Reena’s Story

Reena’s Story

TRIGGER WARNING This contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors as well as suicide and self-harm.
As a female, a teenager and as a person, sexual assault was discussed so I kinda knew a little about it. But what I didn’t know was that my attacker could be my boyfriend. I was 16 when it happened to me.
I had just started at a new school and I was a freshman, at the time I was 15. Almost immediately I made some new friends, one of them being my attacker. His name is A and at the time he was 19. As the school year progressed, my friendship with A became stronger and we developed feelings for each other. After October passed and I turned 16, we started flirting till one day I asked him out. Things were great in the beginning… until they weren’t. You see it was my first “real” boyfriend and I thought the things he was doing was okay for him to do. How was I supposed to know the difference back then? The things he did were gradual and with each time I grew more and more uncomfortable. Finally I told him that I wasn’t comfortable with the things he was doing to me and he stopped but after only about two days he went back to his ways. There was a handful of times where he had also threatened to hit me when I didn’t comply with his demands. During this time I confided in a teacher at school and I begged her not to tell anyone and she obliged. With each day I was assaulted the more miserable I was becoming, my grades were starting to slip and I started to slowly push away some of my closest friends. This abuse occurred throughout the entire remaining school year. Initially, I didn’t tell anyone but my teacher. I did this because although I was scared and uncomfortable I didn’t want him to get in trouble. He was the star athlete on my school’s basketball team and he would be attending college the following fall. I didn’t want to ruin his plans because my parents taught me to always be nice to people even though they can be mean or do thing you don’t like.
In May, he graduated high school and I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. I was now feeling confident and I told a family friend (who is now my aunt) Julie. I had confided in her instead of going to my parents because I was ashamed as well as scared of what my mom would say since she warned me against having a boyfriend. I felt that because of what happened to me, I had let her down which was never my intentions. After a teary-eyed recount to Julie, I asked her to tell my parents. She called my mom and told her to bring my father and go to her house. The next 10 minutes waiting for them to arrive were excruciatingly long and felt forever. Finally they arrived and I told Julie to talk to my parents and I immediately went to the kitchen and started sobbing. I remember gripping the countertop really hard because I was so scared of my parents’ reactions. Julie told me to come back into the living room and together we took the next step in calling the police. We called the cops and explained the situation at hand. It took about an hour for them to send a cop… A male cop. When he arrived, I asked my parents and Julie to go outside so I can talk to the police officer alone. I told him everything that had happened. Afterwards, he called everyone back into the room and we discussed what could be done. The officer said that the only thing that could be done would be to wait 6 months and then file a restraining order against him. I was very disappointed because I need something sooner than 6 months. That night I cried myself to sleep. I had my first panic attack over summer vacation because I thought I had seen him. That night, alone in the comfort of my room I cut myself, drawing blood for the first time. As the summer progressed, I was growing more anxious because I knew that once I go back to school I would most likely see him due to the fact that he was very connected to school and was well-liked.
Now, school was back in session and I didn’t feel any better. I was scared to go to school. I didn’t want to face my abuser, didn’t even want to hear his name. But how could I possibly explain that to my parents? I didn’t want to feel like a burden to them because they have 6 other children to take care of. I decided to do the only thing I could do: continue going to the same school. The first few weeks were hard and I was constantly scared that he’d show up, but he didn’t. After a few more weeks had passed I thought maybe he wouldn’t show and I began to relax just slightly. Then one day I was in biology class, 6th period, and without warning he walked into the classroom. I immediately got scared and I burst out crying. With tears streaming down my face, I went to the bathroom and attempted to control myself, but to no avail. I stayed in the bathroom until the period was over. Without any of my books, I went to my last class of the day. I just sat there in my desk, not saying a word to anyone and not participating. I stayed that way until the bell rung, signaling the end of school. My friend who I shared biology with and who I had confided in, brought my books to me and stayed with me for half an hour after class to make sure that I was ok. Afterwards, I went home, cried, pulled myself together and did my homework. Afterwards, I cut again. This kept happening over the next few months. He’d come into the classroom and I’d run out and later on would cut myself. After a while, I felt bad for constantly running out without any explanation to my biology teacher, Mr. G. During my lunch period, I found my teacher and asked if I could talk to him. I stated that I was sorry for always running out. I didn’t want to tell him the reason because in addition to Mr. G being my biology teacher he also coached the basketball team that A was on. The two of them had a close bond and I didn’t want to ruin that. I explained to Mr. G that the reason I was constantly running was because I was scared of his star athlete and I told him why. He listened to me with soft, sympathetic eyes and afterwards he gave me the tightest hug. He always thought that my reason for me hurriedly running out of the classroom was due to the fact that A and I had dated and broken up and that I didn’t want to see my ex. Mr. G never thought he could have imagined the reason would be much more sinister than that.
Once I turned 17 I was miserable. I was still constantly self-harming and my depression was really bad. At this time I was also reliving everything; it was as if his touch was burned into my flesh. It was a horrible feeling, a constant reminder of what had happened the previous school year. I started showering with unnecessarily hot water; I needed to erase his touch from my skin. After a few weeks, I finally came to the realization that it wasn’t gonna work, that I needed something different. I refused to submit myself to drugs so I turned to the only other thing I could think of at 17: Sex. I figured that I could create new memories to play over the trauma of the assault. I needed to come up with a better coping mechanism other than self-harming. At first, I couldn’t mentally be with a man who was dark-skinned, since my attacker was of color. And for the months that I was sexually active, I felt racist for doing so. But eventually I felt I could be with a black man. I worked up the courage to do so and the guy was very nice and took his time with me. Although we no longer talk, I’m still very grateful for his patience and understanding. I realize now that sex wasn’t the answer but I still take pride that I stopped self-harming. After a while I stopped having sex for a variety of reasons such as scared of getting pregnant and that I knew that I was hurting my mom.
Since then, I’ve reached out to a few of my closest friends and told them my story. With their help, I’ve stopped self-harming. I still blame myself for what happened to me, but I no longer hate myself. Sometimes, I still get flashbacks but they’re no longer triggering to me. While I recognize what happened to me was horrible, I don’t wish for a do-over. I strongly feel that if I hadn’t gone through what I did, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I wouldn’t see myself for how strong I am. I feel like I could endure anything that’s given to me, no matter how hard it is.
I chose to share my story because it’s been almost 4 years since it happened to me. I feel it’s time for me to stop hiding behind it. I need to speak up about it. I feel like I’ve always been told not to talk about it and so I never had a chance to talk about to properly heal. I am a survivor of sexual assault. This is my story.

Author

WYR

WYR

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

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