Trigger Warning: This post contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to some survivors.
My story starts off as most college women survivor’s stories. I was drunk in my apartment with someone who I thought was my friend and he sexually assaulted me. It was September 11, 2007, “Bobby” (not really his name) had just been expelled from school and wanted to see me before he returned to his home city of Seattle. I was getting ready for date with my ex that would take place the following Monday. I invited Bobby over to help me with my outfit as he did for all my dates. He came over at 4pm. I was lucky; I lived by myself, after a string of 5 roommates, four of which were horrible, my parents agreed to sign my lease. As the night progressed, Bobby kept making us his famous margaritas while I divulged all my study abroad stories from Spain. I kept getting progressively drunk and even commented on how he seemed so sober. I know now, he was drugging me. It was around 1:30am, I was trying on outfits, sat on the bed next to him and then he raped me. Even now, seven years later I still only remember in pictures, although I passed out at some point.
When I woke up, I kicked him out of my apartment. I felt shame, so I laid down and fell back asleep on the floor. I couldn’t even fathom going back into that bed. When I awoke, I stared at myself in the mirror. I had bite marks. My lip was swollen, I had bruises. I sat there deciding what to do. He was expelled from school so I couldn’t report him. Plus, I took pride in being the all-star student conduct council member. How would my mentor look at me knowing I was a survivor? Would they even let me serve on cases? Should I call the police? That was an easy no. I served as an advocate for a national hotline and a local one and knew my local police would laugh at me. When I walked into the kitchen I realized from 4pm until 1:30am I drank an entire bottle of tequila in my margaritas. I walked back into the bathroom and took a shower, put my clothes into a bag, and walked it to the trash can. I knew there was no reason to keep this evidence; no one would ever believe me. I called my sister, a survivor herself, and she rushed from Philly.
The following week he stalked me. I called my cell phone server to see if I could block him. At that time the technology didn’t exist, so my only option was to change my number. I didn’t accept this. So I changed my schedule. I took the most roundabout ways to get home. Then he left to Seattle. I started my routine of every three months getting STI testing. I victim blamed myself. I told myself I should have known better. I knew he was sober. I should have noticed how he kept touching me inappropriately. There were so many signs. I have never victim blamed other survivors, it’s never the survivor’s fault, and I truly believe this, yet I couldn’t forgive myself. I worked out three times a day; weighed myself every morning; I ate fruits, veggies and avoided carbs. I couldn’t control what had happened so I controlled my weight and grades, it was a 4.0 semester. I lied to myself, the four people who knew and I would like to believe, even my therapist that I was okay. I stopped dating soon after the rape. It would take three years until I would go on one. As for sex, Bobby took my virginity, so I definitely didn’t want to get touched.
I kept working as a sexual assault advocate. I still do, although not directly. I left the field a year ago, I was a professional advocate for three years, but I took home the emotions. I miss working with the student advocates. I present at national conferences on active bystander and victim blaming. I am working with the headquarters of my sorority to develop a national program. I love working in sexual assault prevention and the student advocates who fight every day. I #bowdown (#QueenBey reference) to the ladies of Know Your IX. I wish I had their strength. Every day is a new journey. I can still count the people who know on two hands. I fear the stigma of being a survivor. I am okay now, I might not be tomorrow, but one thing I do know, there is so much left to be done in the field, and I hope I can be part of the change.
If you are wondering if a gap exists in the story, I never really crumbled. I eventually let myself accept the reality that I wasn’t okay. I finally told my mom, never my dad. I don’t think he could handle knowing both his daughters are survivors. After two years of dating I realized no one would ever love me until I loved myself. So that’s what I did I am in the best relationship I could have ever asked for or dreamt of now.
This anonymous post is part of #SAsurvives, a series of pieces written by some of our colleagues who are survivors of campus sexual violence. Our contributors to this series are extremely diverse – we will hear from people of color, from men, from women, and from folks who identify as part of the LGBTQ community. Each is telling their story, in their way, and I am sincerely thankful for their courage and willingness to share with us. I hope you follow along with us this month by using the hashtag #sasurvives. For more information, check out the intro post written by Martha Compton.
If you are a survivor of sexual violence, know there are many resources available to help. For current #sagrads, your campus counseling center is a great resource. For #sapros, you may have access to an Employee Assistance Program as part of your benefits package – check with your Human Resources department if you’re not sure. Additionally, the National Sexual Assault Hotline is available to 24/7 at 1-800-656-4673. Lastly, anyone can search online for their nearest crisis center at http://centers.rainn.org/. Please take care of yourself and know you’re not alone.
If you would like to contribute to this series, we do have slots available, and we will post contributions anonymously. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.