Please share your story:
It was my freshman year at the University of Iowa. My first year living away from my family. I shared a dorm room with two best friends from a small town in Iowa. We were very different people, but, still managed to enjoy being roommates. Being from Iowa, they often had friends from their home town come visit. It had never been an issue as they all usually went out at night together leaving me in the quiet of our room. One night, after having gone to sleep, and while they were all out partying, there was a knock on the dorm room door. Before opening it I asked who it was. I knew one of the guys who happened to be my roommates' friend, and had met on numerous occasions. He and his friend wanted to wait in the room for my roommates to return. They had been out partying and had had too much to drink, so just wanted to lay down.
The friend I knew immediately passed out on my roommates bed. I laid back down in my bed to try to get back to sleep. Next thing I know there is a weight on top of me. The other friend was laying on top of me and put his hand over my mouth so I couldn't yell out. He said, "I know you want this and it will be good for both of us". He proceeded to rape me, then got up and left, while the other friend was still passed out. I never knew the name of the person who raped me and didn't tell anyone the next day or even over the next year what had happened, in fact, I completely wiped it out of my memory.
For the next year I felt horrible about myself and had no idea why. I broke up with someone I had had a 2 year relationship with. I would cry at the drop of a hat. I started to not feel worthy of others' attention and withdrew a bit. I would take long walks at night hoping something bad would happen to me just so I could have something to tie to all of my negative feelings about myself. Because I had blocked the memory of the rape, I was lost and had no understanding why I didn't like myself at all.
About a year after the rape, I was feeling so low. I still had no understanding of why I didn't like myself. I became very depressed. I think on the outside people had no idea as I had always been a happy, bubbly person and tried to continue that persona around my friends. But, it was killing me inside. One night, I was done with feeling miserable and decided to commit suicide. I took a bunch of pills and called my family to say goodbye. My mom realized something was extremely wrong and got a hold of my brother who was also at U of I. He contacted 911 and had me taken to the hospital.
Oddly enough it was while I was vomiting up those pills at the hospital that I started remembering all of the details of the rape. Those memories, strangely enough, were a relief to me. I finally understood why I had fallen so deeply into the depressed state I was in. This gave me the ability to begin to heal. I saw a therapist who helped me understand that the rape was not my fault. However, I also went to a psychiatrist who told me that the rape is in the past and I need to forget about it and move on with my life (essentially snap out of it). I had repressed those memories for a year and now he wanted me to repress them again. I was mortified. I told him what he "wanted" to hear to get out of his office and move on with my therapy and life and never saw him again.
Has it been easy?!? No. Sometimes I find myself making horrible life choices due to still having some of the feelings of not being good enough, or, not feeling like I am worthy of love. I also have had many issues with intimacy. This can be hard for my husband who is a very understanding person. I don't always like to be touched. It has been about 30 years since the rape occurred, and, I am happy to say I survived.
How has your story shaped who you are today?:
My story has changed me in the fact that I understand and empathize with others who are going through issues in their lives. I am a support group leader for Alopecia Areata and feel that my past experiences have made me want to reach out and be there for my group. I am one of the first ones to say, "your story is your story and your hurt is your hurt, don't let anyone tell you it shouldn't bother you".
What compelled you to share your story?: I want others to know there is life beyond rape.
What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?:
My therapist once said "depression is like being in a dirt hole. No matter how often you try to claw your way out the dirt, it just gives way and you make no headway". Accept someone's ladder into that hole and let them help you pull yourself out. Life is worth living once you can see the sun outside of that dirt hole.