Within my short, yet excruciatingly long, couple years of high school I have experienced a significant amount of trauma and loss.
I know what you're thinking—and no this isn't about the boy who chose the girl with the prettier smile, the friends who were sly when putting their knife in my back, or my crying out saying I'm in all things an innocent and pure victim of life (because let's face it, I'm not).
This is about all the times I've felt alone and like I couldn't go on (spoiler alert, I wasn't and I did).
In ninth grade I was the victim of not one, but two sexual assaults, one much worse than the other, and one much more public than the other. The first assault took place shortly after my fifteenth birthday in the fall of 2015 by a kid younger, but much stronger than me. Pinned to the ground, I sobbed as I felt the pressure and tearing as he forced himself inside of me. Lucky? I would not go as far to say that, but I am thankful he didn't get much farther for he felt too guilty in the process.
After that first assault I was embarrassed and ashamed. It took two months before I worked up the courage to even tell my mom, the person who I am closest to in this world. Two months of feeling violated, two months of seeing the person who assaulted me every day at school, two months of constantly feeling unsafe. After finally confiding in in my mom I felt I had waited too long to create a court case and stand up about what happened, so instead I ran. I moved schools a couple cities away and life got better. For a little while.
After the move I made new friends and had a boyfriend who understood what I had been through, a few months earlier having been through some tough situations himself. Toward the end of that freshman year I was sexually assaulted a second time; a boy tried to force himself on me during a class period in which the teacher paid no attention. Walking out in the middle of class and anxiously trying to find words to explain to my boyfriend—Anthony—what just occurred, he helped me build up the courage to put trust in the administration with what had happened. After talking to the administration, police officials, and later in court, information was revealed which led me to understand my case wasn't the first for this boy. With a protective order, and documents revealing his sentencing, I felt I had finally won some justice.
Later that summer, Anthony took his own life.
A week or so before Anthony committed suicide, we broke up; we hadn't seen each other in weeks since school ended, I additionally discovered he had been talking to an ex-girlfriend that was infatuated with him. We then took a step back while he was figuring his stuff out. Still on good terms but feeling blue, the day after the break up I decided to hang out with friends I hadn't seen in a while to cheer myself up. That night some girls from school came walking up the street noticing I was hanging out, innocently, with boys around and immediately spread that I was cheating on Anthony.
If there's one thing high school taught me, it's that people love to talk even when they know nothing at all and if there's anything losing someone you love in such a terrible way has taught me, it's that everyone needs someone to blame. Unlucky for me, those rumors were a sprout of the blame being put on me. What everyone following those rumors didn't understand was that I blamed myself too. They also didn't understand how it completely destroyed me and my mental health.
Since then I have lost my cousin to suicide and my grandmother to heart disease; although people closer in relation, I think the first time you lose someone is the worst. Within the months of July-September 2016, I lived in my bed- only getting out when forced. That streak ended with the attempt to take my own life on my sixteenth birthday. In those two months I cut everyone trying to reach out to me off, laid in a puddle of my own tears for hours (if not days) straight, and wearing only the collection of band shirts I had reminding me of Anthony.
Getting over the sexual assaults or the losses I faced was, and probably will be, the hardest things I will ever have to do. Within the past three years I have seen three different therapists, done a lot of self-work & reflection, and have come to terms with the fact that I have no control over what happened; I can only control what I do with the experiences of overcoming such difficult things and how I let it change me.
I've decided that it's going to change me for the better.
You either get bitter or you get better—it's that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you.
I'm not sharing my story to gain everyone's sympathy or so the kids who pushed me around and caused such hell among my high school life feel guilty. I'm sharing my story because I know I'm not the only one who's suffered assaults or loss. When going through these experiences I felt alone and like the pain I was facing shouldn't be discussed with anyone, needless to say I was wrong. Situations like this deserve to be talked about and brought to light and most importantly I wasn't alone or the only one going through it and neither are you.