Sexual Assault Awareness Month: A Letter from a Survivor

I am a victim of sexual assault.

I don’t say that lightly.

When I was younger, two boys at my school would touch me, and I didn’t know what to do about it. I told the school, and they told me if I brought it up again, they would expel me.

During my sophomore year a senior ‘cat-called’ me in the theatre hallway. When I ignored him, he and his friends started shouting that I was a whore, a slut, a bitch.

At ACL, some drunk college boys yelled after me, asking for nudes and my number, listing off the dirty things they wanted to do with my body.

It’s hard growing up, hearing your parents warn you every time you go out to hang out with friends, every time you want to go on a date, every time you want to go for a run past sundown. It’s hard feeling unsafe no matter where you go.

I have enough stories of sexual assault from people of every background, gender, and race to write a novel if I wanted to:

A friend whose uncle raped him at a family gathering, and the next year, and the next.

A friend who did whatever her boyfriend wanted in fear of him hitting her again.

A friend who didn’t want to kiss that random girl at that concert.

A friend who was sexually attacked before she even knew what sex was.

A friend who didn’t even see his face as he groped her while she was walking downtown.

A friend who cried as some men twice her age called her names for wearing her favorite shorts to the pool.

And I know it’s nothing new. These things happen so often that it’s no surprise when another rapist walks free after drugging some college student at a party, taking them home, and having their way with them. It’s no surprise when my friends call me crying the morning after, saying they were scared and that he didn’t listen when they said no. I’m so sick of people thinking they have the right to someone else’s body.

This fear of violence lives within the minds of many. It plagues their every thought, every action.

“Maybe if I bring [insert big, tall, guy-friend here], I won’t get harassed.”

“Well I can’t go walking tonight like I wanted because it’s too dark by now and I might get kidnapped or raped.”

“As much as I want to go out with my friends, I’m afraid of being attacked for being different.”

“I love this dress, but I know I’ll get negative attention if I wear it tonight.”

This idea that some people are better than other people because of their sex, their race, or their wealth has to stop. It is damaging to every generation and creates this air of violence surrounding our youth.

Whether it’s a court case, something on the internet, or your best friend, standing up for sexual assault survivors is important. If you, or someone you know, are a victim of sexual assault, you can call 800-656-4673, or go to the RAINN website.As a young woman, I am constantly in fear of violence against me everytime I go out. I am not alone in my fear, many other people share these thoughts.