Sofia’s story: Ghost in my head

Sofia’s story: Ghost in my head

It started when I was 13. I was like most 13 year olds; naive and insecure. I met him through a chat app. We really hit it off. Then one day he said he was in love with me. I was 13 so I didn’t know what love felt like. But I thought I was in love with him too although thinking back I think I just didn’t want to lose him. Then he started asking for nudes. I said no and he got aggressive. Sometimes he sent his own nudes and when I admitted it made me uncomfortable he threatened to kill himself. I never actually sent anything nude but I remember how scared I was. Eventually I broke up with him and shortly after I found out he had been not only catfishing me but doing the same to several girls my age simultaneously. I felt gross and ashamed for having been so dumb so I didn’t tell anyone.

I became isolated and only really felt connected to people online. As a weird paradox I started obsessively dating more guys online. Every single time I thought they would be the one to “save me” and make the grossness go away. But it became the opposite. They too wanted me to send nudes. At first I refused like I had done with the catfish but after a while I just sort of gave up and did what they asked me to do. It became sort of like a way to punish myself due to all the self-hatred I had.

Fast forward to my first year in high school. I had stopped talking to guys online. I was determined to live a normal, happy life. But that’s not at all what happened. I was questioning my sexual orientation a lot during this time. There was this girl I was close friends with that I probably had a crush on. But she was using dating apps to meet boys. I started doing the same. I don’t really know why. Maybe I was sad because I felt as if I couldn’t have her or maybe it was another way to punish myself. Either way, I started meeting up with guys. They were older than me and none of them was really my type but I was desperate for their validation. I’m not gonna say they raped me because when I said no they stopped. But I didn’t feel good at all when having sex with them. It was like I was forcing myself to do it.

Then me and this friend I probably was in love with had a falling out which resulted in her not attending school and not talking to me. This left me feeling devastated. In my class there was this guy I sometimes hung out with that would ask me almost every day to do drugs with him. I would almost always say no but when she left I was so desperate to escape my feelings that I couldn’t refuse the offer. One day he asked me if I wanted to have a threesome with him and his girlfriend while being high. I said maybe which he took as a yes.

When the day to do it came I really didn’t want to but I felt as if I had to because I had “promised” him. Ultimately the reason I went to his place was the drugs because I was just so desperate to escape my head. We were actually having a real nice evening together, playing video games and eating snacks. Then his family went to bed and it was time to do it. We drank shots and did drugs. I was 16, kinda skinny and had never combined alcohol with drugs so I got very affected. I could barely stand, I was unable to control what I was saying and I started feeling really shit. But I remembered my “promise” and I felt as if I had to fulfill it. So I did what he told me to (the gf was involved too but he was the more dominant one) and pretended to be okay with it although it all felt just so wrong and gross. At some point I couldn’t stand anymore of it and I started biting them and crying uncontrollably. There were all these memories from when I was 13 coming up and I felt like all those creeps were there in the room with us. I don’t remember if the guy and his gf kept on going when I was in this state because I was blacked out but I do have some memory flashbacks of it and in those they didn’t stop.

When I woke up the next day I didn’t move for hours. The gf had left and I was just laying there naked with the guy next to me who was caressing me and telling me how amazing last night had been. It felt so fucking wrong. When I finally got the energy to pack up my things and leave his house I was in a weird haze from the events last night as well as the drugs still having an effect of me. I didn’t want to go home in that state so I went to one of the guys’ home that I had met through the dating app. I didn’t tell him what had happened but he noticed I wasn’t feeling good so he took care of me and I felt safe. But then for some reason we started having sex. As I was still in a haze I don’t know why or how it happened. Maybe he raped me too, maybe he didn’t.

Seeing the guy in school every day since that night was hell. He asked me several times if I wanted to have sex with him again. I said no. After a while I stopped talking to him entirely.

After a while I started seeing another guy through a dating app. He was clear with just wanting me for sex. I felt as if that was all I deserved. I still refused talking to anyone about what had happened to me when I was 13 or what had happened with the guy from my class. I had friends but I felt overwhelmingly lonely, gross, ashamed, you name it. I guess that’s why I kept seeing this guy; loneliness and validation. I saw him for a couple of months. He made me do all kinds of gross things. As per usual I pretended to enjoy it but I really didn’t. There was one particular bad time that actually was the last time I had sex with him and maybe the last time I’ll ever have sex with a man. It was in a public bathroom. He had shut the lights off. I stared into the tiled wall while it was happening. It hurt so much and I made sounds out of pain but he thought it was sounds out of pleasure. My eyes were tear-filled but he couldn’t see that because of the lights who were out. I never said no but I wanted it to be over so bad.

Today I am 17. I changed school the second year in high school. The new school is a huge improvement and I love all the new friends I’ve gotten. I haven’t talked to any of the guys who did all those things since I changed school. I’ve started identifying myself as a lesbian. Maybe I’ve always been. Maybe it was after all that happened. I don’t know. Although I am sort of happy with the situation I’m in right now I can’t wait to get out. I study hard so that when I’m old enough I can move from this city. Almost every place here reminds me of it. Almost every man. There are places I avoid. I don’t really interact with men besides from my dad, brother and sometimes in school. In the future I want to become a psychologist. It’s through learning about psychology I’ve managed to understand what happened and why it happened as well as starting to let go. I never reported any of it due to me not trusting the legal system as well as blaming myself for all of it. I’ve started talking to a therapist online. She has helped me to develop healthy habits but the memories still remain and I don’t think there’s a single hour of the day where I don’t think about it at least once.

Most people have no idea what I’ve been through. On the surface I probably seem alright. Well-behaved, good grades, great family, never cry in public. Only my closest friends have seen through the cracks. Avoiding men, zoning out, listening to the same sad songs over and over again. I’ve told some of them and it has helped. But it also hasn’t helped. No matter how many times I tell people I don’t think it’ll ever go away. Maybe my life is just doomed to be this way. I truly hope that you, whoever is reading this, never have to go through something like this. Love yourself, I didn’t.

Author

WYR

WYR

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

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