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Many of the Soulutions posts may be triggering to some readers, as we’re going to discuss topics like abuse, assault, divorce, etc.  These topics are much more heavy than we normally talk about on HTP, so I just wanted to give everyone a heads up to proceed with caution.  I don’t think we should ever shy away from these topics as a society, but I also know that the issues can be difficult on an individual level.

 

I introduced the Soulutions movement last week, but here’s the round down again.

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About a year ago, I got in touch with two women named Angela and Elizabeth.  They were working on a book called Soul Models: Women Transforming Challenge to Change.  The book highlights compassion as a way to navigate all challenges and includes stories from women who have used hardship as a way to help others.  The Operation Beautiful story will be included.  While they were working on the book, Amanda Todd committed suicide.  Amanda was a 15 year-old Canadian girl who had been relentlessly teased and tormented by bullies.  A few weeks before her death, she posted this YouTube video describing her journey.  Over 12 million people have watched it.   But the bullying still continues.  And Angela and Elizabeth felt moved to do something now, something immediate.

 

Instead of getting the Soul Models stories out right now, Angela and Elizabeth felt that they must share the “Soulutions” that all of the contributors are giving for getting through hardship.  They felt they couldn’t hear of another young girl that decided to commit suicide. There are so many in pain who need help and answers right now.  Angela and Elizabeth also realize that everyone, not just the women that were interviewed for the book, has “Soulutions” to share that can help and encourage others.  They reached out to me, and together, we are collecting stories of advice and encouragement.  These nuggets of wisdom will eventually end up in an e-book.  I will donate 100% of my portion of the proceeds to a charitable organization dedicated to stopping bullying (but I haven’t decided which!).

 

I’m dedicating individual posts to many of the Soulutions chapters (if you have a longer story to tell, check out the chapters list and email me).  Today’s post will tackle the topic of sexual assault.  This is a topic that is very important to me; I also used to volunteer as a sexual assault peer counselor in college.  Unfortunately, sexual assault is extremely common, and yet many women (and men) who suffer an attack end up feeling totally alone and isolated.

 

Some facts from the RAINN Network:

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RAINN also offers a list of resources and ways to get help.

 

Today’s feature Soulutions story is from A, a Healthy Tipping Point reader who was brave enough to share her story with all of you.  Here’s A’s tale:

 

When I was a senior in high school, I was on the cross country team and would log morning runs before school. I was also balancing AP classes, college applications and training several horses in my spare time.

 

On night after a particularly difficult argument with my parents about a certain college, I left my house, parked in the school parking lot around 2 AM and left to run for awhile before school. I ran for an hour through my small hometown and then diverted into a neighborhood near a park. I wasn’t familiar with the area but continued on. SMACK… I remember blacking out and losing my legs out from under me. I woke up in someone’s garage… being raped. After being raped by three young twenty somethings, they passed out drunk. I found my shorts and sports bra and ran back to the school. I never told anyone.

 

Two months later I had gotten accepted to Syracuse University, and found out that I was pregnant. After my abortion, I started cutting my breasts out of anger and stopped eating. Starving myself was followed up by purging my food and extreme running. I started boxing, but within a few months I was so depressed and desperate, I attempted suicide. I landed in the psych ward for a week and was then put on a plane to a very isolated rehabilitation center in Arizona. I deferred my college enrollment for a year, but finally made it there. A couple years later, I was done. I came back west and left for Alaska. Working up near the Arctic circle on an ice road, I was the only female and I still trained for the Boston Marathon. Trust me… 55 below 0 is very cold!

 

It has taken me several more years to let go of my feelings of depression, hatred for my body and hatred for anything sexual. I dated with caution, discovered a passion for trail running and even ran a 50K. But along the way, I became a massage therapist specializing in chronic pain and injuries, learned to embrace yoga and let go of my fear of food. And I met and fell in love with the most amazing man. He is patient with me, lets me cry if I need to and helped to truly enjoy my body and my sexuality. Oh, and he’s a cop, so I definitely feel a bit safer! 

 

Today, I don’t think about the past. I choose to let it go a few years ago.  Now, I find joy in helping other release their own pain.

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If you have lived through an assault, Angela, Elizabeth, and I would love to hear your Soulution for overcoming and dealing with your experience – What helped you?  What didn’t?  What have you learned?  How do you deal with it on a day-to-day basis?  What would you tell another woman going through it?  No one going through this should ever feel alone, and I hope via Soulutions, we can prevent that from happening.

 

You can either comment on this post with your thoughts or use this submittal form on the Soulutions website.  If you plan to comment on this post, you can put your initial in the “Name” field to stay anonymous, but please put your real e-mail so we can contact you if your story is used in the upcoming Soulutions e-book.  Your identity will never be revealed publicly if you don’t want. 

 

<3

{ 43 comments }

 

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  • Laura November 20, 2012, 1:59 pm

    Thanks to you and A for sharing this story – it had me in tears alsmost instantly, but it’s such a powerful message!!

    Reply
  • stevie November 20, 2012, 2:22 pm

    This is such a sad story, my heart goes out to these victims. I’ve noticed once you start speaking to others, these situation are more common than you may assume. My fiance was a witness to his niece being sexually assaulted when he young and still to this day cannot talk about it without tearing up. I tell him life is not so black and white and people don’t know what to do in these situations, it’s not his fault. He has said that writing his experience down on paper was healing and had later spoken about it to a nearby church. He has said these have helped him get through it, but it will live with him everyday.

    Reply
  • Natalie @ Free Range Human November 20, 2012, 2:31 pm

    What an amazing and horrifying story. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  • ... November 20, 2012, 2:39 pm

    You are very brave to have told your story A! Maybe one day I can be able to let go as you have.

    Reply
  • Brittany November 20, 2012, 2:44 pm

    A, you are an amazing woman! Thank you for sharing your story. Too often it gets worse before it gets better, I’m so so so happy to see you thriving!

    Thank you for sharing this amazing project, Caitlin!

    Reply
  • Sarah November 20, 2012, 2:44 pm

    97%?! Wow, that is a startling statistic, among the others. Thanks for sharing all this info and these stories.

    Reply
  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More November 20, 2012, 2:51 pm

    My heart just aches at this story but what an amazing and inspiring woman to be able to get through that!!

    Reply
  • S November 20, 2012, 3:00 pm

    To spare all the horrifying details- I was abused from an extremely young age by my grandfather— I was so dissociated I didn’t even “know” or process I was “abused” until I was in college. I remember thinking as a young child that maybe if I endured it- my little sister would be spared. She was my biggest concern and I tried so hard so that he never got the opportunity to be alone with her. Years down the line I found out — I didn’t succeed. The guilt I felt was truly overwhelming. Why didn’t I say something to my parents? Why hadn’t I confronted him? I felt so guilty knowing that if I had said something I could have possibly saved her…. These thoughts still tug at me but I know that that guilt is not helpful to either of us now. The secret came out a few summers ago. It broke my family and at the same time rebuilt our immediate family into one so much stronger. I’m still working through things- and as awful as a circumstance it was-my sister and I are closer than ever and are completely there and able to help each other through all of this…
    I never knew how common of an issue this was— and maybe if we re made aware– we ll be more in tune with our kids, nieces, whomever to make sure this doesn’t happen to them.

    Reply
  • Lydia November 20, 2012, 3:10 pm

    Wow, what worthy use of this space. Many thanks to A for her bravery at coming forward with her story, I’m sure that wasn’t easy. Your story broke my heart and I’m glad to see you have love in your life.

    Reply
  • Whitney November 20, 2012, 3:29 pm

    Thanks for bringing awareness to this issue. There is definitely no stereotype for a rapist. My boss who I worked under for six years was recently fired for being convicted of molesting a child. Shocking to say the least! The stat that 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail is absolutely disgusting.

    Reply
  • Lauren November 20, 2012, 3:42 pm

    Thank you for posting a trigger warning. That was very thoughtful and is an important piece of talking about these difficult issues.

    Reply
  • MomHTP November 20, 2012, 3:47 pm

    This is a wonderful way to reach so many people and to offer solutions and hope. Thanks for all that you do to encourage healing, happiness and a better way of life.

    Reply
  • T November 20, 2012, 3:47 pm

    I wrote up there above…hoping one day to share my story. Well I got my story out the best I could. I submitted it to the solutions website. It felt great to get it out. I figured I could share on here as well as I know Caitlin’s Blog is a safe envioronment.

    I was going into the 8th grade and I was ‘madly in love’ with this boy. You know…the can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach for the stars kind of madly in love. And let’s be honest…when you’re in the 8th grade everything is ‘forever.’ It was a long summer before 8th grade year. We’ll call said boy Jack…just so it isn’t confusing. It was a long summer hanging out with Jack every day. I liked him so much and he knew it and I didn’t really care if he’d like me back the same way or not…just as long as he acted like it. It was the perfect scenario in my head. His parents and my mom had gone to the same school growing up and they’d even lived in the same town and ran around with the same crowd. Of course this is how it was supposed to be. I can’t remember if it was the ‘bad’ in Jack that made me so intrigued or just because he wouldn’t completely commit (bf/gf status by 8th grade terms) to me that made me like him so. Anyway, he was over at my house one day like he’d spent most of the summer. Parents were gone at work and I was home alone…responsible enough my mother thought. Things started to get really serious…a lot further than we had ever been before. I’d only ever kissed a boy up until that point. Things started to progress and next thing I could remember was me begging for him to stop. Crying for him to stop. No one in my house to hear my cries except him. He took something from me that I did not allow him to take. Afterward he called me a tease and left. That was the last I saw of Jack that summer. Eighth grade came and somehow in the last three weeks of summer after the incident with Jack…the whole school knew what Jack and I had done. Except they knew the wrong side of the story. According to Jack it was consensual and it was a big deal that he had lost his virginity before the 8th grade and he wanted everyone to know…including who with. He left out the part of the story where I asked him to stop numerous times and the crying and begging I had been screaming at him. You see, no one ever really believed that it would be hard for an 118 pound girl to fight off a 205 pound wrestler. I could for sure have gotten away if he had really forced himself on me, right? And I surely had it coming, right? Because I had liked him so much and I apparently gave him the thought it was going to happen regardless sometime. Not true. None of that was true. I knew in my mind that it wasn’t true but the more people talked about it I started to believe that I was worthless, damaged. I couldn’t go to my mom. I was afraid that she would be mad at me and that I would have let her down. That 8th grade year was the worst hell I had ever endured in all my 23 years. I have never felt so low in my entire life. No one believed my side of the story and when I tried to tell people Jack got mad at me and said that I was trying to ruin his life by calling him a rapist. Girls made fun of me, called me names, snickered at me. They made my life a living hell. I couldn’t understand why no one really believed me on what had really happened that day. Was it because it was I was well endowed? Did I just automatically look like someone who slept around? Why was I being punished when something so sacred to me, something I wanted to share with someone on my own terms, was taken from me? I couldn’t answer those questions and I fell into the biggest depression I have ever been in. I began cutting my wrists every night and just watching the blood run out. I never really wanted to die. I remember wanting to hurt myself enough so the pain I was feeling would go away. That’s hard to understand, I know. I know it’s hard because I asked my own mother for help. She didn’t believe me I was cutting myself. She didn’t have a reason to think I would be depressed. I was the perfect daughter. Perfect grades and I never got into trouble. I tried showing her the scares…she wouldn’t even look at my wrists. WHY WOULD NO ONE BELIEVE ANYTHIGN I WAS GOING THROUGH?! I battled with this for over 5 months…then one day I can’t really tell you what changed in me. It was like I woke up and realized that I was better than Jack for what he did to me. I was better than everyone who didn’t believe me. And I certainly was better than anyone who dared to call me names behind my back. I stopped cutting and I stopped worrying about what Jack was doing or what he would think of me. The very last day of 8th grade Jack came to my locker and gave me a note. No words, just gave me the note and walked away. It was an apology of how crappy my 8th grade year had been. He saw just how tortured I was and what I went through. The only thing that really mattered to me in that letter was the last couple of sentences in it. They read, “I’m sorry for what I did to you. I know what I did was wrong. I hope you can forgive me.” I’ve never spoke another word to Jack about what happened that summer day or ever for that matter. Jack went on to be one of the biggest drug addicts in our high school and one of the biggest trouble makers, not to mention losers. I like to think our high school just graduated him to get him out of there. Regardless, the biggest thing I had to do for myself was to believe in myself. I honestly cannot tell you what changed in me that made me change my way of thinking or quit cutting. I now am happily married to the world’s greatest man. He’s aware of what happened to me when I was younger…he can relate to me on the cutting part. As he had done that too in his adolescent years. It was easy to talk to him…that’s mainly how I fell in love with him so easily. I don’t really have any advice for other people who have gone through this before. I cant think of any ‘words of wisdom’ except we are not damaged people. We are not unworthy…and I think the most important thing I learned is…8th grade…well, it isn’t forever.

    Reply
  • Johanna B November 20, 2012, 3:49 pm

    I’m sure no one wants to read this but let’s not forget that men can be victims of rape too.

    Reply
    • Katie D. November 20, 2012, 4:29 pm

      And the perps families hurt too. They may have mothers, sisters, etc that are experiencing hell from the other side!

      Reply
    • Pip November 21, 2012, 8:06 am

      Definitely important to remember. Sexual assault and rape are such gendered crimes that people often forget male victims as they don’t fit the stereotype. Male on male and female on male sexual assaults do occur and it can sometimes be even harder for male victims to speak up given the taboos and cultural constructs around this.

      After volunteering for Victim & Witness Support (a UK charity which supports victims of and witnesses to crimes through the court process) I can definitely say that the most upsetting cases I had to deal with her both instances of male sexual assault. The conviction rate for rape is hideously low as it is (which is a seperate issue to what Caitlin’s tackling here) but when you add in a male victim, it drops even lower, and juries find it more difficult to sympathise.

      An important point Johanna!

      Great post Caitlin, I look forward to the rest of the series, and my utmost respect to the people telling their stories.

      Reply
  • Amy November 20, 2012, 3:54 pm

    Here’s my story from a slightly different perspective. One of my closest friends was sexually assaulted in high school by her ex-boyfriend. I felt so helpless trying to offer her support. I found the best thing — and really the only thing – - I could do to help was to listen to her whenever she needed to talk. We often had conversations where she trailed off mid-way through or changed subjects abruptly, and I learned to just let her talk about it as much as she wanted to and no more. Ten years after her ordeal, I think it still is always with her, but it seems she has found some peace.

    Last summer, I ended up serving on a jury in a sexual assault trial. The incredibly courageous victim took the stand in the trial to tell her harrowing story, and it was all I could do not to openly weep in the jury box. In addition, the evidence presented by the prosecutor was very strong, so we convicted the rapist on all counts. Though I haven’t told my friend about my jury experience — I fear it’d just be triggering for her — I was glad to have had the ability to help another young woman who had faced a similar situation find some sense of justice and closure.

    Reply
  • L November 20, 2012, 4:15 pm

    When I was 15 a person I considered my best friend came and knock on my window in the middle of the night. She told me she wanted me to sneak out with her and that she would not leave until I did. After telling her no multiple times I went anyway. She had told me it was just going to be us but her boyfriend and his cousin were at the house she brought me to. The cousin raped me that night while I asked him to stop repeatedly. He kept saying it is ok while I begged him to stop. My best friend watched from the doorway.
    I went through a very self destructive period and I blamed myself for putting myself in the situation and for being so stupid to trust my friend. My grades slipped and I decided that no one cared about me so why should I care about myself. Somewhere along the way though I became angry. Angry that I did not feel safe, angry that there were false rumors being spread about me, angry that I felt I also needed to be on guard. I used that anger and focused it on going to college, paying for it all myself and graduating. I worked 30-40 hours a week and took 12 hours of classes. My days included waking up at 5am to get ready for the day. Drive an hour to my college then go to work. Afterwards, I would workout and drive an hour back home returning around 9pm. Then I would eat and study and repeat this the next day. I accomplished my goals but I am still left with the feeling of never feeling safe and not being comfortable sexually.

    Reply
  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life November 20, 2012, 4:19 pm

    Caitlin, the work you do is so special and important. You are a gift to so many of us. Thank you for using this space for, educating, empowering and inspiring.

    To A and all of the women sharing their stories, your courage is astounding. To all of the women and men who haven’t found the strength in their voice to share yet or are working hard every day to heal and overcome, do not give up. You are stronger than you know.

    Reply
  • Katie D. November 20, 2012, 4:27 pm

    My sister was raped in 2009 and it has been a long road to her healing. She met with a college social work class and told her story for them and that really seemed to help.

    My cousin a SANE nurse (Sexual Assualt Nurse Educator) and performs all the rape kits at the hospital and testifies in court. I’m so proud of her – it is a very emotional job but she is helping victims everyday!

    Reply
  • L November 20, 2012, 5:06 pm

    Such brave stories.

    I was touched inappropriately by my doctor when I was in 5th or 6th grade. He rubbed my genitals while giving me an exam. My mother (whose uncle attempted to rape her when she was 8 or 9 but was interrupted by her father) was very keen my entire life that I tell her if anyone touched me in a way that made me feel strange or confused or hurt. So in the car on the way home from the doctor I immediately told her what happened. Needless to say we never visited that pediatrician every again and my mother called and complained to his office. I still can’t attend a male doctor and always request that I see only female doctors. My husband knows and is very understanding. That being said, the absolute best thing my mother could ever have done was to tell me from about from the age of 2 or 3 that if anyone touches me that I should immediately come tell her. Please mothers, aunties and grandmas, talk to your loved ones about this.

    Reply
    • K November 20, 2012, 8:42 pm

      I can so relate to your story. I was touched inappropriately by my uncle when I was 12 years old and cannot see male doctors. (I told my mom about it less than a week later, so it only happened once). I gave birth this year to a beautiful baby boy, but talking with doctors about needing a guarantee that a female deliver my baby was incredibly frustrating. I ended up going to a practice that only have women midwives to prevent a male from delivering my baby. They told me that if there was an emergency they wouldn’t know which doctor would be on call – but luckily it was a female and I didn’t need her. I still get nervous about future pregnancy and the possibility of an emergency and having the only option be a male. I fear in those situations I would end up with a c-section due to not being able to open my legs for them… or they would literally just have to tell my husband how to deliver the baby (or let a female nurse deliver it).

      I’m getting off on a tangent, but I really appreciate you having this topic and discussion available Caitlin. I have a blog myself (which you’ll know who I am by my email address), but I’ve always wondered if I should share anything about this…

      Another point to this topic could be how family members did with a relative’s sexual abuse. I have family members that will see be in the same room with him… and other family members who act like it never happend and correspond like normal (including hugs, etc). It’s really hard for me to witness all these things. It’s like a huge huge smack in the face — basically making me feel like they think nothing of the abuse that I occurred.

      Reply
      • K November 20, 2012, 8:52 pm

        This is the comment I emailed you about — can we change out my face thumbnail? Thanks!!

        Reply
  • Lindsay Simone November 20, 2012, 5:09 pm

    This story is very touching and brings up a lot of raw and real emotions. I actually told my rape story on The Huffington Post’s “Becoming Fearless” page earlier this year. It was probably one of the most scary and satisfying moments of my life. I’ve never felt so loved, understood, and cared about until after my article was published. Rape is a horrible thing. Telling your story helps — both you and others. Here’s the link to my original story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lindsay-simone/from-fearful-victim-to-fearless-survivor_b_1652337.html

    Reply
  • Ali November 20, 2012, 7:14 pm

    I was also raped about 5 years ago. I’d moved to Seoul, South Korea alone. After a few months I made some pretty good friends and we went out one night. Somehow I became separated from my friends in a club. While waiting for them, a Korean guy began talking to me. He seemed nice so I figured it was an alright way to pass the time. I wasn’t drunk so I figured I’d be alright. I know all of the things about not taking a drink from strangers at bars but I seriously didn’t even think about it. Korea is a lot safer than the US but I shouldn’t have been so stupid. My drink was drugged and I woke up being raped. Like the girl’s story you posted about, I also got pregnant and had an abortion. The guy had the nerve to call me about 7 months later drunk and crying apologizing for what he had done (he’d basically turned into an alcoholic over those 7 months).

    I didn’t tell any of my friends about it for about 2 years. My friends who accompanied me to the doctor for the abortion didn’t even know. I feared the judgement of being raped (and being blamed) more than the judgement of getting pregnant from a one night stand. How pathetic is that? I somehow dealt with it myself. I was scared of guys and sex for more than a year. I met a Korean guy and told him about it all on our first date. He was the first person I told and I’m not sure why I felt comfortable telling him, but it just spilled out. He was incredibly supportive and helped me to get over my fears.

    I never felt any guilt for what happened or for the abortion which I think really helped. The thing that helped me most was when I finally got the confidence to tell a few friends about it. My best friend in the US still doesn’t know and I don’t know how to tell her. My best friend here cried when I told him and then told me about his own sexual abuse as a child in his home country.

    For me, supportive friends is what helped me. I’m also very thankful that I was already a very mentally strong person. I’m very interested in women’s rights and am well-read on the rape issues around the world, so honestly, I was grateful that my experience wasn’t violent– it could have been much worse than it was.

    The victim blaming culture in the world and even in the United States has got to change…

    Reply
  • Vicki November 20, 2012, 7:37 pm

    Thanks to all the brave readers sharing their stories! You are all more strong, resileint and motivating than you will ever know :)

    Reply
  • Kelly November 20, 2012, 8:42 pm

    I read a lot of blogs but rarely ever comment. I just want to say thanks so much for posting this. I think it’s amazing that you do not shy away from these topics when you so easily could choose to do so. Especially around thanksgiving when everyone is so caught up in the importance of their own lives, it’s refreshing to be reminded of how tragic/beautiful life can really be. thanks again for continuing to put positive messages out into the world :)

    Reply
  • KT November 20, 2012, 10:03 pm

    I lost my virginity when I was raped my third week at college. It wrecked my life and healing has been slow, but I have gotten better. I think it was so devastating because I felt (and a part of me still feels) that I should have known better, and I shouldn’t have put myself in that situation. I had been warned about going places alone, and all freshman had to attend a sexual assault workshop just two weeks before it happened. But I wanted to hang out with some guys from my high school, and I stayed long after other girl friends had gone back to our dorm. After it happened, I spent the next day in the hottest shower I could, trying to scrub off my skin and my feelings- I was so dirty and disgusting and worthless. The next several months I focused on getting drunk so I wouldn’t remember. I stopped going to class and stopped caring about my appearance. I would flirt with guys and do degrading things, like going topless to frat parties and giving lap dances, etc. My parents emphasized saving sex for marriage so much that when I was raped, I saw myself as damaged and needed to prove to myself that I could still make guys be attracted to me. Eventually I fell into a deep depression and attempted suicide. I dropped out of school and tried to recover at home but I didn’t improve, even with anti-depressants. After several months, my parents took me to a counselor and we talked about everything, and one thing she told me helped me really start to heal. She simply said, “This wasn’t your fault.” And she made me believe it. Really, so simple, but no one else had ever said that to me, and I certainly didn’t tell myself that. Once I could process that, I began to put everything in perspective, reflect on what happened, and I decided to keep living my life. It was still a struggle and took many more years to really be in a solid place, but I am now. I hope everyone else who is going through any kind of abuse can reach out to someone for help, and know that you can heal and things will get better.

    Reply
  • Mary Nell November 20, 2012, 10:18 pm

    My heart aches for all of the women out there and what they have experienced…and I’m grateful they have found their voice and courage and share their stories. I took “Darkness to Light” training when my daughter was two which focuses on understanding the signs of sexual abuse and working to prevent it. We refer to our children’s private parts as “private parts” (we taught them the technical names, but just don’t use them often). We wanted our girls to know they are private. We also never “force” them to give hugs or kisses bye, even when it offends someone–we want them to know they don’t have to experience physical touch to be “polite” if it makes them uncomfortable. I know that I can never protect them enough to guarantee nothing will happen, but I do want them to feel safe, loved, and to know they can always tell us anything if it did.

    Reply
  • Mary Nell November 20, 2012, 10:20 pm

    Caitlin–in addition to the Darkness to Light training for professionals, there is also a school curriculum offered by a local agency. It started as Megan’s Project and now I think it is called REP. You might be interested in checking it out: http://safeharborsc.org/what-we-do/rep.

    Reply
  • A November 20, 2012, 11:49 pm

    I am in awe. I am the woman whose story that you read above. When I submitted it to Caitlin awhile ago I had no idea that it would be the one that she chose to publish and I am forever grateful that I have reached peace in my life in order to connect with other amazing women and allow them to feel safe enough to share their own stories. My story, while it may have some unique details, is not unique in the fact that so many people are sexually assaulted every day. It is something that has the power to dramatically change the course of one’s life. To each of the women that shared their own stories in the comments, thank you. Know that you are an amazing person with a soul that cannot be crushed by someone else’s will upon you.

    Thank you so much Caitlin for sharing my story and for allowing this kind of dialogue.

    Reply
  • E November 21, 2012, 2:29 am

    Thank you for sharing your story, A! (and all of the commenters) I was molested a couple of times by a step-uncle while in elementary school. I was too embarassed to tell anyone, but my mom found out through my step-cousin’s parents. She’s 3 years younger than me & was also being molested by him. Our parents reported him to the police & I eventually had to tell what happened to a group of guidance counselors at my school & a police officer. It was the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been…I was terrified of having to tell the story again (he was going to be prosecuted), but the man who molested me ended up dying before any of that happened.

    Reply
  • Mel November 21, 2012, 4:24 am

    Thank you for this.

    My Mom was raped at gunpoint when she was a young girl. She ended up getting pregnant and because my Grandparents were Catholic was sent away for a year to have the baby and give it up for adoption.

    Because of all this, I would consider my Mom a very fragile person. She is set off very easily by things and has a hard time controlling her anger or emotions. As a kid, she sometimes took it out on my sister and I by beating us. I never really understood why my Mom would get so upset over small things as a kid, like loosing a camera lens or her car keys.

    During one of my Mom’s episodes when I was in middle school, my Dad told me what had happened to her- not the part about the baby, but getting raped. I found out about the baby a number of years later when I was in college. (Imagine going your whole life, thinking you have two sisters, only to find out one day that you’ve got a half brother, raising his own family in Texas)

    Although I don’t think her rape excuses her behavior towards my sister and I, I understand it. And I feel for my Mom. She was born and brought up in a time when people didn’t talk about rape or sexual assault- she had no voice. And because of that suppresive environment, she’ll never talk about it. I was able to be that voice for my Mom when I spoke about her experience at a “Take Back the Night” event in college. Through my own tears and with the support of my friends, I was able to let her breathe.

    I’m really thankful for avenues like this, and I’m thankful that victims of assault finally have the opportunity to speak out without fear of shame. I love my Mom so much.

    Reply
    • Pip November 23, 2012, 8:08 am

      Thank you very much for reminding us that, even when it doesn’t always feels like it, we are becoming more enlightened in our attitudes towards vicitims of sexual assault and rape and things are improving, albeit slowly.

      My heart goes out to your mother and what she’s been through. She is lucky to have a understanding and empathetic daughter.

      Reply
  • Sarah (The Simple Dietitian) November 21, 2012, 6:19 am

    Thank you, “A” for sharing your story. It takes major GUTS to be able to share this kind of thing, but you’re helping thousands in the process.

    Thank you, Caitlyn, for posting this!

    Reply
  • Kelly November 21, 2012, 9:58 am

    Wow. This and the comments were incredibly difficult to read. My heart goes out to everyone who has ever had to go through something like this. I also commend their courage for speaking out. I know it is hard. You don’t want to be looked at differently or thought of differently and yet speaking out is one way to try and help. The thought of it makes me cringe. I think rapists should be treated like murderers in the eyes of the law. What they take and the pain they cause is so great.

    Reply
  • A.K. November 21, 2012, 3:12 pm

    Thank you SO much for this post! Thank you also, A, for having the courage and conviction to share your story. You are giving innumerable young women (and men) out there permission to do the same. What you have shared and what you are a part of is a worldwide phenomenon. Working together, we can help create change and raise awareness of such experiences. Thank you, Caitlin, for being a part of this miraculous mission!

    Reply
  • Helene @healthyfrenchie November 21, 2012, 3:31 pm

    Thank you Caitlin for this post and to all of those who wrote their testimonies. The first time I read A’s story, I could not bring myself to comment or read others’ reaction to it.
    This time around I read some of the comments but I cannot bring myself to read them all.
    When I was 16 I got close to a guy on holidays. I was stupid enough to say yes when he asked me to go to the beach with him and his 4 friends. I’d rather not remember the rest.
    The periods after that was really hard. I had a lot going on in my family as well with an abusive mother.
    Then when I was 18 I went on a date with a guy. I let him drive me home and he made a stop in the woods. I was so scared and ended up with bruises on my body by the end of it.
    I tried to turn to my friends but I think we were to immature to deal with this. And I felt so guilty that it was all my fault and that I put myself in those situations. the thing is, I was already in a fragile and self-destructive period of my life. But it does not justify the fact that those men took advantage of it and used violence to get what they wanted. What I never gave consent to.
    What got me through it was focusing on getting good grade and escaping from my family hell and my home town.
    I then left the country and lived in Scotland and then Canada (I am originally from France).
    What helped me was moving away from “the scene” of the crime, talking about it, realizing I wasn’t alone.
    And also refusing to let them take any more from me. I decided that I would have a great life and would not stay depressed and would not stay a bulimic forever.
    That’s why I decided to include the name of my blog. If you are dealing with anything similar feel free to contact me. In fact, please do.

    Also, I agree with the comments that stated that it’s even harder for male victims.

    Reply
    • Caitlin November 21, 2012, 8:44 pm

      I love you Helene!

      Reply
      • helene @healthyfrenchie November 22, 2012, 7:29 pm

        Caitlin, I cannot thank you enough for providing a safe online environment for all of us to share our solutions and our experiences. I wish I had stumble upon a blog like this 10 years ago.
        Enjoy your second helping of Thanksgiving food ;)
        PS: Your kind reply brought a little tear to my eye….

        Reply
  • AW November 22, 2012, 10:04 am

    The statistics in this post are staggering. I was the college athlete with the perfect grades and cookie cutter family. I’d heard about rape and assault and never thought it would happen to me. Unfortunately, my first semester of college, I ended up making out with a guy and he held me down and forced me to give him oral (which I had never done). I was crying the whole time trying to get away, but he was so much stronger than me. The thing is, I never talked about it, because it wasn’t “rape” by the definition I’d always heard. I felt it was my fault for being in that situation and I felt weak for having something like this affect me when there were so many other women out there who were “actually raped.” I stopped drinking and didn’t put myself in situations where I was alone with men I didn’t know. Most of the time, I was fine, but every once in a while, all those pent up feelings came back with a vengeance. It wasn’t until I started talking about it with a few friends and my current boyfriend that I was able to realize that although I wasn’t forced into intercourse, what happened to me was still assault and it was okay that I felt the way that I felt. The few things I would tell people going through this are: (a) It’s not your fault (b) talk about it to someone you trust (c) your feelings are valid, your hurt is valid and (d) these wounds can heal.

    Reply
    • Caitlin November 22, 2012, 4:21 pm

      I am so sorry :(

      Reply
  • Meshell November 28, 2012, 3:31 pm

    Thank you A for sharing your story and Caitlyn for creating a safe, welcoming space for us to share our stories. I would like to share my story.

    There has always been a hushed silence about my Father, my mother’s past, and his 7 (or was it 14, can my family please confirm?) sexual abuse of my older sister. For years, I maintained the act of a good, clean girl that “wasn’t sullied” like my elder sister who was getting into drugs, stripping, quitting school. No, I was the good one, the one that studied, listened, did not question, kept my head low… through that I accepted that I was still the black sheep of the entire family and church we attended. Our family was the trash that people talk about in the 90′s to make themselves feel better. To top it off, I never knew my father, though I had memories of him standing over me in bed (my mother didn’t mind letting him watch us so she could go smoke pot). My ancestry was a mystery to me, and I was too afraid to delve into it (because it meant delving into my abuse).

    I graduated HS at the top of my class (5%) with honors and loads of musical talent. Without thinking, I ran for music in college that was one city over. I didn’t realize I was still suffering from the unknown abuse I experienced in my formative years. I was hyper sexual and with after thought, great at acting like I was excited at doing it. I saw my partners as potential tools to trick with sexual favors in an effort to be loved. My mother and grandmother who raised me did the best they could, but they were very cold women who hated themselves and threw that hatred onto others.

    This year, through a lot of spritual and psychological work (I worked with several gurus and trained psychoanalyst), I came to realize that YES I was molested. Yes, that memory of a man standing over me was my father and yes, it was ok that I laid there in an effor to please him. Right now, I am freaked out by sexuality, feel like I never have been honest about my sexuality, and don’t know how to connect with that feeling without doing some mind tricks (or straight up faking it… I orgasm, just not authentically).

    My whole life I have been playing a song in an effort to appease people who should know the truth (my family). I honestly feel at a loss since my mother is a depressing, sad woman and my grandmother is close to dying. Seeing stuff like this, and everyone sharing their stories helps me to realize that with time, it will change. I cannot easily get help as I am without insurance and paycheck to paycheck, so I just feel like another stuck woman.

    I want to cry reading all of these stories. For myself, for my childself, and for all men and women who suffer sexual assault, including the assailents. The misery and amount of hatred they bury in their Unconscious usually destroys their lives in one form or another (alcoholism, repeating the crime, other crimes, suicide, etc). When we take from someone, we lose from ourselves. Knowing my father is suffering eases my pain somewhat.

    Thank you again for sharing and thank you to those who read this and experience feelings come up. It means a lot to me to present my story. I still don’t really believe it (I have no confirmed proof of his molestation other than my body and mind scream yes when I ask myself). I am also thankful for the pain I have experienced from formative years until now as it gives me fuel to grow, heal and share my story with others. We aren’t alone in our experiences.

    Reply

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