It is Not Your Fault, and It Does Not Define You
It was my freshman year of college. At the time, I had been struggling with two years of daily chronic migraines. My health was in a really bad place, my self-esteem was really low, I was scared to start college and be on my own. After about the first few weeks or so of college, I met this guy through one of my mutual friends. We were outside the dorms and he walked by, I thought he was super cute. I subtly asked him out to a school event and I got his number. The next day, he told me he couldn't make it to the event, and then later we hung out with some friends. I was instantly attracted to him - I was just kinda head over heals and not thinking. Later that night he asked me out on a date. The next day, we went out to lunch on campus and then later went back to my dorm to bake some cookies. Then later that night, he joined my friends and I for a movie night. While my friends were bickering about what movie to watch he put his hand on my leg. It was very unexpected because we hadn't even held hands yet. Then he asked me if I wanted to leave the movie (before we even started watching it). So I was like, okay we can leave. So we left my friends, he told them that he had to drive home this weekend. As we were walking back to my dorm, he asked if I wanted him to go. I said no, because I really liked him. Then, he said we could either take his car and go somewhere, or go out on the front lawn. I didn't trust him to drive me anywhere late at night, so I said we could hang out on the front lawn. So we were sitting on the front lawn, it was probably around midnight and he ended up kissing me. This part was consensual but for me this was a new experience, it was my first kiss actually and I was uncomfortable how we were out in the open, where anyone could walk by. When it was about 2am, the sprinklers started going on and so we got up and left. As we were leaving he said "I love you." This was technically our first day, third day of knowing him and I should have known that this was a red flag. That next week we went out on the lawn to hang out in the evening, however, it was still pretty light out, a lot of people around. He started kissing me and i told him i felt uncomfortable that there were so many people around. He told me not to worry and kept kissing me and getting more handsy. He then put his hands down my leggings and started touching me. I was terrified. I kept saying how I wasn't comfortable with how many people were around, but he didn't stop. The next day or so, I went over to his dorm room. He wanted to sit on the bed. And he started kissing me and even took my shirt off. He was playing music, and I knew the other roommates in the house he was living in were home too. Then his roommate walked in. I was so embarrassed and wrapped myself quickly up in covers. He was there for a good five minutes making conversation and then finally left. After he left the guy kept touching me and I didn't know how to say no - he did it without asking and I was afraid of him getting aggressive. He kept telling me how turned on he was and how much he wanted me to touch him. I felt so uncomfortable and finally left and made some excuse to leave. Later that week in my dorm, he came over and kept telling me how he wanted to have sex. I kept telling him how uncomfortable i was. And he even took off his pants and I could feel his dick on the inside of my leg and i kept telling him no, and how i was uncomfortable. He kept telling me how he wanted to go away for weekends in Joshua tree or go stay in this cabin for a weekend by ourselves. I felt like he kept pushing me to touch his dick or to have sex with him and when i kept saying no, he got so frustrated with me and would make me feel guilt. He would tell me things like how I was the most beautiful woman in the world and then would just treat me like shit. One night, he was in my room and kept pressuring me to stay the night. At the college I go to, we have strict visiting hours and are not allowed to have boys stay over in our dorm. I kept telling him it was time to leave and he didn't move. Once I heard the RA come in the hall of the dorm, I felt suffocated, and I knew now I was stuck with him for the next few hours or at least until i could sneak him out. That whole time all he kept telling me was how turned on he was and he would touch my and i was too scared to tell him to stop because I knew how angry he got when he didn't get his way. Finally, the next week or so he broke up with me and went onto trying to date my best gal friends at school. After our breakup, I felt like it was the end of the world. I didn't see how much damage he caused me and how toxic he was - I just felt like I wasn't good enough. I cried, I was suicidal, I had panic attacks, I could barely stay in my room because I would feel like he was there, I couldn't sleep and if I did sleep he was in my nightmares. I didn't tell any of my friends or family because I was too embarrassed. I felt ashamed like it was something wrong I did, like I shouldn't have ever fallen for him. I invested into him emotionally and physically and he just didn't even care. It has been a year, and I just recently realized that what he did was sexual harassment. He did not listen to me, I did not give him consent, I could not make him leave my room when I needed him to, he made me feel guilty if I didn't have sex or touch him, he manipulated my feelings and my body. He made me believe I wasn't good enough or pretty enough or thin enough. He made me think I was clingy for wanting support. He made me feel like a burden when I would tell him my problems. He made me feel like I was damaged. It has been a year and I still don't feel okay. I still get nightmares, I still get flashbacks. If I hear a song that he used to play or see the type of car he used to drive, it just takes me back. I only have told my current boyfriend this story and was too ashamed to tell my family or any of my friends. I felt like I would be judged if I opened up about my story. But I am glad I get to share it with you today. I don't know if I will ever be the same from this experience, but I am trying to turn things around now. By opening up, it has helped me try to find some sort of peace within the midst of everything. And has helped me understand that this isn't my fault and that even though this happened to me, it doesn't own me.