Hello. My name is Ireland and I am a survivor of sexual assault. I don't like the title, but I find myself telling people this title all the time. Why, you may ask? Well, almost every woman I've met in my lifetime has had to deal with sexual assault of some kind. Can you believe that? 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. That doesn't even count the woman who aren't raped, but still sexually abused. Get this, 90% of adult rape victims are female. Ninety percent! Women ages 18-24 who are college students are 3 times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence. Females of the same age who are not enrolled in college are 4 times more likely. And Native American Woman are attacked more than anyone. There is obviously something wrong here, right?
How are we still living in such a violent world? I am part of that 90% of females and I'm not anything special. In a way, that makes it worse for me. I am going to tell you my story, which is also the story of so many other woman, give or take a few circumstances.
I was living in Arizona and had recently moved to a new area with two of my friends. I didn't know the area very well and I didn't drive. I was 22 years old and so excited for the future. One night, a few friends and I decided to get a few drinks. We ended up having a party at a friend of a friends house. I had never met anyone at the party before except the three people I had gone with. I had a great time actually, until towards the end of the night, two of my friends decided to leave and get some cigarettes. They said they would be right back. Well, they didn't come back and my other friend eventually left because she had to work early the next morning. I was afraid to leave because I had actually forgot how to get back to my new home. I was new to the area and did not expect to end up at this party without my friends. I did wait for my friends for a long time but they weren't answering their phone and eventually I realized they had probably went home and went to sleep, forgetting or not realizing I didn't know how to get home. So I ended up chatting with this guy at the party and he was really nice. He was handsome and I remember he had very lovely eyes. They where hazel and almost golden brown with a green tint. We talked and he offered me a drink, which I took. After we talked and drank for about an hour, the conversation led into telling him how I had just moved in with some friends and that they left and I didn't know my way home. He asked, "Did you come in with the girl with weird hair?" And I told him yes, I did. He said, "Assuming she is the one you moved in with, I know exactly where she lives." I told him that I was living with her, her sister and her boyfriend. I asked him how he knows where she lives and he stated that he has been over to her house numerous of times to hang out. I never doubted anything he said and he asked me if I would like him to walk me home. Of course I said yes because I had no idea how I was going to get home at that point. So we headed out the door and we started walking. We had been walking about 10 minutes when he asked if we could stop by his apartment for a minute to grab a bottle of vodka so we could drink on the way, and he said his apartment was very close. I said sure. So we turned and kept walking and I remember I started feeling a little dizzy and light headed. I ignored it but eventually I started having trouble walking straight and he grabbed me and helped me walk. I told him I needed to go home because I must have drank too much but he didn't say anything. The next thing I remember, I was in a room and I was tied to a bed. I kept blacking out but I did wake up a few times with him raping me. I remember trying to tell him to stop but I couldn't talk, I was drugged. He must have put something in my drink while we were still at the party. I don't remember much after that, except the next morning I woke up on a park bench. My purse was actually just sitting next to me and my ID and everything was still there. He didn't steal anything from my purse. I called my friends and they eventually came and picked me up. I was so broken and scared that I couldn't stay in Arizona anymore. I ended up moving again but I was miserable after that. When something like this happens to you, you feel dirty and used. I felt like I was nothing and I felt like it was my fault for trusting someone I didn't really know. I know now that it wasn't my fault and that this happens every day, sadly. I was suicidal and didn't want to go on anymore. It took me a long time to feel better again.
We have to get together as woman, as people, and do something about this. We have to take a stand and stop sexual abuse. Our men have to be taught better. There has to be something that we can do to stop this violence!
94% of women who are raped experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the two weeks following the rape. 30% of women report symptoms of PTSD 9 months after the rape. 33% of women who are raped contemplate suicide. 13% of women who are raped attempt suicide. Approximately 70% of rape or sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress, a larger percentage than for any other violent crime. Sexual violence also affects victims’ relationships with their family, friends, and co-workers.
I was sexually assaulted 8 years ago, and still to this day I sleep with a knife next to me, hidden so only I know where it is. I can never be alone with a man in the same room because I am too frightened I will be attacked. It has permanently damaged my relationships, especially with my partner.
Let's end rape culture! Together. Here are some steps we need to take to end rape:
1. Recognize that people neither ask for nor deserve to be abused, harassed, assaulted or raped—ever.
2. Support and believe survivors of sexual violence.
3. Bring awareness and challenge victim-blaming statements.
4. Give constructive input about why comments or jokes that perpetuate rape culture or sexism are not okay.
5. Consent is mandatory and every sexual interaction you have must be consensual--no excuse. Educate yourself on what it means to get and give consent.
6. Think critically about how the media depicts sexuality.
7. Take a self-defense class.
8. Teach your children, friends, parents and peers about the myths and realities of sexual assault.
9. Lobby your local, state and federal legislators for funding for anti-sexual assault programs.
10. If you witness sexual harassment at the workplace or in public places, expose the behavior. Don’t tolerate it.
Thank you for reading. Let's make this change for our sisters in America and ourselves! You're not alone. Confidential help is available for free.
National Sexual Assault Hotline - Call 1-800-656-4673