The Month of April
***This post contains stories that some readers may find disturbing***
Lately I’ve been feeling rather lost at school. I know being 372.6 miles away from home nobody can come save me from my misery or understand the pain I’ve endured here at this University. You’re probably reading this wondering what I’m talking about, but just be patient, we’ll get there.
Moving to an entirely new state, you’re forced to meet new people and adapt. Adapt to a place you’ve never been introduced to and to people from places you can’t even pronounce. It was all such a shock to me how so many strangers were placed in one vicinity and forced to interact to build academic and social relationships. As a freshman, I never looked into how dangerous this could be, for the simple idea that not everyone is “cut from the same cloth”. Do you really ever know someone? Honestly, that applies to back home as well. Think about it for a second, if I asked you how well did you really know your closest friend and what their true intentions were with your friendship, would you know? Maybe you think you know them like the back of your hand, and maybe it’s something you don’t want to question. I understand both options. Now let me tell my story.
Arriving at my University it felt like I got dropped off at summer camp. I was given so much time to learn the buildings, places near by, and the people— oh the people. The freshmen were full of curiosity, the sophomores hated our class, the juniors were focused on happy hour and the seniors were worried about graduation. Everyone was busy doing their own things. Now I don’t mean to get off topic, I just want to give you a taste of How***. I want you to picture meeting one of your first friends at this new establishment. You’re excited and eager to get to know them. You’ve seen them on Instagram and they’ve followed you on Twitter. Their pictures looked like they’ve modeled and they knew their fashion. You were intrigued. So during freshman week you run into them on the yard at the rep your city party and they could dance just like you; apparently they were Nigerian. Afterwards, you both began to hang out more because they told you they wanted to show you around, besides they’ve been at How*** way longer than you so they had the scoop on D.C. and there was no harm in that. Now I can talk about all of the conversations and how cool they were all day, but I’ll speed this story up; and so the timeline isn’t misconstrued, this is a lead up from August - November.
He was someone I could call a friend. Almost someone I could think of as a mentor — an attractive one. If I had questions, he had answers and a sense of guidance. One day he invited me over to catch up on Power, a TV show, because I was complaining about missing too many weeks since I didn’t have cable in my room. I was too broke to buy a new cable cord, and dumb for leaving mine back home, so he came and picked me up from my dorm and told me he had some left over food that I could eat if I was hungry. When I tell yall he was a chef? I mean a Bobby Flay type of chef. A broke, hungry college student would never turn down food, and they wouldn’t turn down his either. So we get to his house and we’re cracking jokes while we warm up the food. Then he asked me if he could give me oral sex, and I agreed to that, but then he wanted to pursue further and I wasn’t down with it. He grabbed my arms and said, “Just let me put the tip in.”
“No lol, I don’t want to. Can we just finish watching tv?” I asked warily.
“Close your eyes,” he said, ignoring my request.
“For what?” I demanded, my heart starting to pick up pace.
“Just do it.” So I did and then he handcuffed me to his bed. I don’t know where it came from because he didn’t get off the bed.
“Take this shit off me!.” I demanded
“Shhh baby girl,” he whispered as he proceeds to have sex with my body. It didn’t matter how many times I said no or to stop after, he kept going.
That was the first time my body was taken from me. I woke up feeling nauseous. Disgusted, Unamused. How could he take me— from me? I went to the Student Health Center to get checked on and the nurse asked me if I wanted to report him. Looking back on it, I still don’t know if my answer was to help me or help him? I told the nurse I didn’t want to report him because “I didn’t want to bring attention to me and to be seen as weak; plus he was about to graduate so I won’t have to see him for much longer.”
“So what will you do if you do see him?” she asked me concerned.
“I will just look the other way and pretend he’s not there,” I said shrugging the pain away.
Now, just by saying that, I disregarded my own feelings and healthy conscience. I told myself that it won’t matter if I seen him subconsciously. I was putting his feelings before mine even after what he did to me.
A couple days later I got called back and thankfully I didn’t have anything. A couple hours later, the most unexpected of it all happened. He walked across the yard and I found myself running to hide from him as emotions boiled under my skin. I started having a panic attack behind the bushes and that’s when I knew I had to isolate myself to avoid this feeling. I had to act like nothing happened so I wouldn’t become the victim and it didn’t hurt anymore. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want people to judge me or make assumptions. I just turned 17 three days ago.
Now you see, this wasn’t the last time. The second time I was sexually assaulted I was going to a friends house drunk. I repeat, “ going to a FRIENDS house drunk.” He said you're safe here; you can go to bed and sober up, because you can’t walk into the Quad like that. He called me an Uber and talked to me until I got there. I was watching TV until I told him I was tired and needed to go to bed. He guided me to where I could sleep; to get comfortable. I get ready to close my eyes and he begins to kiss me, so I turn my head the opposite way. He stops. I continue to close my eyes and proceed to go to bed. I hear him getting something, but I pay no attention to him. I’m counting sheep. Then he grabs my hands and pins me down.
“No.” I say, but he proceeds. He leaned in to kiss me again and a tear fell down my face and he forces himself into my body kissing the side of my face.
“Please stop,” I beg. He grunts in pleasure as he holds me down. The only thing I could do was continue to cry and say stop. When he finished, he kissed me again and got off of me. No matter how much I try, I can’t get this scene out of my head. I drew it, cried about it, but nothing seems to work. For the women reading this, imagine having sex without any foreplay, you are dry as the Sahara. Then a man forces himself into you, ripping you, because you didn’t want it. Tears falling down your face and he chooses to ignore them, ignore you as a woman, ignore you as a human. It’s more than degrading, he took my womanhood, my sanity, my innocence, my peace, and serenity. How do you recover from that? How do you walk the same campus as someone who held you against your will as you cried in their face? Again, I was asked if I wanted to report him, but this time I didn’t want to go through the process of being victimized and what if he denied it and everyone looked at me as the freshman who got raped and “was fast”. Even though I was none of that, this is what I worried about instead of my sanity. Not realizing how traumatizing this was for me, I continued to ignore it and hold in my pain. I hid my pain as much as I could and I just blamed it on depression so nobody questioned me.
The semester ended. The summer of 2018 I was able to leave Howard and forget about it to an extent. However, that wasn’t in the path for me. There was this guy that I began to talk to in attempt to hide my pain and weakness about myself — until he crossed the line. One night he wanted to have sex and I didn’t. I made it clear I didn’t want to have sex, so he kissed me in attempt to change my mind. I told myself I’m in charge this time, so if I continue to resist he’ll stop. I continue to use this plan and he walked out, I won for once...… until I didn’t. He came in the room and told me to stop “laming him out and treating him like a corn.” To translate, he told me to stop acting like he wasn’t worth my time. I argued back and he grabbed me to put his tongue down my throat and grope me through my dress. I push off, but he grabbed me tighter, as if my resistance was turning him on. My body froze again right before my eyes and he put me on my stomach and had sex with my body as a tear fell down my face. I didn’t understand how I lost control over my body again. He wasn’t supposed to hurt me. I trusted him. After he had sex with me, I think he felt the animosity and resistance to be touched by him. As soon as he stepped away from me I called one of my close friends and found myself crying about everything. I didn’t know what to do or how to feel about myself as a woman anymore. I was disgusting and unworthy. How could I think of myself as deserving if a man could take my body whenever he wanted to?
A couple weeks after that, I went out to eat with my friends and I’m unsure how the topic arose, but they began to make insensitive jokes about rape. As I sat there and listened, one of them stated “I don’t get how people get raped, all you gotta do is scream and beat that nigga ass. Shit, I would bite that nigga dick or something.” I realized I didn’t have a space to open those doors and they made it very clear with their ignorance. How would they even look at me if I told them I was raped before? Not once, but three times. So, I held my piece. My own family made me feel uncomfortable and weak about myself. I just wanted it to all go away. I prayed to forget it. I prayed for all the wrong reasons because I never prayed to heal myself— to forgive myself. I didn’t realize how much pain I was continuously enduring until I began to have panic attacks every day of my sophomore semester— in 2019. A year later, I was triggered in every step I took on campus. I was paranoid. I jumped when people grabbed me certain ways or told me certain things. I didn’t want men to touch me. I still didn’t want to talk about it. I became anxious, frustrated, and irritated with people who had no idea what I was going through. I even hated my close friends a bit for never noticing the change in my behavior.
I wrote this as we conclude Sexual Assault awareness month to share my story. To everyone out there who has been sexually assaulted I want you to know that I care about you. You are worthy— you are important. You are not a victim. I’m still trying to believe these words myself through therapy, but one day I will and I hope you do too. To the people who are reading this and can’t relate; check on your friends. Protect them at all costs. Their sanity and innocence is worth so much.