Where is the sun?
I laid in the bed, stripped of my clothes and dignity, waiting for something to give way that would free me from my entrapment.
But there was nothing.
Only the sound of my muffled screams and his heavy breathing filled the room.
St. Patrick’s Day was a big deal at my Catholic college. It was a day where everyone dressed in green and took to the student neighborhood for a weekend of drinking.
I knew early on in my college career that I wanted to go to law school. So I never really participated in the St. Patrick’s Day festivities because I didn’t want to get in trouble. The cops were out like swarms of bees the weekend of St. Paddy’s Day, so the chances of getting caught doing something bad significantly increased. I didn’t want that on my record, so I stayed inside or didn’t drink I went outside.
My third year of college changed the way I saw this holiday. Before then, I always liked St. Paddy’s Day because I got to celebrate my Irish ancestors.
But this year, everything changed.
My friends were having a house party and invited my roommates and I. My friend was like a brother to me so, of course, I had to go. I didn’t drink, but instead made sure my roommates and other friends were okay. [I did this all 4 years of college whenever we went to a party and it got me the nickname “Mama Mary”]
One friend in particular, my best friend, was drinking quite a lot. That wasn’t really a big shock for me, since I had taken care of his drunken self so many times before. However, this year, he was the most drunk I had ever seen him.
To give some context, he drank almost an entire fifth of whiskey to himself, plus several cans of beer and cups of mixed drinks.
By the time my roommates and I were ready to leave (mainly to go back to our house and order pizza), my best friend was so drunk, he could barely walk in a straight line.
He was planning on going to our house to eat pizza too, but on the way home, he decided to take a left turn and headed to his apartment. Me being “Mama Mary,” I felt like I couldn’t leave him to fend for himself. Who knew what kind of trouble he would end up in.
So I chased after him and helped him up to his apartment.
We got inside and none of his roommates were home, but that wasn’t anything new (especially during St. Paddy’s Weekend). So, like always, I got him water, handed him a towel after he threw up, and tried to get him into bed. Every couple minutes my phone would go off with texts from my roommates updating me on the status of our pizza.
When I finally felt like he was in a good enough position where I could leave, something happened. It was like his demeanor changed.
I was thrown into his roommates bed and my back hit the metal bed frame. He kept doing this and I could feel my back starting to give way.
He stripped me of my clothes, throwing everything in different directions, including my phone. Then he threw me onto his bed.
He slapped my face if I yelled, he tightened his grasp on my arms if I squirmed, and he put every pound of his weight on me so I couldn’t move.
I cried and tried to free myself. I pleaded with him to stop. I prayed for someone to hear me and come in. I prayed for the sun to come up in hopes that might make him stop.
Finally, he collapsed on me, loosening his grip and weight. I slowly wiggled out from under him and tried to find my clothes in the darkness with only his idle computer illuminating the room.
As I reached for the doorknob, I felt his hand close in on my arm.
I almost collapsed then and there, thinking I was not going to leave this room alive.
He told me not to go and I, not bringing myself to look at him, told him I could not stay.
He let go of me and I ran out of the apartment with what little strength I had left. I ran the four blocks back to my house and collapsed in my kitchen when I finally got inside.
That is when I finally looked at my phone. I had dozens of texts from my roommates asking where I was and that was when I realized the time. It had felt like I was in that room for a brief period of time, 30 minutes or an hour tops, because everything seemed to happen so fast. It had actually been four hours.
I didn’t tell anyone for almost a year. I couldn’t bring myself to say the words out loud. I cried every time I thought about it.
The following year is also when I started cutting.
I couldn’t handle the pain but I couldn’t find any other way to let it out. I knew it was wrong but I just couldn’t find a way out of the deep hole I was thrown into.
My Mom was the first person I told about the sexual assault and about the cutting. I could tell she was heartbroken but was trying to appear strong for me. She was the one who urged me to get professional help.
Therapy was the best decision I ever made.
Therapy helped me confront all the mental scars the assault had left on me. I couldn’t go to a bar without feeling anxious, I was depressed whenever I felt alone, and I deflected the subject whenever it was brought up.
Now, although I still don’t like bars (but that’s mainly because I don’t drink a lot to begin with), I don’t feel so alone when I’m in a group or a crowd, I don’t feel anxious all the time where I feel like I need to look over my shoulder, and I do not deflect the subject when it’s brought up, I confront it.
Talking about sexual assault and self harm has brought me to a place where, since I have reflected on my own past, I can be of help to those who are just now going through this. It’s brought me to a place where I don’t feel uncomfortable talking about it and teaching young women about it.
I decided to finally tell my story today because this is something that affects everyone, whether you’re a man or woman.
1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college.
Let that sink in.
I am in a sorority and that means, on any given Sunday during chapter meetings, 25% of my sisters were sexually assaulted while we were in college.
That woman who was sexually assaulted is either your mother, daughter, sister, aunt, wife, girlfriend, or friend.
This. Effects. Everyone.
I have a mother, a sister, a sister-in-law, a niece, and a baby on the way that could be a girl.
How are we supposed to educate and protect the younger generations of women if we cannot talk about it?
That is why, when my niece is old enough (meaning, when my sister thinks she’s old enough to hear it) I will tell her my story. And if it turns out I have a daughter, I will do the same.
Because growing up, I was given the rape/date-rape/sexual assault talk by my Dad. But he told me to watch out for strangers. He said nothing about the fact that most women who are attacked are attacked by someone they know.
I was attacked by someone I know.
I was attacked by my best friend.
I used to be afraid. I used to be very afraid to go on dates, to go somewhere I had never been, to have a drink around someone that wasn’t family, to even tell my story.
I am no longer afraid.
Besides therapy and finding a man who understands what it’s like to be broken,
one thing saved me: Jesus.
I felt ashamed when I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone about the attack. I felt broken and questioned what was wrong with me when I broke down and cried for days. I felt like no one could love me, but Jesus did.
So while I prayed that night for the sun to rise, it was a different son that I encountered. Where is the sun turned into where is the Son.
Jesus was with me, He got me out of that situation, and He carried me to safety, just as He has carried me for the last four years.
It’s been four years since that night.
It honestly feels like yesterday.
Except today, I am not weak and I am not afraid.
I am strong and I fight back.
LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
Shout out the my friend, Kelly, author of MI Mentality. She has been so brave in sharing her stories and she inspired me to share one of mine.