1. Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. I would have thought that there was enough exposure in my everyday world to the idea of sexual assault, that people would respond to it differently when it happened. But, I guess because it was their best friend- someone they’ve known for ages – they couldn’t help but take his side, even when he did something so terrible, so vile, so morally wrong. Friendship runs deeper than sin. I guess I’ve always known there was a possibility it could happen. I just never expected it.
2. I walked into school that next Monday and felt completely isolated from everyone. Everywhere I looked and turned, I felt like my world was going to explode. I just needed to be alone – always alone. My anxiety has subsided, but those days when it lasted were the worst of my life.
3. In times of great adversity, you really learn who your true friends are. That saying is so cookie-cutter cliche, so classic- but it’s so true. The worst situations tend to bring out the best in people, a best that they never even knew they had. And I’m thankful for that.
4. I’m also thankful for time. It’s not so much that I think time heals wounds, but what happens over time is that you gradually start to refocus on other things, the world moves around you, and you realize, life doesn’t stop because of one bad event. Despite what happened, life’s going to keep on going and going – and it’ll help nudge you along, too.
5. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it hadn't had happened. Of course, I wish 1000 times over it hadn't – but when hard times come, you have to face them. You mature in a way you never knew was possible before. What happened to me changed my way of life and my perception of a lot of things – and when the going gets tough, you put on your game face and fight it with all your might. You are stronger – always remember that.
6. For how many this has happened to- it doesn’t get easier. One more person on the list of assaulted doesn’t lessen the impact, doesn’t stop the blow- if anything, it makes it stronger. The misogyny that floats around sexual assault – “What was she wearing?, She shouldn’t have been that drunk!, She led him on...” is disgusting. It’s outraging. It’s horrifying. You would think at the end of the day that people are better than that. You’d hope that at the end of the day people would be able to see the outright crime that was committed, especially the people who know you. After what happened to me, I know that I’ll fight until every person, regardless of gender, is held accountable for their actions. I will fight for gender equality until every victim of sexual assault feels safe, comfortable, and supported, once they decide to speak about it. I will fight for gender equality so that my children won't have to fear sexual violence, sexism, and misogyny. I will fight until every person, irrespective of age, sexuality, or gender, understands that no means no. I will fight until every person realizes that sexual assault, taking advantage of people, sexism, misogyny, and injustice, are not okay. I fell victim to the worst experience of my life because of my gender, and that is not okay. I am a proud woman, and one who is ready to fight for my rights.
7. It’s 2015. It’s time for a change. It’s time for gender equality, the empowerment of women, and widespread education.