I never thought it would be me. Perhaps I avoided getting myself into these situations before. Maybe I was lucky. It took me months to realize that I was a victim of sexual assault. Over a year later, and many a blame on myself and diagnoses, I’ve come to realize that although I was in that position, it does not define who I am. I was assaulted 2 days before my 20th birthday by my boyfriend at the time.

The summer of my 19th, I was going through the typical sophomore slump. College, barely scraped through my second, and developed some party and body issues on top. In short, I was on the fast track to failure. I met a new group of friends and soon began to date one of the boys I had just befriended.

I moved up to University the August of that year, and quickly chose spending time with this boy and his less than desirable friends over school work, part time work, and personal care. I will say, I am still great friends with some of the people I met at that time, but for the most part, I’d have rather never met most of them at all.

One night, we decided to attend a party down the street. I had too much to drink and too much partying in my system, but I kept up and continued through the night. We returned to the apartment late that night, and having taken more than a few pills, I half passed out in bed. The details of this event will be spared, but I was assaulted by my “boyfriend” and his friend. I can remember most clearly two separate people walking into the room and out, not wanting to get involved. I would immediately block this event from my mind for months.

Two days later, on my birthday, I withdrew from the semester, spiraling farther into depression, drug abuse, and anorexia. I didn’t realize at the time that this was related to my assault but I continued to spend time around my “boyfriend”. During this time, I became closer to my current boyfriend, who I met there, and he became my protector. We withdrew from the friend group of our own volition, as tensions rose between relationships with friends and threat of the law on our little hangout rose.

That November, I was hospitalized due to my drug abuse and eating disorders and I entered an outpatient facility where I had my realization that I had indeed been assaulted. It took me much longer to realize that it wasn’t because of my actions and choices.

In December, my “boyfriend” was arrested in that apartment and relief spread over me I never reported my assault because I didn’t want the attention, the blame that my choices caused this, that I deserved it because of who I was. He called me after he was released on bail, threatening my life and the life of my friends. I lived in fear for months until I could escape back home. I am still afraid at times.

I do not wish what happened to me on anyone. I cannot express the pain it has caused me. The embarrassment. The fear. But the lessons I’ve learned and the empathy for others in similar situations is invaluable. I wouldn’t trade my life for another. I never thought it would be me.