My hands are shaking as I write. I’m petrified because writing this down means acknowledging what I have been running away from for three years as truth. It means finally accepting a part of my past as fact; it actually happened.
Every fiber in my body is screaming and I am expecting the absolute worst reaction, but nevertheless, here I am.
I'm not here because I enjoy revisiting or writing about what happened to me, but because it’s a story that needs to be told, and I am willing to accept the ramifications that come with the territory.
I’m hoping that by standing up and telling my story, I will inspire others to do the same.
Stories in which victims prosecute their perpetrators are widely publicized, but you rarely hear stories about those who stayed silent. I stayed silent until now, and I’m writing this to show that even staying silent has its own consequences.
Almost four years ago, three men molested me. I did nothing about it, and not a day goes by I don’t regret staying silent.
I was raised in a household in which being a victim was not an option. I was under the impression that crying showed weakness and dwelling on the past screwed up the future.
I was taught to take responsibility for my actions and never blame someone else or other factors for my life.
Whenever I was upset, I was told not to waste time on things I could not change, which is why when three men pinned me on my bed, touched me and verbally harassed me, I didn’t do anything about it
I went to a rape clinic the next day and they suggested getting the DNA swabbed so I could press charges; I mulled it over while I talked to a few of my close friends.
Their responses made me feel like they wanted to be there for me, but didn't want to get involved.
I felt as though everyone was watching me try to get out of a glass box, but no one was trying to help. I felt more alone then than I ever had before.
I felt like reporting what had happened would cause more harm than good. I believed I would become not only a victim, but a victim with a spotlight.
I began to feel guilty for having the intent to ruin these men’s lives. I was conditioned to believe I would be part of the media frenzy surrounding this issue and I would then turn into a hyper-generalized victim.
I didn’t want to be seen by anyone as weak, which is why I decided against the DNA test and against pressing charges. I tried to move on and put it behind me like I did with everything for the first 18 years of my life.
Unfortunately, even though I felt like I had put it behind me and moved on, it had and still has a hold on my mentality. To this day, there are still certain things that trigger me to panic.
If someone I don't know well makes any sort of physical contact, I shy away and freak out. I became numb to dating and felt as though I would never be able to maintain a healthy relationship.
As time went on, I began my journey to becoming motivational speaker. After I finished a speech, I would feel an overwhelming burst of anxiety and anger.
The fact that the men who harmed me were still out there and able to harm others continually sparks a pang of overwhelming guilt within me.
What if one of these men or more men like them hurt one of the students to whom I spoke? I don't want the men who hurt me, and all men like them, to roam the streets free.
My entire demeanor began to change and instead of having a trusting mentality, I became wary of anyone who tried to get close to me.
I began to believe every single male with whom I came in contact was only interested in sleeping with me.
Fast forward to now: I am in a healthy relationship and continue to speak to children, but that pang of guilt is still there.
It took me until recently to realize my desire to stay quiet did not keep me from being a victim. Instead of standing up and possibly being a role model, I became another statistic.
Although it is too late to press charges with my case, every day I regret not standing up for myself and all the other silent victims.
Almost half of my close friends were raped or taken advantage of sexually during college, but no one reported it.
Sexual harassment is an issue that is not taken seriously as it should be, but I am hoping that by coming out with my story, I can inspire others to speak up like I am doing now.
“Boys will be boys” is no longer a valid excuse. If we all told our stories and started standing up for ourselves, we could raise awareness to a whole new level.
So, I ask you, let’s take a stand together. Share my story; share your story.
Let's fight this together.