Content Warning: This post contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to some survivors.
"My Wish," anonymous
In 2009 starting my senior year in high school, a smooth-talking football player danced with me at my senior homecoming. He was cute, I didn’t know anything except that he was awesome in my eyes. He asked for my number and I graciously gave it to him. For days I was distracted by his sweet texts and his invitation to have dinner at his house and meet his mom the following Sunday.
I drove over to his house and was nervous because I was going to hang out with this guy who I had possibly been crushing on and nervous to talk to for a few years. Football players didn’t talk to me, I was the nerd who got all As and helped other people do their homework and didn’t break the rules. He let me in, I met his mom, and then we went to watch TV on the lower floor of his split-level house, which had a weird smell and Family Guy was on TV.
We go hang out and he starts kissing me. I never kissed random guys. So “young me” wanted to have the conversation about what it meant. He didn’t comply. Instead he decided that doing other things would keep me quiet, or so he thought. I didn’t know what to say, I thought maybe it was fine because that’s what everyone else was doing, especially if they were dating the football players. I was incredibly uncomfortable as he did some questionable things to me that made me beyond uncomfortable. So when I said “NO," “I don’t want to," “stop," he covered my mouth so no one could hear me yelling and he continued to push me down. Nothing was sexy in that context. But what does a girl who has only ever kissed a guy know what is wrong and right if no one had talked to her about it?
Hours later when I could finally go, after saying that my curfew was kind of early, I drove home, fixed my hair, and walked into my house. My mother asked how it was seeing the guy, I said it was good, but I’m really tired and needed to shower “so I didn’t need to the next morning," and cleaned up and went to bed after sending my then-best friend a text that said I needed to talk to her.
The next morning, a Monday, I went to school and went through the day. I tried to see football guy because for some reason, what had happened was something I had mistakenly perceived as affection. We glanced at each other, and when I tried to talk to him, he walked away with a girl who would soon be his girlfriend (and possibly right now, his fiancee or wife, they were together long after high school). I tried to tell people I trusted, “hey, this happened. I don’t know what to think." I was a confused at almost 18 years old. I asked my best friend for advice, and she said “oh my gosh, you went as far as me and my boyfriend, and we have been together for 3 years. Are you going to see him again?” To which I responded that he hadn’t talked to me since, and I later came to find out that he would never speak to me again.
People had started calling me a slut at school. I didn’t know what to think at all, so I continued to believe that it was just a night where a guy had shown affection and then just abandoned all discussion. And then my long-term (now ex) boyfriend and college came into play.
I won’t go into detail with my ex, but I will say that by the end of our relationship, he looked a lot to me like football guy ended up looking.
One truly does find herself in college. After going away to a private school almost 500 miles from home, I had no one and I made my own friends. Let me tell you, this was the best decision that was ever made. Once my first year ended, I had decided to apply to be an RA (resident advisor/assistant) and THAT was one of many beautiful and amazing choices I made that led me to where I am now.
After becoming an RA, I became close to a staff of 21 people who had my back, particularly 2 ladies, one of which was a Christian all her life, and the other who had not practiced regularly. I went to church with them a few times, but one time, I sat with them and they played a worship song that sticks with me with such power, and they played it twice that day, at the beginning and end of the service. I had not been strong in my faith, and I had not considered myself a Christian at that point. I didn’t know what to make of it when the tears poured down my face and I began sobbing, and one of my girls had to hold me in her arms. Because it was then that I realized that 2 years ago (at that point), I was sexually assaulted, and I had no idea what to make of it. That moment, in the 2nd row of the church, a place where I feel somewhat safe, changed me forever.
Practicing Christianity and its values is not for everyone. I am not to judge and I do not shun those who do not practice organized religion. In fact, I hope that I do not come off as that type of person. But I will tell you that my faith, which genuinely kicked into full gear in 2011, is something that has since helped me cope with some unfortunate events in my life, such as my mother’s cancer diagnosis 14 years ago, my dad’s cardiac arrest and recovery these past few months, the distance I had put between my family and myself over misunderstandings the last 3 years, missing my nieces, and emotionally abusive relationships, among many other things.
My wish for other victims or survivors of sexual assault is that you can receive closure and justice. I do believe in justice. I hope that people you trust to tell your story to will help guide you to the resources you need. I hope that perpetrators will be educated on how what they do is wrong. I hope that your best friends stick by you - but if they don’t, you get an amazing opportunity to find YOU.
Do not let your experiences cause you to hold every potential romantic partner at an arm’s length, because there will be one person who can see through that and still wants to care about you anyway. Trust is hard-earned and easily lost, but eventually you will learn to let someone in who thinks “you’re the bee’s knees”.
I have forgiven football guy, yet have not talked to him and do not wish to. In fact, the rumor mill told me that after me, he did it to another girl in hopes of fulfilling his own “needs”.
I have chosen to take my voice and raise awareness, to be kind to everyone, to try to remain positive when anything happens. Because guess what? I’m alive. What happened to me did not cause me to take extreme measures nor did it cause me to be cynical or to push people away too far. Because for some people, that is what they need to do for a little while until they can gather their own sense of healing. Mine just happened to be through faith.
About the art:
This piece was originally submitted for our Sexual Assault Awareness Month back in April. But with the overload of submissions, we pushed it to violent crime month.
This piece was done in my splatter style, using some fun colors that the survivor left up to me! The quote derives from this survivor's favorite Elizabeth Gilbert quote, from her book, "Big Magic."
I'm glad that this story has finally ran because it's an important story of how ones faith can truly be the coping mechanism for when terrible things happen in life.
I am grateful for this story and for this survivor and for all the work they do in student affairs to make the world a better place!