It still feels strange how some details are so vivid, and others still lost. I remember trying to remember—cautiously, anxiously, angrily—what happened in October of 2006. Head spinning, over and over I picked at the moments of a platonic date gone horribly wrong. I kept my secret close, convinced I wouldn’t be able to handle the unavoidable shame and humiliation. I questioned why I ignored the tightening knots in my gut over the course of that evening, shaming myself. Somehow, I should have known. These thoughts occupied my mind as I finished getting tested at UHS. As I left, I received a phone call, informing me my attacker was looking for me and made threats against my life. For three weeks I ended up isolated in a “safe house,”instructed not to inform anyone of where I was.
Eventually, the debilitating weight of enduring the aftermath of my assault was too much. I went to CAPS as suggested by police and an HIV test counselor at UHS. I found Dr. Laura Monschau easy to talk to, supportive, and trusting. She encouraged me to reach out to SAPAC for their additional support and advocacy. I found my advocate, Samara, to be just as genuine as Laura. I was impressed and felt so protected by their seamless coordination with each other and their steadfast reassurances that I would be okay. Together, they contacted my professors to make them aware of my situation. All of them were supportive and sensitive, easing the constant physical tension I held while bracing myself for any of the expected awkwardness or humiliation.
With the support of Laura and Samara, by February I finally told my family about everything. The news was devastating to them, which was one of the reasons I had avoided talking about it. However, the weight of enduring the assault and its aftermath alone was incomparably worse—and the thought of my isolation during this time was especially painful for them. Sharing my story with my advocates on campus and with my family enabled me to truly begin what would be a long journey of healing. I continued seeing a therapist for some time, though not always consistently. For quite a few years I struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,secondary depression, and was emotionally labile. At times, it negatively affected my friendships—particularly during the periods when I wasn’t consistently seeing a therapist.
To this day I have an exaggerated startle response and I’d be lying if I said I no longer often think of what happened to me. The difference is I have regained my sense of self and the recognition I am strong enough to continue living—and enjoy it. What happened to me is just that—something horrible that happened. My experiences with CAPS and SAPAC helped me understand I am not defined by those events. The months I struggled to survive alone, didn’t have to be. I can’t stress enough how important it is for other survivors to know they have such a loving and supportive community available to them. No one should ever shoulder such a destructive burden alone.
You can confidentially share information about your experience with the any of following resources:
or the 24/7 Crisis Line at 734-936-3333
Learn more about your rights and options by viewing our Sexual Misconduct Policy: myumi.ch/6Oq8