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Life Her Story

Over the last four weeks, I have straddled the equator line, zip-lined through a rainforest on the edge of the Amazon and climbed to 15,780 feet above sea level on Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. I took 80 hours of intensive Spanish, learned how to make Ecuadorian soup with shrimp and plantain "meatballs" and had my first fluid and coherent conversation in another language. But six months ago, I was sitting in a cubicle at a desk job in relative misery, anxious, heartbroken and depressed. So let me start from the beginning. I went to college at Northeastern...
"Come to dinner with me," David* said. It wasn’t a request. I was packing up to go home after working an eight hour Friday shift at my college's IT Help Desk, as I would’ve any other day. At least, until that moment. "Excuse me?" I spluttered in response, utterly confused. David was my boss: 22 years old and looming over me as I gaped at his crossed arms and smug expression. "You should come to dinner with me." This was not happening. This. Was. Not. Happening. "In what context?" I played dumb to buy myself a few seconds. Anything that would give me even the slightest bit of extra time to...
I hated looking in the mirror. I couldn’t stand to look myself in the eye; I was afraid to see the emptiness in them. I hated to look at myself knowing what happened, what I let happen. I was afraid of finding another bruise on my body.  I was afraid of the reality of my situation. I was sexually assaulted. I was not raped; a sexual assault does not necessarily include rape. I said “no” and he didn’t listen. I said “no” so many times, and he didn’t listen. It began right before winter break. There was still a handful of people left on campus before we all got to go home. I was introduced to...