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Bruises and blood. That was the physical aftermath of the sexual assault. But the psychological damage was so much worse.

I repressed the assault for four years; buried it deep in the back of my mind. Until one day when I was 20 and I went on a date with someone. When they kissed me I had my first flashback. I no longer saw the lovely person in front of me. I was suddenly transported back to that white room. He was on top of me, his hands wrapped around my throat, slowly suffocating me as I drifted in and out of consciousness. Little did I know that would be the first of hundreds of flashbacks I would have to go through, and that I still go through regularly. Six years later I still have dreams of him punching me into submission, chuckling to himself at my screams. The blood trickling down my leg. Trying to use makeup to cover the bruises so my family wouldn’t know.

I lost so much in that room when I was 16. I felt like I lost my dignity, my purity and my innocence. After my first flashback when I was 20, I began to spiral out of control. Chronic self harm, suicide attempts and hospitalisations were my life for two years while I attempted to do trauma therapy. The only end I could see in sight was me buried in a grave. But one day, the thought of suicide didn’t seem as tempting. Breathing seemed a little easier. After two years of hell I finally wanted to live again.

I wish I could say that I’m fully recovered, but I’m not and I don’t think I ever will be. That day he raped me still haunts me. I still have PTSD and struggle with depression. But I won’t be silenced any longer. Men and women need to know that it is okay to speak out about sexual assault. That is it okay to seek professional help for their trauma. If we destigmatize sexual assault and educate people about the need for consent, maybe we can lessen the amount of rapes that occur and as a result, save lives.

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