A few years ago I was living on the streets and traveling from state to state hitching and riding trains. I was in New Orleans one summer. I was walking around the 8th ward looking at graffiti and a man approached me. He was a local and we started talking. He said his name was Tony and he offered to show me where the locals did graffiti.
We walked to an abandoned warehouse all the while having a pleasant conversation. He showed me a beautiful graffiti wall in the building. When we were walking out he suddenly grabbed me and started pulling me back into the building. I screamed and fought but he told me nobody could hear me and wouldn't care if they could. I almost got away but he grabbed my knife off my belt and held it pointed at my stomach. He said "all you gutterpunks keep your knives in the same place."
At that point I was overwhelmed with fear and stopped struggling. He pulled me further inside saying "bitch give me the pussy." I tried to talk my way out of it but he said "this is happening whether you like it or not." Then he raped me at knifepoint. When he was done I was positive he was going to kill me. But he didn't. He threw my knife and walked away. I was so shaken, I walked to Bourbon Street, sat at a bar, and ordered a drink. I never reported it to the police.
Years later I am off the streets living in New York. I am going to school to be a sexual assault victim’s advocate. I suffer from pretty severe PTSD and take medication, go to therapy. I still have nightmares and flashbacks. I still blame myself. I feel like the only way I can turn my experience into something worthwhile is to use it to help others.
Feminism has helped me a lot, helped me reclaim my body and my dignity, and helped me realize it wasn't my fault. But I still think about it every single day... I'm not sure what the moral of this story is but sometimes it feels good to just talk about it. If you have been raped please know it wasn't your fault.
Even if you didn't fight, even if your actions may have contributed to the situation, like how I willingly went into an abandoned building with a stranger, it was his choice to hurt us like that that can never be our fault. We are beautiful, strong, and worthy of love. Please take care of yourself.
In love and solidarity...