Breaking my Silence: Taking Back the Night

I was sexually assaulted when I was 17 years old.

I started being sexually harassed when I was only 13 years old.

A rumor started that I dressed for sexual attention.

A rumor started that I was easy and desperate.

A rumor started that I had sex with a sophomore in the backseat of his car.

I hadn’t even had my first kiss.

I tried not to let the rumors bother me, but they became harder to avoid when I started getting treated differently. I remember the first time a boy inappropriately touched me. I was walking up the main staircase of my high school and a boy came up behind me and grabbed my ass before walking past me. I acted like it never happened.  

I had my first heartbreak at age 16. I found out that he had made a bet with his best friend to see which one of them could sleep with me first. He broke things off with me when I told him I wasn’t ready for sex.

I still don’t feel comfortable talking about the night of my assault. We were supposed to just go out for frozen yogurt. We were supposed to just watch a movie. We were supposed to just kiss goodbye.

I acted like it never happened.

According to an article by the Kaiser Family Foundation, “young women experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault among all age groups. More than 22% of college women have been victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or threats of physical violence. Among women who have ever been raped, 30% were raped when they were between the ages of 11 and 17 and 37% were raped between the ages of 18 and 24.”

I never asked for the reputation I was given. I never asked for my breasts to be groped in the middle of a classroom, for my ass to become public property, or for my personal life to be broadcasted. I never asked to be sexually assaulted.

We need to have this conversation. We need to make women and men all over the world more aware of these issues. We need to make a change.

Take Back the Night is being hosted by Alpha Sigma Tau in Alumni Hall tomorrow night at 6:00 pm. It’s one night where people feel comfortable sharing their stories and opening up about an issue that’s prevalent all over the world. I’ll be there. You should, too.

Share my story. Share your own story. Let’s be supportive. Let’s be understanding.

Let’s be the start to the end of rape culture.