In Their Own Words
These are the stories of sexual assault & violence survivors told in their own words.

Survivor Stories Shared

age at first assault: 5 years
On the outside, no one knew what was going on… But on the inside, I was dying.

The touching started when I was almost 6. He was 14. It lasted for 9 years. I lost my virginity in my garage when I was 8. I bled so much. I thought I had started my period. I had no idea that I was too young for that and couldn’t understand why it only happened then. After I lost my virginity, it happened more frequently. Almost every day for a couple years.

He made me believe no one was ever going to love me like he loved me. At first, I thought the touching was normal. Didn’t everyone do this? I saw it as a gesture of love. As I got older, I realized it wasn’t. For a time, I really fought it, but he would always win, even if it meant pinning me down and forcing himself on me.

When I was 10 years old, he made me believe I was the only one. When I turned 18, we were going to get married and run away together. He was 18 at the time and moved away soon after. I was crushed. For years I watched him in relationships, get married, have a baby, and still come back to me and tell me things would change once I turned 18. He just had to live his life until then. I never truly knew how to feel or what to think. I felt like a secret in the background, and I never really mattered.

When I was 15, someone close to me figured out what was going on and convinced me to press charges. I didn’t want to, but I knew I had to. The abuse didn’t just happen to me, but to others and I saw it firsthand. I was forced to watch as he did this to others close to me. I couldn’t let this happen to anyone else.

It took a long time for me to talk about it. To accept what had been done to me and to close that chapter in my book. For a lot of my life, I believed the abuse was my fault. I was made to believe this, until one day my therapist asked me, “How does an 8-year-old turn anyone on?” Once I heard this, the healing began.

age at first assault: 18 years
i was 18. it was a casual party. i’d never had a proper issue with a man. never. that night, i remember looking at my phone and seeing it was exactly 11 pm after taking a sip of the drink he gave me. he told me i looked pretty. i remember saying thank you, but also feeling uncomfortable by his presence. i moved toward the dance floor. i soon started losing my vision. at first, i thought it was my low iron levels. he had followed me, and as i turned, i lost my balance. he caught me. i told him I wanted to go home. i couldn’t see to dial my phone, so i asked him to dial my mother for me. it was a matter of only 15 minutes before this drug took over my body. i remember crying, saying “i can't walk”. it was a nightmare that i kept trying to wake up from, but couldn’t.

he picked me up and told me “you’ll be okay,” and took me to his bedroom. i knew what was about to happen, but at this stage, i was powerless. i couldn’t talk. i couldn’t form the words. i couldn’t even say “no.” i remember tears rolling down my face as i laid there powerless to stop him. as he used my body for his own pleasure. and, i remember it hurt – a burning type of pain. no matter how hard i tried, i couldn’t keep my eyes open. i passed out.

it was 4:15 am when i woke up, in the worst kind of pain – the pain from someone forcing themselves into your body. the pain of the guilt and shame. the pain of being scared of every man i'd ever meet from then on.

there was blood on the sheets. barely able to walk, my ankles bruised from the way he held them so tight so i wouldn’t run or move (despite the fact that i physically couldn’t). i fumbled for my phone and called my best friend. i couldn’t get out to the road fast enough, waiting for my friend to pick me up. she jumped out of the car, keys still in the ignition. she looked at me, mascara running down my cheeks, hair in a bundle, bite marks on my left thigh and bruises on my right. she just hugged me. the second her arms were around me, i knew i would be okay.

after that night, i had every reason to be afraid… afraid to walk down the street at night. afraid for my sisters and future daughters. afraid to show too much skin or to drink near boys. i’m 18. i have a basic right to be allowed to drink, party, and wear whatever i want, walk whenever and wherever i want. yet it was stolen from me, the day he chose to force himself upon me – inside me.

what i still can’t understand are the things people say. “what were you wearing?”
“you were showing cleavage, what do you expect?” and, “maybe it’s because you looked really pretty!” is that supposed to be a compliment? that i looked rapable?

those types of comments only distract from the real problem. i – and every other woman – should be able to walk around with no clothes on and still be treated with dignity. people should still have the human decency to keep their hands to themselves. clothes ARE NOT the issue here. the issue is people who think clothes equal consent… they DO NOT!

i felt so unheard. i kept my story to myself for a while because i was made to believe i was the problem. “maybe i shouldn’t have worn that…”

no. the reality is he shouldn’t have raped me.