Survivor Stories: Willow

Willow is our fourth Resident Survivor Contributor. She assumed that all her experiences with sexual assault, harassment and retaliation were “normal.” It wasn’t until her school recommended that she go to counseling and started dating her current partner that she realized how much pain and hurt she had experienced and that these experiences were not just a part of being a college student. She is now on her healing journey one that she expects will be a lifelong process.

We understand that some of Willow’s story may be difficult to read and encourage readers to call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or chat with them online (here), if needed. We also encourage readers to develop a self-care plan.

  1. This is where I am today at the age of 20 – Willow discusses the different forms of abuse she has experienced – things she thought were normal.
  2. I was 13. How could you? – Willow recounts what happened to her when she was 13 and 14 years old. She talks about the things she wishes she could tell a younger version of herself.
  3. I let you take my truth. – Willow talks about what happened to her when she was 15 and how she let her abuser rewrite the story. She now knows that no one can rewrite her story; she knows that no one can take her truth.
  4. Exhaustion – Willow tells readers about what she thought healing meant and how that impacted her during her healing journey. She shares what she knows now.
  5. To all the people I’ve hurt – Willow apologizes to herself and those she hurt and acknowledges the harm she caused while healing.
  6. Dear the Third – Willow writes a letter to the third person that hurt her.
  7. Learning To Take Up Space – Willow writes about her healing journey and how boxing helped her along the way. 
  8. Dear Title IX and the Student Conduct System – Willow talks about how she sought safety from her school, but her school let her down and caused her more pain.
  9. Fear – Willow shares that she’s recently been living in a state of paralyzed fear; she discusses how working with a professional has helped her feel her emotions and move forward.