September 20, 2014.
A day that is forever etched into my mind, this is a day that turned my world as I knew it.
I was out with some friends at a party for the first time since getting to college, and around 1:30-2 AM an event occurred that completely altered my life. Two of my friends and I decided that we were ready to start heading back towards campus and started to leave the frat house that we were currently at. While walking up the stairs from the basement, I got separated from my friend and found myself getting pulled into the empty alley next to the frat house and was being pushed up against the wall of the house. He whispered very disturbing comments about what he was going to do to me while running his hands up and down my body. I. couldn’t. move. He had me pinned to the side of the house and was much stronger than I was. I felt helpless. He continued to rub his hands all over me, kiss me, put his hands down my pants and forced me to put my hands in places that I didn’t want them to be. He had just started to unbutton my pants when my friend came around the corner looking for me. As soon as my friend took in the image of what was going on, he pulled me from my attacker and brought me home. I will forever be grateful to my amazing friend. He saved me. I would have been raped if it weren’t for him.
September 20, 2014:The day I was sexually assaulted
August 18, 2016: the day I am ready to share my story
These past two years have been two of the toughest years of my life. I haven’t told anyone about this event until this summer. I had told one person at the time of the attack, and that person then proceeded to tell me that I deserved it. At the time I took those words to heart and truly believed them.
Numb and absent are the only two words that can describe the past two years. I have been going through the motions. Most days it was impossible to get out of bed. I had absolutely no motivation to do anything but I wanted so badly to get myself up and moving. My friends and roommates all thought I was just sleeping a lot. I pretended everything was fine but on the inside I was slowly falling apart and fighting to stay alive. There were so many days where I questioned my worth, I hated myself for letting something like this happen to me, I hated myself for letting my attacker take all my power and make me feel so worthless, I hated myself for believing in those words “You deserved it.” I hated everything about myself.
I have always suffered from anxiety, but I was depressed, something that I didn’t want to admit. I distanced myself from people in general, especially my family. I was feeding them lies saying that everything was going great when in reality everything was falling apart. I didn’t want to appear weak because I have always prided myself with being the rock, the strong one. I didn’t want my family and friends to experience my pain. I thought I could deal with it all on my own, I was the only one that was supposed to deal with this trauma. I felt so alone. But what I failed to recognize was the amazing people who so desperately wanted to help me. I was pushing them away. I didn’t know if I could ever be the person I used to be again.
I finally told my family about what happened this summer, after having a massive anxiety attack while on vacation. And just like that a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I realized that I have the most amazing people in my life that just want to see my happiness, who will support me in any way, and who most importantly remind me that all storms will pass, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel, and the bad days will always lead to better days.
I will not let my attack define me. My attacker will not take my power.
I will strive to live life to the fullest and not let any moment slip by.
The reality of it all is that there are always going to be horrible people in the world, people who have lost themselves. I feel sorry for those people who have never experienced love; what it’s like to love and to be loved in return. But for every terrible person, there are a thousand beautiful, kind and amazing people out there. All you have to do is look around you. I can’t change what happened to me but instead I can make a vow to find myself again. I may not ever be the same person I was but maybe I’m not supposed to be. Throughout my journey these past two years, there are three things that has resonated with me.
- The power you hold within yourself.
It is absolutely amazing at what we can achieve when we put our minds to. We can overcome SO many things by simply shifting our attitudes about things. Nothing can define you if you don’t want it to. You let things define you. We all have unique traits that make us resilient. At the end of the day, you are in control of your own happiness. Don’t succumb to the problems of today that will be motivation tomorrow.
- Do not take a moment or thing for granted.
Something you probably always hear. But I did not truly understand the significance of the statement until after my attack. Life can change in the blink of an eye. People all over the world are stripped of their love, opportunities, health, and lives every day. Take a second to think about everything and everyone you have in your life. Show them how much they mean to you. We have all been put on this Earth for a reason. We must make the most of our reason. We must appreciate everything we have with the knowledge that it can be taken from us at any moment.
- Love is all you need
Cliché, yes, but it speaks for itself. This might be one of the most important statements in my life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the constant love and support from the people closest to me. When someone you know is going through a tough time, you don’t have to understand it. The only thing you can do is show them you always have their back, show them you love them no matter what. Love truly conquers all.
I could go on to say “life is short, make it last.” But no, instead I will acknowledge the fact that life is long. It’s supposed to be long. Life is also hard. It’s supposed to be hard, it challenges us to become something bigger than we were yesterday. It has its ups and downs. We strive to be perfect and happy everyday. The reality is that the downs are necessary and vital to making us who we are. The downs contribute to the threads of our being, everything we are and everything we do. That’s the beauty of life.