My Experience with Sexual Assault: The Epitome of Common
I have been sexually assaulted three times in my life.
I am sharing my story not because it is fun, but because it is the epitome of common. I hope to help others who have been hurt, and who might be at risk for further harm.
Around age seven, fresh off the tails of my parents’ messy divorce, I became close friends with a neighborhood girl just a few years my senior. I was vulnerable and in need of guidance. Over the next six years I hung on her every word, and believed she wanted the best for me.
When you look up to someone and trust them, you can’t conceive that they would ask you to do something wrong. When you don’t understand what sex is you don’t question when they ask you to use your body in strange ways.
From the rapist’s standpoint this is important because they want to assert dominance.
My perpetrator was a teenage girl with cerebral palsy who successfully enchanted me and three other girls into taking pre-pubescent nude photos, preforming manual stimulation on both males and females, masturbating in front of others, and eventually, into losing our virginity without consent.
This rapist was my sitter. And until I was old enough to fully understand what had happened, I defended her. I defended her long after her actions led to my stay in a mental hospital; I defended her when the police got involved. I defended her when my dad got a restraining order. I defended her when my therapist tried to understand my suicidal behavior.
I was seventeen before I recognized what had happened. I was in my early twenties when I finally realized how it had affected me.
Trauma leaves rape victims susceptible to further assaults, along with higher risk of drug abuse, self-destructive behavior, and settling for unhealthy relationships.
As I was processing what had happened in my childhood, I began dating a man nearly twice my age. Once again I believed he truly cared for me, and I wanted to make him happy because he loved me.
As often happens with domestic violence, this man was initially kind. And the first two times that he forced anal penetration on me, he was so apologetic that I forgave him. When I cried he insisted, “This is a good thing, this will bring us closer together.” I fought back and he begged, “Please don’t leave. You mean the world to me. It will never happen again.”
My self-worth sunk so low that I believed I deserved no better. Eventually, I stopped fighting and just took the abuse.
Yet I had not consented.
The relationship did not end because I got brave enough to leave. I did not know how.
I began frequenting fraternity parties. To dull my pain, I often became intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness. One evening, I passed out over a toilet and a man I’d talked with earlier that evening came into the bathroom and removed my clothing. I remember very little except being dizzy and laying in a puddle of vomit.
I learned later that this man had been a virgin, and that I was his conquest. His Conquest. Not a nineteen-year-old human being with no say in the matter. An object that he — in a manor of speaking — owned.
When I hear stories of sexual abuse, I wonder how we can allow it. And why we blame the victim, telling survivors it’s their fault.
Like all survivors, the wounds have profoundly affected me; have completely altered who I could have been. The thing is, I am among the lucky ones. Some days I may crumble to the ground, but I am here and I have a voice.
I am the one in five.
If you have been raped please get support. You can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE.
This was written by one of my students who gave me permission to post her story.
Posted on May 14, 2014, in feminism, psychology, rape and sexual assault, violence against women, women and tagged feminism, psychology, rape, sexual assault, violence against women, women. Bookmark the permalink. 39 Comments.