April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. StoryCenter is currently recognizing the importance of speaking out about rape and abuse by sharing new and archived pieces from our blog. Today, we share a piece from our archives - a story that it took twenty years to share for the first time.
Editor’s Note: this piece was originally posted on Nov. 26, 2013, as part of a series about the global “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence” campaign.
Voices from Around the Table: Reflections on Gender-Based Violence
It was a weeknight in March, too warm for the time of year. I wore a sweater anyway, because it was windy – wind always makes me feel nervous. I’d met him once before, at a dining hall. When I showed up at the party, he came right over. He was polite, and funny…he got me a beer, we danced…we talked around each other, like we weren’t sure. He kept re-filling my cup…and I kept drinking, like I often did, back then; it took some kind of edge off.
I don’t know when my friends left, or how I managed to walk to his dorm room. All I know is that when I woke up the next morning, in his bed, my dress and sweater were still on but the rest of my clothes weren’t. And I was in pain. I left while he was still asleep, we didn’t talk again. He graduated a couple of months later.
For so long I said nothing. I felt ashamed…responsible. I didn’t know what to call it. Then twenty years after it happened, I finally told a college friend. She reminded me that her ex-boyfriend had raped her, when we were sophomores. We shook our heads, wished both guys had been different. Then she said, “I’m sorry. I wish I had known, so I could’ve been there for you.”
Silence Speaks is a project of the Center for Digital Storytelling that surfaces personal narratives of struggle, courage, and transformation and works to ensure that these stories play an instrumental role in promoting gender equality and human rights. We use participatory media, popular education, and testimonio practices to support the telling and witnessing of stories that all too often remain unspoken and unheard. With the permission of storytellers and project partners, stories are shared in local communities and globally through broadcast or social media outlets, as strategic tools for training, grassroots organizing, and policy advocacy to promote dignity and justice. To learn more about Silence Speaks, view stories, and read about projects, please visit silencespeaks.org and "like" Silence Speaks on Facebook.