Someone is sexually assaulted every two minutes in the U.S., according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
In May 2014, my two minutes came.
He was my best friend’s husband. I was in their home for an evening of junk food and television. We all decided to drink. I eventually became so intoxicated I was unable to move or speak. I tried to go to sleep. My friend went to bed, but her husband didn’t. I couldn’t fight back or yell out. I knew what was happening, but I was powerless.
I take responsibility for my decision to drink, but I do not take responsibility for his actions. I may have chosen to drink, but he chose to rape me.
I went to the hospital. I reported the assault to the police. I let them collect evidence from my body. I did all of the things people are told to do, but it did not bring justice. No charges were pressed. My case was suspended by July.
I never dreamed I would become a rape victim, especially not like this. They were safe people. I was the maid of honor in their wedding eight months prior. I lived with them for several months at one time. Their home was a safe place, until it wasn’t.
Since the assault, I have faced problems with PTSD, nightmares, anxiety, depression. I’ve found it exceptionally difficult to trust people. I have doubted my self-worth. I have struggled to find value in living. But I’ve also learned many things.
I’ve learned it’s important to take the strong days as they come and to let the weak days be what they are.
I’ve learned not to invalidate my emotions because of how I think I “should” be responding to my experiences. I let myself be angry or sad or scared or whatever emotion I’m feeling without judging myself.
I’ve learned it’s important to talk about how prolific a problem sexual assault is. I’ve learned that when you’re given an experience like this, it’s because you are meant to use the experience to grow and help others.
I became a student at BYU-Idaho the January after my assault. There are many things here that have helped me on my way to healing.
Nick Rammell in the Title IX office had to have been sent by God to help the people like me on this campus, and he has become one of my most trusted friends. To anyone unsure of where to turn after being assaulted, I can assure you his office is a safe place.
The counseling center has several counselors with special training in treating trauma.
I’ve also realized sexual assault is not addressed enough by members of the Church. There is too much silence on this topic that so desperately needs to be talked about.
Which brings me to my main reason for writing this: I’d like to address assault survivors like me. I hope that someone will find strength and hope from me sharing my experiences.
Know that learning to accept our experiences as parts of our lives will be unpleasant, challenging and painful.
Know that in this life, we will probably never understand why.
More importantly, know that we have the strength to overcome.
Know that God grieves with us because of how others used their agency in such harmful ways.
Know that we have value and strength and courage and power. Know that we have the choice to be forces for good in a world that has shown us evil.
We may be one in six women, or one in 33 men, but we are many. We do not stand alone.