One Voice Can Change Lives
The time it takes you to read this article, someone could have been sexually assaulted.
It was a night and a homecoming I will never forget: him laying on top of me trying to take my pants off and me saying no—but that word didn’t mean a thing to him as he continued to try to take them off. He finally came up and instead lay on top of me, making it almost impossible to leave. I was lying there with about 180 pounds of dead weight on top of me. I remember looking up at the ceiling fan and thinking of how I could get out of this. I used all the strength I had to push him off of me and leave as fast as I could.
I didn’t understand what had happened until months after. I told my counselor about it, which pushed me to go to the police. I grew up never trusting the police, and I also knew about all the sexual assault cases that either get thrown out or drawn out to make the girl look like a whore who was asking for it.
I didn’t want that, but I consulted with a lawyer along with my counselor, and they told me that all we needed was evidence for the charges to stick. As I ran through the night with them, I remembered someone I cared about at the time, who was near us most of the night. The lawyer and counselor wanted them to take the stand against their best friend—and if they refused, they would charge them with serving alcohol to a minor.
It was ultimately my decision, and as I took time to mull it over, I realized I had two choices: drop everything and protect the person I cared about, or press charges and hope for justice and ruin a relationship. In the end, I chose to protect the person I cared about.
Years later, that person turned on me and called me spiteful. They never knew what happened or what I did for them, but those words cut like a knife. Ever since then, we have not spoken. Looking back on it, I don’t regret the choice. They are now helping kids, and I know that I helped make that happen.
However, I would never guide another woman towards protecting anyone but herself. I made my choice and I have to live with the flashbacks, the triggers, and the years it took me to finally feel myself again. I made the choice to protect someone else, not thinking about the person who really needed protecting: the girl in the mirror. That girl lost her pride, dignity, self-confidence, and respect. In fact, she lost everything she ever felt. She would walk into support groups she helped run and look at the girls and feel like a hypocrite.
My heart breaks for any other girl that this boy sexually assaulted, and I’m sorry I didn’t have the strength back then to get justice for us. But I hope you do; it is called the domino effect for a reason. It just takes one voice to start a movement. That one voice can be inspiring.
An average of 321,500 people have been sexually assaulted, and I am one of those people. One voice can change lives.