I was a military brat who spent my teen years overseas in Germany. For my 18th birthday my friends took me out to a club and bought me many, many drinks (it was legal there). Before then I drank occasionally so I didn't think anything of it at first, but after several rounds I realized I was beyond drunk. The loud music and the crowded room made me feel overly warm so a "friend" suggested we go outside to get some fresh air. We had hung out before and I trusted him so I didn't think anything of it at the time.
When I stood up to walk outside, even more of the alcohol hit my brain and I could barely get one foot in front of the other. I even had a few friends outside ask if I was okay as I stumbled down a set of stairs, only to be reassured by my "friend" that he'd take care of me and they needn't worry. That was about the last coherent thing I fully remember. I kept blacking out and after coming to a few times, realized that I had made two huge errors in judgment. First, I had allowed myself to get way too drunk, and second I had trusted the wrong guy. You see, when you are as plastered as I was, there is no fighting back or saying no. Only half-hearted attempts at pushing him away, because as much as your brain is screaming no and stop, the alcohol has robbed you of your voice and your ability to stay unconscious.
When he was finished with me, he just redressed himself and said, "Let’s go back inside" as if nothing at all had just happened. By then, many of my other friends were starting to wonder where I had disappeared to and come looking for us. I found my best friend and headed to the bathroom where I told her what had happened. We sat there for what must have been an hour while I cried as she held me. She tried to convince me to go to the hospital and report it, but I was still drunk and knew rape had stigmas attached to it so I refused.
Fast forward a few days and we go back to school, where the guy actually tried to strike up a conversation with me in the halls like nothing had happened that weekend. It started a huge fight between him and a couple other male friends of mine, who by now had all heard the story. The next thing I know the school nurse, the cops and the guidance counselor are involved as the rumors had hit the school office. They called my parents (without my permission I might add) and told them what supposedly happened.
You see, I hadn't told my parents yet. I didn't want them to know, I didn't want anyone to know because I was ashamed and blamed myself for being stupid, for being drunk, for being too trusting. So then, I had to sit down and tell my parents everything, which was mortifying. Then, I had to recount the story over and over again to the cops (all males at that). It was as if they wanted me to say it again and again in case my story changed somehow so they could catch me in a lie. They didn't believe me. As the lead detective put it, I hung out with a few kids that had been in trouble here and there. He actually told me that it wouldn't have happened if I had picked better friends.
Because I had waited so long to tell an adult, it was too late for me to take the morning after pill. A few weeks later I found out, I was pregnant. As I began to struggle with what I was going to do, many of my friends quit hanging around or calling. They say misery loves company, but the company really doesn't love the misery. I found out quickly how many true friends I had. Then mother nature made the tough choice for me that I just couldn't bring myself to make. I miscarried at a month and a half due to stress. I had already blamed myself for the rape, so it was easy to tack on the guilt of the loss.
Each day after my birthday, I sank deeper and deeper into a dark abyss that I didn't think I'd ever climb out of. The school was great about letting me leave classes if I needed to, removing the guy from any of my classes, etc. But I still had to see him in the halls and he even got to participate in my graduation ceremony on the honor guard, even though he wasn't a senior. Seeing him every day just made my depression get worse until finally I hit rock bottom. I had decided I didn't want to live anymore. I thought my life was over anyway. Before that night I had grand visions of "saving myself" until I was married, and in my twisted darkness I figured now no man would want to ever marry me. That I had been used up by losing my virginity.
I started going through my things, I cleaned my room so no one would have to do it when I was dead. I thought about all the ways to do it, which would be most effective, which would be the least painful, the whole nine yards. I wondered if anyone would miss me, other than my parents. And even though I knew they loved me, I was in such a dark place I thought they'd be better without me and the shame that I had caused them. And no one knew about any of it. I put on a mask for the world, I'd smile and pretend I was fine. I even lied to the shrink they made me talk to.
Then two separate things happened that changed everything for me. The first, our class had a guy commit suicide and I saw how it affected not just his friends and family, but everyone in the community. People who didn't even know him, grieved for him. The second, an unexpected friend reached out to me. He was willing to listen to me when no one else wanted to hear about my struggles. He became my constant companion for months, and he didn't want anything in return.
I still struggle with depression from time to time, and have many dark days where I wonder if I should just end it and be done with it. But now I realize that it would be a permanent solution to a very temporary struggle. I know now that my parents would be devastated, and that more than anything has kept me here. I also found an outlet for my emotions, writing. I pour all my dark thoughts and emotions and fears into my writing and it helps.
If you are feeling like there is no hope, know that I've been there too. It doesn't last forever, things do get better. Reach out to someone. Volunteer somewhere. Find an outlet to express yourself, whether it's writing like me or drawing, painting, making things, anything. Find something you enjoy and are passionate about, then pour your heart into it. But above all, just remember you are not alone. People care, even strangers.
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