Two years ago, I was a victim of sexual assault by someone who I thought was my friend. There was a video he recorded that he used to blackmail me for five months so that I would continue having sex with him. Because of him, I stopped eating. When I did eat, I didn't even have to force myself to vomit. I became terrified of boys; I felt my skin crawl with every look that I received. After every encounter with a guy, I'd rub my skin raw and just cry in shower. No one knew this side of me because all I had to do was smile and say that everything was alright. It took me six months to have enough courage to confess to my best friend about it. It's been two years and I am proud to say that I am a survivor. I'm not asking for pity, I'm asking for support. To those out there who are too terrified to speak up, know that I will always be there for you, regardless if we've even said hello. To those out there who are advocates for victims and survivors of sexual assault, thank you. Thank you for being my mentors, thank you for being my confidantes, thank you for being my foundation. To everyone who this is new information to, please don't treat me any differently. My experience has shaped who I am today and I am proud of who I am.
If anyone needs someone to speak to, there is a Counselor on Call 24/7: (856) 256-4911. Rowan specifically has endless resources so please just reach out to anyone. Your safety matters first, whether it's mental or physical. Understand that you are loved and supported by a larger community than you can imagine.