#MeToo: My story of sexual assault

Liz Stephens, Columnist

The amount of women I have seen recently posting on Facebook saying #MeToo confirming they have been victims of sexual assault, harassment or other acts is substantial.

I too posted #MeToo, but was almost uncomfortable because I still feel slightly ashamed to be one of the statistics.

I did not want people to know and view me differently because of what happened to me.

I posted #MeToo anyway because I think it is important to speak out so we can bring awareness, and try to stop the epidemic of individuals who think their unacceptable actions are in fact acceptable.

This trending hashtag not only brought back memories of my own story, but my friends’ stories of their assaults or rape and led me to discover many other women who have faced similar things.

I went to youth group with the friend who sexually assaulted me.

I would see him down on his knees with tears down his face claiming to love God and have devoted his life to God every Tuesday night.

I never expected it would happen to me as a freshman in high school- especially not by him.

I remember very vividly being screamed at when he said, “What do you want from me? You won’t sleep with me and you won’t date me, so what good are you?”

I discovered after what happened that the guy had been sipping all night on a 33 percent more bonus-size bottle of cough syrup mixed with a soda he bought from Monical’s Pizza.

He blamed his actions on him abusing cough syrup that night.

He said we needed to “talk,” so we walked to Mark Twain’s park because it was still near the football game we were attending.

Every time I see the park where I was assaulted instead of “talking,” I still cringe.

When I was able to get his hands off me, I ran as fast as I could across the soccer field near me to get back to my friend Allison, who I had originally went to the game with.

I saw my friend Lee taking a shortcut through the soccer field to the football game as I was running, so I met him halfway and stayed by his side knowing he would be protection if needed.

I tried telling my friends what happened and was called a liar.

All of his friends said he would “never do that,”and even if he did do it they would choose not to believe it.

Because my peers who I confided in chose to peg me as a liar about my assault, I chose not to turn him in to the police.

I know many, many other women and several of my friends who have also not turned people in for sexually assaulting or raping them because they do not have faith that their story will be believed.

Nothing is more diminishing to the livelihood of someone’s spirit to have been sexually assaulted and to be called a liar when they tell their story.

Luckily, my friends Allison and Carley believed and supported me in my recovery and healing.

Many of my friends ditched me after what happened because of the rumors that followed.

Now that years have passed I am healed and have forgiven him for what he did to me.

Since I have forgiven him, I know I have power of how I react to things that happen to me, and I am also able to tell my story to strengthen other victims.

I made it my goal after I began healing from my assault to be the most powerful form of myself that I could.

I took what happened and have used it as fuel when training in CrossFit, when making good grades in my classes and in my day-to-day life.

I decided to be powerful and forgive him, because if he ever crosses my path again I will know that I am stronger than he will ever be.

Liz Stephens is a junior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].