My Experience with Sexual Assault: The Epitome of Common

SexualAbuse2By Alexandra Greene

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.”

It did.

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.

victim-blaming-252x150Society may blame me, but at no point was it my fault. No one asks to be violated, no one “asks for it.”

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.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Overcoming Scars of Abuse
Breaking Molestation’s Chains

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on May 14, 2014, in feminism, psychology, rape and sexual assault, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 39 Comments.

  1. Thank you so much for being brave enough to share. It is extremely important that we start telling our stories to prevent further abuse. I am currently in the process of research on the link between trauma and mental health. It is so important for our health care (and especially mental health care system) to become more trauma informed.

  2. Abusing a child is the worst, for me it felt like death. The person that molested me robbed me of being the person I should have been… I think a lot of people miss the signs and symptoms of people who have been raped or abused. I’ve been told that I was never abused because I was promiscuous, but I find that a lot people who are raped or abused do turn to promiscuity, and other self-harm behaviours. Stuff like this is all too common. Thank you for sharing this.

    • “I’ve been told that I was never abused because I was promiscuous, but I find that a lot people who are raped or abused do turn to promiscuity, and other self-harm behaviors.”

      Yes, that is so true.

      I get so sad when anyone is blamed for the abuses they’ve suffered. Usually it comes from people who are trying to shield themselves from blame.

  3. I think that this is a super important point that a lot of people need to think about. I feel like, especially as a woman, we get a majority of the blame for having gotten raped, molested, or sexually assaulted when in reality, it was in no way our faults. I saw a few articles lately talking about how people are starting movements on social media to stop schools from restricting girls on what they can wear, and really addressing the issue that the boys/men should not be distracted by this. It’s interesting to see how such sexist acts go on in our lives daily, but we don’t even see it.

  4. Shahin Larhnimi

    It takes more than only courage to talk about something that has affected someone so deeply. I think that it does help if everyone speaks about their assaults because it makes it easier for others to talk about their experiences. It basically makes it more acceptable to talk about something so personal. I really admire that you said; “ I hope to help others who have been hurt, and who might be at risk for further harm.” When one person is willing to share their story others will open up as well. It is sad that Ali and other victims have to suppress their pain and emotions because of shame or other reasons. “ To dull my pain, I often became intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness.”

  5. Caroline Cox

    This story is heart breaking, its bad enough to have it done once but three times wow. I applaud this girl for being so strong and sharing her ordeal. This story opens our eyes to the fact that abusers don’t necessarily have to be male. It also reveals that really anybody can do this I mean her first abuser was a teenage girl who had had cerebral palsy. The thing about our society is we seem to think girls are innocent and unable to do something like this. Same with people who have disabilities its sad but disable people are thought of as unable to do everyday things. Makes me wonder if her abuser figured she could get away with it for those reasons, assuming she didn’t fess up right away.

  6. I am very happy that this girl was able to tell her story. Being sexually assaulted in her life three times must have been a nightmare. I can’t even imagine how hard that must have been to live with. Being sexually assaulted by your own sitter must have been terrible. In my opinion, people who have been sexually assaulted don’t know the difference between love and “love”. True love is when you love someone with your heart not just with your body. The other kind of love is not real love. It is the kind of love that is fake, and that people take advantage of us. The people that have been sexually assaulted by a loved one, neighbor, or even a sitter have lost all meaning of what love is. There is a difference between love and the kind of love that you use with your body, and I think no one should have to experience that kind of “love”.

  7. If a man defended himself from a woman who was attacking him, who would believe that he was the victim?

    on a subway wagon a woman was hitting and cursing a man. The man remained still and not moving at all, he was turning to the other passengers constantly saying “do you see, I am not touching her, I am not hurting her” and he kept taking punches.
    When the police arrived they arrested him !!!!!
    He told them that he was the victim and the police officer replied “we will see”
    But the woman was so out of control that she even attacked the police officers.
    Then and only then they realized that the attacker was the woman and they arrested her.

    • It’s interesting that it’s primarily women who stepped in to stop the abuse. I remember I was with my boyfriend once when we saw this sort of thing happening and I didn’t feel like I could defend her by myself because the guy was bigger and stronger than me, so I encouraged my boyfriend to do something.

      When you see the reverse — a man being abused by a woman — I suspect people are less likely to step in because they assume that since the guy is bigger and stronger that he can take care of himself. Some guys who are abused don’t because they worry about hurting the girl. And then we have this cultural idea that a man would feel bad if a girl had to step in and help him. Maybe it would seem strange to Women who are smaller than him to step in on the half of a guy who’s bigger and stronger. Still, women could register their disgust. But I suspect that our cultural ideas about men as “strong, invulnerable and independent” has a lot to do with people ignoring what happened — not to say that that makes it right. We all need to recognize that men can need help too.

      • in that video, people, men and women were laughing seeing a woman abusing a man.

      • Yeah, it’s unfortunate. I suppose it’s because it’s disconcerting to watch a bigger stronger person being bullied by a smaller weaker person. To the observer it just seems so obvious that he should be able to defend himself. It’s also disconcerting because people probably assume that A woman who is being bullied stays with the man because she is financially dependent on him — maybe she has given up work to stay home and raise children. So it doesn’t make sense why he stays with her. They probably don’t realize that some women who are self-sufficient also stay with men like that because they are emotionally dependent/attached, or that men who are bullied by women tend to end up that way because they fear hurting the women if they let themselves get too angry.

      • While in principle it’s good that we are against bigger, stronger people picking on weaker ones, I think the taboo against hitting a woman AT ALL actually turns the tables. If a woman picks a fight with a man and expects no retribution, it’s no different to her hitting a defenceless puppy. Okay, maybe he can try restraining her, but if he really needed to throw a punch immediately the tables turn and people turn against him. Also, if it’s about strength it should depend more on an individual than the person. I mean would people really think a 6’2″ female MMA expert beating up an old man is more acceptable than the reverse? I know there are deep-seated reasons why there’s a double standard, but if we want true equality we have to treat both seriously.

        There’s also the assumption that a man deserves it if a woman hits him. Think of depictions of women hitting men in films. It’s often because he said something rude or did something wrong, so deserves it. Whereas when a man does so it’s because he gets angry or something. This reinforces the idea that a woman would only do this as a sort of punishment.

      • Some good points.

        In the video the man is bigger than the woman. I wonder if people would have reacted differently if she had been bigger than him.

  8. Hi everybody . I meant men instead of
    women in my last sentence earlier reply

  9. When i read this story it really hurt my feelings very much. I am very sorry to hear about it,but its good that you are strong enough to share these feelings with others which will make you out come of this . In addition sharing this kind of story will help those people out there whom are in same situation as you are and also we learned not to trust your on female friends who you think they are close to you. In my opinion Most men are like an animals they just only think about SEX when ever they see women. Men donot think with mind like women does. That is why we have to dress modesty and have self respect front of thses type women in order to protect our dignity.

  10. This story is very moving and at the same time somewhat disturbing. I feel bad for this girl for having to go through so much. The part of this article that has stuck with me the most is when she said “Society may blame me, but at no point was it my fault. No one asks to be violated, no one “asks for it.” Because of the way our society is set up, this girl is viewed as a slut and is shamed by society. She didn’t ask for anything of this to happen, she was chosen. She is a strong person for being able to hold her head high and learn from her situation. She has become a stronger person as a result. While her story is very sad it is amazing to see someone in this situation come out of it even stronger.

  11. Veronica Perez

    From experience I could say that it takes a long time for the victim to realize that they are not at fault. We blame each other for being “stupid” and we prefer to not talk about it because we fear our aggressor. I give her props for being brave and sharing her experience. This will encourage others to get help. It is sad how a family could become consumed with their own personal problems , and forget about their kids. I do not blame the divorce but the lack of communication between her parents. It is sad that others take advantaged of the vulnerable. There is no valuable reason to excuse a rapist. No matter how a woman dresses or if she is sexually active, if a woman says no simply back off .

  12. I feel really sorry for the girl in the article and truly hope that she will be alleviated from the past trauma she has suffered from. Those of who are exposed to sexual harassment or sexual assault are commonly the girls whose parents got divorce or who have some family problems. I personally think that when it comes to protecting girls from sexual harassment or sexual assault, the roles of families are really important. If Ali’s parents had not got divorce, she would have not needed other people to mentally and physically lean on. She could have asked her parents to help her when she was sexually assaulted so that she can overcome from trauma more easily. The roles of society or government are important as well, but I think the basic reason for girls being exposed to sexual assault and the solutions for this are fundamentally lied on the roles of families in modern time.

  13. Jelissa Blanco

    I really feel bad about this whole situation. I don’t think she was at fault for any of this. Being abused is something I couldn’t deal with it, just knowing that it happens to people out there really scares me. From hearing other stories I’ve heard many times that they don’t want to tell anyone, because they don’t want to be viewed differently. I can’t say what or what I wouldn’t do because I’ve never experienced it first hand. What I would like to happen tho, is for men to view women as a human being and not just an object. Women have an important role in society, just as men do. And from this womens story, girls out there who have been hurt should feel comfortable to speak out knowing that they are not the only ones who have gone through this tough time. Having someone to speak to about there problems could make their situation a little easier to coupe with. This story has really touched me

  14. Reading or listening to such stories I feel bad for the victim and feel like slapping the accused. She is very brave that she shared her story with us and I know a person cant forget such incidents from their life.

  15. Wow, a girl with cerebral palsy? It goes to show anyone can be a perp. It is a brave story, and shows that well, in this world women (and in some cases men) are still vulnerable to sexual assault and abuse.

  16. I’m sorry this happened to her.

    I know how hard it is speaking out and facing your own demons, especially when you’ve been assaulted as a child. Isn’t it amazing how we always make excuses for them? I think I did something similar.

    Tell her to be strong and that she’s an amazing woman. No one should have to go through that, child, teenager or woman.

    Yes means yes and no means no. If someone is intoxicated then don’t even go there. Easy as, why does this concept seem so hard to grasp?

  17. Please thank Ali for sharing. The way sex abuse wounds can be so hard to track and she did a beautiful job of articulating those different threads- and yes, she is here and has her voice… a very big deal!

  18. Wow. It was very brave of your student to write and share this story. Heart-wrenching.
    Thank you for sharing.

  19. It’s such a shame this is allowed to go on. And it is allowed, because we still blame the victim. This is why I hate when people try to argue that false rape accusations are a bigger problem than the prominence of rape. The 0.02% of rape accusations that are false are nothing compared to the 1 in 3, the 1 in 7 and the 1 in 5.

  20. Reblogged this on humanitysdarkerside and commented:
    Sadly, this story is a common one for both women and men. I wish, I wish, I wish we could all take it to heart and stop our abuse of others however that abuse might express itself.

  21. As Ali states her story is all too common. So sad. So sad. I am thankful that she shared it.

  22. Oh my gosh, I’m so very sorry for what happened to you. Personally, I think it is wonderful that you tell others about your experience. I hope you know by doing so that you get rid of the shame factor that so many people have placed on these experiences. This, I truly believe, will help other victims come forward and not be embarrassed or afraid to do so.

  23. Thank you for sharing your story. I know that it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there like that, and to even come to a point where you admit and acknowledge that the things that happened are real, and terrible. I have experienced very similar things, and while I have written about a lot of my story with abuse, this particular chapter I have yet to muster up the courage to tell. Reading this has helped me realize the importance of that. Maybe some day I will be able to really write about what happened. Thank you. – Joy

  24. I think this person is very brave sharing a traumatic story like that. Those statistics are so sad and shocking too.

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