Dani Pinkus

All things feminism, funny, and fabulous.

This is going to fuck me up in the morning

This is going to fuck me up in the morning

This story was submitted by an anonymous contributor through the Share page. 

I am 21 years old. I just graduated from a top university. My Instagram and Facebook feed show off a highlight reel of a privileged and happy person: 

Privileged to be cis-gender, white, educated and upper-middle class. Privileged to have a supportive network of family and friends. Privileged to always have a reason to smile. But that doesn’t encapsulate the full story, so here is real life.

When I was 17, I was sexually assaulted at a high school graduation party. I didn’t know the boy and I never spoke to him again. It was one of my first sexual experiences and it was scarring, to say the least. For months after, when I tried to fall asleep, I could hear his voice saying, “trust me,” over and over again as he held me against a fence in the corner of a dimly lit backyard. Every time I closed my eyes, I could feel his fingers inside of me. I felt violated, defeated, and scared all the time. After a summer of healing, leaning on friends and learning how to cope with the triggers that came with this type of trauma, I was okay. 

My sexual assault at 17 became a part of me, but it did not define me. It changed the way I viewed the world, but despite the darkness emerged a strength within myself that I didn’t know was there.

Throughout college, regardless of how stressful and exhausting things got, my high school sexual assault was easily the worst thing that I had ever endured. That changed in October of my senior year, when the boy I considered my best friend assaulted me.

We had been friends for almost two years and we had spent countless nights hanging out, watching New Girl, and ordering Dominoes. I thought I knew him. He kissed me for the first time on a night that started out like any other. I remember my excitement. I remember feeling so scared that he was going to treat me like all of the other girls, who he hooked up with and subsequently discarded. Looking back, I should’ve been scared… but my fears were misplaced. With him, I felt so comfortable. All of my guards were down and if I’m being completely honest with myself, he was the first person who I’d ever been intimate with who I liked and cared about. He was different from the occasional one-night stand or fling. With him, I cared. I cared long before we ever kissed and I would care long after.

When we first had sex, it was painful. I hadn’t had sex in a long time and I was just getting used to it again. Every time I asked him to stop or said “ow,” he stopped. I felt more and more safe with him. But at one point he didn’t stop. While I laid there, unmoving, he continued to thrust into me as I said, “ow,” and “it hurts,” interchangeably over and over again. I can’t tell you how long it went on, but eventually, it didn’t feel like I was the one lying there. It felt like I was watching someone else, not moving and exclaiming in pain while her best friend continued to fuck her for his own pleasure. Unaware that he wasn’t wearing a condom, he proceeded to cum inside of me. When he rolled off of me, all I could think was, “this is going to fuck me up in the morning.” But it didn’t hit me that morning. When I woke up, I felt like nothing had happened and went on with my Friday. I felt uneasy, but otherwise, everything was “normal.”

Your brain does this crazy thing when it's dealing with trauma, where you block out the bad and the scary. But the brain doesn't hold our negative emotions separately from the positive. When you block out all of the bad, the good goes, too. At least that’s what happened to me. With my trauma came this numbness, this constant state of not feeling. 

To this day, it’s harder for me to think about who I was before the assault than the assault itself. Before my assault, most people would describe me as “happy-go-lucky.” I took life in strides and I made it a point to constantly practice gratitude. I was emotionally healthy; I smiled a lot, I cried a lot, I felt a lot. My friends and family have always made fun of me for crying about everything. Every story I tell ends with something along the lines of, “and then I started crying” or, “At that point, I was bawling,” but in the months following my assault, I didn’t cry—because I didn’t feel anything.

I was a senior in college and I was supposed to be having the best year of my life. I had amazing friends and I constantly surrounded myself with people, but every smile felt fake. Every laugh felt forced. Walking through the day, going to class, going to work and making plans with friends—every moment felt like a script I was following to pretend to be the person I was before my assault. But I wasn’t that person. I was broken. I repeated in my journal, “This can’t be happening again,” “I’m just trying to get through the day,” over and over again. I did my best to cope and pretend to be okay but it was jarring, scary, and at some points unbearable.

An analogy for anxiety is feeling as though a bear is in the room threatening your safety. I went to class twice a week with that bear in the seat behind me. I was dealing with anxiety and depression as well as PTSD that was triggered every single Tuesday and Thursday of my last semester of college, in a finance class with the boy who assaulted me. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I would wake up knowing that I had to see him, sit in his presence and hear my professor call his name. Twice a week, I dragged myself out of bed, hoping and praying that I didn’t have an anxiety attack in class. With the help of a good friend, who always knew how to make me smile, I made it through a class that felt like my own personal hell.

Not only that, I made it through my senior year of college and I graduated with honors. With the help of many friends, family members and a therapist at the Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center, I made it out of a state of numbness and into a place of healing.

When I started writing this, I thought I needed to have some final takeaway—some wisdom to add to the millions of sexual assault stories popping up everywhere all the time. But I don’t have anything special to add. I have a story that writing down and sharing is helping me to heal. I have a story that I hope and pray at least one person can read and think, I am not alone, and I will be okay. 

It has been 9 months since my assault. It has been 9 months since the boy I trusted with my heart and body betrayed me, and I am still healing. There is no perfect answer, no streamlined process to healing. There are still good days and bad days, but it is getting better. The good days are starting to outnumber the bad days again. I am feeling the gratitude that I once felt for the world, and I am fighting every day to make my assault something that empowers me, rather than something that damaged me.

This story was submitted by an anonymous contributor through the Share page. 


Photo courtesy of Oliver Sjöström on Unsplash

Not broke, just bent

Not broke, just bent