Memorial Day 2007 is when my life completely changed. I was 13 years old, and rebelling against the norm. I fell into a crowd of people who smoked weed, so I did. The whole previous day. I stayed the night at my best friend’s house because we were going to go to the parade together in the morning. At 3am her 2 uncles and mother came home from the bar. I know this because they woke me up by turning on the living room light and we’re talking loudly about the time and their fun evening.

I was sleeping on the couch, so I pulled the covers over my head and tried to go back to sleep. One uncle made the comment “hey you’re in my bed”. I was half asleep and moved my feet onto the floor so he could have the other half of the couch. I then proceeded to go back to sleep. I was awoke again at 5:45am by the kitchen light turning on because my friend’s dad was getting up for work and one of the uncles asked the time. The uncle sleeping in the recliner asked the uncle on the other side of the couch if he wanted a ride home. The uncle on the other side of the couch said no, he wanted to go to the parade with the family.

My friend’s dad and uncle on the recliner left, and he got off the couch. I stretched out and got comfortable thinking he would go to the recliner but he didn’t. He came back and started touching me. I froze. I didn’t scream or yell. I just said no and kept pushing him away. He didn’t stop. When I started to cry in pain because I was a virgin he told me “to be quiet I’m going to wake the others” and forcefully kissed me. He was 31 years old and much larger than me. I was scared. I didn’t know what to do, all I knew was that I didn’t want this. When it was over I could barely look in the mirror.

He didn’t care that I was only 13, he didn’t care that I was on my period, and he didn’t care that I said no. And because I didn’t scream and fight, I was deemed a liar. My friend and her cousin told our whole school about it and said I lied. When the police came after him he ran, and her cousin told me that he was mad that I sent his favorite uncle away. This event has changed me as a person. I became angry, I lashed out. I never wanted to feel like I didn’t have a voice again. I blamed myself. I still do. I think, what If I had pushed harder? What if I screamed? What if I tried to fight him?

So many what ifs. Now I’m a 24 year old woman who is finally ready to go to therapy and deal with these issues. I have nightmares, I have severe anxiety and depression, and I have issues when it comes to my sex life. To this day I will never forget when he was finally caught and charged 2 years later that he pushed for “no emotional damage”. If it wasn’t for my mother, I would have committed suicide as a teenager over this whole situation. Today I am damaged, but I am also strong. I’m wiser, and I will overcome this.