Lisa M.’s Story: I was just a little girl, all alone and scared.

Lisa M.’s Story: I was just a little girl, all alone and scared.

I was 12 years old when I became "the victim" of the unspeakable and life has never been the same for me and it never will. I can't tell you honestly how many times I was sexually assaulted as a child because I've hidden from the memories for so long by the age of 14 I could no longer cope so I turned to drugs,alcohol and anything else I could find to make me feel better if even for a moment. Maybe that's why I can remember only bits and pieces of those years.

A. DuPont’s Story: He was in a boy band

A. DuPont’s Story: He was in a boy band

After a little bit of time has passed, his friends pin you down as they lift up your shirt, lift up your bra. They draw a “smiley” face on your breasts and stomach. Your nipples are circled— the eyes, your bellybutton— the nose. And just above your pubic hair—the smile. You wiggle and scream, but they are bigger and stronger than you, not to mention they outnumber you five to one. You cry and they laugh. You feel both embarrassed and ashamed.

Anonymous A’s Story: I didn’t know it was rape

Anonymous A’s Story: I didn’t know it was rape

I still get nervous if sex isn't on my terms or if I'm at all unsure about it. I sometimes don't go to parties if I'm not certain that I can leave when I want to. I've had more supportive therapists, but I'm still not over it, and it's been almost three or four years. I feel like I don't deserve to call myself a rape victim because I didn't say no. My rapist doesn't consider himself a rapist. I don't like telling the story because I'm always afraid someone will say, "That's not rape. You just made a stupid decision." I've since realized that I've done this before; the second time I had sex, no one asked my permission. The guy just stuck his penis in me without even asking if I wanted to use a condom. I was inexperienced. I just went along with it. I thought maybe that was how people who'd had a lot of sex had sex. And now that I know it wasn't okay and that it wasn't consensual, I feel so stupid and unsure about almost every subsequent sexual decision I've ever made.

Ellie’s Story: I am a survivor, not a victim

Ellie’s Story: I am a survivor, not a victim

Having a “friend” turn into an aggressive monster forcing you to do incredibly intimate things while you beg him not to is terrifying. When I woke up, I noticed the clothes I had been wearing were on the floor and I burst into tears because I knew that I didn’t wake up from a nightmare I could forget, instead I woke up to a horrible reality.

WYR: Defining the vision

Today I wrote the vision for the When You're Ready Project, and having set a direction feels like a giant accomplishment. I've figured out how I can make a difference in a way that I'm uniquely positioned to do. Through conversations with friends with insight and perspective on several aspects of the Project, and a lot of reflection, I have discovered the answer to the questions: "what are you trying to do?" and "what do you need from me?"

Shaindel Beers: After Sharing my Story

Shaindel Beers: After Sharing my Story

The one lesson that I have taken from having this piece published is that we need better education for men. Rape and sexual harassment are not “women’s issues.” These issues hurt everyone. Men need to know what to do when they see a woman being disrespected. A lot of the rhetoric is troubling – Would you want someone to treat your mother that way? Or your sister? – because women should be valued not in relation to someone else but just as people. I don’t know how to get us there.

Anonymous Story: I think it may have been the same guy.

Anonymous Story: I think it may have been the same guy.

I had a similar experience before leaving [that town] and think it may have been the same guy. I was called all sorts of horrible names over the next days, weeks, and beyond because he bragged to the rest of the guys and even his female friends about it.

Danielle Tansino’s Story: Jurors don’t like girls that drink

On the night of April 28, 2011, Red My Lips founder, Danielle Tansino (then 29), was out with friends. She was later isolated and raped by a childhood friend of her then housemate. After filing a police report, and following a traumatic experience with the court system, she was told by a female district attorney that they would not prosecute because, "Jurors don't like girls that drink."

P.W.’s Story: I should have known he was a predator

P.W.’s Story: I should have known he was a predator

The little voice in the back of my head nagged at me. You don’t know this guy, your friends don’t know where you are, and this is a bad idea. Before I had a chance to change my mind the door opened and I was engulfed by his good looks and charming smile. I think he sensed my inexperience as I stood there awkwardly in the doorway.

Finding Fierce’s Story: The Fight Inside

My mother once told me she had had second thoughts
about getting us vaccinated, my brothers and I.
About sullying our pristine, trusting little bodies
with dark potential.

This is how I feel about something else
that happened to me then.
The unwanted touch like the needle.
An unfamiliar dis-ease shot under my smooth, new skin.

Poem: The other side of the door

Poem: The other side of the door

The room is dark and cool, it smells like hot metal and the air is dry.</br>
A lullaby of ominous whispers consumes my subconscious, if I try to eavesdrop they fall silent.</br>
Slivers of lavender light dance on sharp edges of images you don't want in your head.</br>
Images you couldn't, shouldn't, don't imagine.</br>

Shaindel Beers’s Story: Hundreds of Dollars

Dear Younger Sister,
This happened in 2004 when I was twenty-seven, which is probably older than you are now, but that’s part of why this is so important for me to tell you—because a lot of times people act like this only happens in high school or college. Or you feel especially dumb about what happened if you were older than high school or college age.

Sarah Certa’s Story: Dead Woman

Sarah Certa’s Story: Dead Woman

Trauma: Like this the truth trickles down to you. Slowly you peel back one layer at a time. You built walls in defense but now you live inside a house inside a house inside a house. You live underground. It is safer to be dead but you realize you’re not ready for that. Slowly you unearth your grave.
Slowly you make space around you. Slowly you take up that space.

Here’s what happens when you share your story

I've been trying since I got home to sit down and write a post about how the first day of the When You're Ready Project went, but I can't. I've been glued to my phone and keyboard corresponding with the countless people who have reached out with words of support and encouragement, to thank me, and to share their stories. This day has been the biggest emotional roller coaster I've been on in my entire life. And the best.

WYR Project: Day 1

I pictured my sister crying, wondering why I never told her. She did cry. But she also told me this: "There is such great power in doing this, Lauren. I've heard it said that shame loses its power when we are fully known and truly delighted in. I delight in you completely."

No turning back now…

Today I’ll be sending an email to my close friends and family to give them the ‘heads up’ about this project. I’d like them to have a chance to digest before I attach my name to the project and really get behind it. I’m sure they’ll support me, but I’m also nervous about their reactions.

My Story: He was given ‘permission’ to rape me

My Story: He was given ‘permission’ to rape me

I'm less afraid of talking about these ones than the first one. I have no idea what became of either of those guys, and I don't care. I've lost touch with all of the "friends" we had in common back then, the ones who knew and didn't stop it, the boyfriend who gave permission for his friend to rape me…it's a part of my life I've put past me.

My Story: The summer I became a slut

My Story: The summer I became a slut

The first time I was raped I was 16 years old. The night exists in a series of flash-bulb images that I can neither piece together nor erase from my memory, despite years of trying. I’m still not sure if it was my fault, even though I know it wasn’t.

I don’t think about it very often anymore, but every few years I revisit the spiral of shame, and guilt.

When you’re ready, I’ll be here…

I started this project because I’m ready to share my story, to end my silence. I was raped three separate times as a teenager and in my early twenties. I’ve suffered shame, guilt, anger, depression, substance abuse, and hopelessness –