Yesterday, I shared my story of being sexually assaulted in hopes that people (namely, men) who cannot relate and/or do not understand why Donald Trump's rhetoric is so harmful can put a face to sexual violence.
Today, I am so proud to share the story of another strong, beautiful woman who overcame the trauma of sexual violence- my sister.
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However, when my sister asked me if I would like to share a story on her blog I did not hesitate to agree. Given the current political climate, I believe it is necessary and I know that this blog is a safe outlet. I have been the victim of sexual assault on multiple occasions. It got to the point where it seemed like every man in my life was going to harm me. I remember once hearing someone say ‘It’s hard to believe that one person could be sexually assaulted that many times’ in reference to another woman’s story. It made me wonder, “Why do I keep letting this happen to myself, what am I doing wrong?” The answer: nothing. I have advocated over and over to others that it is NEVER the victim’s fault. I just needed to apply that to my own life. Below are a just a couple of my stories.
When I was a senior in college I had a friend (who we’ll call Joe) who I was never super close with, but who was always around because of mutual friends. On my 21st birthday I did the typical 21st birthday thing and got completely black out drunk. This is one occasion that I can comfortably say I was incapacitated. The next morning I woke up with Joe in my bed and my neck completely black and blue -apparently from hickeys. At the time I was alarmed but didn’t think much of it and continued to talk to Joe. The following week Joe came over to my apartment again to ‘hookup’. He began fingering me aggressively on my bed, which was painful and resulted in blood all over the walls and bed. He then asked if I wanted to 69, which admittedly creeps me out, but I agreed. After we began, I felt my head being slammed down by his hand behind me. A pain shot through my throat and I instantly vomited. I got up and ran to the garbage to spit out my mouthful of puke, and Joe got annoyed. ‘What are you doing?’ he asked, to which I responded ‘I just threw up.’ Joe was mad at me for stopping, and we fought for the rest of the night after I refused to have sex with him. Joe and I never hooked up again.
Having a history of violence extending even beyond that experience, I had trouble with trust and commitment. Simply: I didn’t want to be abused anymore and it seemed like I just couldn’t trust any men. But the year after I graduated from college I finally began a relationship with a long time friend. We became incredibly close and he was my best friend. I knew he cared a lot about me so I truly believed I could trust him. Then one day I came over to this boyfriend’s house after a long day at work. It was clear that he had been drinking, but that was not out of character for him. We went down to the basement and began having sex. He bent me over the back of the couch and we continued in that position. Out of nowhere I felt him attempt to insert his penis in my butt. He missed so I assumed it was an accident. Then he didn’t miss. I screamed in pain and began crying. I fell to the ground and continued crying while my butt bled on the floor. He told me to stop crying and asked if I wanted him to finish. When I didn’t answer and continued to cry he just went ahead and finished in my vagina. He said it was an accident but showed no remorse – it wasn’t an accident. My boyfriend had raped me. We continued to date for months after the incident, but I was never the same. I would love to say that this was the only time that this boyfriend sexually abused me, but it wasn’t. He made a habit out of continuing after I told him to stop, and the accompanying verbal abuse did not help.
I am in a good place now and have moved forward with my life, but I believe that these stories are important to share. We often have this image in our heads of sexual assault: a stranger attacks a woman while she is walking alone at night. While these assaults happen, more often than not those we know inflict the abuse. Even those we love. I cannot remain quiet when people continue to dismiss gender violence as a non-important issue. It is important to note that sexual assault can happen to anyone of any gender. However, when 98% of perpetrators are men, there is a larger cultural issue that needs to be addressed. I hope others take my stories and realize (as I had to) that no matter the circumstances, no one asks to be sexually assaulted. It is NEVER the victim’s fault.