In this together: My work


in this together


Editor’s note: This piece is a part of ‘In This Together,’ which seeks to raise awareness about the complex issues of sexual violence. We asked the Iowa State community to share perspectives in various mediums as survivors, bystanders and allies. The initiative is a partnership between the Iowa State Daily, Green Dot and the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center. 

My story is why I am an advocate for survivors and sexual assault awareness. When I was five and seven years old, I was touched sexually by a cousin and a teenage boy whose family lived with my mom. The first time that I ever had anyone touch me inappropriately, I did not know what they were doing was wrong. In my first experience, my cousin asked if I wanted to have a blow job. He told me that it was okay and normal to do, but when they touched me I knew that it was not okay. I do not remember the exact words that I used, but it was along the lines of “please stop.” While they stopped, I never talked about it with anyone because I did not want to get in trouble. I didn’t even know what had happened, but I knew it did not feel okay and was unsure of what my family’s reaction would be.

The second time that I was touched inappropriately, I was seven. A teenager and his family lived with my mom in our house. We shared a bedroom and had a bunk-bed together. One day he asked me if I wanted something that he learned about; not knowing what he was talking about, I said yes. He told me to pull down my pants and bend over. When his penis touched my back, I said “I do not want to do this” and moved away. He said not to tell anyone. They moved out shortly after.

Both of these situations went unattended as I went throughout my life, but I know that they affected how I was willing to engage in all-male circles, engage intimately with my partner and even be in relation with other individuals. I always felt guarded and unwilling to be in spaces freely. It was not until I was in college and that those memories came back like a freight train and collided with other issues I was experiencing at the same time.

My mental health was at an all time low.

“What is wrong with me?” and “Why did I let it happen?” were questions I asked myself every day. It was a never ending cycle of torment, but I was still so ashamed to talk about it, even to my fiance. This affected so many aspects of my life that I truly believed that I would commit suicide and end all of the pain that I was experiencing. One day it clicked; I said to myself, “I am over having anxiety about who I am, I am done letting this control my life.” I asked my fiance to talk and let her know my experience. She asked “if I ever told anyone before” and I said “no.” That moment transformed my life. I knew that as long as I lived I would work to make sure that no other kid would go through what I had gone through, that my work would be rooted in assisting those who have experienced sexual assault and sexual violence.