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I hated looking in the mirror. I couldn’t stand to look myself in the eye; I was afraid to see the emptiness there. 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 wasn’t raped; a sexual assault doesn’t necessarily include rape.

But I said no, and he didn’t listen. I said no so many times, and he never listened.

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 him at the pool through a mutual friend. He made me laugh, and I found him attractive. It was the first time that I felt attracted to a guy since my ex-boyfriend had dumped me three months before.

Days later, I saw him again. We joked around and he asked for my number so we could hang out that night. I figured, why not? I needed to get over my ex and put myself out there. I gave him my number. Hours later he texted me and asked me to hang out, like he’d said he would. I told him to meet me at my dorm and we went for a walk.

We sat at my favorite place across the river, talking and getting to know each other. In the middle of talking about missing home, he kissed me. I was stunned, and told him he was only allowed to kiss me when I was done talking. So he asked if I was done talking, and I said yes. He grabbed me and kissed me again. I felt the chemistry, the hunger and desire in his kisses. I also felt how strong he was through his motions: grabbing me and not letting go. I had butterflies… Whether it was from the kisses in the cold weather or because I was attracted to him, I couldn’t tell.

It started to get very cold sitting on the concrete steps across the river, so we walked back to my dorm room. When we got to my room we decided to put a movie on.  Next thing I knew we were making out again, and he started to pull at my clothes. It was his attempt to get me naked. I told him no. I ended up completely topless that night; he was naked. While we made out, he kept telling me how he wanted to f**k me. I had never felt more uncomfortable in my life. I ended up going to third base with him to avoid having sex with him. He left after laying with me for 15 minutes, telling me how he would keep in touch over break.

That was the night I got the first bruise. I didn’t think anything of it, because I was easily able to hide it. I didn’t think of him or our night together negatively. I figured he didn’t mean to bruise me and that it was an accident. I figured it was just chemistry and hormones that caused the night to be so intense. I didn’t want to think of him as a bad guy, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. The bruise was big, right on the inside of my thigh. It was as purple as a plum, too.

He called me over break, and I really thought he was a keeper — someone who had potential… Then, once we got back to school, things got bad.

Night after night he would invite himself over to my dorm room to hang out and watch movies. We never watched more than 10 minutes of the movie, though, because night after night, he always tried to have sex with me, and I was always telling him no. Morning after morning I would wake up finding more and more bruises on my body because of him.

He was rough and demanding in all his physical actions. Grabbing me to move a certain way, squeezing a part of my body to cooperate with what he wanted done. I had bruises on my stomach, legs, ribs, hips, and arms. It began to become a struggle to hide them. It got worse when I had my friends and residents ask me why I kept getting bruises everywhere. I started to lie. My friends and residents weren’t aware of him, nor were they aware of what was happening between us. When they saw the bruises, they would stare at them and ask what happened. I began to tell them I tripped, or I bumped into the door or the wall. Simple lies that would make sense to anyone who knew me; I’m clumsy.  

The worst night, the night I have nightmares about, was the last night. He was in full attack mode: he was more aggressive, grabbing and pulling me immediately, and he wouldn’t stop telling me how bad he wanted to f**k me. “No” wasn’t going to stop him that night. I just had this gut feeling that he wouldn’t listen; he wasn’t listening. He would just push and move me the way he wanted. Within a half hour he had his clothes off and was working on getting my sweat pants off; up until then, I had been able to keep them on. I figured if I did whatever he said, did everything else he wanted, I would be able to prevent him from having sex with me.

I guess he felt that he was owed it that night; that he deserved to have sex with me.

I remember moving from the couch to my bed, something I never do with any guy. I remember lying on my bed under him with just my underwear on. I remember begging him to leave them on. I kept telling him to leave them on, please I want them on, and I don’t feel comfortable without them. I said no, I said “no” so many times in those moments on my bed before he took them off. I remember him above me, naked, laughing as he was telling me how bad he wanted to f**k me, how he needed to, how good it would feel for the both of us. He would whisper in my ear how bad he wanted to. I kept saying no. Then he said something I will never forget: “If I put my d**k in you now that would be considered rape.” He laughed, as if it was a joke to him.

I remember lying there, afraid of him. I didn’t know what to do to get him to leave my room. I was afraid to tell him to go. I didn’t know how I would go about asking him to leave. I felt that whatever reason I came up with, he would claim it to be B.S. Naked and afraid, I have never felt more vulnerable and self-conscious in my life. I did anything he asked, anything to make him satisfied and make him leave. Satisfying him wasn’t enough for him that night, though; he needed to have his hands all over my body. I felt violated. He touched me in places I told him not to. He forced me down and I knew I was going to wake up with so many marks on my body. I was afraid to know how bad the damage was going to be. I wasn’t strong enough to do anything.

He touched me, and kept touching me, and all I did was say no over and over again. Eventually, after making me satisfy him again for a second time, he left.

That was the last night I had him over, and the first night I couldn’t sleep. I stayed up all night crying. I stayed in my room all day, ignoring calls from everyone, including my family. I skipped class and didn’t leave my room or answer the door for anyone. I counted the bruises on my body. 11.

I looked at myself in the mirror. I hated myself. I yelled at myself. How was I this stupid? Why didn’t he listen? You’re an idiot, I told myself. You didn’t really know him. You’re stupid for thinking he even liked you. How can you live with yourself?

I became depressed. I’m a girl who loves being busy, socializing with many groups of people, and I’m always willing to do fun, exciting things. The days and weeks following that final night with him, though, I isolated myself. I didn’t feel like myself; it was like the real me was lost. I would go through the motions every day and just sit around waiting to feel like myself again. I would sit and think of that night over and over again. I would look at the bruises on my body. I would think dark thoughts and want to hurt myself for being so dumb that night. I knew better; why didn’t I do anything? A question I still cannot answer.

What if he hadn’t stopped that night, what if he had had sex with me? I don’t think I would have stopped him, nor would I have been able to stop him. I don’t know how I would have. I don’t think I would have told anyone, either.

My co-worker found me in my room that night sitting on my floor, feeling as lifeless as I wished I was. I cried all over again. She saw the bruises, all 11. She waited and waited some more until I told her everything: from start to finish, every thought I had, including my most intimate ones about being depressed and wanting to hurt myself. I even told her how if he had had sex with me, I wouldn’t have told anyone.

My co-worker and I had been through a lot in the short amount of time we’d spent together. Besides living with one another and overseeing a hallway full of freshman residents, we had become each other’s persons (think Christina Yang and Meredith Grey in Grey’s Anatomy). We began to have a trusting relationship and spoke about our hopes and dreams, being excited for one another whenever great things happened and consoling one another when bad things happened. After the assault, she listened to my story and helped me find myself again. She would hang out in my room and listen to me talk and vent, and she would get meals with me and introduce me to her friends. Slowly but surely, she helped me find myself again, something I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own. If it wasn’t for my co-worker, I don’t know if I would have gotten better. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have realized that what happened with him was considered sexual assault. If it wasn’t for my co-worker, I wouldn’t be sharing my story now.

11 bruises in one night. Over 20 bruises from all the nights I spent with him. Four boxes of tissues. One broken mirror. Five months of nightmares about him that I still have every night.

It took me 161 days to be able to admit this fact:

I am a victim of sexual assault, and this is my story.

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