Nine years ago, my life changed. I became a part of the statistic that one in nine girls is raped or sexually assaulted before they turn 18. 

Growing up, I had a normal household and lived an average life. My parents always taught me how to protect myself, to never go with strangers, and to stay aware of my surroundings. 

But they never taught me what to do if someone I knew and trusted raped me. 

Since middle school, I knew I wanted to be a firefighter and EMT, and my high school had a career program for courses like that. 

But no one knew that I couldn’t trust all the program’s instructors. One of them raped me, beat me, and emotionally damaged me for months. He watched me, found me on social media, and then used information about me against me.  

The first time it happened was after a Memorial Day event. While I waited for my ride to pick me up, my abuser offered to take me home. I didn’t think anything of it– how dangerous could a simple 13-minute ride from the school to home be? 

My abuser took advantage of that. He told me he needed to do something in the classroom quickly, before pulling me in, locking me inside, and raping me.

I will never forget hearing the door lock, and the fear that hit me. 

Too often, people ask, “Why didn’t you fight back?” when someone’s assaulted. But they don’t know that, if you don’t go into fight or flight mode, you could go into freeze mode. They don’t know what it’s like when your abuser is bigger and older than you. I never stood a chance against him. 

The abuse would go on for 8 months, and with each time, I feared for my life more and more.  My parents became suspicious, thinking at first I was getting into trouble at school, then finding out the information my abuser put in his phone. Before I knew it, the cops arrested him, right when I was in class.

It didn’t take long before the news broke the story. As a minor, they didn’t release my name, but the information was shared quickly and easily gave it away. 

From there, I experienced the broken legal system and pervasive rape culture. Time after time, people doubted me, questioning me about the abuse I endured. I will never forget how every person made me feel during this process and still to this day. 

Ultimately, the people I thought would protect and help me failed me. 

Today, I continue to fight for myself. I will always be fighting for myself as a survivor. I may not experience the abuse anymore, but it still impacts me. And that’s not including the long list of things I deal with that many don’t understand.

They don’t know what it felt like when I learned my abuser was released from jail earlier. They didn’t see me when I fought for a restraining order but was denied. 

And they will never see the trauma, and fear, he left with me that still affects me today.