90% of gender based crimes on college campuses will never be reported. When I first heard that statistic, I questioned why the victims never reported their assaults. It seemed so simple to me, if someone hurt you, they should be punished. I didn't understand the pain and suffering an act of sexual violence can inflict on a victim causing them to be silenced, but now I do.
I was assaulted on Saturday, March 18, and I didn't report it the day after. I didn't even report it a week after. It took me 8 days to find the strength to report my assault. I was afraid, I was embarrassed and most importantly I didn't want to be defined by my experience. Being called a victim and acknowledging the encounter as an assault, seemed unimaginable, impossible. So, I decided I wouldn't report it. By doing this I thought I was saving myself; I believed I could protect myself from those who assume and judge.
Even though so many people supported me, all it took was one person...who didn't completely believe me to cause my experience to feel invalid. So I kept it to myself because I thought they didn't understand the severity of my pain. It was easier to put all the weight on my back, than deal with the fact that I was taken advantage of. Except it wasn't easier. I couldn't sleep, I had trouble eating and I didn't feel right. Days would go by, and I would realize I didn't do anything because I was consumed by my thoughts.
I thought my voice wouldn't be heard, that no one would believe me, and I had to do this alone. But that's not true. EVERY voice matters. Never let anyone make you feel as if your emotions aren't validated. Never let anyone tell you what to do: it is your choice to report and it is your choice not to. And You are never alone and there are so many people who want to help you, so remember that you are validated, you are believed and your voice is heard. Always. ❤ #takebackthenight #itsonus #speakout #yourvoicematters #womensmonth