“I am a survivor of both rape and sexual assault. There were several different incidences of both, so I am going to share the one that has proven to affect me the most.

It happened during my first quarter of college. I decided to go to one of the dorms with my roommate, as someone I knew was having a small party there. At first everything was normal, carefree, fun. The room was packed with people, alcohol, and music. As it got later and later, people began to filter out. Unfortunately, I hadn’t noticed this until the room was completely dark, and empty, except for me and him. He was charming and seemed nice enough, so at first I didn’t think anything of our being alone. He took his opportunity, and began kissing me, touching me. Casual but firm ‘No, I’m really not that type of girl’ and ‘No, I don’t want to do that, I just met you’ were protests that went unheard. After about 10 minutes of this, I began struggling and he tried harder. I wasn’t sober, and before I could react, I was on my back, restrained by his hand clamped down on my wrist. My mind swirled with panic and fear as he continued his actions on my body. I still thank God today that I had my phone in my hand as I laid there, frozen in fear. As quickly as I was able, I texted my roommate ‘HELP,’ in the hopes that she was still in the building. Minutes later the door burst open, distracting him, and giving me enough time to push him off and run. My roommate and I ran all the way back to our apartment, never looking back, tears streaming down my face the whole time. I will never forget how numb I felt during that long run home.

For a long time after that, only my roommate and two other close friends were aware of what happened to me that night. I thought I could block it out, and be okay. What I didn’t know was how mentally tormenting that would be. I felt worthless, broken, and utterly alone. Although this was not the first time I had been assaulted, this incident was proving to do more damage than those before it. I had become subject to panic attacks, so terrible and exhausting that it took days to recover. Sleep was replaced with nightmares. Campus didn’t feel safe anymore. I was a victim, with no idea what to do.

I will forever be thankful for Livi Ramirez. She is the epitome of what a sorority sister and Alpha Chi Omega woman should be. I came to her simply wanting someone to listen, and instead got so much more. She threw herself into helping me, and making me see that I was so much more than a victim. Slowly but surely, I began to feel like a person again. I began to put myself back together. Along the way, I shared my story with friends and family, feeling more proud and strong with every word spoken. I made the choice to not let my perpetrator and what he did to me ruin the woman I was. I chose to let myself heal into a new woman, a Survivor.

I am sharing my story with you in the hopes that what I have gone through has the ability to help someone else. If you are reading this, please share it, and help spread awareness. If you know someone who is a survivor of sexual assault or rape, believe them and support them always. If you are a survivor yourself, know that you will heal, you are not alone, and YOU ARE STRONG.”

Photo Courtesy: Ariel Brigmann