In this together: Challenge Day


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. 

The most traumatic year of my life started when I was 9, but it continues to haunt me on a daily basis. It all started when my brother entered my room late at night waking me up and making me do things that I obviously didn’t want him to do. I told him to stop, but he told me that he would tell our parents and being so young I was scared they wouldn’t believe me or blame me. The visits late at night continued for about the next year, but eventually I reached my breaking point, realizing what he was doing wasn’t right. I had enough and I told him that it had to stop and if he wanted to tell our parents then he could because I couldn’t put myself through the torture of wondering when I was going to get a visit late at night.

When it finally stopped I lived in silence, coping with this traumatic experience by myself until about freshman year of high school, when my high school counselor found out from a activity we did called “Challenge Day,” this allowed me to tell my story to some of my peers and a faculty member, but being that it was such a big thing, the teacher had to come forward to make sure I wasn’t still being put in danger. When I finally came out and told my mom, it was one of the hardest and most relieving moments of my life because I had finally got the help I needed to cope. After that began the counseling to help me feel whole again, which didn’t come for about a year, but I had finally got the chance to realize that it wasn’t my fault and I couldn’t keep blaming myself. I still continue to struggle trusting people and letting them in because it was hard having somebody so close to me hurting me in ways I could have never imagined.

Being at college surrounded by new people sent me into a depression first semester, but I have allowed myself to be more open, which has sparked many strong relationships that I feel comfortable being vulnerable in and that is something that I haven’t experienced since I was young. This experience has allowed me to grow into a better person from all the hardships I have struggled with trying to cope and feel better with what happened to me. I have learned over the years that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to feeling depressed about this situation, but with a positive outlook, I have overcome so of the hardest situations. Although I can’t go back and make a brand new start, I can start from now and make a brand new ending, helping others along the way learn how to cope and grow from sexual assault.