Her Story: Sexual Assault -- the Story of a Survivor

Editor's note: The following story is a true memoir from Alishea, an HC at Oregon State staff member. These words are completely hers, and it was her idea to share her story. We encourage those who can relate to Alishea to take her advice and to get help and regain control. Whether you were able to say "no" or not, it wasn't your fault.

I mumbled to myself I trusted you. I cared about you. I loved you. How could you ever do something like this to me?

At least one in every four women will be a victim of sexual assault in their college career, and about two thirds of assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. Imagine sitting next to four girls, and at least one of them on average has been sexually assaulted or unfortunately will be a victim. One of the most staggering ideas of sexual assault is that many people do not realize that a significant other can actually sexually assault you, even if you are in a relationship with them. This is what happened to me.

For about a year I dated a guy who I thought was my soulmate. He surrounded me with compliments, his faith was strong like mine and he overall treated me like I was a queen. Then one day things began to change. He became secretive and would constantly lie to me. He began to tear me down with negative comments every day, only to try and tell me he loved me still. He destroyed me emotionally and mentally. I thought so poorly of myself, and when I found out he was cheating on me, I stupidly stayed with him.

Many people do not understand why girls stay in relationships with guys who begin to become abusive. But, what many people do not understand is that the power these guys have over you makes it seem like you are nothing without them. You are trapped in this relationship, in a downward spiral, with nowhere to escape. This is how I felt.

Many months went by with me trying to break up with him but ending up slipping right back into this toxic relationship. I was no longer myself and I did anything he told me to do. I didn’t believe that my family or friends cared about me because he convinced me that the only person who would ever love me was him.

One day he decided to surprise me and come visit. I was so excited to see him after months of not being able to. But the moment I saw him, I got that feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach when you know something just isn’t right. Ignoring my instincts, I let him take me to a park so we could catch up.

The very moment that we were alone he began to take control of me. He said he loved me over and over, trying to convince me to have sex with him. In the end, no matter what I said, no matter how many times I said "no," and no matter the tears streaming down my face, it didn’t matter. He did what he wanted to do with me. That day something so precious was taken away. The essence of who I was and my innocence was stolen.

Like most girls I blamed myself. I went back and forth saying things about how it must have been my fault, I was stupid for not trusting my gut instinct, and how maybe it was sex and not sexual assault. For girls out there who are thinking the same things, you are wrong! It was not your fault. It wasn’t because of what you were wearing or maybe because you were drunk. If you said no, then you didn’t want it. There is no if and's or but's about it. No matter what, it is not your fault!

For me this was the hardest thing to get over. For about six months I ignored that it happened and fought with myself every day to shove what happened to the back of my mind. And then one day it all just came spilling out.

Since that day I have grown so much. I will not say it is not difficult, because it really is. Almost every night his image still haunts me in my sleep. But by opening up and telling my story I have become empowered and have taken this horrible experience and tried to use it to help and encourage other girls who are in the same position. I have gone to counseling and even wrote a lot of poetry about it. And, just recently, I even reported it.

My message to girls who have gone through this is this: it is not your fault! No matter what, do not blame yourself or what you were wearing for why someone took advantage of you. Also, keep your head up because yes, there are days that are so hard to get through, but then there are days that you feel so empowered because you are opening up about a tough situation. Open up and talk to someone about it. Do not just hold it in, because it can destroy you inside.

I can honestly say that I am not fine and it will take a lot more healing before I am completely okay. But, if this story helps just one person out there, then my job is complete, and I know I did not suffer for nothing. Remember, it is not your fault no matter what!