"A childhood friend who I hadn't seen
in years raped me at a college party. Since I knew him and his
family I trusted him when he offered to drive me back to my dorm
room. What started out as a nightcap turned into a nightmare as he
forced himself on me; when it was over I felt paralyzed with fear
and speechless. I couldn't believe this happened to me.
Conversations with myself raced
through my mind, like "you should have yelled or fought
harder," and "this is all your fault." These toxic thoughts
multiplied and played over and over in my head like a broken record
until I thought I was going crazy.
My roommate came home to me crying on
the floor. After what seemed like hours of trying to comfort me,
she finally called the Summit County 24-hour Rape Crisis hotline.
She convinced me to take the phone and tell my story. I'm so glad I
did. I couldn't have gotten through this without them.
This was the beginning of my bumpy
road to recovery. The Rape Crisis advocate calmly and gently
listened without judging me, believed my story and told me I was
not alone. She stated it was not my fault, something I desperately
needed to hear. She gave me information about acquaintance rape and
the different choices I could make. She told me I could go to
the hospital and have an exam done within 96 hours of the assault
for free and that someone from The Rape Crisis Center like her
would be there for support and education. I didn't have to tell
anyone if I chose not too. I felt better knowing I had choices.
It's been two years since this
happened to me. I've since graduated from college and am looking
for work in the social services field. While the road remains
slightly bumpy at times, I can truly say, talking with the rape
crisis center hotline advocate helped get me off the floor and
moving in a positive direction."
"I was seventeen, he was older, a trusted friend, my best friend.
He raped me. Afterward I heard from friends, "you misinterpreted
his actions", and "Jerry would never do that," and I believed them;
more than myself, more than my senses, more than the bruises on my
arms. I disowned my words, did not believe that I said, "no". For a
long time there was a gap in myself--I believed that Jerry
couldn't, Jerry didn't. I believed "I did." What exactly "I did"
meant was never clear to me--was as fuzzy as my memories of the
series of events, leading up to "no, no...Stop!" And then time
unaccounted for, feelings of floating above my body, detached
emotions. This detachment ended at 21, when I saw him again. He was
on the make, she looked seventeen. I froze, when I heard his voice.
I was gone. Back to seventeen, back to the night, back to the room,
back to the futon mattress, back to the moment, when I heard myself
pleading, No, No...Stop! I shook down to my core. All color
from my face, all my courage gone. But this time, the moment ended.
Again, I reached for close friends, this time receiving a different
response--condemning his actions instead of questioning mine.
Offering support, loving kindness and hope that I could find peace
with what happened to me.
Healing is work, and a slow process.
It has its stumbles and hurdles, and moments of finding deeper
understanding, joy and new strength, the strength to believe my own
story, to hear the truth, be present and listen to myself. The
strength to speak out.
Fast forward: I am 24, attending my first "Take Back the Night". I
wear my lime green volunteer shirt with pride. When the opportunity
arises I stand, tell my truth and speak out. 45 minutes later Jerry
is there, he walks past me, and I freeze, but do not look away. It
feels entirely unreal that he would be here, but also not (what
better place to look for targets that among those once victimized).
I stand there shocked but I let him see me in my lime green shirt
and I do not shy away. Police are called. Jerry is told to go about
his business on campus and leave the event. I feel a rising sense
of embodiment that I have taken back something for myself; a piece
of personal power, mine again.
I am now 27! I started writing this in
2006 and since then have struggled with one part: an
ending. This is in its own way fitting. There is no end
to my story. I continue to run into Jerry in various
places. My experiences as a victim and survivor continue to
unfold. And I continue to heal."