports and joining things because I realized it wasn’t for fun, just competition. I started feeling unbalanced, shifting back and forth from falling over.
When I was young I never worried about the clothes I wore, the decisions I made, or the people I surrounded myself with. I liked to think I was a trusting person. I wanted to see the very best in people no matter the flaws each of us possess.
But that soon became my problem. Because then I grew up and I realized I couldn’t just walk out of my house without thinking first of the clothes I’m wearing. Because there will be someone waiting to stare me down like I’m just another slab of meat waiting for them to sink their teeth in. I can’t feel safe walking down my own driveway to get the barrels without people cat-calling me as I do everything I can to continue the same pace and not show any tears to let them know they’ve won. I can’t go to a club without the worry of someone spiking my drink or having my ass grabbed by a drunk person. My boyfriend at the times arm was wrapped around me and he still did it. His friend had to come over to apologize for his behavior. How sad.
I can’t walk alone at night because there might be someone waiting to attack me at any time if I’m not paying attention. I always have my keys ready to open my door and pick up the pace slightly when I car comes around. I’m afraid to go for walks because I might be stopped again by another car and I’m miles away from my house. My heartbeat never can settle right away.
But mostly I’m afraid of never being able to forget that night. A night I wish I could erase or never have let happen. One I blamed myself for many years after and maybe others might too.
I was sexually assaulted when I was twenty-one years old. It was on my college campus in the persons dorm room. I think back to that night sometimes and wished I could’ve done things differently. Maybe if I hadn’t gone over in the first place when they asked me at one in the morning. Red flag. Maybe I shouldn’t have played that drinking game. Red flag. Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten into bed with them and instead walked back to my dorm. Red flag. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so naive to believe that everyone is good and kind and they wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. Red flag. Maybe I should have left after it happened. Red flag. Maybe I shouldn’t be blaming him in the first place because clearly it was all my fault. Red flag.
After that night I started to see the world a little differently. I started to realize that not everyone you meet has the right intentions for you. That you can be everything you set your mind to when you were younger and people will still hurt you, take control of you while unconscious, ask them to stop and have your words go unheard, and have no remorse after it’s all over.
It took me four years to finally tell my mom. Four years of keeping something so repressed from my memory only for me to never realize how much the after effects of it were destroying me. I thought I kept it hidden so well, but it was visible all over my face this entire time.
To say it still effects me now would be true. I’m still haunted by that night and will always have it in the back of my mind. But I know now it wasn’t my fault. And I, like many others need to, should believe people when they tell their stories. Because it’s not only brave of them to share it in the first place, it’s the right thing to do. I am more than just a body for someone to tamper with, I’m a human being.
I am one of many, and I won’t be silenced.
Can you hear me?