My story is from 26 years ago. I was 17 and a junior in high school. He was new to the school: a star athlete and a bit of a bad boy. Deep down I knew that I probably should not date him, but he was exciting, and he chose me. I lacked confidence and self-esteem and was happy to get the attention from someone that so many people in our school were talking about. We dated for a few months and were intimate several times. He started to play on my lack of confidence and started to tell me that I was fat and ugly but was great in bed and that was the only way that I would ever get a boyfriend. I believed him.
I found out that he was cheating on me and I decided to break up with him. I told my mom that I was going to his house to break up with him in person and she told me that I should just call him. For whatever reason, I wanted to tell him face-to-face that I was done. I felt that I was being strong and standing up for myself by going to tell him in person.
After I told him, he threw me on the bed. I screamed and cried as he ripped off my pants. He raped me as tears poured down my face. I kept thinking about my mom and how she had told me not to go to his house. . . she was right. I had made a HUGE mistake. I could have avoided this. This was all my fault I thought. I left his house feeling dirty. I left his house feeling shame. I left his house knowing that I had gone against my mom and set myself up to be attacked.
My teen and early twenties were rough. I drank, a lot. I continued to believe that I was only good for sex and was way too free with my body. I regret so much of what I did. I regret not realizing sooner that I had so much more to offer a man and that I deserved to be treated with respect. I spent way too much of my life not knowing my own value.
Twenty-six years later I am happily married to an amazing man and have a happy family, but I will never forget that one day that changed my life. I have never “come out” as I was convinced for so long that I deserved what happened to me. I put myself in that position and it was my fault. I also never want all my poor decisions to be made public. I know that if all of those men from my early years came forward, nobody would believe my story. “She was a slut, a whore, slept around” would be the horrible things that my children would have to hear. Why would I ever do that?? Why would I ever put myself out there for the world to judge? Why would I want every detail of my life to be examined by people that know nothing about me?
Every single time a woman gets the courage to come forward and tell her story and is drug through the mud, I realize that staying quiet is my only option. However, I also wonder every day how many women were raped after me. How many women could I have saved had I spoke out. I feel guilty that I did nothing to stop their attack. The messed up truth is that there is never a good option for victims like me. If you come forward, your life is torn apart by those that don’t know you. If you don’t come forward your life is torn apart by the inner voice that calls you a coward for not speaking out. To every single person that is wondering if they should speak out, please know that I stand with you regardless if you decide to speak out or keep it inside. Please know that you are not alone, you deserve to be treated with respect, I understand, and I BELIEVE YOU!
Resources for the Victims of Sexual Assault
Editor’s Note: This is obviously a tough topic, but one that we may need to address with our children at some point. If you are someone you know have been the victim of sexual assault, LAFASA is an excellent resource in our area. They provide a hotline, can provide legal assistance and more. You can visit their website for more information or visit a center in our area. St. Tammany and Washington Parish both have accredited centers. For those living in Tangipahoa parish, they should call the state hotline for more assistance. All of this information is available on their website.