I was raped five years ago. I don't know how I kept it a secret from everyone, including myself, for so long. I still do not fully understand or remember what happened that night. It wasn't until Honey came around that I even knew it was rape. We were engaged when it happened. I am continuing to piece my truth together. It was only last night that I remembered he was mad at me the next morning. I kissed his neck to try and put him in a better mood. He had me wrapped around his finger, manipulating so many of my thoughts and actions. He was in my head—part of him still is.

So here is my truth, I am letting him out: He raped me. I was repeating "no" with tears rolling down my cheeks, but he did not stop.

Although the experience and aftermath has changed me in almost every way possible, I am still me. In one night he took so much from me. In our entire time together he took even more. Although he has turned my life into a path of recovery, I can still be happy. I am finding freedom from this relationship, that although short, resonates within me on a daily basis.

1 in 4, 1 in 6, is too many. We need to speak up and speak out. I have found freedom from this binding experience by finally saying the words out loud to my mom, sisters, friends, even coworkers. You do not have to go through anything alone and you shouldn’t. Opening up has not changed my relationship with those around me. Being afraid they would look at me differently held me back for too long. Not only do they return with love and support, but I’ve learned that many of them have been through similar abuse.

When others shared their truths on this site accompanied with a smiling photo of themselves, I felt resentment. How could they be smiling when I felt I was drowning? But now I understand.

My smile comes from taking control of my life, taking ownership of my truth, feeling beautiful in all of my brokenness and with all of my flaws. I smile because I am breaking free from the manipulative reign he has held on my life for far too long. I smile because through my nightmarish experience, I can make a difference in the way sexual assault is viewed, talked about and handled. I smile because I am Stopping the Silence.

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