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I’m a teenage sexual assault victim.

This is my story:

When I was sixteen years old, I was sent abroad to study and work. I was on my own – no family, no friends, and no jobs. And as I was underage, it was quite hard to get a job.

Finally, a nice man with a family – his lovely wife pregnant with his second, a son about a year old – agreed to allow me to work at his store without a contract.

I trusted him. His family allowed me stay overnight, cooked me meals, as his house was nearer to my school. It was nice. One night we decided to have a party. We all drank.

He took advantage of me while his family was upstairs.

Desperately, I tried to run away. As his family was upstairs, he followed me downstairs and locked the door and pushed me down onto the floor. I tried to pull away, but he had a hold of both my hands and legs.

He stole my first time; my only chance to make it special. He stole my carefree teenage years, my childhood, my lively personality.

After he was done raping me, I ran for the door and escaped to home. I was scared – I couldn’t understand what had happened; what was going on. I lost all sense.

The next few days, I spent alone in my room, staring at nothing, not talking, not doing anything. My friends reported me missing – eventually they came to my house and found me in this state.

But they didn’t know what happened. I was in denial; pretending I didn’t know what’d happened. They knew something was up.

I quit my job.

I cut all connections with everyone in that city and moved away. I changed schools, took medicine to quell my anxiety, I started (and stopped) therapy sessions as I didn’t want to open up to the therapist. I didn’t want to. I pretended nothing had happened to me – as long as I believed nothing had happened, I’d be fine.

Dose after dose, I took the medication until I became addicted. I’m addicted to drugs and alcohol – they make me forget what happened. They allow me to feel happy again. I can live my life without caring about anything. I started doing dangerous things and harming myself, hoping that if one of my “adventures” goes terribly wrong, I can finally die.

I considered killing him, but decided that was a bad idea.

I lost my connections, my friendships with other people – become antisocial. It’s extremely hard for me to make friends because I just don’t want to talk or share my story with others. I close up and let nobody in.

They think I’m weird, snobby.

I lost interest in everyone – especially men. I fell apart without my family, I’m depressed and anxious; I cannot sleep without drinking alcohol. I suffer nightmares; I’m extremely jumpy – especially in my sleep. I hit people or shout at them if they touch me, even if it’s a friendly touch. Suddenly, I’ll wake wake up crying without remembering what I’m crying about. I drove everyone away from me – in order to find joy and safety alone

At age twenty, I got into university and am doing a bit better. I managed to make new friends – even if they think I’m odd.

I was doing okay. Until recently.

Finally, it hit me that what happened wasn’t a bad dream. I was actually raped. I’m on the verge of breaking down again… just as I’m trying to start a new life.

I can’t let this happen again.

That’s why I’m here, The Band: to share and hear about others, to find comfort in stories that help me find the light again.

I’m hoping that by writing this, by letting it all out, I can start new again.

It’s never too late.