Beauty, Dating, Domestic Violence, Equality, Feminism, Ideals, Life, Life Lessons, Military, rape, Relationships, Self-Help, Sex, Sexual Assault, Tragedy, Violence, Women, Women Empowerment

Shannon’s Story: Virginity Stolen

A common denominator in all of the stories I have published so far is that the survivor of the attack knew the victim in some way. Domestic violence is VERY REAL and sexual assault DOES HAPPEN in COMMITTED RELATIONSHIPS. Many times it can even happen in an engagement and marriage.

This is Shannon’s story. Her name has been changed to protect her identity.

You can check out the other stories in this series here: Callie’s Story: A Silent Cry for HelpMary Kay’s Story: When Pressure Turns to TortureAshlee’s Story: Repeated Abuse Since ChildhoodKayla’s Story: When Friendship TurnsTasha’s Story: A Six Year Grooming

The main blog links here: It’s 2017 and We Still Aren’t Safe from Sexual Assault

What compelled you to share your story?
This world has become so unsafe for women, I hope it makes more woman aware that sexual assault or rape can happen to anyone, and that self-defense and being assertive is very important.

Where did the incident take place?
A hotel in Clearfield, PA.

Did you know the attacker?
Yes, we were engaged, and no one knew I was engaged at the time. I just said it was a promise ring because he was deploying.

What happened?
I had met him when I joined the military, he was 18 and I was 17. He went to basic training a year before I did, while he was home on leave my Godfather had fallen very ill and was dying. We had plans to have dinner with his family and then to spend some time alone because he was deploying to Afghanistan. The morning of our dinner I received the phone call that my godfather had passed away. He was my hero, and also the first person close to me that I had lost. I was completely devastated and I did not want to do anything that day except crawl in a hole and cry. My mom convinced me to carry on with my plans because he was deploying. I carried on throughout the day and just dealt with it.

After dinner with his family, he began driving me home and pulled into a hotel parking lot. I asked him what he was doing because I wanted to go home. He proceeded to tell me that he had paid for the hotel room and was going to use it. He was not going to deploy a virgin. I told him I didn’t care what he wanted my godfather was dead and I wanted to go home. He forced me into the hotel room, proceeded to take off my clothes and started having sex with me.

I felt like I didn’t matter, and I gave up fighting and saying no. I just stared at the wall and cried the entire time until he was finished. I immediately took a shower and he finally took me home.  We stayed together for a few more months until I was over my godfather’s death and broke up with him. I thought I would never see or hear from him again.

Did you seek legal help?
Not immediately, I did not want the day to be any worse for anyone else because my godfather had died and I didn’t think anyone would be believe me because we were dating.

And if so, how long did you wait before getting the courage to come forward?
Two years later I came forward and made a statement, because he had tracked me down on Myspace while I was in school and knew I would be home on leave from Christmas. He was also going to be home and wanted to see me. I told him I wanted nothing to do with him and to leave me alone. He asked me why, and I told him he raped me and asked him, “Why would I want to see you?” He apologized for being an ignorant asshole, and said he should have listened and been there for me. I told him I still did not want to see him and spent my leave in fear he would come find me because he knew where I lived.

Later while at my first duty station, he found my email address, which is not hard to do. He emailed me stating he would be nearby training for another deployment and that during non-training hours he would be able to go off base and do whatever he wanted. I freaked out and told my supervisor everything. He sent me to counseling and to make a statement against him. He also helped me get a no-contact order so if he tried to contact me again he would get in a lot of trouble. It was too late to press any charges, but at least if someone else made a statement against him, mine was on file. He was also not allowed to leave the training base until it was time for him to leave.

How were you treated by your law enforcement representatives?
The people I spoke with were very nice and understanding, I told them before I made my statement I knew it was too late to convict him; I was just terrified of him finding me. They understood why I waited so long to say anything, but were glad that I did in the hopes my statement could help someone else down the line.

How has this affected your life?
Since I am back at home, I live in fear of running into him anywhere because I know it’s a great possibility. I suffer from PTSD, and BPD. I have difficulties showing love and affection. My virginity was stolen from me, so I am very detached from sex. I also have a hard time having sex; it must be dark so I can see nothing otherwise I will have flashbacks and see him on top of me and not my fiancé. I’ve been in counseling and therapy for almost 10 years and have tried 20 different medications to no avail, but I can finally say I found a therapist that is actually helping me and not pushing medications and understands that medications make everything worse for me.

If you had any advice for other survivors, what would it be?
Speak up immediately, and if you’re too afraid to speak up at least find a counselor or therapist and get help as soon as possible. The longer you wait the worse if makes you feel. I’m 28 now, and just coming to terms with this, and it happened 11 years ago.

If you could say anything to law enforcement that dealt with your case, what would it be?
Stop being assholes and blaming the victim, and start placing the blame where it belongs: The attacker. It doesn’t matter who the attacker is, or what the victim is wearing.

No means NO. End of story.

If you could say anything to your attacker, what would you say? 
I honestly don’t know what I would say to my attacker other than I will never forget his face and name and that he made my life a living hell because he was a selfish prick. I still worry about running into him somewhere and him trying to talk to me. I would probably cause a scene and punch him in the face.

Resources: Military Sexual Assault FactsRAINN

Assault, Beauty, Dating, Domestic Violence, Feminism, Ideals, Life, Life Lessons, rape, Relationships, Self-Help, Sex, Sexual Assault, Tragedy, Violence, Women, Women Empowerment

Mary Kay’s Story: When Pressure Turns to Torture

Trigger Warning:

 

One of the most common things I have found in conducting my interviews is that these women have stayed silent for years and the events happened when they were quite young.

This has an interesting effect on me because I want to make sure my children are safe, but I also want my children to be able to experience life. I think as parents we can sometimes not know if we are doing the right thing.

If there are any young men and women out there reading this, please know that you can get help. Please know that you can talk to someone. You do not have to give in to peer pressure. If someone is pressuring you, please tell someone you trust and avoid contact with that person. If you’ve been pressured into doing something, tell someone you can trust. Bullies and Attackers thrive on fear. They lie and manipulate to get what they want. Parents and children, I ask you to please have an open line of communication with each other. This can be a life-line to your child. Parents, please listen to your kids.

This is Mary Kay’s interview. This is the second interview in this series you can read the first part here: It’s 2017 and We Still Aren’t Safe from Sexual Assault and the second part here: Callie’s Story: A Silent Cry for Help

What compelled you to share your story?
I felt compelled to share my story because I’ve been silent about it for so long. I feel like an impostor when I tell other sexual abuse survivors to not feel ashamed, yet I feel extremely ashamed about my own story. It was time.

Where did the incident take place and did you know the attacker?
The first incident took place at my attacker’s house. I was 13 and he was 15. He was my boyfriend at the time.

What happened?
We were alone in his house and he was pressuring me to have sex with him. I adamantly told him I didn’t want to. I wasn’t comfortable. I wasn’t ready. I was afraid of sex. I was only 13. He became very angry and dragged me up the stairs to his bedroom by my hair.

He threw me onto his bed and I was screaming and crying and told him I wanted to go home. I wanted my mom. I wanted him to stop. When he got on top of me, I kicked him. It didn’t slow him down at all. Nothing made him stop. I felt helpless. I silently cried while he pushed himself into me. When his mother took me home that night, I ran into my bedroom and closed the door.

I was a happy, peppy girl before that happened to me. When I closed my bedroom door that night, the peppy, happy girl died and a sullen, frightened girl emerged. I was never the same.

Do you have any advice for other survivors?
Like I said earlier, I tell others to not be ashamed. But I am. So it’s hard to say that and mean it. I’m not even sure that I have advice. I really just want to say that you’re not alone. And you are loved and whole and beautiful ❤️

Did you seek legal help?
I didn’t speak a work of it for years and years. When I did, it was to my mother. Nothing was done. She comforted me but legal help wasn’t sought after.

If you could say one thing to your attacker, what would it be?
If I could say anything to my attacker, it would be this: your selfishness made me selfless. I know what pain and anger and loneliness is and I cannot stand to see anyone else feeling those things. I feel that any selfishness I had inside of me, your demon-self absorbed when this took place. So thank you for that, you piece of shit.

Adventure, Death, Dogs, Dying, Faith, Family, God, Ideals, Life Lessons, Loss, Love, Pet Ownership, Pets, Relationships, Self Improvement, Tragedy, Uncategorized

2013: A Call to Change and a Call to Faith

When I graduated from DuBois Central Catholic High School in DuBois, Pennsylvania in 2007, I really did not see my life heading in the direction that it went in. I had 57 other classmates heading into the world with me, which was very shortly cut to 56 a month after us graduating. We had big dreams to say the least. When I graduated I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I just headed to Penn State University in the hopes that I would figure it out as I went along. I spent four years there earning my Bachelors in Journalism with a minor in English. I loved writing and I loved taking pictures…..

and I knew somehow I wanted to change the world with them. I just had to keep faith that I could.

Part of growing up in a Catholic school was learning how to keep your faith. My class was like one giant family, and no matter where we head in life, we still are.  The school bound us together in faith and in love. At any given moment we can come together after being apart for months, and pick up right where we left off.

This year, my faith was tested numerous times, and I firmly believe that because of the class I had, my family and the teachers I had, I succeeded the tests.

This year was a year of love in many ways: Love in Death, Love in New Life, and Love for Eternity.

When I was in high school I told myself I was never going to get married until I was in my 30s, if I got married at all. I spent time talking to my friends about not wanting to settle down because I didn’t want to wake up next to the same person. I just wanted to have fun.

Flash forward seven years and I have a diamond on my ring finger.

I am a firm believer in soul mates. I saw it in my grandparents every day up until he passed away in February. And I’m a firm believer that it’s not something that can really be explained, it’s merely something that can be felt. I could say a million words about how I feel when I’m with Kyle, but none of those words can ever come close to the actual feeling. I’ve seen it a few times this year in people’s engagements besides mine and in people’s weddings. And I can say out of the engagements and weddings that I’ve witnessed, I believe every one of them is with their soul mate. And I believe that only God could have brought them together, just like he brought me and Kyle together. There is literally no rhyme or reason to how Kyle and I met, but I’m glad it happened.

Another thing I witnessed this year, was baby mania. I have never seen so many people I know get pregnant and pop out children. And every last one of those kids is absolutely adorable. It’s an amazing thing to see. I can see parts of the parents in each of the children, but I love babies the most because they have beautiful souls. They just radiate faith and hope. And it’s beautiful. And with new life also comes death, which I witnessed a few times this year. I started out with my grandfather’s death in February, and in August, Kyle’s grandma passed away. Through it all, I maintained the faith I had because it kept me going. And by doing so, it helped me make peace with death in general. Death isn’t as final as some people make it out to be, it just depends on how much faith you have.

With all of this faith, I have come to the end of 2013. There are 18 days left and tomorrow I’m going to continue to test myself by going to a local animal shelter and adopting a dog. Next to babies, I feel animals have the purest souls. In fact, I may rank them above, but it’s definitely close. I said I wanted to make a difference, and I can’t think of a better way to do that then giving a dog a forever home. Personally, I wish I could take them all, but I know I cannot do that. That’s where the testing comes in: knowing that I am strong enough to handle a fragile soul for life and walking away from those that deserve the same thing. If I had to ask for one specific thing for Christmas, it’s that every animal have a loving home. That’s what I want.

When I got my second tattoo, it was inspired by a quote that changed my life. That quote is, “Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”

I read it after my grandpa passed away and it stuck with me because during his funeral, I sang every song.  Now granted, I had popped a Xanax because I get anxiety sometimes, but, I sang as loud as I could because I wanted him to hear me. The priest even said to me as I walked out of church, “I see you’re still singing. That’s good.”

I had to, because at that moment, with all of the emotion, I had to sing.

Change is inevitable, but if you have enough faith, change can be enlightening and rewarding.

Adventure, Beauty, Bucket List, Family, Feminism, God, Health, Ideals, Life Lessons, Love, Relationships, Self Improvement, Self-Help, Tragedy, Women

I Did Not Live Until

The internet is a vast source of information. One can pretty much get anything and everything he or she wants instantly, that is with the exception of things he or she must order and receive within four shipping days. There are pictures everywhere: pictures of cats, pictures of puppies, memes of television shows (personally, I love Gordon Ramsay memes) and quotes from your favorite movies. You can stream live videos. You can steal people’s identities……..

And now I have gotten completely off of my original topic.

Back to reality. Okay, the other day I was browsing the internet.  I had up tabs from Facebook to used car dealerships, to quotes about life, to pictures of various animals, to Game of Thrones spoilers……You name it. I happened across a saying that said, “You haven’t truly lived until you have created life.” I can’t even remember what search engine or quote site it popped up in because I had to leave right after I saw it. Nonetheless, the quote stuck with me…..

and it left a terrible taste in my mouth. There are two reasons why it did.

First, the whole notion of, “You haven’t lived until….” is rather crazy and stupid in my eyes. I mean, I could end the sentence rather easily and say, “You haven’t lived until you have died,” or rather literally with, “You haven’t lived until you have been born.” The notion that someone else could possibly live the same life as me is completely ridiculous; it’s my life and it is lived my way for a reason. That reason is not for someone else to try to tell me what I should be doing. I could compile a list of things that I have done that I think are the greatest things in the world, like, going to Walt Disney World. However, I am not naive enough to think that every, single person on this planet should go to Walt Disney World.

Second, the statement itself is just completely and totally ignorant. There are millions of women in the world that are physically unable to get pregnant. Millions of couples try to get pregnant each year, whether it be by intercourse or insemination. Guess what? A good portion of those women don’t ever get pregnant. Some of those women get pregnant but are never able to carry to term and miscarry. These couples then look to adoption to care for a child. My point is, how can anyone in the world have the nerve to say a statement like that when there are millions of women out there that cannot have that blessing. Motherhood isn’t defined solely on carrying a child in your womb. Yes, the blessing in and of itself exists, but to be a mother takes something more than just carrying a child for nine months. Being a mother is a calling, and I know many people who were called to it though they were unable to have children. I know some women that carried their babies and didn’t take care of them. Being a mother does not always mean just “carrying a child.” There is far more to it than that. With that being said, I feel it is apparent that it is grossly unfair to say that creating life is the pinnacle of living.  Many people do not get to create life, and they live. Many people who have created life abandon life.

And don’t think I’m one of those people who thinks that being in love is the pinnacle of life either. It is for me, but I know it isn’t for everyone.

Instead of everyone telling each other what that major, life-changing, “I lived” moment is, we should all have our own moment.

For me, “I did not live, until I understood death.”

What’s your moment?

And whatever it is, make it your own, not someone else’s.

Enjoy the Memes:

Ld9X6Cm

game-of-thrones_o_425329

Gordon Ramsay Meme
Gordon Ramsay Meme
America, Beauty, Feminism, government, Health, Life Lessons, Love, Relationships, Self Defense, Self Improvement, Self-Help, Sex, Tragedy, Women, Women Empowerment

Keep to the Code

This is an official warning that graphic content will be discussed. Rape will be discussed. 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

When I was 21 and a senior in college, I was still a virgin.

When I was a freshman and a sophomore, I wanted nothing more than to lose my virginity. I felt like it was this giant disease I had that infected the world. If you would be more interested in that segment of my story, please read my guest blog here. When I was junior, the urge began to fade.

When I was a senior, I just wished I would meet someone worth taking it instead of just blindly giving it away.

But I remember one night when I feared I might not get that chance…

And if it was not for a good friend of mine, I would have been a victim.

My girlfriends, specifically my roommates, and I had a code: Keep each other safe, and if one of us gets too drunk, take care of the other. For four years I kept to this code and it worked very well. If my friends would get drunk, I would be the one that would pace myself and stop drinking to make sure that the others got home. They did the same for me. It was easy. We knew that we did not want to regret any decisions in the morning. And my one roommate, knew she wanted to keep my virginity safe. I guess you could call her my virginity keeper.

Yeah. My virginity keeper.

One night, she came to visit me at school and we ended up extremely wasted at a party in a three level house. I still considered her my roommate even though she had graduated the semester before.  I just wanted to have fun and I didn’t want any trouble. So we stuck together because that is what we always did. We had met up with some guys and other friends before we ended up at this house….this terrible, creaky, dismal and over-crowded house. I remember one guy that had found me attractive. I told her I wasn’t interested in him, so she made a mental note, despite the drunken state we were both in. We meandered through the levels of the house talking to various people we did not know. We held hands too. I know it sounds silly, but we did to make sure we had a hold of each other. We had made our way into a hallway next to the bathroom of the third level. Loud music was playing all over the house.

That’s when everything changed.

I had to go to the bathroom and she was talking to someone. So I started off on my own. Only because the bathroom was literally ten feet away.

Ten feet.

I got grabbed.

The guy that had found me attractive was pulling me into the bathroom. I knew I didn’t even want to kiss him, despite him putting his lips on my face. I didn’t want any of it. Yet there I was in a bind because of how my arms were pinned. I kept saying, “No. Leave me alone.”

But he kept on pulling and yanking me into that bathroom. I kept fighting to get away and people around me just left me go.

I thought to myself, “No. not like this. It can’t happen like this.” I knew I didn’t want him to take it, and if he was being this aggressive with kissing, I figured it would only go downhill from there.

That’s when she grabbed my arm and started pulling me away. I was in a tug of war between a guy and my roommate. She kept screaming at him and he kept screaming back at her. Until finally I crumpled to ground. That was enough for him to lose his balance and let me go. And I crawled away with my roommate in tow. We stood up and ran down the three flights of stairs. We ran out of the house and hid behind a dumpster because I was afraid he would come after us.

Then finally, we ran some more until we met up with some people and were safely nestled in our apartment.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

Looking back at that moment, I know I would have been in a terrible situation if it wasn’t for my roommate. I could have lost something that I didn’t want to lose.

And you know what’s terrible?

Many girls run into similar situations all over the world. And their friends don’t help them.

We live in a culture. Specifically, we live in a rape culture. And it seems like people don’t really want to talk about it. The fact that society creates and allows rapists to thrive is sad. With that being said, we, as women, know that we have to be strong. But at what cost?

People expect women to just protect themselves. People also expect women not to “put themselves in compromising situations.”

Since when is living your life a compromising situation?

Women shouldn’t live in fear that any day a man could come up to them and force himself on her. That’s wrong. And men should be the ones to change, not women.

But yet, it’s expected for us to change. I remember the night. I didn’t “express interest” or “lead you on” and yet you still wanted to take away something from me, something you felt you were entitled to have. As if I should feel guilty if I had anyway; sex should never be an expectation. You didn’t get that something that you wanted.

Something, thankfully, you didn’t get because my roommate and I kept to the code.

In various cases of rape, I have noticed a growing trend: these girls get left by their “friends.”

I’ve got news for you; a real friend wouldn’t let that happen. A real friend wouldn’t abandon you and leave you in a compromising situation. That whole safety in numbers thing…..it works. Granted, I know that in some cases a man could over power both females, but he would most definitely have a hard time trying to force himself if another person was clawing at his face or gouging at his eyes (which would be my personal attack preference).

I was so pumped last week when I saw various pictures going through my NewsFeed for “Take Back the Night.” I can only hope that it brings back awareness to everyone all over the world that acts of violence like these need to be stopped. There is no way this can continue. Women, for now, we must stick to the code and keep each other safe at all costs. I can only hope and pray that someday society will stop allowing rapists to be sympathized for.

And I can’t wait for the day that we don’t have to fear anymore. I also cannot speak for actual victims because I never have actually had to live through that horror, only the fear that it was immediately going to happen.

This cannot happen anymore.

Men, you should NOT let this happen anymore. The fear, the act…..it MUST stop.

It’s your job to make the change, not ours. You aren’t a victim when you try to be aggressive and take something from us.

In fact, you’re just pathetic.

If any of you need help, contact: Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
A 24-hour phone and chat service to help victims of sexual assault or abuse.1-800-656-HOPE (4673). Visit the site here

Also check out this blog that quite frequently discusses the matters. It’s excellent:
http://makemeasammich.org/

America, Boston Marathon Attacks, Crime Rates, Death, Economics, Family, God, government, Homicide, Ideals, Life Lessons, Loss, Obama, Self Defense, Self Improvement, Terrorism, Tragedy, Uncategorized

The Boston Marathon Explosion in Pictures

This photo was found on the ABC News Website at http://www.abcnews.go.com
This photo was found on the ABC News Website at http://www.abcnews.go.com

As a journalist, seeing the photos released by news organizations of this attack today does not bother me at all. No, it’s not because I am heartless. No, it’s not because I have a strong stomach either. If anything, I have a weak stomach. I don’t find it disrespectful to take these photos because, guess what? EVERYONE needs to know what real life is like! You can’t sugar coat a tragedy and pictures aren’t any more disrespectful than the photo of the girl floating around on social media sites that people say was “Running for Sandy Hook.” SHE WASN’T! Her number showed she wasn’t even running in that race, but people of America are too stupid to investigate that picture and will repost it mindlessly.

But they get upset about blood.

The photo was a fake plastered all over the place of a little girl running in a clearly rural setting saying she died today when an 8-year-old boy died today. That is social media, not real journalism. Because, that was fake.

Photo falsely proclaiming this girl to be running in the Boston Marathon in remembrance of the Sandy Hook victims
Photo falsely proclaiming this girl to be running in the Boston Marathon in remembrance of the Sandy Hook victims

War is real. Terrorism is real. You wouldn’t be the slightest bit upset if it was a terrorist you saw. How many of you felt anything when you saw pictures of Saddam or other terrorists in gruesome fashions? The world is real. You should expect the photos you see to be real. A photojournalist’s job is to capture the raw truth of an image. That’s what you’re getting. It’s not staged. It’s not phony. It’s TRUTH. We are trained with discretion and determine what people need to see. Granted Facebook and Twitter has ruined that because anyone can upload anything now, but the job is to deliver the story. And you can’t tell the story without the blood. You can’t tell the story without the tears.

I mean seriously? Do you expect all the pictures to be of people laying on the ground with no blood and no tears in their eyes at all? Just sitting there??? Is that what you want? An emotionless image that just makes the subjects look like they don’t feel anything at all? I’m just curious. Because that’s not what real life does. People cry. people bleed.

People DIE.

And then act like journalists don’t have souls or boundaries. You wouldn’t even know what happened if you didn’t see the pictures or videos. You would be standing around wondering, “What the hell happened?” Journalists have the hardest jobs. We have to separate our feelings from our work. We have to put ourselves in terrible situations to get the job done. I mean, do you think every photojournalist sits around praying for a bombing or a shooting so that he or she can go take a picture? Do you think that’s what we want to see? Do you think we don’t cry about what we see late at night? No we hope to capture and write about happy moments. But we can’t do that all of the time in this world. We have to show the bad stuff too.

Take it in. And try to make the world a better place so the blood stops. Stop seeing life through a rainbow-colored lens…….obviously, as we saw today, LIFE ISN’T LIKE THAT.

When I get up in the morning, I don’t look for photos of blood and guts from various massacres across the world. However, I think that as Americans we have an arrogance about ourselves that cannot be denied. We don’t want to see war and reality if it’s on the face of our own people.

It is known that most people do not mind seeing pictures of dead terrorists or dead animals. And then people wonder why other countries hate us. We should see reality. No we shouldn’t see it at the age of four, but as young adults and adults we are fully capable of handing the truth. These pictures should show you reality.

This photo was found on the CNN Website at http://www.cnn.com
This photo was found on the CNN Website at http://www.cnn.com

We need to be aware of what we can do to one another.

And we need to change ourselves. But how can we learn if at first we don’t SEE?

The answer is simple: We Can’t

This photo was found on the Business Insider website at http://www.businessinsider.com
This photo was found on the Business Insider website at http://www.businessinsider.com
This photo was found on the New York Post website at http://www.nypost.com
This photo was found on the New York Post website at http://www.nypost.com