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It will be two years this April; two years since he took something so beautiful and intimate and distorted it into something I fear. An act so devastating, I don’t see myself ever fully recovering from it. The first several months after the assault, I was numb. So deprived of feeling that, in my mind, nothing had happened to me. I told myself and other that I moved home because I was broke, because I missed my family.

Months went by and to this day, I can't recall any time during those months where I was present. Toward the end of the year, I noticed that I had isolated myself from my friends and family; I only left my room to eat and go to work. I had a textbook case of depression, but I wasn’t consciously aware of it—I felt nothing. This realization opened up a door—a door that part of me wishes I had never found, but I understand was inevitable.

The memories came in pieces—jumbled and confusing flashbacks of that night. They were excruciating; I relived my assault over and over. I felt the force of his foot on my ribcage, his rough hands beneath my shirt.

The worst night I've ever had was the night I went to my first therapy session. It was the first time I had told anyone what happened to me. I was hopeful that telling someone would lift this heavy weight off me, but it just made what happened real. For hours, I stood in front of the mirror, tracing the scars, hoping they would disappear if I blinked hard enough. If the scars weren’t real, I could pretend my assault wasn’t either.

"This is real," I kept repeating. "This is real."

Since that night, I have felt debilitating pain, so intense I thought it really would kill me. I decided to tell my parents the week before I moved this past January. It went as I had expected—everyone sobbed and blame was thrown around the room like a dagger. The worst part was when my dad said “as tough as you are,”—as though I should have been able to prevent the assault. My parents were in too much pain themselves to give me the support I needed. 

So this year, I learned to self-heal—through meditation, prayer, and painting. It is still difficult for me to form and maintain healthy relationships with others. I fear if I let people get close, they will know my past and only see what has happened to me—not who I am.

I have found strength and confidence in sharing my story with others, and I hope others can find the courage to speak their Truth. I know the road to healing isn’t simple, it’s messy and confusing, but I will not stop fighting to regain the feeling that I am worthy of love and belonging.

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