Freedom (A Letter to Liv)

I am a firm believer that all things happen for a reason and that all things have purpose. The people we meet, the choices we make, and the experiences we face, good and bad, are not by accident, but beautifully planned out for a purpose.

Some of the most challenging seasons of our lives are those in which we cannot clearly see a purpose for our pain. I know I am not the only one who has asked, “Why is this happening to me?” and just wished that the hardship would stop. But from the hard comes strength, courage, empowerment, and change.

The story I am sharing today is incredible proof of that. This story is not one of being torn down and defeated. It begins with trauma, heartbreak, and pain but ends with strength, empowerment, and healing. And the beautiful thing is that this story is only the beginning of this healing.

My sweet friend has trusted me with her story, which I do not take lightly. I am so honored to share her story with all of you.

It was New Years Eve, 2012. We were all excited to be finished with our first semester of our freshman year of college- and even more ready to ring in 2013. You had another reason to be excited, however; you thought it was going to be another night we could hook up; another night you could pretend to care just long enough for me to consent- only I didn’t consent… and you did not care.

I picked you up at your parents’ house to drive you to the house party. You were handsy from the start. You tried to kiss me and place your hands on me but don’t worry- I told you to stop. I told you I was done being the girl you could use; the girl you could rely on to fill you up when you visited home. I told you I cared about you and if you weren’t going to take this seriously then I had to end what we had. I told you I was not staying the night at the party and that I had no intention of pursuing anything physical with you.

You got angry and upset. You tried to persuade my opinion to change. But my mind was made up.

We drove to our mutual friend’s girlfriend’s house where your demeanor changed- you were no longer angry, in fact you were happy and social. So much so, that you were nice enough to offer to make me a drink- I thought you had a change of heart and decided to respect my decision to break things off- you didn’t.

It was one drink – Sprite and Dragon Berry Bacardi- something I still cannot taste to this day. It didn’t taste stronger than the drinks you had made me in the past. I was adamant on having this one drink, socializing a bit and then leaving the party- I didn’t want to make a mistake; I didn’t want to give you the wrong idea or have anything bad happen- it did.

The one drink you made me had me feeling dizzy, wasted even (or so I thought) and throwing up in the bathroom shortly after consumption. None of our friends thought anything of it. They just assumed I had turned into a lightweight. Why would they suspect you of drugging me?

I found my way to a bedroom across the hall and passed out on a full-sized bed with a navy blue comforter.

The next thing I know, my body forces me awake. In my groggy state of mind, I can feel the weight of you on top of me, the sound of the zipper on my pants- I half smiled, it was almost a familiar sensation. I mean, it’s nothing we haven’t done before, right?

The smile on my face disappeared when I realized exactly what was going on, but you didn’t seem to notice. Apparently, my half-smile was enough consent for you- only it wasn’t.

I tell you to stop moving your fingers in and out of me. I explain it was my time of the month- you stupidly believed me. I thought I was safe. I thought I was in the clear- only I wasn’t.

You move up my body and forced me to kiss you- repeatedly I tell you, “stop, I told you I didn’t want this.” You didn’t listen.

In your drunken and irritated state you become frustrated that you can’t have what you want from me so you become even greedier. You move off of me and I thought it was over- only it wasn’t.

You force my head down to your erection. In my drugged state I mumbled, “please stop- I don’t want to.” You didn’t listen. You were so much stronger than I was.. I guess we can accredit that to wrestling- the sport where I used to cheer you on from the stands. You forcefully moved my head to give you pleasure.

That’s when some of our friends walked in- they burst out in laughter- thinking they just interrupted our fun- only it wasn’t.

I was embarrassed, confused and angry. No one believed my side of the story- I mean we used to mess around frequently- what changed? What was different this time around? I blamed you but I also blamed myself. I couldn’t help but think; maybe I lead you on that night. Why didn’t I yell for help? Maybe I shouldn’t have let you make me that one drink. Maybe I shouldn’t have picked you up at your house and driven you to the party. Did you think I was flirting? Did you think this is what I wanted?

What was the result of this incident for you? Nothing. I’m sure you do not think of it to this day. I was nothing but another successful conquest.

My result?

PTSD

Anxiety

Insomnia

Depressive episodes

Seclusion from peers

Impaired ability to trust

The loss of many high school friends

I never thought the young boy I sat next to in sixth grade would do this. The person I had developed a friendship with- the guy I had shared secrets and many fun memories with. You never think it’s going to happen to you- until it does.

I’m sure some of you are wondering, “how did you overcome this?” And honestly, I’m not sure if I ever will fully 100% recover.

Initially, in an attempt to heal, I cut ties. I cut ties with my assaulter and practically everyone at that house party. I called my assaulter a day or two after the fact and left him a voicemail stating that I no longer wanted contact with him nor did I want to see him again.

Shortly after returning to college for my second semester, I started experiencing chronic chest pain and insomnia; it got to the point where I could not sleep at night if I didn’t take a few Benadryl. Looking back now, I realize these symptoms were anxiety-induced. I struggle with anxiety to this very day and after multiple medications and dosages, I have been able to find a remedy that helps me slightly.

The same second semester of college, I stopped going to parties, stopped hanging out with my roommates who were from my high school and who also knew my assaulter and I started going to the gym, almost obsessively. The gym was my safe place where I could run, lift and train away my distractions. I wanted to build strength so that no one could put me in that situation again. I also got a waitressing job and put in long workweeks, again to distract myself.

Before my freshman year of college ended, I moved out of my apartment and met my very best friend, to whom I moved in with. My best friend was abused as well and her opening up to me helped me realize how serious my situation actually was. I accredit my initial healing process and my continual healing to her.

Another thing I subconsciously chose to do was boycott dating. I did not show interest, go on a single date, kiss, or even hold hands with a guy for almost four years until I felt somewhat comfortable attempting to cross that bridge again.

A series of events have occurred over the past couple of months that made me dig deep into my soul after realizing how truly affected I still am by this. The first was that I had met with one of my guy friends from high school, one of the only mutual friends I remained in contact with. We got into a really deep discussion and he brought up that night, to which I told him the whole, ugly truth. He was almost in tears- he had no idea. He was irate at the fact that he had been there and did not stop this from happening but talking through this with him also assisted in mending the bruises of our friendship. He could finally understand why I distanced myself years ago.

Another event that occurred; I was casually dating a guy a couple of months ago who acted in ways that caused me to lose any trust and later attempted to get physically aggressive with me- he had been drinking. I was triggered but put my foot down. That night I made a pact to myself- I would not be placed into a relationship like that ever again. Fast-forward to recently- I have had the pleasure to start getting to know an incredible man- one who is kind, open, raw, honest and respectful. This experience alone has made me realize that I can be treated how I have always dreamed despite what had happened to me in the past. He has given me hope.

The third event was having the pleasure to read Olivia’s blog series. There were components to her story and healing process that I had not even considered. I wanted to learn more, and more importantly, I wanted to heal even further. I started really focusing on my anxious tendencies, some PTSD-related factors and myself; I began writing down/depicting the source. Being able to understand why these tendencies occur and pinpointing an exact origin has helped me realize I am not broken; I am resilient. I also started focusing on three things every single day that I am grateful for to assist in shifting my mindset to focus on the good in life.

Reading is another outlet that assists in changing my perspective. A good friend of mine recently recommended one that has changed my viewpoint on human interaction; it is entitled The Four Agreements.

Because Olivia’s blog had helped me so much, I reached out to her in hopes of sharing my story. I truly believe there is power in words. I want anyone who has been in a similar scenario to realize they are not alone. I want those who have not been in this kind of situation to read about the unfortunate side effects, daily struggles and overall impact sexual assault can have on a person. We as a society need to stop questioning sexual assault and start treating it with the urgency it requires.

We need to raise better-behaved humans; one’s with decent morals, values and RESPECT for one another. We need to decrease the statistics- because 1 in 4 college-aged women experiencing this trauma in uncalled for and asinine.

I hope Olivia’s words and mine can bring you hope, healing and love because you deserve all of these and more.

Anonymous

I just want to address the survivor of this story and every other survivor:

Thank you for trusting me and sharing with me. I understand the magnitude of strength it takes to trust others after an experience like this. After this friend who you’ve known since the 6th grade took advantage of that trust. Even the mere action of sitting down and writing this out and facing what he put you through exemplifies strength. You owned your story, you found your voice that was silenced, and you overcame.

I also want to say that I am SO sorry that this happened to you and that it happens to so many. You did not deserve that. You are worth so much more than how you were treated. And I understand to my core where that blame and guilt and the “should haves” come from but they are absolute lies. You told him no. That is enough. The second that you expressed you weren’t interested is the second that it became his responsibility to respect that. He had power, he had your trust, and it was not your fault. Please never forget these truths.

Friend, you are so right that you are not broken and that you are resilient. I am so proud of you for sitting down and processing through your experiences and working towards healing. You have inspired me and will inspire so many others. You are brave, you are loved, and you are enough.

If you would like to share your story, email your Letter to Liv to aolividyer@gmail.com.

Please leave some love in the comments! 

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