Survivorhood Story #10

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Rape, Alcohol, HIV, Police

 

 

A week ago I was raped in my own bedroom. I was drunk and I was half passed out, but I remember nearly everything. He knew I was too drunk to think clearly, he even shook me awake once to ask if I was on birth control. He followed me when I went to go to my room to lie down, and almost immediately started kissing me and taking my clothes off. He wanted to have sex so he did, even though he couldn’t find condoms in my room. I couldn’t say no, I couldn’t fight back, I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t stay awake or move my arms to push him. He said that people thought I was a whore, and that it was true because I’d let him get to me only a week after meeting me. He told me I’d better get an abortion, and left me lying there. My phone had ended up under the bed and I sort of crawled over to get it when I woke up again. I still was having trouble speaking so I went down my list of contacts of trusted people in the city until somebody picked up and I told them to call the police. The police got there later and took me to the hospital, I saw in their notes that they thought I had tried to commit suicide since my voice was so choked. I read that on the monitor from the back of the patrol car, because there was no better way for them to take me. I don’t remember getting to the hospital, I don’t remember the police leaving. I do remember that suddenly it was two in the morning (the assault had happened at 9:30). I did the kit, I did the tests, I took the drugs they gave me, I did the blood work. The hospital told me that the HIV pep would feel like chemo, and that it would only be a month. This week the pep has made me miss most of my classes, and I can’t really stay awake long or eat any food without feeling sick. I’m alone most of the time, and my main occupation has been coming up with excuses for why I haven’t gotten any school work done. The police said that I have no case. They said I led him on. They said any decent court would tear my story apart. They told me I wouldn’t stand a chance against somebody who thinks he had consentuall sex. They told me “you seem like a bright girl, you know this case won’t go anywhere, and even if it did, he’d spend a maximum of two years in jail and then be free, but it won’t change anything. You’re still always going to be a rape victim.”. They told me I asked for it. They told me “we only send strong women into this system, and you don’t seem like a strong person”. They said it was just honesty, that they wouldn’t sugar coat it. I’m both terrified and numb at the same time. I’m going to spend my 20th birthday on HIV pep. I’m spending my week desperately hoping that I don’t get pregnant and that the hospital was wrong that they said that the timing made me at high risk for it. I’m going to have to wait three weeks to get an appointment with the crisis centre. I don’t know how else to deal with this, it feels like nobody will believe me

Survivorhood Story #9

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Rape

I’ve been struggling with the idea of writing out my own story since this project was created. My story does not consist of any one specific event, but rather a seemingly endless series of things done to my body without my consent. I think about all the times I’ve been groped, the times I’ve passed out drunk and woken up with men kissing or touching me, and the time I was raped. I think about the time, as a young teenager, I was held down by a group of boys while they touched me, and someone I trusted looked on, not saying anything, awkwardly laughing as the fear of seeming uncool by calling out his friends trumped his care about me as a human being. I’ve struggled with the idea of talking about these events that have so greatly shaped who I’ve become, but have instead reverted to silence when it’s come to my experiences with sexual assault. I won’t get into any of these stories. I do not think that any are particularly unique. Some of them happened to me as a child, others as a teenager, others still occurred in my adult life. More significant to me has been the guilt I’ve felt. Not necessarily about the abuse itself, because it’s become more or less normal to me. Instead, I feel the most guilt over my role as an activist, as someone who speaks out against the injustices committed against others, while not demanding the same respect for myself. I’m not the kind of women who gets raped. I don’t think I am. Others don’t think I am. Men dare not touch me without my explicit consent. That’s what I told myself, what I still tell myself. What I allow and lead others to believe. I’m trying so desperately to sell myself a narrative of control over my life, over my ability to control the actions of men. I still believe that I can fit myself into a narrative where I cannot be a victim; if I believe I cannot be a victim, then I can put aside my own feelings of hurt. The struggle over my own feelings of hypocrisy has been the most difficult struggle for me. Don’t get me wrong. The physical things were bad. Overhearing my rapist bragging to my friend over the phone about how he’d finally convinced me to have sex with him was an especially hard hit, and took a piece of my soul. I try to convince myself that by devoting myself, my time, into making the lives of others better, I can survive in silence. Maybe I can. Maybe I won’t. Every time someone tells me how proud they are of the work I’m doing to ensure that marginalized voices are heard, my stomach sinks with guilt. Every time I read comments about the responsibility of women to report, I think of all of those who came before me and those who might come after, and wonder whether that might negate any other good work I might do. I am much better at caring for others, and much prefer to help others through their struggles than to talk about my own. I sometimes wonder about my own sustainability, but worry that if I slow down my demons might finally catch up to me.

Survivorhood Story #8

Trigger Warning: Sexual assault, Rape, Drugs/Alcohol, Relationships, Brock University, Self Harming

I have been sexually and violently assaulted 4 times, each time ranging in severity.

Telling these stories makes me feel gross inside, bringing to the surface of my body all the guilty feelings which I have attempted to push back during the course of the last four years.

The first time I was sexually assaulted, I was at a party when I was 15.
I did not have a high tolerance for alcohol, and I was quite petite in frame, so after two drinks I was definitely wobbly. I was offered a joint passed around by a group of guys at the party, so I took a couple hits. Shortly after, I began to feel the effects of the joint course through me, making me feel extremely lightheaded.

The music on the host’s computer stopped, so I walked over to where the computer was in order to put on some music.

Sitting by the computer, smoking a cigarette, was the host. He had been smiling at me the entire night, and he was two years older than I was, so I felt special that I had been noticed by someone older and cute. I leaned over him, attempting to put on some music, but he grabbed me and pulled me into his lap.
I froze, not knowing what to do. It was very abrupt, him pulling me into his lap so quickly an without warning. He towered over me. He was easily a foot taller than I was, so I felt minuscule sitting on his lap, with my feet dangling.
I told myself that this was ok, he was just having fun. So when he kissed me, I kissed him back, relaxing a tiny bit.
After we kissed for a couple minutes, I got off him so I could rejoin my only friend at the party, but he roughly pulled me back onto him and began feeling me up.
I felt really nervous, and squirmed as he reached into my bra and began tugging on my nipples. I tried to tell myself that it was fine, all the cool girls at my school did things like this, but I kept feeling as though it was wrong. I didn’t particularly want to do anything like this, and again, I tried to get up, but he forcefully restrained me, and reached into my pants and began to finger me.
I thought that it was pointless to resist after that.The sad thing was, I would’ve done all of those things with him, had he just asked me first.
The second incident happened when I was 17, with my boyfriend at the time. We were trying anal sex for the first time. None of us had done it before, so needless to say we were inexperienced and ill-prepared.
When he began to penetrate me, the pain hurt so much that I cried out, but he began to push into me further. I yelled for him to stop while I started to cry, but he didn’t stop. I felt as though I couldn’t move, it hurt so much. Finally. he noticed I was crying and finally pulled out of me. When I confronted him about it, he told me that he “never heard me,” but I know that was a lie because I was shouting for him to stop.
From then on, until we broke up a year later, he continued to commit inappropriate sexual actions against me, after I had told him I did not consent. Sometimes he would grab my butt in public, or squeeze my breast. Sometimes he would try to have sex with me, by attempting to reach his hands down my pants, and when I’d tell him not to he would do it anyway. It would always end with me storming off, and on a couple occasions he even physically hurt me.
The third incident happened with a close friend of my boyfriend’s.
He was always extremely flirtatious towards me, to the point where it made me feel awkward and uncomfortable. However, the group of people who I partied with who were close to him never acted as though it was a big deal, so I decided it wasn’t either. Eventually, his flirting began to subside somewhat, and he started treating me as more of a friend.
A year later, he was constantly drinking. He started to make me feel awjward and unsafe around him, as he began to say extremely inappropriate things to me, telling me that he wanted to have sex with me, and that he wished I was his girlfriend.
When he was drunk, he would start to grope me. He began to do it when my boyfriend wasn’t looking, but it go to a point where he started to grope me even when my boyfriend was present. I always told him to stop, but he would keep doing it every time.
The final straw was when I got so fed up with him, that I punched him in the face. He punched me back, leaving a purple bruise on my cheek. When I told my boyfriend what happened, he told me that his friend was just “being himself,” and that I should drop the incident. I broke up with my boyfriend after that. I felt doubly betrayed by that incident, I had been sexually assaulted by someone I knew, and my boyfriend didn’t even appear to care.
The fourth incident occurred last year, on campus. I was going through a difficult time following the events of the breakup with my ex-boyfriend. I had made friends with a male who was one year older than me on campus, and I told him what had happened. I had been cutting myself, and he seemed to be very kind and supportive of me, when I felt as though I didn’t have anyone who I could talk to about it. I felt like he didn’t make light of my experiences like my ex-boyfriend did.
One night when we were sober, he tried to pressure me into having sex with him. I told him I didn’t want to have sex with him; I wasn’t interested in that. He told me that he accepted that. I let it slide.
The next night, we were hanging out with a large group of people. I ended up drinking far too much, and couldn’t walk properly. He offered to walk me home, so I accepted. I was leaning on him for support.
When he reached my residence building, he asked me if he could walk me up to my dorm room. I told him he could, because I needed help walking up the stairs.
When we got to my room, I unlocked the door and collapsed on the bed. I felt like I was going to be sick.  He started to kiss me, and I told him I didn’t want to have sex with him, but he took off my clothes. My head was spinning, so when he said “you would still do this even when you’re sober,” I felt too sick to move. I blacked out shortly after.
The next day, I told him I wasn’t interested in him. When I wanted to leave his room, he grabbed me and twisted my arm.
I stopped talking to him shortly after that, but I remember him asking me “did I sexually assault you?” and I just didn’t know what to say.
I feel shameful and naive thinking about these experiences. Oftentimes, I think “I should’ve done something different. How could I have been so trusting and so naiive?” I’ve been sexually assaulted by a stranger, my friend, my ex boyfriend, my ex boyfriend’s friend. I’ve beaten myself up mentally for being too trusting, but I know now that it’s not my fault. It’s not my fault that women are taught to blame themselves for being the victim of sexual assault. It’s not my fault that women are taught to “avoid” getting sexually assaulted, while men are taught that they can get away with committing acts of violence and sexual assault against women. It’s not my fault that consent is not taught. It’s not my fault that there are people in my life who took advantage of my kindness.
It was NOT MY FAULT.
And it is not yours either

Survivorhood Story #7

Trigger warning: Rape, High school, Anxiety, Depression, Attempted Suicide, PTSD, Self Harming

 

I imagined loosing my virginity with someone I was dating, someone I loved. I imagined it being so magical and romantic and us kissing and cuddling afterwards. I didn’t think I would loose it with someone who was my best friend, someone I trusted. It was when I was in grade nine and there was my best friend someone who I occasionally fooled around with (just kissing nothing else). I went over to his house and we started making out, and he started to feel me up and I told him to stop, he told me it was alright and that I should trust him and that he loved me. So I did trust him, because I thought letting him do what he wants would let him love me back… I trusted my best friend, a guy who told me he loved me. He then pushed me against his bed and told me its alright and that it won’t hurt. I started to panic, threatening to scream so his mom would hear. He then got up and started getting dressed and told me to get out, so I did as I was told since I was confused because was I still a virgin? am I a slut? was it my fault that I let him do that to me? did I turn him on too much to the point where he couldn’t go back? I knew that it was all my fault, so I headed home and called him later to apologize… no one picked up. I texted him for weeks and tried getting a hold of him… he never answered me. He got what he wanted, why would he answer? But I knew at the time it was all my fault for turning him on like that and not giving him all of it and it was my fault for giving him ‘blue balls’.  The second time I was raped was also my best friend in grade 10, we were in my basement laughing about an inside joke. Next thing I knew he was pushing me against the couch saying I enjoyed what he was doing to me and pressing his body against my face and forcing my mouth open to the point where the corners of my mouth bled. He pushed my legs apart where I woke up with bruises along my thighs. He was my bestfriend… why would my bestfriend someone who I learned to trust and tell my secrets too do that to me? I told him to stop, I was screaming at the top of my lungs. Next thing I know my mom comes in the front door and he yells at me to get dressed. And he left shortly after telling me not to tell anyone what we did. After the second time, I knew I was a slut and that I had nothing to loose, and that if I ever wanted a man to love me truly I would have to sleep with them. I would have to pleasure them sexually because I thought that was the only way. For my whole high school career, my depression and aniexty got worse and I blamed everything on myself because I felt that everything was my fault. I eventually self harmed, because I felt worthless and that I could never achieve anything in life. Until the third time I was raped, which was on a s-trip in Dominican when I was in grade 12. I walked out of my room drunk and saw a cute boy walking by who let himself into my room and pushed me against the bed and when I tried to get up multiple times he would not let me. Why would he not let me get up? Then he punched my stomach which made me blackout. I woke up with him getting dressed and he kissed my cheek thanking me for the wonderful time. I yelled at him to get out, because I was afraid. I knew it happened again to me. I instantly went next door to my friend’s room and told them about the incident and they told me it was probably my fault because ‘I love having sex, and have a lot of it’. So I instantly blamed it on myself because I forced myself to believe that I am a slut, and that everything that has happened to me was my fault

Story of Survivorhood #6

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Rape, Brock University, Attempted Suicide

I never imagined was that I would have the worst night of my life within a week of realizing my dreams to become a student. I am always horrified now that we push girls to go and seek higher education, when what waits for 20% of them is sexual assault. How is it fair that we can’t even feel welcomed by our peers (and lately it seems, our faculty), without fear of assault. It’s not fair how my university experience has been an endless stream of violations against my body, instead of being a time when my main focus is to learn. University should never have been about surviving, but for me that’s all that it’s been.

A week into my first semester I was raped in a residence room by a boy who thought it was ok to get a girl drunk and pull her into his bed. The same boy was worried that I wouldn’t be safe walking home alone at night and all I could think was ‘so what, what are they going to do? Exactly what you just did?’. I didn’t even hate him after because I couldn’t feel anything except for sickness, and pain from the bruises, and scrapes, and cracked ribs. I spent my first weekend at university in a crisis centre, and my 18th birthday waiting for the results of a pregnancy test. It took the school months to even consider taking action against him after my don saw the bruises and reported it; they never even gave him a warning, they just told me to keep quiet.
I’ve been assaulted more times than I can count since then, and I’m so close to giving up. The first time after the first time was by the brother of a friend who promised that he would always keep me safe. They never let me talk about it because they said that him getting me so drunk I couldn’t stand up, and having two grown men hold me down while he shoved his hands down my top was somehow my fault. The same person said that when his friend pinned me to a bed face down and got on top of me while he held my wrists, it was because I had lead him on. These were never as bad as the first time, but there’s something horrible about feeling like all you will ever be is a body to be taken advantage of for the fun of men.
 I’ve had one suicide attempt, and after in the hospital they told me that I had so much to live for. That same day, the person who picked me up after I was released assaulted me repeatedly, and I was too numb to even care. I didn’t tell anybody for weeks because I didn’t want to have to disclose that I was being raped, again, by somebody I was supposed to be able to trust.
I don’t understand why this happened, and I can’t even come close to understanding why it had to happen so many times. Sometimes I start to believe that it’s my fault, and with every new assault it becomes harder and harder to believe that it wasn’t something I did. It’s hard for me to even write this out because I know that so many people won’t believe me. I’m afraid that people will think that I’m just making this up, or that I’m overreacting to what has happened.
I don’t know, maybe I am. I wish I was.
I can’t take another day of being a survivor, of living in fear of being victimized again.
Now I’m looking at the hospital band on my desk from a night this week that I have no memory of, not really knowing what happened, but knowing that I don’t want anybody to know. I think I’ve spent two lying on my bed staring at my computer screen, hoping to feel something, but nothing works.
I’m exhausted, and angry, and sad.
I don’t want to do this anymore, but how can I stop?

Story of Survivorhood #5

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Abuse, Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorder

Just when you think you know everything about a person, is when you should open the eyes in the back of your head watching everything they do behind you, because it only takes one time for something to ruin your life and hurt you. It was the eleventh grade, a European exchange came into my high school to learn and study. Being that he spoke my dialect, and I was the only one in the school who could also speak it, I was stuck with him. The guidance counsellor told me I’d get an extra 2% on any class that I chose if I translated his classes for him. Being that I was struggling in Biology, it was my only choice. He seemed nice at first, quiet, shy, not sure of his surroundings. But the way I see it, it was just the beginning of hell, and I had the opportunity to run, but I had no idea. Why did he come here? What happened that he had to stay here? He was on probation, and some twisted way ended up here from his country. He did something, I didn’t know until after he left. Not sure what he did, but I am sure it was something as wrongful as he did to me. He seemed like the perfect guy, until he became twisted and egocentric. He manipulated me at my lowest point, he made me feel so insecure of myself by controlling me. I felt like I was a piece of property. We had gone fishing, I had to argue with my mother to let me go. He made me sit there, he wouldn’t let me touch the rod. He would control me without me even knowing. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself what I know now. The stupidest thing happened, I had talked to his cousin’s girlfriend about something that happened in their family, it wasn’t even anything relevant to anything. He turned angry,he made me feel like my life didn’t matter. The way he treated me was unbearable. The silence at school, the way he spoke of me to others, and hearing it was ten times worse. He played me for a fool, and while he had his pride, I fell sick. I actually cared deeply for him since we had a bond that nobody else had due to the language barrier. I developed terrible anxiety, at one point I had to take an Adavan to stop me from crying and it made me feel number than I already was. My throat began to drip, it was around April of 2012, and I started to get sinus for the first time. I felt like my throat was closing in on me, as depressed as I felt, I thought it was the end. I couldn’t swallow. It would take me half of a glass of water to get a tiny piece of deli-ham down my throat. Nobody understood how depressed I truly felt. I stopped eating. All I could get down was soup, and that is what I had everyday, and ultimately it helped me stay alive. I felt some warmth in that way in my cold fragile body. I lost seventeen pounds in two and a half months. I had been classified as having an eating disorder, with anxiety attacks coming left and right. I didn’t understand what was happening. I would go everyday on my lunch and talk to the guidance counsellor. I would sit in her office and cry. I had no control over my emotions. One day, I gained the courage to talk to him, and he shut me down in front of everyone. I cried, and he didn’t care. Then one day, he suddenly did “care”. I personally think now that he was just lonely, and needed someone. I took him back with open arms, hoping that this would be what I needed to take my depression and anxiety away. It didn’t. He continued to manipulate me, he would get upset when I didn’t want to make-out with him. He would tell me to go home, but then I gave in. I didn’t want to go, I needed him at the time to make me feel better and heal the empty hole in my heart. He was going home, back to his country. He manipulated me into doing something I did not want to do or feel comfortable with. He pressured me until I gave in. He would get so angry when I’d say no. He knew he had the leverage and upper hand over me, he knew he would get his way. He seen the pain in my eyes, it was the same pain he gave me that ruined my life. He forced me to do something I did not want to do, something I never did with anyone. He did that in a stone shed. I was against a cement block as he thrusted at me in pain. I stood there in silence as I felt my dignity being ripped out of me. The pain I felt was horrendous, he didn’t care. I told him to stop, he didn’t. I’ll never forget the day. August 29th. When he left, I went to go see him to say goodbye. He told me he and his family were going for dinner and I had to go home. Meaning, I had to call my father, the one who just dropped me off after I cried, begged and pleaded for him to take me. My dad picked me up, took me along the lake, and broke his steering wheel. He was furious. When senior year started, I felt his friends staring at me, as if they knew something. It was the hardest time of my life, I felt so empty and alone, like nobody knew what I was going through besides a few close friends and my guidance counsellor. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them. When you are in a relationship, and that other person does not respect you, makes you feel insecure, disgusting, worthless, and your family and friends are warning you. You should listen. Because what I went through is something I wouldn’t wish on my own enemy. Through Jesus Christ, through believing, through praying, four years later, I am whole again. I found someone who treated me the way I deserve to be treated, the way I want to be treated, I am not pressured whatsoever. I am free, I am happy, I am a believer of Jesus. Through Christ anything is possible and depression can be defeated. When you’re feeling low, remember you have those around you that care and can listen and you can talk to. Don’t be afraid. No, they won’t understand, but they can relate

Story of Survivorhood #4

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Rape

Everything I remember is a swirl of images and words said unclear in their intention, but played back like a movie on a loop. One moment we were young and in love. Cuddling in the basement of my parent’s old house, binge watching Breaking Bad and sneaking in kisses. Next I was lying partly undressed in numb confusion, trying to process what had happened but also not wanting to open the can of worms that could ultimately make me lose my sanity.

I was in my first real relationship, 19 years old dating a cute, and sweet 24 year old man. He was wise beyond my years it seemed, teaching me what it’s like to be committed. A virgin, I wasn’t ready to commit my body before I was sure I committed my mind. That day taught me that sometimes you are not ready for what life throws in your path. It may not be fair, but it’s real.
I see a flashback in my mind. My skirt and underwear is being moved. “I’m not ready, we only just started dating”. “I’m not going to do anything…i just want to tease you a little bit”. In my head I find this strange, a tiny alarm bell in the distance, but I was still wholly unprepared. “Doesn’t this feel good?” As little sexual experiences I had, I still expected myself to feel comfortable. Not like I wanted to crawl into a ball of my own flesh. “It would be so easy to take your virginity right now”. Why would he say this? Was he trying to be flirtatious? Then why do I feel scared? Why is he even talking about how easy he could take my virginity? Especially when I told him I wanted to keep it? “It’s just right there. I could just-” Then it comes. A slight push and then another pulse within me.
 In spite of everything he said, I never thought he’d do it. I gasped a sharp inhale of breath, my eyes wide, my heart rate sky rocketing. Seeing my panic, he is so calculatedly calm. It’s like looking into a mirror of a parallel universe. Without another breath he says “Sorry, I just pushed too hard”. Within the next moment, his pants are back on, belt done up, remote control in hand as he fast forwards through the credits. I pull myself together. Sit down beside him, and breathe. His hands won’t touch me now, his facial expression relaxed but his eyes frustrated.
How was I to consider what had just happened? I was a virgin. How am I supposed to know what is considered sex? Surely I felt what I felt but did it have to last? He said he just pushed too hard. Is that possible? Why did he push at all? I was a virgin, was I still? As soon as these questioned circled my mind I squandered them. Just watch the show. Stare straight ahead. Ignore the way your body is rigid as though your veins are steel. Ignore the way your heart is pounding in your chest, trying to tell you WAKE UP. WAKE UP.
By the end of the afternoon I had no recollection of what had happened, as astronomical as it was. That part of me that was aware of what had happened had switched off like a light switch as a means of protecting myself. I laughed with him. Kissed him. Held his hand as we walked through the park. It was as though we were living a romantic comedy. The only real reminder I had was the way uneasiness slipped through me every time he got too close.
He and I continued to date for the next 6 months. Once he stopped showing his calculated good side, his true colours replaced it and instead those six months were full of hurtful comments and idle threats. When I finally got the courage to dump him (and not take him back again), he knew it was over and with it, his act. He told me the only reason he hadn’t dumped me before I dumped him was because he was using me for sex.
Then came the immediate flashback. His breath on my face. His body exposed. My mind reeling. At this time I knew that going to the hospital for a rape kit was no longer an option as well as I felt was going to the police. Who would believe somebody was raped by someone who they actively chose to date? Someone that they not only dated but took back repeatedly? Someone who chose to have consensual sex with someone who supposedly forced them in the past? The only thing I could do was try and get through it, because there was no chance in going around the pain as I had  before.
After I saw him for who he truly was, I still had instances where my rapist would drive past my apartment repeatedly, giving me the sharpest sense of anxiety, but now that I have moved places I know he has no real way of reaching me, and I am able to find calmness in knowing that.  It has been two years since the assault and I have received therapy at A Safer Brock and have officially joined a support group at CARSA (Niagara Region’s sexual assault centre). Although I am still a working progress, I have come to understand why my brain reacted the way it did to the trauma and have learned not to blame myself. As time goes on I learn to forgive myself and those around me who simply do not understand. My recovery is not for them.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to go through sexual assault. There is only whatever way you can, by any means you can. *