Moving On

*This post is a follow-up to last years post detailing my sexual assault experience. Read that post HERE*

Last year, I did one of the most nerve wracking things I’ve ever done: I published my sexual assault story.

For so long I felt shame for an experience I didn’t want or initiate. I felt shame because I thought I did something wrong. I felt shame because I was hiding it all. I set myself free last year when I published my story. A lot changed that night and a lot has changed since then.

First, I was surprised by the reception. People I know, my friends, were coming to me and telling me about their sexual assault experiences. My Facebook messenger was full of college, high school, and family friends pouring their hearts out to me and I was shocked. I know a vast majority of people are sexually assaulted; it just took me by surprise how many people I know actually have been.

I shared my post and my best friend did too. I got a lot of comments about how similar incidents happened to them, thanking me for sharing, and some people wanting to know what happened to Him. The “Him” I am referring to is my unnamed best friend who sexually assaulted me on St. Patrick’s in 2013. So let me tell you what happened to Him.

The night I published that blog post, the last Facebook message I got was from a girl I knew in college. She was from the Dayton area but didn’t go to the University of Dayton, where I attended. She was friends with my friends who were from the Dayton area, including Him, and she would come hang out on campus all the time.

In her message, she told me how she was also sexually assaulted while at UD visiting and my story felt very similar to her story. We talked for a couple hours about our experiences, how we dealt with the aftermath, and how our significant other deals with it. Within 20 or so minutes of us talking, we realized that the person who assaulted me was the same person who assaulted her. The only difference was He only hurt me once, He hurt her over the course of our 4 years in college. I never knew.

Looking back, it all makes sense. He would tell me that she was crazy and she loved him but he didn’t like her. I was nice to her but I didn’t become best friends with her because of the stories He told me. Apparently, He did something similar with her so she didn’t get too close to me.

Also during our conversation, she told me that he raped another one of her friends while she was sleeping. I had heard this story my freshman year of college, but, of course, He had twisted it to make it sound like it wasn’t rape.

Within a few hours of talking to her, my life practically turned upside down. Everything that I thought I knew about Him, I didn’t. I thought I was an isolated incident. I wasn’t. I thought He was a good human being despite my isolated incident. He’s not.

The icing on the cake was when she told me that He knew what He did to me but acted like He didn’t. If you read my initial post, you’ll know that He was very drunk that night and the next morning, and for years after, claimed He didn’t know what happened that night. She told me that He knew and He told others but He made it seem like I was in the wrong.

While she and I talked, He texted me. My heart dropped to the bottom of my stomach. I was scared, nervous, on the verge of tears. He tried to spin everything back on me and play it off like He wasn’t a terrible person. He is a master manipulator and tried to manipulate me into keeping him around, saying things like “are you sure that’s really what you want?” He probably thought I didn’t know about the other two girls. I told Him I didn’t want anything to do with Him. I didn’t want to talk to Him, I didn’t want Him to ever visit, and I was kicking Him out of my life. By His responses, it was clear He showed no remorse for what He did and I doubt He thinks He was wrong.

That night I blocked Him on all social media and His phone number so He couldn’t contact me. I had finally took the step that I had spent a year in therapy trying to do and I was finally able to it because I found out the truth.

Flash forward one week. After publishing the post in the days after, I was still getting people messaging and texting. The one I was not expecting came from two college friends who had recently gotten married. The girl lived a few doors down from me my freshman year and the guy lived below us. They were also friends with Him and we had all been friends since orientation weekend.

They called me one night, out of the blue, and wanted to talk about my post. I was a little nervous because these two were really good friends with Him, they still hung out with Him, and I was expecting them to call and try to defend Him or something.

They started off by saying they were shocked by what I said and wished I had told them in college so they could’ve helped. Then they started telling me about how, when they read my post, it reminded them of an incident that had happened recently. They point blank asked me if it was Him. I told them yes and they proceeded to tell me about this incident. He was drunk, got in fights at the bar, and forced one of our other friends to make out with Him on the car ride back to his apartment. They thought if they hadn’t been at His apartment when He and the girl arrived, that He would have sexually assaulted her too.

This short phone call showed me that He has a problem that didn’t end with college. He is still out there having this problem. They said they would try to talk to Him and encourage Him to seek help but I’m guessing that didn’t work since, according to Facebook and Instagram, they don’t talk to or see Him anymore.

This may seem like a really long way of telling what’s happened since that post was published but I felt it was necessary. In a majority of cases, women are criticized for what has happened to them as if they had something to do with it, they’re the problem, or that they have control over everything. Yet here is a boy (let’s face it, He’s not a man) who has no self-control but doesn’t want to fix it or even hear that He has a problem. He’s the problem. Not me. Not any of the other girls he sexually assaulted. He is.

When I published the blog post last year, my mom asked “why not tell someone close to Him that He is doing this so maybe they can help Him? Aren’t you friends with His mom on Facebook?”

I sat and wondered what the benefit of telling His mom would be. Bret sat and there and said “if you tell His mom, she probably won’t believe you.” I sat there for the rest of lunch with my mom giving arguments on why I should tell His mom and Bret gave arguments as to why I shouldn’t.

And honestly, I don’t know what to do. If anything, I’d want Him to get help so He stops doing this to others. But I don’t know if telling His mom is the best way to do that.

So after all that, let’s take a breather.

As for me, I’m doing well. I was pregnant at the time of that post. A few weeks after that post was published, I found out we were having a girl! I graduated law school, took the bar exam at 9 months pregnant, gave birth, and then found out I passed the bar on the one year anniversary of my dad’s death.

I feel like I am finally at a point in my life where I am happy and healthy because I’m not constantly thinking what happened five years ago. After publishing my post and shutting Him out, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I felt like I could breathe again. I felt like my prayers had finally been answered.

This also gave me the time and space I needed to reflect on a couple things.

First is therapy. This helped me realize that therapy can only do so much (don’t get me wrong here, I am still a big advocate for therapy). It helped with my self-harm, grief over certain deaths, and my anxiety, depression, and PTSD. But no matter how many sessions I had, it couldn’t help me cut Him out. This was mainly because I didn’t know the truth. But I think the biggest part of my healing came when I talked to my friend that night and learned the truth, which brings me to the next point.

Leaning on others. After she and I talked, we leaned on each other for support, we gave our other friend support when she decided to come forward about Him raping her in her sleep, and in the end, we became closer. We know what each other went through in a way no one else does. Yes, there are others who can relate because they, too, have been sexually assaulted. But no one else can relate on a deeper level of understanding other than someone who was assaulted by the same person in the same or similar way. Because not only did He physically hurt us, He wrecked us emotionally, and no one understands that hurt more than we do.

Finally, prayer and faith. I wrote in my initial post how focusing more on my faith helped me climb out of the deep dark pit of self-harm, depression, and anxiety. Over the last year, I have prayed for healing and forgiveness for Him. I’m at a point where I can pray for Him and hope that He gets the help He needs and becomes a better person. I’m also at a point where I rarely think about Him and when I do I feel sorry for Him. I’ve been told that’s a big sign of healing.

I also pray for the healing and forgiveness for myself. I pray that, although I have healed tremendously, that I continue to heal and be the best person I can be. I also pray for forgiveness because, as those who have been assaulted know, you do blame yourself for it. You spend hours, days, years, wondering what would’ve happened if you had gotten away or if you had told someone sooner, and you play all the “what if” scenarios over and over. So I pray that I forgive myself so I stop worrying about the “what if’s.”

Overall, it’s just been a crazy year. Even though I was terrified to do it, I’m so glad I published my story last year. The experience has let me move on in more ways than I can count.

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2 Comments

  • Debby March 17, 2018 at 6:49 pm Reply

    You are a very brave, very wonderful woman. I am proud to know you.

  • Holly Gray March 17, 2018 at 7:20 pm Reply

    Seriously, Mary, you are incredibly brave. Your transparency allows so many others to experience freedom to share their grief and hurt.

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