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My truth is one I still live in every day. It's full of anger, shame, insecurities, disappointment, and self-loathing. My body still doesn't feel like mine. And it hurts. It hurts because I know that I may never enjoy being with my husband. I may fake it forever, because what else can I do?

When I was younger my cousin lived on a farm and her cousins (mother's side) lived next door. Their daughter and my cousin were best friends growing up, and I remember one summer heading there. I was ready to go four wheeling through the fields, swing on the swings, play with the baby puppies and kittens, watch movies and stay up late doing hair and eating treats while the parents were asleep. And being this innocent and trusting nine year old girl, I never assumed anything was wrong. No one had told me to watch out for girls. It was the typical "don't let boys or strangers touch your privates." But they were family, no one was home, and soon it became a sick game: doctor, but with a sickening twist. Her cousin was older and said that all girls did it with each other. Said it was for practice. My body responded, it felt wrong. My body was tense, then I felt warm and relaxed.

After that, I didn't think of the effects or what had happened, until I realized all of my boyfriend dating troubles were stemmed from that. I was distant. And they were pushy. Just like my cousin and hers. They wanted me to do things and I refused. They got angry. One boyfriend hit me. Punched me. I remember hitting the floor not knowing where I was or what I'd done to make him hate me enough to do what he'd done, and why was he with someone else? I'd cried and ran. I didn't understand why what I wanted—to be perfect and clean for my future spouse—was so difficult to ask for. Why was I being punished? 

Well, I found the guy. Dreamy, perfect, amazing.  We dated and were extremely happy through my junior year, his senior. I went on a youth group activity with my church on pioneer trails that summer and came back with some new friends, mainly staff. I didn't think anything of it. I'd never been flirtatious or sexual. I was just myself. So when a few weeks later I was asked to go to the house of my new close friend, I didn't think anything of it. We'd hung out after I came home from school and while my boyfriend worked. We liked similar things and he was a listening ear with a different perspective. I thought he respected me. 

I was wrong. 

I fell asleep watching our favorite show and woke up in the middle of a nightmare. I remember screaming, a foreign noise I didn't recognize, until I realized it was me. There was burning everywhere, so much pressure I couldn't breathe. I was crying and hitting him. I pleaded, I begged, combinations of "please", "don't", "stop", and "why are you doing this to me?" He didn't stop. He grabbed my arms. I couldn't move, I screamed louder and louder, but the house was empty. He became impatient and placed a pillow over my face and laid on it with his forearms. I remember feeling my lungs strain for air. The knowledge that I was going to die here in this miserable place. I clawed and I scratched trying to dislodge him, but I couldn't. And he was relentless. I was losing strength and consciousness. Knowing I had to do something or I would die, I shoved my hands up by my ears, and lifted my forearms. I gave in to his pain so I could crack the pillow off my face enough to get air. I just wanted to survive. To see my family and sweetheart one more time. 

He finished and it felt like acid. My body was on fire and I was screaming. No sound came out. I was hoarse. I was weak. I was helpless. He had the gall to get off, grab my keys, and tell me to walk it off. Reaching to the car, he locked me out and told me I'd feel better if I walked it off and headed home. Home was about half a mile away. 

I half walked, half crawled pathetically up the hill to my house. Getting home I found my car running with the driver's door open. I scrambled to my phone, not knowing what else to do, and called the guy who I was in love with. Hoping he wouldn't be disgusted with me.

He wasn't. He made a 17 minute trip into 9 minutes and 23 seconds. He held me as I cried and when we sat down the pain hurt so bad I couldn't stop. This is when my mother came out and was informed of what happened. She didn't say anything. She just told me to get in the car and told my boyfriend to go home. She was just as scared and anxious as I was.

I visited the hospital Monday during high school. My senior year. Already ruined by someone who's sister (a year younger than me) was threatening to send her brothers after me unless I decided to keep my mouth shut. I did. I was humiliated. I had been violated and didn't want to endure anymore. 

Some of the nurses at the hospital looked at me with annoyance, like, "here's another one claiming to be raped, she probably asked for it". Others looked at me with pity and slight superiority, like, "poor thing, she's ruined now, she's never going to be the same." 11 hours later, three police interrogations, a rape kit administered during another interrogation. Photographs of my bruises. Swabs. Blood work. I just wanted to go home. I just wanted to be the same as I was before, even though I knew I wouldn't. 

But I tried. I tried to be the same. But I wasn't. I shut out friends. I shut out family. I shut out of my own skin just to function. My best friend turned her back on me, believing him over me, though she'd known him for less time than I. Saying I was looking for attention. We never recovered as friends. I was depressed. I wanted to cut. I wanted to take pills. And the only one who stopped me was the one person who saw my suffering—my boyfriend. 

But my boyfriend and I made it. We got engaged. End of the school year came. We got married. We now have a little boy. Sex is enjoyable, but I can't please my husband the way he wants. And he will maybe never know. But I've faked it. Hoping one day it will come and I'll be happy and relieved that my mind is healing with my body. 

But for now the nightmares are still vivid. The pain still haunts my dreams. Maybe I will never heal. I don't have physical problems like a lot of sexual victims (my step-sister included), but my problems are mine nonetheless. 

Emotionally and mentally, I will never be whole again. I just don't know how to go back to that nine year old girl and be her, before everything spun so far out of control. Before I lost myself in the reality of what was happening to me. I can never look at my cousin the same. We never talked about it. Our families don't know. No one does and a part of me hopes I will never have to reveal anything.

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