[trigger warning: the post contains my story and details about sexual assault]
I am being intentionally vague in this post for my own safety, please respect that.
I never talk about this stuff – not even with family. Molli and I will talk about it here and there, but I generally skirt around the issue unless I’m remembering shit and freaking out.
I don’t like talking about it. I hate how it makes me feel and I hate what it makes me remember. I can’t even tell you the exact date, because I blocked it all out when I got out of there. I didn’t know what else to do, how to cope, or how to move forward.
I lost a part of myself in those few days where everything unraveled. I lost a lot of trust in a lot of people who were important to me. I watched people I loved walk away from me as I plead that I didn’t do anything, that I didn’t want any of this.
I watched as someone I loved thought I was involved, engaging and and I begged them in tears that I wasn’t. I didn’t want it. I didn’t want any of us.
I dealt with the fear and so much hurt… so much hurt. I still do.
I talked about it once, on an ancient blog of mine, but quickly deleted it after fear, hurt and shame crept in. It took a family member to ask if something had happened in order to get me to open up a little.
I remember they were driving down one of the main streets in town when they asked. It was summer and I cried in the front seat while I told them what happened. I told them that someone close to me, someone I trusted had assaulted me.
Saying out loud to anyone was terrifying. The only other time shortly after it happened was to a counselor on campus who pushed me to file charges and labeled it as sexual assault. I honestly hadn’t thought about that label at that point because I was still reeling from the entire experience.
To be honest with you, there is still so much that I don’t remember. I started writing this and I’ve found myself staring at the screen for ten minutes because I didn’t remember much of anything. And right now, I am okay with not remembering a whole lot. It’s a lot to unpack and a lot to even go through.. much less relive it through trauma therapy.
I don’t even remember really, how it all started. I knew we had been spending more and more time together, but I never felt uncomfortable. It was nice to get out of the house and do errands together. This is someone I trusted and looked up to – so of course I wanted to do errands together. I was relaxed and comfortable.
And then one night everything changed.
It all happened so fast and years later, it’s still something I struggle with. I still struggle to put the pieces together, to figure out where it all went sideways. I still struggle with the feelings that people thought I was involved willingly, or when someone walked away from me. I still struggle with the fact that even for my own safety, I had to run away and packed up the essentials and close friend picked me up.
For months before this, this person would come into my room when I was asleep and turn off my television. I always fell asleep with the television on because I need that background noise, that distraction in order to fall asleep. I still do.
Looking back now, that should have been my first warning sign.
All I know is one night, they came into my room and sat beside me on my bed. I immediately had that sick feeling in my stomach. And even then, I knew what was happening. I tensed up, moving away, tried to shut everything down but it still happened. They almost kissed me.
My door was mostly closed and I heard someone go outside and slam the front door. I got up and left my room, trying to breathe and not panic or throw up and went outside. They followed, and the person who went outside walked away from me as I told them “nothing happened, nothing happened, nothing happened”.
I locked my bedroom door that night but I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t even cry.
Trust had been broken, even then, I wasn’t believed that I had nothing to do with this, that I didn’t take part. Even today, that’s still one of the major things I struggle with and one that’s coming up a lot through therapy and just starting to remember things I don’t want to remember.
But I do remember them. Maybe not all of them, and that’s okay – but I remember enough that it still hurts and it’s still raw and makes me feel sick and scared.
The next day it was worse.
I woke up thinking I was living in a nightmare and everything seemed so surreal. I felt like I couldn’t wake up all the way and there was no way the night before had happened… but I knew it had.
And it was about to get worse.
I remember walking into the kitchen and he was in there, standing against the counter and he was talking to me. I don’t know what he was saying, I was trying to tune it all out and keep standing, keep moving and put up walls to protect myself even more.
He hugged me and held me there, telling me something or other before he told me that “you need to explore a little” and “you’re still young, you don’t know who you are” and completely invalidated me and my sexuality as a gay woman. I knew who I was. I knew who I am.
He wouldn’t let me go and hugged me for too long. He may have tried to get close enough to kiss me again, I don’t remember. I still have much of it blocked out for my own safety at this point. Even now… I need that. I need that distance and disconnect.
In the end, I managed to get away and go to my room as quickly as I could, locking the door behind me. I got into bed and started to cry. I felt sick and dirty and confused. I was scared, hurt and angry. I was upset. I was on the verge of a panic attack.
I called a friend and asked if there was any way possible she could come get me and take me somewhere because I needed to get out and get out now. I packed my essentials, knowing I wouldn’t be back anytime soon. I stuffed it all into a laundry bin and a bag, and then left my room – sitting down next to the person who walked away from me the night before.
I broke down again, begging and pleading and trying to make them see that I had no involvement, that I didn’t want this, that I didn’t want any of it. I didn’t want that assault and abuse. I didn’t want to have to leave… but I had to. I had to get out of there because I wasn’t safe anymore and I needed to be in a safe place.
I remember sobbing in there, and then walking out of the house with everything I could grab. I left. I knew I had to do what was best for me, and staying there was going to put me into another unsafe situation that I may not have been able to stop the next time it happened.
When I went to see a counselor on campus a few weeks later, he pushed me to file charges but I didn’t. I was too scared, too worried about what it would do and mean for the rest of us. I was too shaken still, but he labeled it clearly.
I had been sexually assaulted.
And it’s a nightmare. Something I’ll never forget. It’s something I still struggle with – all the feelings and fear that came along with it. The scars and memories I still carry with me. I’m starting to remember bits and pieces here and there as I work through trauma therapy… and it isn’t easy to remember them.
I didn’t remember until a couple weeks ago about the person walking away from me and refusing to believe me.
I have my days where it’s incredibly hard to wade through it, and I have my days where I can keep going. I have days where even though it takes everything I have, I can push it back and block it out and other days where it’s constantly in the back of my mind and making me feel sick.
I have my days where I remember the little details I blacked out and they shake me up and make me feel sick and dirty. I have my days where I realize that I made it through, even though I’m still hurting, still carrying this and still working through it.
I have my days where knowing keeping my distance is the best thing for me but I miss the way things used to be before this mess – where I had a couple people who put my best interests at the top and didn’t walk away from me. I have my days where this entire situation has caused me so much anger and pain that I can’t even stand much interaction around me at all.
I have days where my hyper vigilance is out of control and I’m finding myself checking my door to make sure it’s closed tight, making sure the front door is double and triple locked, where I’m making sure the fridge is closed.
It’s certain movies I can’t watch anymore because of the memories I associate with them. It’s not being able to walk into certain places because of the memories or be with people because they didn’t believe me and caused pain that will never go away.
It’s years of broken trust, one step forward and two steps back. It’s living with the feelings and fear this experience left me with. It’s learning to cope and worth through this in trauma therapy but the fear and anxiety of what I’m about to remember.
It’s learning to realize that I’m a survivor and I’m strong. That despite how many scars and memories I carry, that I’m doing the best I can as I face this. It means knowing that getting out was the best idea for me.
It’s hard, I won’t lie, it’s one of those earth shattering moments. I will always struggle with this – all of it: the hyper vigilance, the feelings, scars, memories, broken trust, pain and the distance I had to create from this.
I’m not the only one who has gone through this, and I know how horrifying this can be.. but I’m a survivor and even though the bad days can outweigh the good days, I’m just taking it one step at a time or one second at a time to protect and take care of myself.
I’m doing the best I can, and sometimes that’s all we can do.