There comes a time when you need to say things because staying silent eats you alive.

I was stationed in Northern Virginia in 2002 and was having a few birthday beers with three guys. I was dating one and two others were dudes that were into that Fast and Furious car scene I was in (in was 2002 and barely out of my teens). We were all in barracks near each other and we were having a great time. My ankle was sprained and I was on crutches.

The guy I was dating whispered in my ear and I giggled. The other two guys took umbrage that I was with him. They got aggressive with me and I decided to walk away.

Not long after I turned around to leave, my crutches were pulled from under me and I was pushed to the ground. One of the dudes taunted me while the other pinned me down and kissed me.

The guy I was dating was walking ahead when he heard my screams. He ran and pushed the guy off me. They fought. My guy got pretty beat up so I could get away.

The next day, the MPs were looking for me as a witness to the fight. I didn’t tell them what caused it because I knew I would get blamed. I tried to tell a woman leader in my company before I went to the police what happened, but she asked what I was wearing, why was I drinking, everything other than why some dudes thought it was okay to take my crutches and pin me down as I screamed for help.

For years, I never mentioned this. I took on the blame. I stayed silent because I didn’t want to be a “troublemaker” and be ostracized.

I’m saying something now because 12 years is long enough to keep that unfounded guilt. So many women and men have stayed silent and enough is enough.

I’ll say that this isn’t the worst thing that happened, but this is the most violent and vivid experiences I’ve had.

And it’s not my fault.