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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CWU chapter.

TW: Sexual Assault, Rape

 At 22 years old, I was raped. I was vulnerable, ashamed, and beaten down as a person. You always question what could I have done to not be in that situation? Was it all my fault? Your mind instantly flips a switch and turns you as the faulted rather than letting you feel that you are rightfully a victim in a horrible time. I never thought I would go through anything like this. Here’s the tumultuous turn of events in my early 20s. 

The typical way for meeting people has been through dating apps. I downloaded Tinder and matched with a guy who seemed decent, clean-cut, and wanted to date people just like the rest of us. I went on a date, and it went great, very talkative, fun, and I figured let’s see where this goes. We continued to go on dates, and he would ask, “when are you going to be my girlfriend?” I wasn’t ready and I wanted to take a different approach from the past and not jump in too quickly. He seemed to respect my answer until he got pushy. Finally stupid me, I caved one night, maybe I should just let the walls down and decided to put a label on it, even when in the back of my mind the red flags were popping up. How do I push the red so far back that it turns to green and feel okay with a decision I felt cornered to make? 

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As time went on, I felt stuck, he was nice, but things just got weird. His mom got involved and made me super uncomfortable with how she talked to me to the point that she even sent me selfies of herself laying on his bed at his house. What actual hell am I in? I tried to ignore it considering we had booked a trip to the Oregon Coast. That was just a couple of weeks away. The worst part was, that I couldn’t get out of it even if I wanted to. I had booked most of the trip under my name and it was non-refundable with how close to the time it was. There goes $600 of my own money that was left to me by my father, I’m sure he was shaking his head at me. I went over to his house a few nights before we were about to head to the coast, and he was getting forceful and just downright mean. He made me feel like I was an object and not a person. He pinned me down took off my pants and forced his way. I was traumatized. I screamed several times to get off and all he could keep saying was just to “let it happen, it’s fine, just relax.” I was anything but relaxed. I finally got enough strength to force myself to throw him off me, throw my pants on so quickly and bolt out the door. I fumbled with my keys to unlock my car and just started bawling my eyes out. It was 3 a.m. and all I could do was try to drive home and hope to not wake my mom. I had no idea what to do. I had to push it deep back in my head and ignore what just happened. I had to be stuck with him for three days. 

The trip was just the nail in the coffin. We arrived first in Portland, and I was immediately told that by the way this trip isn’t for you, it’s for me to repair relationships with some of my family members. I was trying not to cry or puke my brains out. I had paid for everything, the hotels, dinners shopping and what I got in return was abuse, mentally, emotionally and physically.  I told myself I had two more days, please lord just two more days. I tried to put on a front that I was fine, and I was having fun. Deep inside I wanted to scream and cry, what kind of monster am I involved with?

When we finally made it home to Wenatchee, I looked him dead in the eyes and I said, don’t you ever come back here, lose my number, lose everything that is tied to me. You are a pathetic excuse of a man. I’m not a sex toy for your enjoyment. I’m a woman that is now bruised and battered by your personality. For months and months, I told no one what happened to me. I finally had opened up to a few of my friends that had just come back from college, and they just looked at me and wondered why I didn’t say anything, I felt ashamed, and to be honest they were miles and miles away, there was nothing they could do. I never felt like I had a voice to say anything until I realized I should have pressed charges. Note to self, never feel like you have a gag order sentenced on you just because you’re a woman victimized by trauma like rape and abuse. 

To the girl who has gone through something like this, you’re not alone. Don’t ever feel like it’s your fault. Listen to yourself when the red flags fly, don’t push them back. The one thing I learned is that through this I listen to myself more, I trust my instincts, and I learn when to back away. You have a voice, use it, sweetheart.  Show your strength.