From Victim to Survivor: It Happened to Me Too!


If you were to tell me that a trip to Atlantic City to hang out with family and friends would turn into one of the worst events of my life, I probably would’ve stayed home!


I
was in my early 20’s, excited to go to this club in Atlantic City and only thinking about the fun I was about to have. A friend of mine had invited me to a birthday party and conveniently my  brother was also attending a different birthday party at the same club. I was really looking forward to this night. We had gotten a hotel room at the same hotel the club was at, which made  it very convenient and we didn’t have to worry about driving home, which was over 2 hours away.

The night started out with us “pre-gaming” in the hotel room. My brother invited a friend of the family to go to the party with him so he was in the room with us too. I didn’t think anything of it because we were all used to being around each other. We were drinking, laughing, listening to music and getting dressed for the night. We knew the drinks at the club would be expensive so we drank a little more than we should’ve while in the hotel room. At some point, I realized I was tipsy but I felt comfortable because I was with family.

We finally made our way downstairs and inside the club where I met up with my friend and her husband in the VIP section for the birthday party she’d invited me to. My brother and his friends had gone to one side of the club and I was on the other side. At some point, the guy that my brother invited showed up to VIP where I was. I remember being unsure of why he was there since he was my brother’s guest. I even asked him why he was over there and he told me he was just making sure I was good. I didn’t think any more of it and just focused on having fun with my friend and the group I was with. I was dancing and having fun and every now and again I would turn around and noticed he was behind me, whether it was to try to dance with me or just to be around me. There were other times he would disappear to be with my brother but would somehow find his way back around me.

After a while I started getting sleepy, but was alert enough to ask my friend and her husband to walk me back to my room. Making sure I was safe, they walked me all the way back to the room and despite me being tipsy, I remembered the room number. It was about 2 am when i got to the room. I remember the light was on, I went right for the bed and immediately went to sleep, still fully clothed.

I was awakened by someone touching me in between my legs. The room was pitch black, all I could see was the hotel lights outside and the red numbers on the bedside alarm clock. I felt someone fondling me, touching between my legs with fingers and tongue.

Was I Dreaming?

And then I heard a familiar voice say my name. It was “him”!  He was trying to get me to participate in what he was doing to me.   I was still drunk and definitely confused but all I could think of was “Where is my brother” and “Why isn’t he here”. The familiar man continued to pull on my legs, it felt like he was fingering me and at the same trying to get my legs fully open. I finally jumped up, realizing I wasn’t dreaming, I yelled “Get off of me”.

The thought that wrung the loudest in my head was Why is this happening to me?”

The room, still dark.  I remember moving my hand around in the bed, trying to find my cellphone to call my brother. I finally found my phone and was relieved but quickly saddened when it went straight to my brother’s voicemail. During this time, the man was still trying to touch me. I remember telling him to get off of me and away from me. I stood up and ran into the bathroom, where I locked myself inside. Shocked, confused and paralyzed all I could do was cry. Despite still being drunk, I realized I had just been a victim of sexual assault.


“Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, fondling and attempted rapE” (US Department of Justice).

As you could probably imagine, I went through a host of emotions during and after this event:

Guilt      

Shame 

Fear    

DepressioN

NumbnesS    

Shock

I know that it was only God’s grace that kept me from losing my mind


How I Overcame the Aftermath of Sexual Assault Without Seeing a Therapist

I Forgave

I forgave the abuser and all people I felt wronged me during that time.

I had to forgive in order to move forward. Forgiveness isn’t about the other person; it is about YOU. Get to a place where you can forgive. It wasn’t easy, but it was what needed to be done. Forgiveness is being able to move on without reliving the pain associated with the incident. I had to keep living and forgiveness allowed me to LIVE!

I prayed for PEACE and gave my burdens to God

That time in my life was very dark. I was an emotional roller coaster afterwards. There were some days I would just cry and other days I was angry. It was tough because I had to keep it all together. I was in nursing school and my grades started to slip but I knew I had to finish and couldn’t risk failing anymore classes. At some point I needed the peace of God and even though I wasn’t in right relationship with him, I asked him to take away what had been troubling me and to do something to get me through. He exceeded my expectations and he gave me strength daily. He lightened the load I’d been carrying. The Load of guilt, shame, fear, sadness, hopelessness and he gave me peace.

I allowed God to HEAL me and mend together my broken pieces

At the time I didn’t have support in areas I expected, BUT God was always there. HE made sure there were people around me to speak life into me. HE made sure I knew it wasn’t my fault despite me being drunk. HE sent people I could confide in. HE used my friends and family to speak positivity into me.

Don’t get me wrong, Healing did not happen overnight. It took years for me to heal completely from that traumatic event, but it happened!


This testimony is only a snapshot of all that happened but I was encouraged to share my experience in hopes that someone reading this would be healed from my transparency.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month
National Sexual Violence Resource Center

I hope you enjoyed this post. Until next time…

Love, 

        Leigh C

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