September 29 marks the date of the 2nd anniversary for the day I was sexually assaulted. Although I feel proud of myself for being so strong and keeping myself together while dealing with such a difficult situation, it’s something that is still very difficult to deal with. The truth is, long before my assault, men have made me feel unsafe. This does not mean that all men are rapists nor does it mean that only men rape, but is an experience that many women and I have to deal with.
Before my assault, I had two abusive boyfriends. My first boyfriend was at the age of 15. I was one of the very few girls in my all girls Catholic high school to not have a boyfriend; I felt very down about myself and thought that I’d never find someone who could love me. After dealing with intense bullying for years, I just really wanted someone to want to be around me. At the time, I was very into psychedelic rock, and this guy, who had previously dated a girl I knew, was into the same stuff. We started talking, and he quickly told me that he liked me and also wanted to date me. I didn’t like him much, but I wanted a boyfriend so I took the opportunity.
While he started out claiming that I was a goddess and was the best girl he had ever met, he quickly grew manipulative and controlling. He had access to my emails and Facebook account. He would tell me that society thought I was fat and that it was the reason I was bullied. He told me that if I ever left him, he would kill himself and described in detail how he would do it. He told me that the one thing he wanted to do the most was have sex with me, but if I ever ended up pregnant, he would beat the shit out of me to kill the baby. He also said that if I ever had sex with another guy, he’d murder him. But he was allowed to have sex with whomever he wanted; he would actually send messages on Facebook to other girls asking to have sex with him.
Dealing with this relationship and bullying was difficult; I spiraled into depression. It was very scary because I felt like I couldn’t leave him or else he’d threaten to end his life – maybe even mine. With the help of a therapist, I was able to leave him. I felt unsafe because he knew where I lived and after the breakup, he went to my house to leave a suicidal poem. Even if it’s been years since that happened, I still feel unsafe. Although I had blocked him on Facebook, he created a new one to “follow” me. He moved near my house. I cannot go back home without getting panic attacks each time I leave the house, thinking I’ll see him around.
My last relationship wasn’t much healthier, either. It seemed promising at first; he seemed normal. I was physically attracted to him, and he was friends with my friends. He was open about how much he liked me, yet wasn’t obsessive like the other ex. At first, he would complain about minor things, such as me calling him numerous times on our first date because I couldn’t find him when it was because I was in a room full of strangers. Things changed when he invited me over to his house one night, which was near the bar we had gone to. He wanted sex, and I didn’t. I said no. My mom was calling me to let me know she was there to pick me up. I picked up the call and sat up in bed. The guy pushed me by extreme force onto the bed. I pushed him off, and I stood up to walk out the door. He followed me and pulled my arm, begging me to stay. All I could think about was how I was able to avoid rape, without knowing that a few years later, I’d actually be raped by someone else.
I was worried that he’d turn out to be just like the other guy. My parents were worried, too. He then sent a text saying that he only did it because he loved me so much and asked me to be his girlfriend. While I was apprehensive about it, I accepted because he hadn’t shown any red flags before that situation. Needless to say, it was just as unhealthy as the previous relationship. What followed was a relationship in which my partner consistently lied about everything in his life and would try to control me. This time, I wasn’t going to let anyone dictate what I could and couldn’t do. I was outspoken and did not tolerate his bullshit, yet I still felt unsafe. After getting sick of dealing with him, I broke off the relationship, and he tried to ruin my reputation. I lost plenty of friends thanks to him.
Unlike the previous relationship, I had actually liked this guy. It was very conflicting to like someone who treated me this way. For years, I was very confused about how I felt about him. I finally cut contact with him two years ago, after he tried to get into my life again and try to make me feel bad about myself.
It’s been four years since the last time I was in a relationship. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever find someone who will like me, treat me with respect, and provide a healthy relationship. Since my assault, I’ve dealt with guys at bars who have touched my intimate parts without my consent, drunk guys who think it’s okay to rub their “chubby” against me as a way to be “funny,” men who think it’s totally fine to bang on a window of their car and shout at me to try to call my attention—even if I am clearly trying to avoid even looking at them.
I am not your plaything. I am a human being. I do not deserve to be treated this way, nor does anyone else. I am slowly getting better at dealing with my PTSD but it’s damn scary to live in a society where this is something that happens continuously. If you’re someone who thinks that treating people like this is okay, it’s not. It’s not okay and it’s about time we start changing this.