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A year ago, I went to a Christmas tree lighting with my friends after my sexually abusive boyfriend had shown up at my house and forced me to stay with him. I had to go tell my friends I was staying with him, while they rolled their eyes and became annoyed with my repetitive behavior, they had no clue.

I spent nine months of my life getting ripped into. I would have a UTI every other week. I was forced into having non-consensual unprotected sex, while my body was healing from previous unwanted sexual injuries, like the UTIs. I was bent over in my downstairs bathroom, while my mom was upstairs, after saying no. He told me I didn’t love him if I wouldn’t have sex with him. I can’t use my downstairs bathroom anymore. I can’t sit in my living room because on that couch, he removed the condom after I begged him not to. I can’t wear last year's sweaters because I feel like I’m wearing my old skin, like he is still pulling at my clothes, trying to rip them off.

Until he tried to violently rape me, I had no idea. I had no idea that the forceful, painful, lay-there-like-a-piece-of-meat sex, was not sex, but rape. I felt like a failed feminist, I was ashamed I let myself be treated that way for so long. When I finally ended the relationship, it was like I was a human being again. While it took me awhile, I developed a passion for sharing my experience and doing my part to help women in similar situations. I have used my writing as a source of healing and helping others, which is why I chose to submit my truth to a platform larger than what I am used to. My trauma has sparked my love for writing and advocacy, and while I wish I could erase this part of my life, I can’t. I have grown from my trauma, made it something that belongs to me rather than something that happened to me, turned it into something good, and made the choice to only rise from my circumstances.

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