Trigger Warning: r*pe, assault, retaliation
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.
I write because it makes me feel like someone is listening – or am I finally listening to myself
I wrote this letter so that I finally years after they happened am listening to myself and my body.
So here it is me finally writing to the people who hurt me but actually I am writing to myself to validate my feelings.
To the guy that filmed me topless while his friend fingered me when I could barely walk. To the guy who filmed me when I was having sex (consensually with his friend) and you can see my tattoo in the video. To the cop who followed me home and tried to kiss me goodnight and groped me. To all the guys who have said “I’ll be quick, just push through the pain, or I know you like it” or physically cornered me or told me after, well you could’ve stopped me. To all the people who have threatened me to protect themselves or a friend. I hope you know that your actions are as equally unacceptable as the guy who sexually assaulted me when I was 13. As the guy who drugged me and raped me when I was 15. As the guy who used force then raped me when I was 19. And to anyone whose ever told me well you never said no (except once I did and that went badly for me). If I’m in pain, not participating, look uncomfortable, am blacked out, can barely walk or you’ve already been aggressive toward me, I’m probably not gonna be comfortable actively saying no. A lot of these times temporary pain seemed insignificant. To everyone who blamed me, told me I should dress differently, or told me I got what I deserve for behaving the way I do. Please educate yourself.
What I didn’t know at the time was how much it would affect me later. That while many of you will never think of those moments again. I will. I will have ptsd in the middle of one of my finals and have to redo the class. I will routinely freak out anytime someone touches me by surprise even if it’s someone touching my shoulder. I feel unable to be there for my friends who went through similar trauma since I am having panic attacks. I will experience endless shame and guilt. Still to this day I will blame myself and wonder what I could’ve done better. Why don’t I learn. All of these experiences will occur because people feel the need to be in power or feel that it’s their right. But also these things will occur because I assumed things like this were normal. I assumed that protecting my friends, laughing it off when someone grabbed me or randomly kissed me was normal and since I like attention I assumed that’s what got wanting attention.
And to every person whose ever gotten me drunk (starting at the age of 14) cause they’ve heard I’m a fun / horny drunk. Fuck you. All of these feelings are conflicting for me because I still enjoy sex and I still enjoy drinking and I feel like I shouldn’t.
To the people who threatened to hurt me and share a video of me fucking someone (that they filmed without my consent) after their friend raped me, followed me home, sent letters under my door. I hope you know how much you hurt me. You weren’t just protecting a rapist you were committing a crime. I shouldn’t of laughed it off but I did and I will never forgive myself for thinking about all the other people that will be hurt because of it.
To the title 9 system that pressured me and made me feel extremely uncomfortable and forced me to relive trauma. I hope you learn how to interact with victim-survivors better because right now it’s abundantly clear that the system is in place to protect the school and not the students. And your system made me even more at risk because of the lack of protection. I hope you know how many people the system is hurting. Although true justice looks different for everyone and for me that will never be a title 9 case that would only be achieved by feeling safe on my college campus and beyond which I probably never will.
This is where I am today at the age of 20.