At first I thought my purpose was going to be to educate incoming college students about rape and sexual assault.
I thought that I could keep my essay objective and add plenty of logos. However, as soon as I started to remember what happened to me, I knew that would be impossible. At that moment, I realized that the purpose of this essay was for me to learn about myself and help others through my experience.
For five years I have suppressed those memories completely. Therefore, the purpose of the essay was for me to be open about what happened to me for the first time in a long time, and I am beyond grateful for that. It was like a weight lifted off of my shoulders.
I thought that in order to tailor this essay to an audience of incoming college students I would have to add statistics and lessons about rape, but to be honest I think I still got my point across simply through my story.
I wanted to show how rape affected me, and how it can affect others. I think that this will help incoming college students who may have already gone through an experience like this, or unfortunately will in the future.
Regarding the third question, I definitely had personal issues writing this essay. It took me a couple of days to remember all of the details of that night due to suppressing them for so long, but all at once they came back to me. It was also difficult for me to be honest with myself. I wanted to fabricate and take things out that I convinced myself didn’t happen. Even though I know they did. I was overwhelmed with emotion and wept a majority of the time writing this essay, specifically during the first paragraph. That is why I decided to put the picture there. That picture is from my freshman year, actually a few days before October 3rd.
Despite those difficulties, I feel confident about this essay. I feel that it is well balanced and fluid. I worked hard on it and revised it continuously. One thing I am nervous about is that it may seem like a sob story instead of an essay. My peer editors helped me with that though and made me feel more confident. I was nervous about writing about this because I wasn’t even sure where to begin. However, I do think that it worked out okay and I am really glad I got it off my chest. Now instead of no people knowing about what happened to me, four people know. Peer editing was very helpful. At first I didn’t put my story in because I was too nervous, but later I asked one of my friends that I trusted to read it. She really encouraged me to continue with this story because she felt that it would help incoming college students even though it is just my story.
Sweat was beginning to bead on my forehead and lower back. My heart was beating out of my chest. The old sheets started to wrap themselves around my legs and feet. An ancient, flat pillow was all that supported my damp neck and blonde hair. I opened my eyes. I looked around and studied the room that surrounded me. I saw the posters scattered randomly across the navy blue walls. I saw an old mirror to the right of me, just crying to be wiped down. The door was slightly ajar, and a slight breeze allowed it to swing back and forth, emanating an eerie creaky sound. The plastic blinds slammed against each other with the force of the cold, autumn wind. I watched the ceiling fan as it spun around at a reckless speed. I saw my small, sweaty hands gripping the edge of the worn mattress. I saw my naked, skinny body being taken away from me.
I saw everything that was around me. Everything, except for him. I refused to let myself look at the figure that was top of me. I refused to look into the avaricious eyes of someone I barely knew. I was vulnerable and exposed. On October 3rd, 2010, I was a victim of rape. I was 14 years old. For five years, I blamed no one but myself and my naivety.
Naivety is technically defined as an individual’s lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment. I have been told that I am naïve countless times, and every time I take it as an insult. However, it is tremendously difficult not to be naïve, especially at the age of 14.
I was never the popular girl growing up. I had massive, red glasses, and my hair was always in a slicked back ponytail with straggly bangs hanging down my forehead. I had only a few close friends, and low self-esteem. Feeling alone was an emotion that had become natural to me.
When I finally made it to high school, I decided to give myself a quick makeover. This entailed a haircut, waxed eyebrows, mascara, a new wardrobe, and a new personality. On that first day, all that stood between me and my new and improved life were a heavy pair of double doors. Within a month of the start of my freshman year, I had a boyfriend who was two years older than me. I had no friends to tell me what to do and what not to do. I trusted him, and I was convinced he was the one. He made me feel wanted for the first time in my life, and I loved it.
The night of October 3rd, I did not tell him that he could have sex with me. I had never even kissed a boy before, but within seconds it happened. Within seconds everything was taken away from me. That feeling of being wanted, my dignity, my pride, and my virginity; all of those beautiful qualities that made me were diminished instantly. And so I laid there; defenseless and bare. I did not fight back. I did not struggle. I just laid on my back staring at the ceiling fan for what seemed like an eternity.
No one knows who I am, and I mean really knows who I am. Not my closest friends, not my younger sisters, not even my parents. I didn’t even know who I was until just recently, but finding myself was the most difficult journey I have ever been through. This journey included a variety of obstacles that I had to overcome. I had to dodge the blows of the upperclassmen when they screamed “Slut!” or “Cunt!” down the hall at me. I had to be handcuffed in my local mall after attempting to steal a $11.99 tank top from Nordstrom’s. I had to eat my food on the toilet in the florescent pink bathroom stall. I had to walk by him every day at school, and not cry or wince, which forced me to suppress the memories even further. I lost the trust of friends, parents, and myself, and I had to gain that all back. I was at a loss, and even more vulnerable than I was staring at his ceiling fan, but all of these times in my life helped build the individual I am today.
For five years I did not tell anyone about October 3rd, 2010. Everyone around me had resorted to the fact that I was a naïve slut. As a result, all memories of this night were shut away and never to return. As far as I was concerned, it had never happened. I was never raped. I never had sex. I didn’t even know who he was.
It wasn’t until I was by myself in the library, hunched over my computer damaging my keyboard with tears that I decided to call my mother. I am not going to go over her reaction, or my reaction, or why I decided to finally tell her five years later, because it is not what is important. What is important is that I accept what happened to me, and that I know it was not my fault. I no longer blame myself. I was, and still am, naïve.
Thinking about my past used to make me weak at the knees, and I would do everything I could to forget the memories. The truth is, I still have obstacles to overcome, but I no longer dwell or regret my past. What I have been through has made me an individual who lives in the present. I am an individual who appreciates every moment of life, whether that be getting a bad grade, going on a spontaneous adventure, or studying wine making in Italy. I think about what I can do to make this moment better than the last. I focus on being happy and finding the positive in all situations. I do not hold grudges, and I love everyone who I surround myself with. I worry about other people easily, but I rarely worry about myself. I trust myself to make the right decisions, and I love who I have grown up to be. I bring myself to tears whenever I think about that night, but in a way that night made me who I am.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if that had not happened to me. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today. I would not look after my little sisters as much as I do now. I wouldn’t live in the present as considerably as I do now, and I certainly wouldn’t be as compassionate and understanding as I am to those around me.
Life is complicated, and something that I still do not understand. In fact, I most likely will never understand it, and I am okay with that. I had to be in order to live, because thinking too deeply about anything that doesn’t have an answer will drive me insane. I don’t know why I was raped. I don’t know why I had to go through something like that in order to become who I am today. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. I don’t know a lot of things. What I do know though, is that it happened. I was raped when I was 14 years old. That happened to me. It wasn’t like I just heard terrifying stories in health class. Those stories were real to me. That day continues to be very real for me, and I can’t escape that.
What I do know, is that I am alive and I am well. I know that life is a gift, a beautiful gift at that, and I do not intend to let this experience inhibit my happiness. I know that I love who I am, and that I am going to do my best to help other people that have been through similar difficulties. I know that this memory does not define me, but that it has affected me. I know that I believe that is why I am here sitting in the library with my friends eating cookies and drinking tea like nothing is wrong. I am strong. I am not vulnerable and exposed anymore. For that, I thank you Matthew, for helping me overcome naivety, and contributing to help shape the person I am today.