Exactly one year ago I was graduating from high school and was so excited to be going off to college. Everything was going to be new, exciting, and different! And everything was different but not in the ways I expected. Thinking back to that girl she was happy, optimistic, and ready to take on the world. A very different girl from the one who sits here writing this today. Once I got to college I did all the activities to meet people and found my group of friends and even a boyfriend. Those friends are now my family and the boyfriend is still in the picture.
We participated in many of the off campus activities too. Yes I mean we drank and partied. They had this orientation at the beginning of the year about being careful with parties and even got shirts that said, “Don’t drink the punch”. I didn’t exactly pay attention and didn’t think it was that big a deal. I thought that it was so innocent and harmless. We were just having fun doing what every college kid does. It seemed normal and it was fun. We were careful and always had a DD (designated driver) and we went in groups, never alone.
We ended up meeting and hanging out with a group of people that seemed to always know where the parties were and they hooked us up with details. We trusted them and thought of them as friends. First semester flew by with football games, class, and midnight fast food runs. Everything was the way it should be. Yeah I wasn’t doing as great in class as I wanted but there was always next semester right? Wrong. I had no clue what was in store for me and how could I? I never imagined that my friends and me would go through something like we did.
Second semester rolled around and I went through the process to be in a sorority and didn’t get chosen for any of them. This really hurt my self-esteem because I thought that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. I was heart broken. I rallied with my friends who didn’t get in either and moved on. I applied to be a student leader and applied for an amazing internship. I got neither of those. I was done trying for things I wanted because I kept getting let down and honestly it sucked. I started to become angry all the time and I was sad when I was alone. I cried when no one was looking and lashed out at the people I cared about the most, mainly my boyfriend. I was eating less, avoiding my friends, and all around a completely different person. I stopped going to class and doing any school work because I had no motivation to do anything anymore. All I wanted to do was drink to be completely honest. I was happy and laughed more when I was drinking so I thought it would help me forget and I could be happy. I drank during the school week, which I never did before. I ended up getting very drunk on a Monday night and was too hung over to go to class the next morning. One of my friends stopped by my room to see me and she finally told me that she was done. She told me that my friends knew something was wrong. I was turning into a person they didn’t want to be friends with anymore. She said or more yelled that if I didn’t get help then she would drag me to get some because she loved me too much to see me like this.
I went to my school’s counseling center and talked to someone. They set me up with a therapist who diagnosed me with depression. I never expected that this would be something I would deal with. I was always peppy, happy, and loud. How could this be the person I was? I felt lost. I looked at old pictures of myself and wondered where that girl went. I didn’t understand how I became so unhappy so fast. After therapy sessions I started to get better and had a better grip on my emotions.
I thought everything was looking up again and it was all going to be ok. Boy was I wrong. Things were about to get worse than they ever had before. We were invited to a small party by that group of people I mentioned previously. We were having a great time and then things began to get rocky and strange and just bad. I didn’t understand what was happening, there was no way that I could. I’m not going to tell the story because it is too painful right now and it’s a long one. For now I will just state the facts.
Fact 1: Two of my friends were drugged.
Fact 2: I was given more alcohol than I though (which also counts as being drugged)
Fact 3: I was choked.
Fact 4: I was sexually assaulted
Fact 5: I watched as my friends were sexually assaulted and couldn’t do anything.
Fact 6: I stopped my friend from being raped but she was assaulted
Fact 7: I left them because I didn’t understand what was happening still and I thought they would be safe with our “friend”
Fact 8: They were both assaulted again by a guy we thought was our friend.
Fact 9: Those 7 hours of my life are the darkest memories that I have and they will be with me until the day I die
Fact 10: I am different now. Everything about me is different and I will never be the girl I was a year ago.
They hurt us in a way that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. They took everything from us and left us with nothing. It wasn’t fair and still isn’t. They took friendships from us, they hurt relationships, they changed the way I see myself, they made it hard for me to be happy for other people, they took my dignity, they screwed up every part of me and they left nothing untouched. And for what? 5 minutes of pleasure? For feeling some sense of power? I will spend the rest of my life fighting this and trying to heal because of what they did to my friends and me. Because of the drugs that were given to my friends, they remember absolutely none of that night. I remembered all of it and I had to tell them what happened to them. I had to break their hearts with the story of what happened to them and watch their faces as their entire world was shattered. For weeks following the event that night played over and over and over in my mind. It was like a terrible horror movie staring you and your friends stuck on repeat and nothing could stop it. It played the worst parts of the entire night and when it was done it would just start over again.
They way I see the world is completely different and it isn’t a pretty picture. I am living with PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder). I have anxiety attacks when I am reminded of that night or when there are too many people around me. I was always told that I was a beautiful girl, but now I wish I was ugly so that no one ever looks at me or thinks of me in a sexual way again. I have never been more suicidal in my entire life because dealing with this and the pain is just too much at times. The reasons I don’t hurt myself because I let my friends down by leaving them before and I can’t do it again. I have to be here to protect them. I can’t hurt the people I love most like my friends, family, and boyfriend by leaving like that. Most importantly I don’t want the people who did this to me to think they won. I want to be strong and show them that no matter what they did to me I am still standing. I’ve been told many times through this that I am strong. I don’t feel strong. I feel broken, violated, hurt, scared, angry, and like my world is falling apart at times. I’ve been able to not think about it at times now that it’s been a few months since the incident but it is always in the back of my mind.
I refuse to be silent about this issue. I will tell my story and make it known that this does happen and it is a problem. What happened to me wasn’t my fault. It is never the fault of the victim. I will do everything I can to bring attention and awareness to this problem because it is a problem and it is often not handled right or ignored. Yes this entire thing changed me, but I want to make a change because of it. I’m still healing and have a very very long way to go but this is one of the steps I’m taking to get there.