Flowers Grow Back if They're Stomped On... And So Will I
Never be a prisoner of your past. It was a lesson, not a life sentence.
I recently watched "The Luckiest Girl Alive" on Netflix, and it brought back many memories from my freshman year in college. The movie is about a young woman who was raped at a party in high school, and the fallout from that event. While I don't want to give away too many details, I will say that the main character never pressed charges or took things any further. Watching this movie made me think about how people deal with traumatic events in their lives, and I began to wonder... whatever happened to me?
I was raped during my freshman year of college. It was at a party, and I had been drinking. I wasn't drunk, but I wasn't entirely in control of myself either. I knew enough to get some fresh air, and I was able to get him to walk around outside and around the quad, but he eventually led me back to his dorm room. I said "no" and "stop," but he didn't listen. He just kept going, and when it was over, I felt like I couldn't move. He got up and left the room, and I hurriedly put my clothes back on, regained my composure as best as possible, and quickly got back down to my dorm.
My roommate wasn't there that weekend, so I had the place to myself. I curled up in a ball on my bed and tried to make sense of what had just happened. I was in shock and disbelief. I couldn't believe that this had happened to me. I thought about going to the police, but I didn't want to deal with the fallout. I didn't want to relive that night over and over again, and I didn't want anyone to know. So I kept it to myself. I did what every rape victim should not do immediately after and took a long hot shower, trying to erase the filth I felt.
On the following Monday, as I prepared to head to my first class of the day, I remember walking out of the dorm and standing there, trying to figure out which way to go. I didn't want to take my usual route to class because that would take me right by his dorm and window, and I couldn't bear the thought of him looking down at me and knowing what he had done. I decided to take a long way around, even though it meant adding an extra 10 minutes to my commute.
For weeks I tried to act like everything was normal. I went to classes and socialized with my friends, but inside I was dying. I felt dirty, disgusting, and like I didn't deserve to be alive. I was so close to just giving up and ending it all, but something inside me kept fighting. And eventually, I made it through that dark time in my life.
It's been over 30 years since that night and I have never told anyone. I was too ashamed, and I thought that it was my fault. I felt it wouldn't have happened if I had just been stronger or hadn't been drinking. But it wasn't my fault, and I know that now. It was the person's fault who chose to ignore my "no" and my "stop."
That night traumatized me and made me question my self-worth. Looking back, I have questioned that ever since that day. Why me? I'm not good enough. I don't deserve that. I haven't made the best choices and haven't always done the right thing, but I've learned from my mistakes. I still don't feel that I'm worthy enough for some of what I have, but I also think that I'm worth more than what I'm given credit for. I don't feel appreciated as much as I should be, even though I try my hardest to show those around me in the best way I know how that I appreciate them. I don't think anyone really knows the depth of my insecurities, but I'm slowly learning to accept myself more and appreciate myself more for who I am.
I'm not perfect, but I am a survivor. I have been through a lot, and I am still standing. I have been stomped on, but I have gotten back up each time. And I will continue to get back up, no matter how often life tries to knock me down. Because flowers grow back if they're stomped on... and so will I.
If you've been raped or sexually assaulted, please know it wasn't your fault. You are not dirty or disgusting. You are worth more than you can imagine and are not alone. There is help available, and you can get through this. I'm proof of that.
If you need someone to talk to, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).