*Trigger Warning: This story recounts someone's personal experiences with sexual assault and harassment*
Almost a month ago I shared my story on Instagram. I had said that I wasn’t sharing that post for sympathy, but to be heard. I’m standing up and sharing my story in hope to inspire others to share their stories and speak up. This year on February 8th I was raped. I was raped by another student that I trusted, who I knew, who I watched play on the football field. I never thought that this would ever happen to me. No one does. At first I was ashamed and embarrassed. I thought that it was my fault. I was scared that people wouldn’t want to associate themselves with me, not believe me, blame me, and take his side. I was and still am traumatized.
I feel so broken, violated, and alone. I feel like a sack of skin. It's hard for me to sleep at night. I stare at my ceiling for hours, and whenever I try to close my eyes I feel like I'm back on his bed waiting for it to be over as my head continuously hit his wall. I kept saying no please stop, I'm done. After a little I froze. I couldn't fight anymore. I didn't know what to do. I became so vulnerable and terrified. I laid there closing my eyes so tight. Life is now like a constant nightmare. I live in fear. I was terrified to go to school. I was so exhausted from the nightmares. I was scared I would see him in the halls, I couldn't concentrate in class. While he continued to proudly wear his football jersey, I wore my invisible one. Tattered, stained in my tears, and without a team.
I would go to school once or twice a week at most. I was failing all my classes, and people would often give me a hard time for never going, but little did they know what I was carrying with me. Everyday was getting harder and harder to keep up. I felt like I was drowning. It's exhausting faking smiles and pretending like I'm okay. I am so broken that I don't even feel like Mia anymore. The happy, confident Mia that I used to be is gone, I hope I see her again soon. Some days are better than others, but at the end of the day I'm back in my bed staring at my ceiling feeling helpless as the nightmares begin.
People would tell me "it was just sex" or say, "oh no are you going to get him kicked off his sports team? that would be so sad for him." Some would even make jokes about my assault right in front of me. I was in absolute shock when I heard these things. I couldn't believe that someone would say that to me. They were more concerned with his jersey than the invisible one I was now forced to wear every day. All I could think was that this monster does not deserve to enjoy playing his sport and live a happy life with no consequences while I’m scared to go to sleep at night, go to school, or into town because I might see him. What happened to me is one of the most inhumane disgusting acts that a person could do to another person.
I'm tired of living in constant fear and pain. I don’t get to take my jersey off. These scars can't be washed with detergent and bleach. I wear my number every day, in my nightmares, my thoughts… I don’t get to leave it in my locker and pack up and go home. And I don’t get to ask someone else to wear it for me. It’s not something I wish for anyone else to wear for me. It’s something I had to learn to be proud of. Something I will never be able to forget, and something I unfortunately share with a team. And my team doesn’t get any special privileges. We didn’t come with Friday night lights or a starting line of coaches. We didn’t come with a cheer team, we had to find one within each of us. We had to yell from the rooftops because one jersey wasn’t enough. Over 100 stories. That’s bigger than any team on our campus. 100 invisible jerseys. Unwashable scars. Terrifying memories. Over 100 voices trying to make it a few more yards every single day. Today we break the silence. We take back the power because the team of invisible jerseys will no longer be invisible.
I am strong and this doesn’t define me. I shared my story in hope to inspire others to do the same. I was tired of feeling alone and invisible in my jersey. But just because I couldn’t see others’ jerseys, I sadly knew that I couldn't be the only person that had experienced this. As I said in the beginning, I am not sharing for sympathy, but to be heard. I am standing up and sharing my story in hope to inspire others to share their stories and speak up. I want to take the very ugly, horrible, and nasty thing that has happened to me and turn it into something amazing. I could let this ruin me and I could continue to let him take my power like he did on the night of February 8th. But I won’t.
I'm taking back the power. We are taking back the power. I am turning what happened to me into something that our world and community needs. We need change. I want justice for not only myself but for every other survivor. My heart goes out to any person that has gone through what I have gone through. I want you to know that you no longer need to feel alone. We are a team of survivors. Of warriors. Of resilient people.
My name is Mia, and I’m a survivor of sexual assault.