I remember the day like it was yesterday.
I was feeling alone and sad, as was the usual since the recent breakup with my boyfriend. I had downloaded a dating app just to kill time, hoping it would boost my self-esteem and make me feel wanted again. I connected with this guy who I had seen around and thought was super cute. We had mutual friends so I asked them what he was like and they all said things like, "Oh he's great!" or "He's one of the best guys!"
So I trusted them.
He was a returned missionary for my church, a Brigham Young University graduate. He seemed to have everything going for him. I decided to meet up with him late at night and that's when it happened. I got in his car and he drove to a secluded spot.
He wasn't rough. He wasn't mean. He was very persuasive, however, and I didn't feel like I was going to get out of there until he got what he came for. So I just went along with exactly what he wanted.
Even though I said no. Even though I said I don't feel comfortable doing that. Even though I said please don't make me. I still went along with what he wanted.
I didn't realize it was assault until I was talking to a friend about it the next night. "Do you realize that any sexual contact without full consent is rape?" she said to me. My heart sank. I never thought that's what could have happened to me. He made me feel like what happened was my idea, so that couldn't be rape right?
I then turned to the typical excuses. "Well it's my fault because I went and met up with him in the first place" and "it's my fault because I gave in to the pressure." Time has taught me that those excuses are exactly how assailants get away with what they do. They bank on you feeling guilty and blaming yourself. But it's not my fault. It's NOT my fault that he took advantage of me. It's NOT my fault that he pressured me into things I was not comfortable with. IT'S HIS.
It took me a long time to accept that. It still haunts me. It's still hard for me to not imagine his face when I am with the person I love, but it gets better every day. I urge anyone who is struggling to seek help in any form. Whether it be sharing your Truth or talking to a counselor, friend, religious leader, whoever. Just talk. Talk about it. It will help.