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Sophomore in college, I transferred from a small to a very large university in my home town. I was so excited for my future and to meet new people and reconnect with old friends. Over Halloween weekend, I went to a fraternity party with a group of students. At one point during the night, the lights went out, and people started pairing up, making out. I told my friends I was leaving. On my way out, a guy yelled to another guy, “Hey!” I thought I was in the way, and actually started to say excuse me when he socked me in the gut. On my way down, the other guy grabbed my arms, and the guy who yelled hey had his way with me. I remember thinking, OMG! and then leaving my  body. The next thing I can remember is getting up from a dirty floor, and people staring at me with disgust. When I got to the dorm, I showered for what seemed like hours. The next day, I felt like I didn’t know where I was. In class, I remember thinking, “What are they talking about?” I started to forget basic things like who the president was when asked. I remember thinking I was losing my mind. I called my healthcare provider, and started seeing a psychologist. I was prescribed antidepressants and diagnosed with general anxiety disorder. I withdrew from school and, basically, made up my mind that “it never happened,” took myself off the antidepressants and enrolled in another school. I didn’t talk about “it” until I was 38 years old, after succeeding professionally but having a hell of a time with intimate relationships; I couldn’t trust people, especially men, and felt like I was always preparing for the worst, thus, instead of following my dreams, I was making sure I was getting promotions and financially secure – safety first, always. I finally started seeing therapists, good ones, and they helped me find myself – I felt like I was coming home to who I was; I had started to live my life with this internal dialog of before “it happened” and “after it happened.” When I started to tell people that I had been sexually assaulted, I was told crazy things: you should forget that happened, my daughters were raised to protect themselves, were you drunk?, that’s what you get for going to a party… I also received healing statements: the shame belongs to them not you. You didn’t do that to you. I would kill those guys for you. My journey is one of shame and fear that ends in love of self and advocacy. I now am a professional counselor who has the honor to walk with others as they find healing. I am a survivor who knows the pain never goes away but the pain doesn’t control me or my life. 

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