You will not silence us

What you have to say is always valid, no matter who it may concern and no matter how severe it may be. I think that is something we should all remember these days, before we start assuming and making up our own versions of what could have happened in certain situations.

Dr. Ford is a hero. She is someone all people should take a note from because she stood in a position of importance and power yet risked everything to make sure America knew exactly who they were trying to vote into one of the most coveted seats in the nation. What she felt standing up on that podium, I can only think I felt a sliver of when I walked into my high school counseling office with my friend ready to tell my story. What I do know for sure is I know exactly how she must have felt when the negative backlash began and she was called a liar.

I remember vividly sitting in my bathroom, tears coming down my face as I relived the night over and over again in my head. I felt helpless. I felt broken. I felt slutty. I felt defeated. I felt scared; I was 15 years old, I was somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be, and I was drinking alcohol. It all had to have been my fault I thought to myself. I also had a boyfriend and he knew what had happened and insisted on the idea of it all being my fault as well.

I called 1 person who ended up being my rock during the next few days and chaos that would ensue. I went to school the next day and I couldn’t face it. I found my friend and went directly into the counseling office and told her everything. I had been at a party and went home with 2 guys, one an ex-boyfriend and the other his friend. I fell asleep on the bean bag next to his bed and when I woke up he was on top of me, my pants were down, and he was already in the process of raping me. I remember looking around the room, my legs and arms were stiff, and I couldn’t move them even though I was trying so hard. My pink razor lit up with the words MOM across the ID window and I just watched it come and go, tears flowing, wishing I had stayed home that night. When he was done I laid there and cried myself to sleep. I woke up super early, sat next to my ex and he could tell I was upset. I asked him to take me home right away.

When I had finished giving my story, I was taken to the rape center and a rape kit was conducted as well as another interview where I retold my account of what happened. I wish that would have been the end of my bad dream, but it just got worse. The boy who raped me went to my high school and soon I was getting threatening phone calls from his girlfriend and friends calling me a liar, a slut, that I asked for it. I didn’t show up to school for 2 weeks after that, scared and hurt by what was going on. This person hurt me, he scared me for the rest of my life and yet I was the one being treated like I had committed a crime, but I only had told the truth. I think in those moments is when the real trauma set in. I realized my voice was not as powerful and accepted as people said it would be, so I shut down. I didn’t talk to anyone about it, I got put on depression medication that I inevitably abused, and I started cutting my wrists as a painful cry for help, for understanding.

The rest of my high school after that was brutal. Everyone knew what happened, and everyone knew he was never charged, so I had to be lying right? I became a “slut”, I became someone that people laughed at. I hid my hurt by being mean, and I reflected what I thought of myself by being promiscuous. I had no self-respect left, I had become what these people told me I was, and I was more broken than I had ever been in my life. My grades slipped, I quit soccer and my depression was on the rise. I almost became uncontrollable as I rebelled and hurt the ones I loved around me. I decided that I would never say anything if something like that was to occur again, no way was I going through that again.

These tendencies followed me for a very long time as I refused to deal with the situation that I thought had ruined my life. I dealt with (and still do) anger issues and controlling my rage as well as a horrid co-dependency on men and I latched onto each of my boyfriends for dear life. It wasn’t until the fall of 2016 that I walked into a counseling center and decided to face my demons straight in the face, and it has honestly been life changing. This person believed me, they held my hand as I cried about the repercussions that I faced daily because of that trauma and they comforted me in a way that I didn’t think was possible.

It’s been 11 years. People know the story, but do they know how their words and actions almost drove a young girl to suicide? How their accusations of me being a liar sent me into years of self-harm, confusion and sadness? It took 15 minutes to rape me, and it’s taken 11 years to be able to rebuild my life, say exactly how it impacted me and how hurt my young self was.

With this I want to remind everyone it is not your place to assume someone’s guilt or innocence, especially someone who has been the victim of sexual abuse, BUT it is your responsibility as a human-being to be a light for those people and create an environment that they feel safe in reveling these horrible tragedies.

Encourage people to SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT and give them the reassurance that if things did go south, their truth will always be just that, the truth.

Be kind, always.