The Amplify Project
THE SANTA CLARA
February 2, 2017
Trigger Warning: Explicit descriptions of sexual assault and/or rape.
I was 15 years old. He was 18 years old. All I wanted was to be wanted and he wanted me.
Being with him felt like how love is described in that old cliche; “slowly then all at once.” One moment he was kind and funny and smiling. The next, he was yelling and crying.
I had said hi to a boy and he didn’t like that and my shorts were too short and I spent too much time with my friends.
And it was because he had a girl cheat on him before so he was insecure, but if I listened then it would all get better soon.
How could I be upset when he had been through something so awful as that? It would be insensitive if I refused to listen just for a little while until he trusted me.
But he never “trusted” me. And when I asked him to stop, that I wasn’t ready for sex, he shushed me, promising that I just had to trust him.
And I said no. I know I said no. But I was like a yellow traffic light and instead of slowing down, he sped up.
I knew something had gone wrong, but I couldn’t run for help because I was so ashamed. I blamed myself, as many victims do.
He yelled, punched walls and threatened to hurt himself if I left. And I believed he would.
The only way he would be temporarily content was if I fully submitted to him, let him do anything he wanted with me.
I was afraid and isolated. I was a classic case of manipulation and abuse.
He used my kindness and sensitivity to convince me I could help him, save him. I couldn’t just leave him.
After six month whirlwind, he left for college and I was released from his physical grip. But the grip of the memories and trauma held on for much longer.
In the years after I left him, I did not feel saved or rescued—I felt lost.
Like many, I blamed myself. I felt that I had damned myself by letting him rape me and treat me the way he did.
While I could still care for others, any feelings toward myself were filled with doubt and guilt. The love for myself had died and I was living in the afterlife.
Through lack of self-confidence and self-love, I then developed an eating disorder—the perfect way to feel like I had control over my life again and simultaneously discipline myself through starvation.
I made it even more self-destructive by creating a solid facade of a quiet, happy, caring and studious young woman. I became so good at this disguise that I kept my family, friends and even my pediatrician from intervening for 2 years.
May 2014 of my freshmen year at Santa Clara, I visited Cowell Health Center because I felt light-headed.
Instead of a routine checkup, I found myself at El Camino Hospital’s eating disorder ward.
Eventually I was able to recover and start dealing with my anxiety disorder, which I still attend therapy for.
Five years after, I can finally admit to the abusive relationship and rape I suffered from.
I describe what I have gone through not to look for pity or to say that this is everyone’s story. But instead to show a short description of my life after my abusive relationship.
I want people to know that rape and sexual assault are more than just 15 minutes of complete horror.
It is how the person got there and where the person will go next.
The four years after I was raped were the most difficult because I kept everything to myself.
Going forward, my life will continue to be affected by what has happened to me and I am learning to cope with this. I encourage those who have not yet talked about their experiences to do so.
Don’t punish yourself any longer. It’s by no means easy. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever told anyone, especially people I loved.
But it is far better than letting it consume you like it once consumed me.
This story was submitted anonymously by a survivor of sexual assault at Santa Clara through The Amplify Project. If you are interested in sharing your story, reach out to Emma Hyndman at amplifysurvivors@ gmail.com or visit amplifyproject.wordpress. com.