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

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

I am a survivor of sexual assault and rape. I refer to myself as a survivor because although I went through two extremely traumatic experiences, I am fortunate to still be alive, happy, and stronger than before.

I kept my rape and sexual assault a secret from all of my friends at College for my entire freshmen year; almost everyone that knew me had no idea I was raped. Sure, they probably knew something was up but I don’t blame them for ignoring the fact that I was struggling because mental illness is a very uncomfortable subject for far too many people. However, I do wish that even one of my friends had been brave enough to ask me what was truly wrong. All I can do is tell you my story and hope that it will inspire at least one of you enough to become an empowered bystander or that supportive friend I didn’t have.

It was a Thursday night in January of my freshman year. My close friend (I will call him M) invited me over to hang out and drink with some of his other friends. I decided that I would go over but I wasn’t in the mood to drink because I had class Friday morning. M and his buddies talked me into taking one shot, so I happily agreed because I knew my limit and one shot of vodka would be just fine. He poured me a shot of his “girly” flavored vodka that he kept in a separate Mason jar because he had “made” it himself. What I later found out was that the only difference with the “girly” vodka was that it was drugged.

That night I was held down and sexually assaulted in my own room by M, someone I thought was my friend. 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. My roommate (who I was never very close with) told me that when she came home late Thursday night M had just been leaving my room and told her that he had to take care of me because I was very drunk. She also told me, “You need to control yourself when you drink. Thank M for helping you to bed.” I will NEVER forget how much pain these two sentences caused me.

In April of my freshman year, a guy that I had just met at a bar had raped me. A group of my friends and I decided we would go to the bar for an 18 + night, this was only the second time I had gone out since January. We drank in our dorm room so that we wouldn’t have to take drinks from guys at the bar, thinking this would surely keep us from being drugged and assaulted. Half way into the night, I remember getting separated from my friends and next thing I knew, the guy I had been talking to all night was walking me home. I vividly remember being in my bed with this strange guy trying to push him off of me but being too week and tired. To this day I remember his voice saying, “I know you want this” and “be quiet, I know you like it”. Waking up in the morning, with no clothes on, to a strange guy walking out of my room was mortifying. I remember feeling so distraught looking at this guy, a stranger I don’t remember ever meeting, but knowing he had to be the one who violated me in the worst way possible. Besides having a large portion of the assault vividly engrained in my mind, I had a big cut on my elbow, bruises on both thighs and my knee was banged up; as well as other unsettling injuries and soreness to parts of my body that were obvious signs of rape. Yet I still found a way to blame myself. My roommate sat me down to tell me how irresponsible it was of me to bring a guy I didn’t know home. This moment was when I decided that it was my entire fault therefore it couldn’t be rape.

The aftermath of rape is very different for everyone, but one thing I can tell you is that it is never, ever pretty. I went five months suffering in silence because I had convinced myself that no one would believe me and it was my fault: I must have “wanted” it, I shouldn’t have taken the shot of vodka, I didn’t say “stop” or “no” loud enough… Right after the first assault I mentally shut down although, to the world I decided I would appear to be ok. I stopped eating a lot, I cried everyday, and if I weren’t at class I would be sleeping or lying in bed. I was depressed.

My lowest point was a week after I was raped in April; I had a bottle filled with pills in my hand and was crying uncontrollably. My roommate was out of town for the weekend and I knew that for the pain to stop, all I had to do was take those pills and fall asleep. Flashbacks of those nights mixed with thoughts of self-blame, hate, and sadness raced through my mind. I was terrified. My whole body was shaking as I opened the bottle and I accidently dropped it, pills spread all over my floor. I was so mad at myself for letting them fall to the ground and not into my mouth that I collapsed to the ground as well. I laid there, sobbing, for a long time until a tiny part of me realized I didn’t actually want to die. This event was what turned my life around. I went from victim to survivor. I got the help I needed and began to feel more like the girl everyone used to know.

An empowered bystander, supportive roommate, or a college guy who decided to take me home and make sure I was safe could have prevented all of this from happening. YOU could be that amazing person for someone in the future.

I am telling my story because I am alive and able to speak out. I am telling my story to the guy that will think of me next time he sees a girl who is too drunk to stand up so he will take her to her dorm safely. I am telling my story for all the girls who are still suffering in silence. For the young boy who was repeatedly raped growing up. For the people out there who ended their life as a result of being raped. I am telling my story until I don’t have to tell it anymore because someday rape will not be an issue on college campuses. Until then, we cannot be silent about this issue. Talk about it, shout about it, and write about it. Each and every one of you can make a change. Start by simply posting a status on your social media pages stating that you are taking a stand against rape and it is never the victim’s fault. One post is a simple way to let friends know they can reach out to you and trust you if it happens to them. Be the reason a survivor of rape decides to live.

Author

WYR

WYR

When You're Ready.org is a community for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories.

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