The Amplify Project
January 26, 2017
Trigger Warning: Explicit descriptions of sexual assault and/or rape.
I said no. You kept asking, kept pushing, but I said no.
The more alcohol you fed me, the more I leaned into your kiss, your touch, your apparent show of affection, but I still said no. I said no.
In your mind, you probably think you did nothing wrong.
I was probably asking for sex by the way I was dressed or by the way I was acting; I wanted it even though I said otherwise.
In your mind, the presence of vodka didn’t make it rape—it was a one-night stand after a long night at the club.
I still have the apartment key you gave me after pressing my body against yours until I promised I would come back after I finished class.
I can’t seem to get rid of it, like I can’t get rid of you.
You’ll never know how you’ve changed me forever. You’ll never know about the countless sleepless nights I’ve had.
I’ve been plagued by nightmares that have me kicking and screaming, waking up drenched in sweat.
I have to wear a night guard now because I’ve started aggressively grinding my teeth. In nine weeks I haven’t made it through the night without my new best friend, melatonin. Even then, I find myself staring at the ceiling wishing it would all just fade away.
If someone had told me three months ago that this would be my life, I would’ve laughed in disbelief.
This would never happen to me; I’m a very smart girl, I know better, I was taught better. Yet, here I am—this is my life, my story.
I’ve played the scene over and over again hundreds of times in my head, blaming myself for the decisions I made that night. I should’ve known better than to drink that much.
If I hadn’t been so desperate for attention or validation maybe I wouldn’t have fallen for your charm.
I’ve been in therapy for weeks, yet I still can’t escape these feelings of worthlessness or the nagging voice in my head whispering that I deserved what you did to me.
The maybes ate me alive until I had a class that forced me to examine the legal definition of rape.
Sitting there, in that class, I finally realized it was not my fault. I may have been intoxicated but I did not consent.
You went ahead anyways, telling me to stop fighting it because I would like it. You raped me.
You broke me and turned me into a shadow of who I once was.
I’ve learned how to reward myself for little victories—I consider it an accomplishment to get out of bed in the morning and to make it through the day without crying.
I’ve learned how to ask for help and how to trust myself again. I’ve made the choice to not give into the doubt anymore and I’ve made the choice to invest in myself because I am worth it.
The hardest part is learning to coexist in a world where no one besides my therapist knows what happened to me.
I’m not ready to divulge this secret. I’m not ready to have the people I love see me and treat me differently.
That’s what scares me the most; the look on their faces when they find out. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to cross that bridge; I don’t know if they’ll ever know the truth.
I’m sure by now you have forgotten all about me, written me off as another American studying abroad who’s come and gone.
You’ve probably moved on to wooing the next drunk girl at the club.
But even after all of this time, I can’t get rid of the apartment key. I’ve tried and I’ve tried.
Nevertheless, the key still sits in the left-hand pocket of the jacket I wore that ill-fated Monday night. It breaks my heart to still have this one token of you because I want nothing more than to be rid of you forever.
I hope that one day I’ll be able to look at it and feel a sense of pride because I didn’t let you win.
You, my rapist, may have taken a piece of me but I took back my life and I lived it as fully as possible.
I am twenty years old and this is far from the end for me. I’m taking it one day at a time and there is no doubt in my mind I will be okay.
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.