There are a lot of things about me that have nothing to do with the fact that I was sexually assaulted.
I love kittens, even though I'm allergic. I love taking care of my little siblings. I love Disneyland and the beach and Mexican food. I love telling stories and making people laugh. I hate confrontation; ever since I can remember, the idea that I might make someone angry has given me chills all the way through my fingertips. I am constantly studying Spanish but somehow never become fluent. I dream of being an actor and falling in love.
I think one of my biggest fears about coming forward as a survivor is that all those other things will disappear and instead of staying me, I become this slate onto which people project all their assumptions about what a sexual violence survivor is supposed to be. Hopefully by telling my story, I can fold the trauma of my sexual abuse into my identity, making it just one of the many things I am.
I had just come out and it felt like the world was against me. My family was struggling to adjust and the few people that I had confided in had decided to out me to my church without my consent. I was being ignored in the halls, called into the bishop's office to verify that I wasn't "acting" on my attractions. Home was the worst; I never knew when my roommate was going to give me one of her loud anti-gay sermons.
I only had one person close to me who didn't seem to care about my sexuality. When he asked me to come hang out with him on a night when my roommate was being particularly vicious, I didn't hesitate.
I had been absolutely sure that his roommates would be home, but I must have been mistaken. I wasn't sure about following him up to his room, but I didn't want to go home or offend the one friend I had. So I followed him in and sat on his bed. He told me to lay down so I could look through the sky light in his ceiling.
Then he said, "Sorry, I just have to do this." And he leaned over and kissed me.
I had always dreamed that my first kiss would be romantic and wanted; having someone I didn't like give it to me completely by surprise was a shock. My eyes filled with tears and I took a second to calm down. He apologized profusely and I felt embarrassed for overreacting. I told him it was okay, but I wasn't really interested in kissing. He turned on a movie, and I relaxed.
The next thing I knew he was on top of me, pinning me to the bed. I said 'no', trying to push him away. He only moved closer.
"I'm not kissing you," he said. Then, "Doesn't this feel good?"
"No!" I said again, louder.
"Wow, you really are gay.” And then he kept going.
I had no idea how to make him stop. Pleas were met with gentle responses that I "was just thinking too much" and "needed to live in the moment". The louder I asked him to stop, the angrier he became, until I became so afraid and confused and humiliated that I froze, waiting for it to be over. In the back of my head, I honestly thought that when he was finished, all of the shame and fear that I was feeling would go away.
It didn't go away.
For weeks I couldn't lay down to sleep without feeling his body on top of mine. I would smell his cologne in odd public places and freeze, convinced he was standing behind me. I knew I couldn't report the assault, sure that I would be punished by my school for being alone with a boy in his room and for the humiliating and confusing moments when what he was doing to me felt good. I tried the waters, trying to tell a few people I knew about what had happened.
"Oh, that's no big deal. Boys are just like that, it's girl's job to stop them before they go too far. You're still a virgin, aren't you?"
"I'm so sorry. I can't imagine what I would do if that were me. I mean, I wouldn't have gone out with a boy that late at night in the first place..."
I didn't try telling anyone else.
The worst part of trying to come to terms with what had happened was admitting to myself that the person—the one I had thought of as the only one to stand by me when I was outed—had used my emotional turmoil to gain access to my body. He knew that I was being ignored and isolated and used it to his advantage. The one person I thought I could trust with my sexuality abused it. I began wondering if this was God’s punishment for my coming out. I struggled deeply with suicide and sometimes still wonder if I can survive the pain.
But then I take a deep breath and realize: I’m surviving.
I love kittens, even though I'm allergic. I love taking care of my little siblings. I love Disneyland and the beach and Mexican food. I love telling stories and making people laugh. I hate confrontation; ever since I can remember, the idea that I might make someone angry has given me chills all the way through my fingertips. I am constantly studying Spanish but somehow never become fluent. I dream of being an actor and falling in love. And I’m a survivor of sexual violence.