Content warning: The following story contains references to sexual violence, slut-shaming, and suicidal ideation as result - which may be concerning and/or triggering for some readers.
“I Was a Statistic,” Anonymous
I was a statistic. I was 1 in 6.
My story is not unlike many others. They were people I knew. People I trusted. People that have the opportunity to live their lives without any guilt, pain, or repercussions from their actions. I was a freshman in college at a small institution about an hour from home. When I stepped on the campus for the first time, with the intention of playing college athletics, I felt at home. A family member I looked up to attended there, so I was driven to also attend. The family member I looked up to had also joined a sorority while there. I fit in perfectly with that sorority and instantly bonded to those girls. I instantly felt at home again, especially since I hadn't felt as connected as I initially thought I would. I bonded with my pledge class, felt instant trust and love among my fellow sisters.
I was fun, I laughed, told ridiculous and dirty jokes, drank, smoked, danced, wore clothes I'd never dare to wear at home with my family and friends. I lived outside of my comfort zone constantly. I pushed the boundaries. I had also just discovered sex. And I loved it. If I liked someone, I flirted. If they flirted back, I flirted harder. I was really good at it, flirting that is. Well, I was also pretty good at sex. And it felt amazing. I guess I built up a bit of a reputation for myself. I enjoyed sex. I lived outside of my comfort zone. I flirted. I laughed. I had fun. Until I didn't.
I attended a fraternity event, called Formal. I got all dressed up with a borrowed dress from a friend and a brand new pair of red high heels I begged my mom to buy me. I did my hair in curls, I had my friends do my make up. I drank a little beforehand. I drank a lot during. Honestly, I drank most of a handle of rum. Mixed with soda, mixed with water, mixed with rum. I drank to a point where I couldn't remember drinking anymore. I don't remember how I got outside. I don't remember how these two males got me outside. I don't remember who pulled my underwear down. I don't remember who bent me over. I don't remember who penetrated me from behind. I don't remember who put their penis in my mouth.
I do remember realizing what was happening and saying no. I do remember staggering away, confused, barefoot, back inside. I remember seeing my "sister" and immediately crying. I remember being put into a car and taken back to campus. I remember trying to explain what happened, through tears and vomit. I remember waking up the next day, feeling the pain in my head, all over my body. I remember feeling disgusting. I remember my "sisters" explaining how much I drank, how the guys who did it were physically assaulted by their "brothers" for what they did - specifically that they tried to have sex with another brothers date. I knew that it wasn't just sex. Because I didn't remember it. I didn't remember flirting. I didn't remember liking it. How was it really sex?
I remember being approached in the dining hall by one of the guys, who told me "If I knew you were that drunk, I wouldn't have let that happen." I remember nodding my head and saying "okay."
I remember approaching the school counselor, explaining what happened because I couldn't remember much, but I didn't think it was sex. I remember being asked "what were you wearing?" and "how much did you drink?" and "what did you do to make them have sex with you?" I remember feeling like I was the one to blame.
I remember in the days to come, my "sisters" turning on me. They "heard the real story". How I threw myself at both guys. How I'd had sex with one of them a few weeks back, so of course he thought it was okay. How I had drank so much that I was putting myself at risk.
I remember being slut shamed by an ex-boyfriend. I remember getting text after text from him one night about how I was a SLUT, WORTHLESS, ASKING FOR IT, and that I should KILL MYSELF.
I remember feeling so alone. I remember wanting to die. I remember trying to die.
I also remember finding strength in those who believed me. I remember the time that it took for me to realize that it wasn't my fault. I remember hearing the stories of other victims, of other survivors, of other people just like me. I remember understanding that I was more than my experience. And now I know that I am not simply a number. I am one person who overcame. I am one person, among many, who experienced trauma, survived, and thrived. I am one person who takes each day as it comes, and understands that I will never really feel okay, but I will be okay. I am more than what I remember.