I Still Remember

*Trigger Warning- Mention of Sexual Assault.

When I was 18 years old, I was sexually assaulted for the first time.

Only two years out of high school, I believed that my mind that there was something deeply broken within me. While I was still single after my last relationship ended with a cheating scandal and the ultimate betrayal from a former friend, my other girlfriends seemed to have men lining up around the block to date them.

I didn’t think I was awkward then. In those days, while they casually dated, I wore my religion on my sleeve. I was the good church girl who didn’t veer too far from the sidewalk in fear of being hit by the incoming traffic of the world. Now years later, I realized that this naivety probably contributed to being targeted by men with less than wholesome motivations.

Back in the mid-2000’s the place to meet friends and prospective boyfriends was over social media. Like other girls, I pimped out my Myspace, added all my classmates on Facebook, Hi-5 and Tagged. My profiles contained Panic At The Disco lyrics, music compilations and random quotes which made me seem “so intelligent”. I realized now that my head was so far in the clouds that it was impossible for me to see land beneath my feet. In my mind, I believe the world to be a good place and a safe place.

Looking back, I was so naive… too naive.

In the twelve years since I met Predator #1, I am still in fear that he will magically appear in my life again, demanding what he craved from a silly nineteen-year-old who thought they had figured out the world.

I eventually turned to social media for more than just music and stalking crushes. After asking my friends for ages to set me up, I caved. I began to take more risks as I struggled to find my way into a dating pool that wasn’t quite warm. I dipped my toe into danger, closing my eyes to the searing pain.

After all, this is what adults did.  They took risks.

Not long after, I was added by Predator #1. He was tall, good-looking and being a few years older, seemed to have his life together.  Most importantly, he drove a truck-the number one item on my checklist. We spoke casually at first, spending time drifting between Messenger and Whatsapp. Eventually, he confessed to a crush on me. And in my under-developed, naïve brain, I ate it up.

A few days later, he invited me out on a date. I was so excited. I boasted to my friends that for once I had finally snagged a guy on my own. Despite my excitement, I smartly took along my vex money (money taken by women on a date to ensure they can cover their own costs). I would not be caught off guard…or so I assumed.

I felt trapped. In all my years, I had never lost the ability to lose my voice. Imaginary hands seemed to grab me from the abysss, muffling any attempts to speak.

That night, he picked me up in the red truck of my dreams, but I would soon discover that it would fast become a nightmare.  Over dinner, we discussed various aspects of our lives. He praised me for my intelligence and bubbliness. And for once, I felt calm instead of making anxious comparisons with my friends.

After dinner, we strolled along a path taken by couples who wished to watch the ocean by moonlight. Romantic right? As it was my first time, I walked hand in hand with danger without a second thought, only growing more hesitant as he tried to take me further down the beach away from the streetlights that would ensure my safety.

Despite being so sheltered, I noticed the disarray of couples who ventured further as they used the shadows as their own personal love hotel. So, making an excuse, I managed to pry him back to safety instead of choosing to make out where there were at least a few witnesses.

The night soon ended…or so I thought. I realized that he took the long way back to my house as if prolonging his opportunity to talk me into physical aspects which I just wasn’t ready for. Still, I chattered on as I tend to do when nervous, giving him the address to my house.

With a defeated sigh, he took me home, not taking the way I was accustomed to but taking me home never the less. The nervousness built in my stomach as I started to see familiar landmarks come into view. Then, a few meters away from my street, he could deny his twisted fantasies no more.

Things which I can’t go into detail much still plague me to this day. At first, I tried to tell myself that this was what I wanted. I tried to justify that I had kissed this man. I tried to tell myself that I had led him on and caused him to feel as though I wanted this too. Then he whispered the words I thought I would only hear from my husband telling me that he deserved to get what he wanted.

In less than a minute, he had reduced me to a common slut. The blinders came off of my eyes as I realized that he had only wanted to sleep with me. At this point, my mind kicked into high gear as I leaned into what I was good at. I decided to arm myself with nervous energy talking non-stop as I pushed his hands off me, removing them from places where they didn’t belong.

As I have grown older, I haven’t limited my voice. I speak up. I stand firm.
I call out hypocrisy and toxic masculinity when I see it. Still, this makes me unlikeable, untamed, and unladylike. Somehow, I just haven’t cared to pay attention.

With a dejected sigh, he put the car into drive. As I saw my humble home come into view, I burst into tears.

Eventually, I discovered that he was either engaged or married. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that a part of my innocence was gone even if it was still hanging on by a thread. I beat myself up because of what I had encouraged, telling myself that if I never kissed this man he would have no reason to respond in such a way.

Almost a year later, I faced another sexual assault attempt. This time instead of cowering with fear, I fought back. I armed myself with a knife as I swung violently. If I had to go to jail, it would be worth it in my eyes. THIS WOULD NOT HAPPEN TO ME A SECOND TIME!

As the years passed, I brushed these two incidents from my mind. I refused to play the role of a victim. I used all of the techniques learned in therapy to wrap my trauma into a small box, tucking it away in the back of the wardrobe of my life. I tried my hardest not to lean into the extreme emotions they caused.

Still, life doesn’t always play fair. Recently, my anxiety brought these neatly tucked emotions back to the surface. For days I could only lay in bed as I swallowed back the pain as if it was fresh. I could almost see the details as if they were happening at that moment. I could still remember the scent of my predators. They seemed to be right at the moment with me…laughing at me….mocking me.

What I have come to realize is that in some small way, these encounters have changed my outlook on love,sex and relationships. The thought of love and marriage has never been something that makes me happy. I haven’t relied on someone wholly with my entire heart since then. I haven’t fully trusted anyone since then. I have run away when people get too close as the ghosts of my past hold my life at ransom.

In many ways, my predators win.

Still, it’s difficult to reconcile my past with my future as I belong to a gospel of marriage. I belong to a church where the expectation is to marry young. But as I factor in the experiences in my life and relive the dark trauma I have experienced, I recognize that sexual assault plays a much bigger role in how I view dating. It changed my perception of love. It warped my perception of needing someone.

I recognize that my sexual assaults were never my fault. I was a naïve girl who didn’t know any better. I was a girl fighting back with all the tools I was equipped with. And I hope that I’ve somehow fought the war well, even if the scar tissue remains.

I deserve more than to be the object of one’s desires and the bane of someone’s existence. I deserve good, wholesome, decent, and uplifting love…even if it means waiting a lifetime.

The skeletons of the past do not define me. They no longer hold me hostage. I release them now…forever more.


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7 Responses

  1. Bryn says:

    “I was a girl fighting back with all the tools I was equipped with.” You continue to fight back with all the tools you’ve been equipped with—including your powerful, truth-speaking voice. Thank you for sharing these very hard life-altering experiences.

  2. nicolesbitani says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. You put it perfectly: “I deserve more than to be the object of one’s desires and the bane of someone’s existence. I deserve good, wholesome, decent, and uplifting love…even if it means waiting a lifetime.” You know your worth as a daughter of God, and your words help so many other survivors.

  3. C Preston says:


  4. Katie Rich says:

    I’m so sorry these men assaulted you and for all you have had to carry. Thank you for raising how it creates a challenge to be in a dating and marriage focused church where there is no trauma-informed approach for people’s different experiences.

  5. Heather says:

    This is heartbreaking and horrible and familiar. I love that you will not be silenced.

  6. spunky says:

    I am so sorry this this. So many women have this same experience. Thank you for being brave enough to share it, to know that it wasn’t your fault, and that you will not be held hostage again.

  7. Ziff says:

    I’m so sorry you were assaulted. This is especially chillingly relevant with the Supreme Court’s horrifying decision to allow states to be more concerned with abortion than with sexual assault. But then, it’s no surprise when at least a couple of the justices are rapists.

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