I work in news. It's my job to be aware of what's going on in the world. Today is different. Today is a day where I'm doing everything in my power to block out the news. I can't listen to Christine Blasey Ford's testimony. It has nothing to do with whether or not I believe her. It has nothing to do with how I feel about sexual assault or how long a victim remembers the trauma they went through. It has everything to do with me. I can't listen because it is an extremely painful reminder of what I went through when I was 12-years old.
I was raped.
I can still remember almost every painful detail of how it happened, nearly 20 years later. Some days it feels like it happened yesterday. After it happened, I ran to my neighbors house. She was a few years older than me. She told me that I could never tell anyone what had happened. So I didn't.
That night, the man who raped me, a man who had two young boys my age, died in a drunk driving car crash.
When that happened, I felt like the world was somehow taking care of me. I thought I was just going to move on and forget what had happened and never have to face the reality of it.
That was a great lie I told myself.
Over the next four years, I became a different person. I hated myself. I felt disgusting. I felt worthless. I started starving myself. When I got hungry, I would eat and make myself throw up. I remember being in high school, sneaking off to the bathroom after lunch every day so that I could throw up. I figured that if I didn't eat, people would ask questions. No one ever did.
I was depressed. I tried everything in my power to make myself feel better. I had a different boyfriend every week because I thought that if someone "loved" me enough, maybe I could learn to love myself.
That was another lie I told myself.
After four years of holding on to the pain of being raped, I decided it was time to let go. I was at church camp and I told my camp counselor what had happened. I still remember telling my mom in the car on the way home form camp. We both cried. She was so sorry.
I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders by finally telling someone. I also felt so much pain. There were so many days when I honestly wondered how I was going to keep living life. I felt like I didn't deserve to live because I was disgusting. I hated myself so much.
If people knew what happened to me, they would hate me. They would think it was my fault. They would think I deserved it. They would think that I provoked the man by wearing a swimming suit.
But that wasn't true. My family surrounded me with love. They showed me my worth. They gave me hope.
I'm 29 now. I'm a different person. I'm not a victim, I'm a survivor. NO ONE DESERVES RAPE.
I still struggle with self worth but I know I'm NOT what happened to ME. I'm here on this earth for a reason. I will not let ONE person, who made a BAD decision, DICTATE what I become.