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I Am Done Being Quiet About My Experience With Sexual Assault

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

I have always been a news and politics junkie. My idols growing up included journalists like Peter Jennings, and I loved my experience working at my high school radio station, while I went through the broadcasting program.

However, I now have to severely restrict how often I watch the news and political programming since the most recent presidential election. As a sexual assault survivor, the news serves as a constant trigger — Trump recordings, Cosby’s conviction and the Kavanaugh hearings are just a few of the triggers that are taking over the internet and TV.

Growing up, sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances by peers and authority figures occurred on an all-too-frequent basis. I can recall many times when I reported incidents to teachers or supervisors and my reports were always discounted or minimized. I was not heard and my voice became quieter. I was bullied and attacked in school for my perceived sexual orientation. When I told the administration, I was blamed for being out. My voice became even quieter. I became more invisible.

During my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I was sexually assaulted twice — once by a fellow classmate and once by a group of “friends.” After both incidents, I was scared, traumatized and felt completely isolated. My voice was so small, I was scared to speak out about what happened. My “friends” sought to intimidate me, to stop me from talking. Rumors were started about me and comments were made about how I was dressed, what my choices were on those nights: blaming me for their choices to commit acts of violence against me. All media coverage of sexual assault during this time reinforced my silence. I was already attacked; why should I undergo further attacks? Perpetrators of sexual assault are so infrequently held accountable for their actions that I questioned the good my report would do.

My experiences of sexual assault impact my life every single day. Attacks that occurred over 20 years ago are still too clear in my mind. They took away my voice and my agency for too long. I am done being quiet. I have found my voice and I intend to use it. I stand with my fellow survivors in sharing my story.

It is up to each individual person to decide if, when and how they share their own experiences of sexual abuse or assault. There is no right or wrong way to disclose. Just know that, if you decide to share your story, there is a whole community here to listen to you and to support you.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Originally published: March 4, 2019
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