By the time I turned 21, I had been sexually assaulted by eight different men, one of whom raped me. Some of these men were boyfriends, others were romantic interests. They were men I knew, I was close to and least expected it from. I heard things from them such as, "I can't control it" or "You want this" despite my pleading to stop.
My tears alone should have been enough. I felt ashamed. I blamed myself. I didn't want to tell anyone because I feared judgment or worse, that they wouldn't believe me. I began to believe that all I was good for was the physical things I had to offer. I pushed these traumatic experiences down, tried to pretend they didn't happen so that I could function and forget. But you can't. And this is a huge reason I am opening up to you. Please, speak up and get help. Please speak up so that others can understand the severity of these situations. As I type, something in me says, "Stop! People don't want to hear this. Be quiet!" and maybe that's true to some, but I can't go another day without standing up against something that needs to end. We need to open a dialogue about this. We need to stand up and say, THIS IS NOT RIGHT. These things cannot change if we don't push harder to change them. I no longer want to contribute to the silence.