This story starts like most of these stories do, with a young, innocent girl. I was 17, excited about life and convinced I was invincible. Just like any other teenager out there I thought I could grab the world with my hands and that anything was possible.
It was a night out just like any other night with my closest group of friends, the people I most trusted. Or so I thought. We went dancing and drinking. Some drugs were involved. I was experimenting, but I felt safe. After all, I was with my best friends so what could possibly go wrong?
At the end of the night, we went to my friend’s house to sleep over. Nothing special. It was the four of us: me, my best friend, her boyfriend and another one of our male friends. It was late. I was very tired and didn’t feel so well. Whatever I had had that night was way too strong for me so I decided to go to sleep. My best friend and her boyfriend went to their room as I laid alone in my bed. From this moment on, it is all still a blurred memory.
I woke up suddenly at the feeling I was being touched. My male friend was laying next to me, kissing me and touching me in ways I did not want to be touched. I pushed him away, but I was too tired to move, too confused and too intoxicated. I couldn't quite differentiate dream from reality. Was this really happening? He kept going even as I said “no” over and over again. As I pushed him away, he kept coming. I was too confused to fight. Too weak. I didn’t know what was happening. He finally forced himself into me as I laid there still, somewhere between a dream and my worst nightmare.
When I woke up the next morning I couldn’t tell exactly what had happened. I was so lost and so confused. I thought I’d imagined this. I couldn't tell. It must have been a bad dream I thought. In that moment, I was just too scared to confront it or make sense of it all. So I left. I went home and forgot that it had ever happened.
For years I buried this memory, and every time I thought about it, I told myself I had simply dreamt it. That it was not possible because he was my best friend. Someone I trusted. I oscillated between completely negating what had happened to me, thinking it was just my own imagination to thinking it did actually happen, that it was my fault and that I deserved it because I was intoxicated. Either way, I would not dare talk to anyone about it. Who was ever going to believe me?
But there was something deep inside me that knew the truth all along. That knew exactly what had happened and that it wasn’t my fault. And that knew that shit wasn’t right and that it hurt. So, I suffered in silence, alone.
It took me years to share this story with anyone. I didn’t want to be judged, labeled, or be defined by any of it. I wanted to bury it. But, my pain ran deep that whole time. Until one day I decided that in order to heal, I needed to talk about. I needed to confront my past and not only forgive myself but also forgive him. And so I did, and the healing started.
I’ve been thinking about writing this story for quite some time now. Finally inspired to put it on paper after reading the growing number of stories by other women with similar experiences. All of them brave women who were neither afraid nor ashamed to open up. Empowered by the realization that being vulnerable and sharing our darkest stories only makes us stronger. Unites us. Connects us more with one another and brings out our humanity. But it’s not easy. Big acts of courage never are. But as I write down these words, it’s like medicine cleansing my spirit and healing me. Talking about the experience strips away its power over me.
For years, the only way to survive and make sense of it all was to bury it deep into my unconscious and push it as far away as possible. In that time, I’ve shared my story with only a few although it took years for me to share it with anyone at all. Perhaps because part of me felt ashamed. Perhaps partly guilty. But mostly because I didn’t want to be defined, remembered or identified by it. And also because every time I confront it, the pain and confusion I felt back then as an innocent 17-yr old child, young and naïve, comes rushing back. But I want to share my story now because I’d like you to know that we don’t have to be defined by these past experiences. That we can choose to drop them. That we can overcome them. We can overcome anything. Pain. Harassment. Rape. Abuse. Fear. Heartbreak. Loss. That we are powerful beyond our own imaginations. And it’s in our own hands to decide what we do with what happens to us. We are not victims. I know I’ve never let myself be one. I took what happened to me and turned it into a story of resilience, strength and courage even when I was too young to understand it.
I'm not looking for pity as I write this words. What I want is for you to know what our incredible potential as human beings is. How it is possible to transform our pain and suffering into love and courage. I want you to know that you are not alone and you are not the only one. Us women? We are fucking powerful! We can be feminine, sexual, open, intuitive, smart, sensitive, independent, strong, vulnerable, mothers, sisters, lovers and friends all at once and we do not need to feel ashamed or apologize for it. We don’t have to look down when we walk down the street. We can stand proud, together. And we can transform our old stories. It is possible! It is possible to overcome what feels insurmountable. I did. We are not our past and we are far greater than anyone who has ever tried or tries to break us down!