When Sexual Assault Takes Away Your Voice

How many of you have been sexually assaulted in your lifetime? I’ll wait. I have a feeling a vast majority of you have experienced some form of Sexual Harrassment or Assault. I was in the ninth grade when it first happened to me. There was a very wealthy boy who came on so hard to me that he made me uncomfortable. He tried to grope me and kiss me when I didn’t understand what was happening. At that point in my life, I was inexperienced, naieve, and too trusting. Not long after that incident, he was killed in a car accident before our Sophomore year. Never have I ever breathed such a sigh of relief that I wouldn’t be attacked in the way he did. He would corner me in rooms and block me. He was bigger than me and had a habit of taking what he wanted. My heart felt for his sister and family but I was so grateful I didn’t have to deal with him anymore.

He wasn’t the only one that I had to deal with in high school. One of the custodians that I thought the world of tried to grope at me every time he saw me. No one would have believed me that he was doing this. I already didn’t have friends there and felt alone and that information would have made things worse. I didn’t have the experience that the other kids did. I was flat chested with a decent butt yet I didn’t feel attractive. I didn’t have the “it” factor that the other kids had in spades.

When I graduated, I was accepted into East Carolina University. It was there that I lost myself. I became a wild child. I did drugs, drank too much, partied hard, and was raped on two different occassions. Just because you are drunk, that’s not an excuse to go ahead and be raped. My boyfriend at the time, was drunk. Alcohol wasn’t his friend. One night he got really jealous and raped me. We broke up right after that. He’s now a doctor. I should have had a rape kit done but I didn’t. I was in tears and felt so dirty. Not long after we split, he saw me walking home from work. I worked for the school at that time as a technician. I was the only female technician on staff. After a concert that had been going on, it was about 2 in the morning when I was heading back to my apartment. I had told the guys that I worked with that I should be fine going back to my apartment. That was dumb of me. It was pouring down rain, freezing temperatures, in the middle of January. Once again, he was drunk. This time he dragged me into the back of the auditorium behind the building and raped me so hard that I thought I would die. My insides were a mess. The damage he did to me took me years to recover from. Rape is not something that you can forget. It stays with you. Yes, the body heals but the imprint that’s done to you is forever.

There are scars that still reside with me. I have flashbacks to those incidents and can recall almost every vivid detail around me. I still smell the nicotine that was on his clothes. I smell the booze that permeated from his pores. I feel the memories of him holding me down so I couldn’t fight back. And the worst memory of all was the one that made me feel that I deserved what was happening. Folks, no one deserves to be raped. We all deal with things in different ways. No one deserves to be violated in a sexual manner. Those actions linger with us for the rest of our lives.

I hesitate to mention anything about the incidents because I’ve had relationships with a lot of physicality that were no where near rape. But once you’ve been raped, those feelings surface at really strange times.

I was fortunate that I wasn’t sexually assaulted by family. But the men who violated me were men that I trusted and even loved at one point. My ex boyfriend has the same first name of the man who holds me heart today. Even though I can’t be with him due to his own issues, the name Sean doesn’t sting the way it used to. I’ve seen what good men can be like. I’m grateful for that but not everyone has the same story.

Therapy does a lot to help. Talking about things that should never have occurred help others to understand that they aren’t alone. So what do you do when you’ve been the victim of a sexual act that you didn’t give permission for? The following information is taken directly from RAINN Sexual Violence.

  • Avoid judgment. It can be difficult to watch a survivor struggle with the effects of sexual assault for an extended period of time. Avoid phrases that suggest they’re taking too long to recover such as, “You’ve been acting like this for a while now,” or “How much longer will you feel this way?”
  • Check in periodically. The event may have happened a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean the pain is gone. Check in with the survivor to remind them you still care about their well-being and believe their story.
  • Know your resources. You’re a strong supporter, but that doesn’t mean you’re equipped to manage someone else’s health. Become familiar with resources you can recommend to a survivor, such as the National Sexual Assault Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673) and online.rainn.org, y en español a rainn.org/es.

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE or visit the Online Hotline, y en español a rainn.org/es.

There are nonprofits that help with Sexual Assault and Rape. If you are in the Alamance County area of NC, there is an organization called Crossroads Sexual Assault and Resource Center. Not only are they confidential but they were a lifeline for me in helping me to heal.

The most important thing that you can do when you have been a victim is to not hold it in. The only way you are going to be able to heal is to deal with what happened. There’s not a timetable to this. You have to feel comfortable to tell your story when you’re ready. No one can determine that but you.

Never forget that we all have done things in our life that we may not be proud of but no one deserves to be assaulted. Never feel alone. Most sexual assault victims are not the only ones that their perpetrator has attacked. If you don’t come forward, who knows who else will be a victim later?

My hope and prayer is that none of you deal with sexual assault, rape, or harrassment. Just know you have people who are willing to be there for you that won’t judge you. It’s those kinds of helping hands that propel us to gain strength. Strength is something that we all need in today’s world. It’s your voice. Don’t let the actions of others immobilize you with fear so that you can’t speak to those who need to hear that you understand. If you’ve never been the victim of any type of assault or abuse, I pray that pattern continues. Use your voice for those who haven’t been able to find theirs. It really does help.

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