Submitted Date 05/24/2019

When I was young, I was taught that anything sexual outside of marriage was wrong. When I was found to have sexual desires when I was 6, no one took me to the doctor to see if something had been done to me. I was told that I was sinful for having those feelings. Those feelings and the fear of being in sin traumatized me and followed me in my growing up years.

I was told that giving a full-frontal hug to someone of the opposite sex was not good. Heaven forbid they realize that a growing girl has breasts or that they get aroused by the thought of them.

I was told that I must dress modestly or I was in sin. If I did not cover myself in a certain way, it would cause men to lust. And if they did lust after me, it was my fault. I suppose I was in control of men's minds.

When I was 17, I started talking to a guy for the first time. I was told that we could not text after 10 pm as nothing good could come of talking that "late". Never mind the fact that we were both capable and god fearing young adults.

At 18, I had my first kiss and started casually talking to a couple different guys. When my dad found out that I had kissed a male, he told me that I was no longer pure. The feeling of being put down over something as innocent as a kiss has stuck with me to this day.

At 20, I lost my virginity. It was an unplanned spur of the moment thing, and it was great. But my phone died and I spent the night at his house. I charged my phone when I woke up to find out that my parents had called the cops and friends of mine because they did not know where I was. When they found out where I had been, they took my phone and grounded me. I was 20 years of age, had a job, paid my own bills, and was grounded because I lost my virginity. I did not own a vehicle so there was no way out of it. I was told I should feel bad and repent for what I had done. But even though I tried to, I felt no regret.

I only had one "official" boyfriend when I was 20. I broke up with him. We had a mutual friend though, so we still saw each other. One day I was hanging out with him, and we were talking. It started out as a playful teasing and little wrestle. But then he held me down and wouldn't let me up. His friend noticed and gave me a look that asked if I needed help. I shook my head no because I thought I deserved to be pinned down because I had hurt him in breaking up with him. We had only dated a few weeks.

On several occasions from the ages of 20-23, I hung out with men I was interested in. Up to those points, we had engaged in consensual intercourse. Yet there were times that they asked for sex and I said no. Then they pressured and would not let the subject go. I gave in. I thought that the only way to get them to stop was to let them have it. I guess they didn't notice or care that I did not reciprocate in any way. I just laid there.

With one of those men, I said no repeatedly. When I finally gave in, it was out of fear. He was a tall and very muscular man. I was afraid that if I continued to say no, he would rape me. And there was no way that I could escape from someone so physically powerful. After I left the next day, I text him and told him how I didn't like what had happened. I didn't like that I had told him no but that he had pressured me into it. I told him that it wasn't right what he had done. He laughed at me. I never spoke to him again.

With another one, he pressured me into it after I had told him no many times. Afterwards, I cried. I told my co-workers the next day and they told me that I should report it because that was rape. But I didn't because he had apologized and I "loved" him.

I have been told that circumstances like these are not rape or sexual assault since I let them happen. But when there is a male that is so much physically stronger than you pressuring and demanding that you do things with/for him, it is safer to let it happen. Preservation of yourself becomes first priority over attempting to struggle and possibly having it end up worse.

This is what it is like to be a woman. I know that my story is tame compared to many others. And that is saddening.

Stand up for the rights of women. Many of us keep the stories of our assaults and blatant sexism against us silent. We fear the judgment, ridicule, and shame that others will place upon us. I am tired of standing in the shadow of fear and shame. I will not be ashamed of these circumstances for they are not my fault. I will forever stand for those who find themselves unable to speak up. These women have a strength that others cannot even imagine.

I stand WITH and FOR you.

Author's Note: I realize that I may have painted my father in a bad light for the words he said to me at that point in my life. I want to make it known that it was his personal beliefs that led him to say that and it is his beliefs that I do not agree with. My father is a loving man who has given everything for his children. I am forever grateful for him and love him to death.

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