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The day I started dying inside, I was nineteen. I was shy and socially awkward; a late-blooming virgin, clueless about relationships. He was married with children, almost twice my age. I met him on campus where he worked as a security guard. He reeled me in by pretending to be my friend when I was feeling lonely.

Then, like a swimmer struggling against a tide, I found myself steered into a relationship that I did not want. A relationship I knew was wrong.

At first there were brief, stolen kisses and awkward gropes when no one was watching. Two weeks later, I found myself alone in my apartment with him. I didn’t think anything was going to happen. I’d planned to pick up a book and return to the campus library to complete an assignment due the following day.

He suggested that we hang out for awhile; sit on the balcony and have coffee. I thought, “Why not? What harm can there be in taking twenty minutes to have coffee?”

I was so naive.

I went into the kitchen to set up the coffee maker. As the coffee dripped slowly into the carafe, I went back into the living room – and stopped dead in my tracks.  He had closed the blinds so the room was dimly lit. He had stripped down to his underwear and placed a box of condoms on the coffee table.

I was speechless, flustered, panicky. My heart beat so loudly so I was sure he could hear it from the other side of the room.

“We’ll need those,” he said, pointing at the condoms.

“No,” I said. “I’m not ready. I’m not ready for this. I don’t want to do this.

He walked slowly towards me, with an odd smile on his face.

“NO!” I said, the fear evident in my voice. “I don’t WANT to!”

I suddenly noticed the difference in our sizes. He was almost a full foot taller than me and built like a tank. I felt very small beside him.

Then, somehow I was lying on my back on the floor with him straddling me. He ran one finger down the length of my neck as he quietly but menacingly said, “We’re going to do this whether you want to or not.”

I let him do it then.

I did not fight him.

I did not try to stop him.

I did not scream or call for help.

I just laid there and let him do it.

Even though I hated it, even though the tears were rolling uncontrollably down my face.

Ever since that day, I have felt haunted that I didn’t stop him. I cannot escape the humiliation and the shame I still feel. I wonder maybe if I HAD stopped him, my life wouldn’t have gone into a free fall. I wouldn’t have experienced the next two hellish years.

Because I didn’t stop him that day, because I lay there and let him have his way, I learned to believe him every time he told me that I was a worthless bitch who deserved what she was getting.

Even after so long, I still feel the shame.