Touch.

In my last blog I talked about getting intimate with someone. I talked about how I never thought I would get there but I never really explained why that was so shocking to me but to tell you the depth of his touch, I have to talk about one of the darkest times in my life. It’s not an easy conversation and there are things I would definitely change but this is my story.

It was the first week of university and I was so excited for what life was going to be like living on my own. I was living on a co-ed floor and was excited to meet new people and make friends that I would have for the rest of my life, or so I was told. Everyone seemed nice and I was going to a small religious university so I felt safe. The first couple of days went by quick and I was making lots of friends. My neighbors, both rooms with boys, were super kind, funny and well cute! Haha! By the end of the week, I knew everyone on my floor, all 30 of em. There was one boy, his name was Brandon*. Brandon seemed to know a lot of people who either went to the university or currently were in school. He was related to a couple of new people as well who happened to become my friends. He was a very outgoing and everyone loved him. He was funny and always in for a good time. With time, he was known as the guy to go party with.

Fast forward a week or two and my new friend Melissa* called me to her room crying. I ran over and she told me about her night. She had gone out with some other friends and was sharing a cab home with Brandon. He was trying to make moves on her but she kept making it aware she was not interested. As the made it into the elevator and to their rooms, Brandon followed her. So, Melissa walked into my RA’s room (her friend) to try to get him away but he only stayed to chat. As it got late, Melissa finally decided to go to her room and hoped Brandon wouldn’t follow but she was wrong. As she passed the common theater room he pulled her inside, shut the door and threw her on the ground. He was kissing her and she bit him trying to get him off. She said she tasted blood. He kept going. He was sitting on top of her when the door flung open, some other drunk person unknowingly looking for a place to crash. As the door open, Melissa took this as her chance to run away she did so successfully. As I sat with her, holding her and telling her everything was going to be okay, she showed me bruises on her body. Everything within me wanted to rage. As much as I believed her, she was a party girl and I didn’t quite know if she really didn’t give any mixed signals on her side but either way, no girl deserved bruises! We talked more and I tried to convince her to tell someone. She wasn’t interested and didn’t want to be “that girl.” Why do we live in a world where girls have that fear? Like come the fuck on.

This had all happened on a Wednesday night. Move forward to Saturday and there was a party happening. Most of my friends went out but my now best friend and I stayed behind to finish homework. The clock hit midnight and I had three very drunk girls enter my room with Brandon. They were too drunk to walk home alone so he brought them. I was truly grateful. They were ridiculous and funny but making a mess everywhere. As my best friend went to get more bags and buckets, I tried to get the girls to lay down. They all blacked out. Brandon was laying on my bed and he wasn’t getting up. I told him he had to leave but he insisted just a couple more minutes. I gave him my hand to help him up and he just used it to pull me onto the bed with my face conveniently facing his crotch. I moved myself up telling him it was late and he needed to go. He whispered into my ear, “Just a little longer.” As he whispered, he brushed his hand up and down my body. My whole body shivered in fear. He began touching my sides and working his way up my shirt. I have never been so shocked and frozen in fear in my life. I swear everything within me tried to scream but when I opened up my mouth, nothing came out. I could only imagine what was going to happen next and when I tried moving my body up in any way, his arms pushed me back. I started praying for anything to happen. For the girls to wake up, for my best friend to come back! For ANYTHING to happen. All the sudden someone swung my door open, someone drunk who I am beyond grateful too. In my fear, I have blanked on their face but they saved me that night. I asked them to help me carry him back to his room, down the hall from me. After I dropped him off, my brain was scrambled with so many emotions and confusion that I almost had myself I was drunk when I had even had a drop of alcohol. I got back to my room and the three girls were awake and now throwing up. My best friend and I stayed up until 5am taking care of them. The next morning I was greeted by my parents to join them for church. I just shut that night out of my brain.

A couple nights went by and I was studying with a guy I was kind of seeing. We weren’t dating yet but on our way. One of the girls from that night was with us and started joking about the night and how stupid she must have been. She asked me what happened and somehow my whole encounter with Brandon came out! It’s like I had no control over my words and my head and heart needed to get it out. Jim*, my later boyfriend, was an RA as well and so as much as he had promised to not tell anyone, he did. He was so upset and it was, unfortunately, his job to tell. This marked the beginning of the worst two weeks of my life. I had to retell my story almost every day, with as much detail as possible, to prove that it indeed did happen. I was told I couldn’t speak about it to anyone and that they still had to decide who was in the wrong. Each meeting left me crying and walking back and forth between my dorm and the student dean’s office. I could only meet with men and I couldn’t bring anyone with me. Here are the questions that still haunt and enrage me:

“Are you sure he did this?”

“One case is bad. Two cases is enough to do something about it. Three cases is confusing.” *thats right. There were three claims in five days against him! And this made things confusing? WTF

“What would YOU like us to do? It’s really YOUR decision.”

And my favorite:

“If you could have a magic wand for this situation, what would you do?” To which I answered, “This wouldn’t have happened if I had a wand.” His response? “Oh. That’s a good answer. Besides that, what would you do?”

YUP. That was my week ladies and gentlemen. I told them I didn’t want my parents to know but they said they would tell my parents if I didn’t. I was 18 and legally an adult but I was dumb enough to believe them. I stopped going to classes and I stopped eating so I went home and confided in my parents. Unfortunately, their anger was not channeled in the best way and was taken out on me. “Why didn’t you do anything?! Why aren’t you doing anything?!” You could say I mentally shut down at this point.

Life sucked but I became the token girl for all of us. Even though I didn’t know who the other girls were. Brandon was supposed to be kicked out of residence but since no one could “know,” he came into my room one day and laid on top of me to which I tried to remain cool and tell him to leave. He finally left and my roommate closed the door behind him, pulled up a chair and said, “So what happened between you two? I heard you made some claims. Do you even know what sexual assault is?” Let’s just say, we never became real friends after this point. After this encounter, I told two close guy friends who promised they would look out for me. Funny enough, I was laying on one of their beds and was chatting about school when Brandon walked in and laid on top of me. My guy friend looked him straight in the eyes and said, “What the hell are you doing?” “Nothing. It’s just Abby. We’re good. Right, Abby?” “Um, I’d actually rather if you get off.” “Oh, she’s just kidding.” At this point, my friend gets up and says, “You can either get up and walk out of my room RIGHT now or I will make you.” Brandon was gone in a flash. My friends locked the door and started asking if I was okay. We began talking about how he was even in the dorms and how this was all happening! Melissa had begun drinking and smoking and was not coping properly and she actually left the school after the first semester. She was a great girl and it was so sad to see her leave.

It took months before Brandon finally left. It actually came down to his decision. They let him decide between continuing his education but getting counseling and living off campus or leaving the university for 1 year before ever returning. He picked the second choice. No punishment. No record. No one knew. I thought it was over with and I could be okay but one day I was walking down the hallway and a girl walked up to me and said, “You’re that girl who got Brandon kicked out because he kissed you and you didn’t like it.” I told her it was none of her business and ran to my room crying. Four years later and I’m still learning how to cope and heal. Innocent touches are still hard for me. Even with males who I see as my brothers, when they hug me and touch a certain spot on my side, everything in me cringes. It’s like I have no control and the fear is still deeply embedded. That’s why my encounter with Dan is so shocking to me and a touch that I often crave. A touch that actually feels safe.

I know I’m not the only one but for a long time, I wasn’t grateful for the feeling of safety. If you feel safe and secure with someone, be grateful for that. For some people in this world, including myself, touch is still hard. Touch is scary and vulnerable. Even if it’s not meant to be intimate.

It’s through this pain that I have found friends I now call family. It’s through this pain that I have walked this path with many other girls because I’ve opened up about my past. It’s because of this pain that I am now much stronger than I ever thought I could be. In our pain and suffering, we often find ourselves. I’m not gonna lie, some days were bad. They were scary and depressing. But every day is a new day and every day is a chance to begin a better day. If you’ve been hurt or experienced a deep pain, don’t walk that road alone. I am more than lucky and blessed to have only been touched but I know that even a touch can change the way you see the world. Don’t hold back on getting help and no you are never alone. I believe you. Those are the words I yearned for and they are the words I tell you. I believe you.

Every guy is a new adventure and every touch is another wall breaking down. It may take awhile for me to feel 100% safe but that’s my journey. Until next time.

Sending Love Your Way,

Broken Girl Learning to Heal

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