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S.O.S. Sharing Our Silence Stories

The following are narratives submitted anonymously to the S.O.S. – Sharing Our Stories site. These stories have been submitted by Illinois State University students, who hope that by sharing their experiences, others can be empowered in their own recovery.

If you would like to talk with someone about your experiences, free and confidential services are available from Student Counseling Services. Though most university faculty and staff are required to report incidents of sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking, Student Counseling Services staff are NOT required to report, services are completely confidential. If you would like more information on services available to student survivors of sexual assault, please contact the Sexual Assault Prevention and Survivor Services Coordinator, Gail Trimpe-Morrow at (309) 438-7948 or gatrimp@ilstu.edu.

Please contact Student Counseling Services at (309) 438-3655 to schedule an appointment.

Read the Stories

I remember this day like it was yesterday. I was at a party with all of my friends at home, right before coming here. We wanted to have a fun night and forget about me leaving and just enjoy our time together. It was all at my friends' boyfriends' house. As the night went on we all got more rowdy. Too many drinks and too much smoking. I was in way over my head and I knew I should stop so I sat down on the couch and just relaxed for a little bit. I decided it was time to leave and my friends were ready to go and we just had to find one of our other friends and that was it. I felt like I was fine so I got up and started looking for her. This guy told me that he thought she was downstairs and he would help me look for her. I've met him before and my friend's boyfriend is best friends with the guy so I thought it would be okay. We got downstairs and he pulled me up against the wall, I said no but he kept going. He pulled us on the couch and I couldn't get him off of me. He just kept going and I wanted to yell for help but nothing was happening. I was stuck there until one of my other friends came downstairs and yelled at him to get off of me and pulled me out from under him. I couldn't understand what was happening. The thought of this happening to me wasn't real. I thought I was having a horrible nightmare and in the morning it would go away. As I was sitting upstairs these two guys came over to me and said they saw what happened, but if I tried to tell someone no one would believe me. They said it was just an accident.

I woke up the next morning with bruises everywhere. They were on my chest, on the inside of my thighs, and there were finger marks on my arms. I was embarrassed. I thought that it was my fault, I provoked it and I could've stopped it but I didn't. The worst part is, I don't know what happened. I don't know if it was sexual assault or rape. It's that thought that still kills me because I don't think I'll ever find out the truth behind that night. I was scared when I came here. My roommate kind of had a boyfriend and he was hanging out in the room while we were unpacking. I just felt scared. I didn't want to be around guys. I've always been friends with guys more than girls and I didn't want to lose that. But as I got to know people here and make new friends, I've learned that it isn't my fault. There were things I could've done differently, yes. But it was all his fault. I said no but he didn't listen. There's no way for anyone to know if this will happen. I think the most important thing to remember is that you shouldn't be afraid to live after this happens. I've learned that with a great support system you can do anything and that's so important to me now. I don't go out as much as I used to, mostly because of this but I don't feel afraid. I don't really want to go to the police or anything because even though this is a huge part of my life and it always will be, I don't think it's worth it. I don't think he deserves to be in my thoughts or in my nightmares.

I want people to know that this can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, there are people out there that think this is okay. They think that we are saying yes if we don't say anything at all. If this does happen to you, you aren't weak. You aren't stupid. You aren't an easy target. You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This whole thing has made me stronger than I could ever think was possible. I used to focus on the things I could have done to change what happened to me. But now I understand that you can't change the past. You shouldn't focus on those things you wish you could change, you should use it to create a better and stronger version of yourself. How we see ourselves is the most important thing in the world. When anything like this happens it is traumatizing, but you will get through it.

It happened 3 years ago, when I was a freshman. I was new to campus, new group of friends, new environment. I went out with a few of my new sorority sisters. We went to a party and I was drinking jungle juice. I was drinking and drinking. I was drunk many times before this time, but this just felt different. I felt sleepy and weird. I saw a kid I met at preview over the summer. I went up to him, and the words I said that would change my life forever were "I wish you had a room here". At that time, I was a virgin, I had experienced other things, but never this. He took me up to one of the bedrooms and I was completely unaware of what was happening. I walked home sobbing. Something was taken from me. I had to go to the counseling center for many weeks after the incident. I am now a senior and I still think about it to this day. I will never get "over it", I have gotten through it. I know that I didn't give myself to him. He took advantage of me. I always thought, I was drunk and I should have stopped him. But, in reality, it was not my fault. I blamed myself forever. Maybe I shouldn't have worn what I wore. Maybe I shouldn't have told him that I wanted to go to a room. Now, I am in a long term relationship with someone who respects me and cares about me. I know my worth now. He didn't take something from me, I gained strength.

When I was a freshman here at Illinois State, I really liked one of my friend's friends who visited the campus frequently. We would text message constantly and were definitely in the "talking" phase. When he came to visit the next time, my friends encouraged him to stay in my dorm room, and he did, but we didn't even sleep in the same bed together. The following night, we went to a party, and I finished my drink, and he gave me one of his since he brought a mixed drink. I didn't think anything of it, and the next thing I remember is waking up in my dorm room the next day without any clothes on. My friends had met him the previous night, and they actually asked me if I was okay since I hadn't acted normal. I didn't seem drunk, since they'd seen that numerous times. I seemed...drugged. I thought back, and I realized that I could have been, since he gave me a drink without taking a sip of it first, even though it was a mixed drink. I tried not to think about it, but when he texted me the next day, he said the worst thing: "Sorry." This was all the confirmation I needed. I went to SHS but it was past the time I could have been tested, and I didn't know what to do. I took Plan B, and then cried. I stopped going to classes, and my grades suffered. I wasn't the same person. When I would go out, I almost always ended up crying. I felt violated, and I felt tainted. But I'm stronger now. It forever changed me, but I wish that I hadn't let it affect me as much. I wish that I would have reported it. I wish that this never has to happen to anyone else, but I know that it will, so let me say this— Survivors, you are not alone. You will probably feel that way and you will probably seclude yourself as much as possible and tell as few people as possible, if anyone. But talking helps. To a friend, to SCS, anyone. But don't let this define you. You are more than this. You are you, and this is just a small part of you. This doesn't mean you're tainted and no one will ever love you because of it. I am living proof that things get better and you are still lovable.

The lotus flower is strong, beautiful and full of hope.  When the lotus first begins to sprout, it is under water, surrounded by mud, muck and insects.  In time, the lotus surfaces above the water, freeing itself from the harsh conditions below.  The lotus slowly opens each beautiful petal to the sun, basking in the worldly beauty surrounding it.

My brother sexually abused me.  For him, it was a sick twisted game.  For me, it was a nightmare from which I could not wake.  I was a child, vulnerable and scared.  I was his prey, trapped with him and his sick idea of fun.  He made me believe I was worthless; a piece of trash.  He silenced me; stripped me of my voice, dignity, and power.  He left me a shell, filled with deep, dark, lonely nothingness.

Today, I am taking back my voice.  I will no longer let myself be defined by the abuse. Instead I choose to be me.  I am a lotus flower.  I am a fiancee, friend, sister and daughter.  I am extraordinary, unique, and full of life.  He no longer has power over me.  I am strong.  I am free.

Just like the lotus flower, we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of the darkness, and radiate into the world.


2018-01-30T10:32:59.631-06:00 2018