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CONTENT WARNING: This story contains detailed description of sexual assault.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, there is help available. At TCU, call the 24/7 confidential counseling helpline at 817-257-7233 or contact Confidential Advocate Ms. Leah Carnahan at l.carnahan@tcu.edu or 817-257-5225. You can also call the national sexual assault hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

 

When I got the email about writing an anonymous article for Her Campus for sexual assault awareness month, it almost felt like divine timing. I’ve never talked about my assault to anyone, but now I’ve realized that I have the strength and power to tell my own story and reclaim my trauma. This is my story of being a sexual assault survivor.

My story starts in August. My assaulter reached out to me and asked to meet up with me one more time to fully apologize for all the manipulation and lies; to “make-up before he left for school.” I believed his pure intentions and followed with pure intentions—he did not. 

I remember the car ride there, listening to “Pink Frost” by The Chills, thinking this was my first real experience as a college student. It was my Lady Bird moment. No parents to track me and tell me I’m out too late, no fear in my body as to what would happen next. I got to the parking garage and texted my roommate that I had made it there safe, and she told me to text her when on my way back to the dorm. I was assaulted in the backseat five minutes later, and she had no idea. 

I remember leaving the parking garage and thinking I am never seeing him ever again. My body was in physical pain. I felt dirty. I felt empty. I felt uncomfortable sitting in my own body. But through all of these feelings, I couldn’t put a finger onto why I felt like this. I texted one of my close friends the day after, telling her that I felt disposable. I was still in contact with my assaulter for about three weeks after the incident until I started dating my boyfriend, who had no idea what my assaulter did to me until I told him in September.

 When I told him what had happened to me on the day we had our “unofficial first date,” he made me realize that what I felt and what my assaulter did wasn’t normal or something to just brush over—it was assault. I remember lying in my bed awake at 3 a.m. a few weeks after I told him, sobbing because I had realized the severity of what happened to me. I was manipulated, I was taken advantage of, I felt like an object of a boy’s sexual pleasure, and it truly took a decline on my self-worth and the way I perceived love. 

 


notes app text
Anonymous

From my notes app, February 3, 2021.

 

Jumping from my trauma to my boyfriend affected my relationship more than I ever imagined. I thought I was strong enough to just move on and “forget about what happened to me,” but I couldn’t subconsciously put those pieces together. My boyfriend and I’s relationship took a decline; we couldn’t stop fighting, I felt sick any time I tried to have sex, I was extremely depressed, I became irritable at everything, I let little mishaps absolutely consume me, and I became the most anxious version of myself I’ve ever seen. I wanted to pin all of my issues on starting birth control because I didn’t want to bring up the repressed trauma I had from my assault. Recently, I found this statement in my notes app, detailing how “I wish there was a way to forget it ever happened.” 

 


notes app text
Anonymous

From my notes app, March 12, 2021. 

    

My boyfriend and I recently talked about how skipping over the healing process for my assault isn’t healthy, and it’s taken a toll on both of us. My boyfriend came to me at a vulnerable time and was automatically there to make me feel better about trauma he never even knew about. I thought I didn’t need a healing period because he was my healing period, and, in retrospect, I realized how dangerous that was for us. I never realized how much it hurt him to know my depression had gotten so bad because of it. He feels like he can’t help me—and it hurts to know that I feel as if I wasn’t strong enough to get over it on my own. It hurts to know that we both developed body image issues because we hadn’t had an intimate connection with each other in months. It hurt to know my trauma was trauma for him too. 

I finally took the step that I’ve been needing by getting professional help to solve the underlying issues within myself. I won’t lie—asking for help is hard, and it almost feels debilitating, but a strong support system helps more than I could’ve ever imagined. I recently told all of my close friends about my assault, and I was met with unmatched support through this entire process. They helped with everything: taking the first steps to getting a therapist, daily check-ins, and even telling me that it’s okay and normal to be medicated for anxiety. 

There’s a lot of things I’m going to have to unlearn in my brain before I’m fully recovered from this event. Recovery is not linear; there will be bad days. But there’s a lot of things I’ve come to realize over these past two weeks of self-reflection. Go outside and feel the sun hit your skin because you’re here, in this exact moment, to tell your story. Seeking help is the bravest thing you can do for yourself, never forget it. Lastly, be more kind to yourself and let go of all guilt—you are never to blame. 

I know that this testimonial and tips may not help reverse the pain that someone caused you. But I’m hoping my story helps someone realize that you can set yourself free after the pain, even if it takes months to realize.

 

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