Overcoming Adversity: Strength through Suffering

What role did overcoming adversity have on your college decision?

It was only a short bike ride, a temporary goodbye to a town I’d be leaving for a week or two, just there and back I told myself. Little did I know that on June 10, 2007, my life would completely change. The greatest obstacle I have had to overcome was thrust upon me. Although the coward could turn and walk away forever, I would never be the same.

As the rape disguised itself as something I was deserving of for two years, I entered a phase of extreme cynicism, bitterness, and depression. When girls giggled in the locker room about “losing their V-cards,” to which my only reply was “yeah, I still can’t ride a bicycle,” my peers failed to see the irony. Showers were long as I scrubbed my skin until it bled in an effort to cleanse myself of the impurity. My headphones spat nothing besides Leonard Cohen, Conor Oberst, Elliott Smith, and other legendary depressing musicians. However, with maturity, a better education, and the influence of two extraordinarily strong women as my mentors, I have outgrown my episode of bitterness and cynicism.

Instead of asking myself “why me,” I force myself into asking “why not me?” Now, after two years of secrecy and almost five since the attack, I refuse to stay silent. My experience will no longer serve as a hidden mystery or forgotten occurrence, but as a starting point for a tale of empowerment. No longer obeying the demands of that twisted soulless man, my lips will speak for all those women, children, and often forgotten men who were not as lucky as me. If I do not speak out about my experience, my attacker and the institutions that allow such crimes to exist will remain active and dominant. The crime acted upon me as a twelve-year-old girl opened my eyes to the harsh realities of a patriarchal society that not only embraces but also glorifies a rape culture. Before that life changing date, I was completely ignorant of the things I am now fighting for and the movements in which I am now an active participant.

In college, I plan to pursue majors such as gender studies and psychology. My hope is to build a strong foundation that will aid me in a career of exploiting a society that teaches “don’t get raped” instead of “don’t rape” and work towards global gender equality. I want to spread a message to all that they are not victims of sexual violence or of the patriarchy. They can be more than survivors; they can be warriors.

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