Yesterday, my Facebook page was flooded with #MeToo stories. "If everyone who has been sexually assaulted/harassed/raped wrote "Me too" as their status, maybe they would start to see the scope of the problem." It is amazing how powerful this movement has been and I only hope that it continues to help others understand the epidemic of assault/harassment/rape. I saw men and women post their stories. I have seen men and women come clean about being at fault for assaulting others. It is so validating as a survivor to see and hear people.
My freshman year in college I was invited to a fraternity date party. I got dressed and my date came to pick me up at my dorm room. We went to his dorm, had a couple of drinks with some of his friends, and then headed to the party at the bar. After a fun night out, we were going to head to the after-party at the Kappa Sig house.
My date and I stopped back at his dorm in between. One thing led to another and we started making out. I was totally okay with that and kind of into it. But then, things started to move too quickly for me. I was not an experienced girl going into college and I was a little uncomfortable and tried to slow things down. It worked for a little while, until it didn’t. I tried to stop it, but couldn’t. It still feels weird to say I was “raped” because I cannot believe that it happened to me. I was scared, I was vulnerable, and I wanted to pretend it didn’t happen.
When he finally got off of me, he handed me a drink and said, “Okay, let’s go to the house and meet up with everyone else.” I tried to come up with an excuse about not wanting to go, but I couldn’t form the words. I don’t think I said anything to him. I felt like someone had ripped my voice out of my throat. So I put my clothes back on, wiped the tears from my eyes, drank my drink and we walked to the after-party. I found one of my sister’s friends there and told him what happened. He couldn’t believe it.
A few days later we went to the police. Unfortunately, nothing really came of it. The school sent around a letter (sans names) letting the students know what had happened and to be careful.
I remember sitting in the hallway of my dorm crying on the phone with my therapist. I didn’t really know what was going on. I didn’t really think I was raped because I was participating in the make out session to begin with. She assured me that anytime someone says, “No,” or, “Stop,” and the other person does not listen, that is rape. The minute it was not consensual, it was rape.
The rest of the year was kind of a blur for me. Towards the end of the summer, I told my parents I was not going back, and I wanted to find a place where I could really pursue theater. It wasn’t until recently, about 12 years after the fact, that I shared with my parents what actually happened. I was ashamed to tell them. I was scared that it was my fault—that because I wanted to make out with him, that somehow I gave him permission to rape me. I was frightened that they would be mad at me for putting myself in that situation.
My experience at John Carroll confirmed for me how unimportant my voice was, how insignificant anything I had to say. I still cannot believe that my date got away with what he did. I cannot believe that some of my friends didn’t believe what I was saying. So, while my struggle with being heard and speaking my truth really started in high school, I think it was freshman year in college that the feeling of insignificance really set in. The fact that the college and the authorities did not do anything about what had happened made me feel extremely worthless. At times it felt as if I was screaming at the top of my lungs and people were just walking past me and laughing.
What infuriates me even more is that this continues to happen every day and nothing is being done to stop it. Every time I hear a story on the news about a rape or an assault on a college campus, or anywhere, my stomach turns, I get nauseous, my throat closes a little bit, and my heart breaks. This is something that needs to be stopped. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women are raped at some point in their lifetime. On college campuses, that number is the same—one in five women—and that is not accounting for all the cases that go unreported. Rape is the most unreported crimes; 63% of all sexual assaults are not reported to the police. How are we still letting this happen? Schools and authorities need to start taking action. A letter circulated to students warning them that something happened on campus isn’t enough. Letting these abusers walk free after something like this is just mind-boggling to me and yet it continues to occur.
I felt so insignificant after my rape. I felt like my voice, story, and being didn't matter. I hope my story helps you feel like you do matter. I hope you know you are heard, you are valuable, you matter and it is NOT YOUR FAULT. There is so shame in being a survivor - there is only power.
I couldn't be happier that my book has finally launched! It has been a long time coming... 9 years to be exact. I can't wait to share my story with everyone. I have been asked the question of "Why?" a lot. Why Now? Why write a book? Why share your story? So here is my answer:
Since my car accident in 2007, I have worked really hard to figure out exactly who I am and who I want to be. I have fallen flat on my face a lot of times throughout the years AND I have taken major steps forward. A few places I have really struggled were; body image, my place in society, and speaking my truth. All things I think a lot of women can relate too.
In 2015 I was still struggling to write this book, I had a ton of ideas, but I couldn't get them from my head to the paper. I had a breakdown. I sat in my therapist, Wini's, office and cried to her and my mom. They kept coming back to one thing... I wasn't celebrating my bigness. I was keeping myself small and not letting others see me for who I really was. I was falling back into all my old habits and patterns that I had worked so hard to break free from. I think by just naming this for myself it allowed me to see a path that I never saw before. I was letting fear stop me from being who I really am. Fear of what others would think. Fear my voice wasn't enough. Fear I didn't know what I was talking about. The list of fears go on and on. But it was at that moment I knew I had a responsibility to myself and to others who were/are struggling with the same thing to stop letting fear win.
I have gone through a lot in my life. I have learned a lot and I want to share my experiences so that others who may be going through the same things know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
So why did I write Fractured? To help people know that things will get better. That their voice matters. To help empower, enlighten, and inspire others to find their most authentic self and voice. I want people to know; YOU ARE ENOUGH. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. The image society portrays that you have to be skin and bones to be beautiful is so distorted. I hope readers, especially young girls, can read this and have an “aha moment” before they enter into a self-destructive path. It is also my hope that men and women learn that it is ok to be vulnerable, to speak, share, and use your authentic voice, live in their authentic skin, and follow their own rules. Please, don’t shrink yourself to make others like you. It is not worth it. It is so much more fun to live life celebrating your bigness.
What happens when we stop putting people in boxes? A wonderful look on breaking out of the box society puts us in.