My name is Katie. At the time of my assault, I was 14 and a middle school student, soon-to-be freshman cheerleader. I loved to write, act funny and be with my friends.
I was sexually assaulted by a 21 year-old man, repeatedly. Now that my situation was finally discovered and reported to the police, he is faced with 14 years in prison, 10 years of probation afterward and will be a registered sex offender for life.
I was taken advantage of and manipulated, and I wasn’t able to cope. But, after starting therapy, going through the still ongoing court systems and learning how to tell the people close to me, I survived. Now, I not only live; I thrive. I’m still figuring out my feeling towards the assault. I still feel some pain, but I’m miles away physically and mentally from my 14 year-old self, thanks to my support team.
The hardest parts of the assault for me were the basic feelings most sexual assault victims feel. Was it my fault? What was I thinking? Do I deserve to be helped? He took me through the grooming process of power, controlled my every thought, and turned me into a person who had no feelings of my own. I felt like, because I didn’t physically resist, I was saying yes and giving permission. I know now that being as young as I was, an 8th grader, I didn’t have the ability to consent, especially after undergoing the extreme mental abuse that led up to the assault.
When I was asked to go to the local children’s advocacy center, I was embarrassed, angry. I didn’t want to tell details to someone whom I had never met with a video camera visible in the corner. I had no idea what to expect from the police or the court, and I was afraid that I was going to be looked down upon, that my questions would never be answered.
I quickly learned, though, that I was in a safe place, with people who cared about me and wanted to see justice done. I let go of the control I thought I had and allowed myself to be taken care of. I broke down the walls of fear, with the company of my friends and family. I took refuge in their answers. It wasn’t my fault. They don’t blame me. I’m not scarred forever, and I am going to be ok.
I think people in my shoes struggle with the loss of control the most, because when you lose that, how do you cope? But if I could say anything to them, I would say that if you have a safe place to land, losing control, passing the guilt you feel to your abuser and taking comfort in the fact that it’s not your fault, can be incredibly healing.
It’s not your fault. You don’t have to heal right away. I still am. You just have to help yourself be helped and know that it’s not impossible to overcome something like this.