I felt that if I admitted to what happened, others would blame me as well.
So I never spoke a word of it to anyone.
And that blame and guilt led to years of bad decisions and self loathing. And depression. I felt undeserving and worthless. I was unable to finish school. I dropped out not long after. I almost failed every single one of my classes, where before I had been a great student. I moved away.
I pushed away my closest friend and roomate at the time who was such a kind and caring person. She had been worried about me going to see him in the first place. I just couldn’t say the words out loud for fear that I would be judged and blamed and labeled a slut. Or easy. Or a whore.
Because that type of shaming happened back then just as much as it happens now. Except we didn’t have twitter, or facebook, or text messaging. Or access to the internet. We just had word of mouth.
I was unable to find the strength to accomplish my dreams and goals I had envisioned as an excited 19 year old young woman embarking upon her life’s journey. I had wanted to become a journalist.
Instead I lost my way. My focus. It was years later that I would get it back.
My sense of self worth was demolished. I just didn’t care. I acted out in other ways because I just couldn’t process the humiliation I felt inside.
That humiliation is a disease. A black hole that swallows you up- drowning your spark and killing your spirit.
Jane Doe is a strong woman. At the age of 16, she is able to push aside that fear, the shame, the absolute horror and gut wrenching acceptance of that fateful night and face her rapists and make sure they are prosecuted. And they will be. Although not harshly enough, in my personal opinion.
It is because of her strength, I can come forward with my own story. I am 36. She is 16. And she is inspiring women all over the world by standing up and fighting back.
At 36, I am just now able to talk about the events that ended up shaping almost a decade of my young adulthood.
At 16- she has taken such a difficult and amazing step towards saving herself.
I am amazed at her strength. And I send so many positive thoughts and prayers her way.
And I want to tell her…thank you. Thank you for standing up. I can imagine how difficult it was to make this public. I can imagine the pain and humiliation you endured upon realizing exactly what happened. And I’m sorry you had to go through that. But thank you for being strong. For fighting back. And for inspiring others.
I have a daughter. This story has opened a vault of painful memories for me, yes, but I feel I need to share it for my own daughter’s sake, for my family, my sisters, and for all of the young girls who make the decision to drink too much and may find themselves in an unfathomable situation where they cannot defend themselves from an assault.
Drinking irresponsibly is a bad decision, yes. And it can lead to bad situations, sometimes.
But it does not allow consent for anyone to be violated. Assaulted. Raped.
It is not your fault.