I am sharing my story for those who have not yet found the words to share the stories of their own.
I am sharing my story so that there will be significant policy changes that will address this issue in all it’s forms.
I am sharing my story so that one day there will be no more stories like this one to share.
One year ago today, I was raped by a man who I believed to be my friend. He held me down, put his hand around my throat and over my mouth. He slapped and violated me.
I didn’t scream, I didn’t fight, I just lay completely still and prayed to the god that I don’t believe in that I would not die. After he was done he left me with my face smashed into his dirty mattress, naked, with his semen all over my back.
Hours before this I had been sitting by the side of a pond in Wash Park staring off at the mountains sitting next to him laughing about menial things, completely unaware that those were the last moments of my innocents. Completely unaware that my entire view of the world, myself and intimacy and trust would be shattered in a matter of moments. I have taken myself back to these peaceful moments millions of times in my head. I have driven myself to madness replaying the moments that followed, nitpicking moments that I could have changed that would have changed the fate of that night.
But the fact of the matter is that what happened, happened and it’s results ultimately changed my life.
For a long time after what happened to me I didn’t possess the language to describe it to myself or to others. I also felt guilt for what had happened. If I had not frozen, if I had screamed, if I had not gone back to his room with him, if I had not trusted him, then none of this would have happened.
This guilt and the trauma that I experienced started to eat away at me and my daily life. I did not know how to talk about what had happened to me, who to tell or what to do with the immense guilt and pain that I felt. To cope, I started smoking as much weed as I could get my hands on. I went out almost every night with the intention to get as high as possible so that I could escape the pain and the avalanche of destructive thoughts that constantly filled my head. I became mixed up with people who cared more about drugs and alcohol then they did about the humans that surrounded them.
I felt alone and lost and didn’t know where to turn.
Two months after my sexual assault I was honored to be chosen to be a part of a humanitarian aid trip to Nepal with a non-profit called the Invictus Initiative. While on the trip I was able to sleep in a refugee tent camp, play soccer with children who had lost their parents to the 2015 earthquake and sit next to women who worked tirelessly to provide for their families but were only earning the equivalent of 20 cents a day.
When I returned home my perspective on life had changed.
I had walked next to people who had the ambition and passion to change their lives but did not have the means to do so. It took traveling to the other side of the world to realize that I had the means to change my own life as well as the lives of other people who had or would go through the same experience I did. When I returned to the states I felt as though I would be letting those I had met in Nepal, as well as myself, down if I did not take a stand.
Upon returning to the University of Denver I filed a report with Title IX office.
Tonight will be the one year anniversary of the night I was raped. The night terrors still occur and the flashbacks still happen sometimes. But the growth that has occurred since last year is momentous.
One year ago today I was turned into a victim of a gender crime. Today I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor.
In the months I have reached out to the founders of End Rape on College Campuses, talked about policy changes with members of the University of Denver’s administration, discussed bill introduction with politicians and members of CCASA (the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault) and decided to open up and share my story.
My decision to share this story was not to have people pity me or to have others legitimize my pain. I have decided to share my story because the truth is that sexual assault is a huge issue on college campuses. Approximately one in every five women and one in every sixteen men who attend college are sexually assaulted. I hope that by sharing my story I help bring more attention to this issue that affects thousands of men and women every year.
Help me in supporting survivors and speaking out against sexual assault because everyone deserves to be in control of their own body and live in a world free from gender based violence.