I was raped in high school by three of my classmates. I was 15 years old. It has been 15 years, and up until now, there were only four people I had ever told. At least three years went by before I told someone. After it happened, I was told to not tell anyone or they would make my life hell, I also felt as if it was my fault for getting in that position in the first place, so I didn’t say a word.
This isn’t something that has constantly been on my mind all these years. In fact, at times it’s almost as if I have forgotten it, but I haven’t, and I am reminded of that when something triggers a memory and I once again feel powerless.
This was, unfortunately, not the first time I was raped, and also not the last. The first time was when I was 14 by a man who was 11 years older than me. I was willing and naïve and thought we were in love. He was abusive and took advantage of my insecurities. The third and last time was when I was 18 years old, by someone I had been in a relationship with.
In all of these instances, I felt as though the rape was my fault or that I had no right to complain because I allowed it to happen. Of course, none of that is true, but the feeling was enough that I never said anything.
Some people would have you believe that it is a woman’s responsibility to make sure nothing happens to her, and while I believe every person should know how to properly defend themselves, that does not excuse the horrible actions of others. It’s also fair to point out that I was a child when I was raped, and a child should not have to worry about such things.
Some people would also question why I never told the authorities or went to anyone for help if it was as serious as I claim. When you are assaulted, when you are raped, when you are threatened, you have your power and voice taken from you and if you are a child it is even worse. You fear what people will think of you or if anyone will believe you. You fear how it will affect your life in school and with your family. You fear the possibility that these threats of violence will be acted upon if you speak. Add the fear of pregnancy and disease on top of all that and it’s no wonder why so few people report.
My life has gone on. I have three beautiful children and a husband who has such a beautiful heart, I can’t believe how lucky I am sometimes. And yet still on occasion, the memories return. Sometimes in a nightmare that wakes me up crying and my husband has to squeeze me tight and tell me over and over that I am safe and loved until I’m back asleep.
Sometimes when I am driving and an old song comes on, I need to pull over and put on our song as a couple or the songs I sing with my kids and continue on. But always, in the end, I remember that I survived, and that I am lucky to have friends and family who, even if they don’t know, have always shown me enough love and support to know that I am worth so much more than those moments in my life.
So know this:
You are not alone.
You are not to blame.
And you are worth so much more.
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