Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Mental Health; This post follows the experiences and mental/emotional processing of a survivor of sexual violence. Discretion and self care should be taken before reading further.
“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that's why we’re here today."
I’ve tried to avoid the situation too long. I want to release what is holding me captive in my mind because a prison of the mind is worse than any prison behind bars.
I have not written in a while. Life has changed so much for me in the past few weeks. I feel a piece of me has died that can not seem to be found. I’ve implemented all the coping skills I’ve learned in therapy and have prayed for things to pick themselves back up. Daily convincing myself things are getting better but the truth is; a secret is holding me hostage in my thoughts. Certain sounds, objects, places, and smells; cause me to feel lots of anger and anxiety. My therapist identified these feelings as triggers; in psychology, triggers are identified as a stimulus such as smell, sound, or sight that triggers feelings of trauma.
In light of all of that, I’ve decided to set myself free. I am not comfortable enough to share this with anyone but my story does not define me; I define my story. And I choose POWER. I want to be in control of the things that set off a memory tape, transporting me back to the event of the original trauma.
It was September 23, 2019, and it was a beautiful fall day. My friends talked me into going to a football game. After the game, we decided to attend a party at a local night club. Of course, going out to the club was not a part of the plan. But I wanted to continue having fun with my friends which is why I decided to attend. Once we got there it was packed to the max. To our surprise, the club was hosting a birthday party for a local professional athlete in the area. Now what happens next I would have never imagined happening in my life!
As we were leaving the bar laughing and dancing a man approached me from behind. “Hello Beautiful, I have never seen you before”. I smile back with no reply. My friends rush over and reply, “Her name is Tyra, she shy”. He begins to laugh with them stating “no need to be shy I just want to know you”. I finally open my mouth and state, “That’s okay. I am here with my friends, no time for talking over loud music” and walk off.
It felt like a lifetime before my friends caught back up with me. They begin to tell me, “Tyra, do you know who you just turned down”. “No. Who?” I asked. I will not disclose any names due to personal reasons, but my friends proceed to tell me his name and that he is a professional athlete. They also continue to tell me how he is the most eligible bachelor in the state. I don’t know to this day if it was my pride or fear when I stated, “I do not date athletes”.
All night long my friends try to convince me it is divine for us to exchange numbers and I should just give him a chance. I thought about it for a while then laughed it off. Once the night was over I thought it would be the last of the conversation. Well, I was wrong. A few days had passed since the birthday party at the club, but then I received a message on social media from the guy at the bar.
At first, it shocked me. Then again, it seemed typical of an average guy to locate someone on social media after meeting them. Instantly I jumped on the group message, with my friends, to let them know he came into my DMs. One of my friends quickly disclosed, “I told him your Instagram name.” “WHY?”, I replied. She said, “Well if he was really interested in you, he would reach out by any means.” After that message I began to get intrigued with what he could possibly want with me. After hours of contemplating the idea, I replied. For weeks we flirted and had conversations through direct messages. Throughout those weeks he would send me flowers and very expensive gifts. Although he held a lot of great qualities, to be honest, I ignored the red flags.
Flash forward to February 14th, 2020. We finally were able to fit quality time into both of our schedules. We met out of town, and he listened to all my requests such as putting me in my own hotel room. He planned a complete day for both of us. The morning started with a black box with a red bow delivered to my room. Inside the box was a very sweet note and a stunning black dress. I stood in amazement, and then there was another knock at the door. This time it was 24 red roses, a shoebox, and a shopping bag with red tissue paper sticking out. I open the bag and the note read, “Today is all about you, the dress and shoes are for tonight, the outfit is for now. Meet me downstairs in an hour”.
No one, in my entire life, has ever made me feel so special. I began to play my favorite music and started to get ready. I was so happy on the inside I couldn’t express it with words, even if I had tried. Of course, as he promised, the day was all about me and he made me smile the whole day, inside and outside. After hours together we headed back to the hotel, and he said, “Now go take a nap, meet me back downstairs at 8 PM. Wear the dress I bought”. I smiled and said, “See you at 8.”
I followed the same routine once I woke up from my nap: I played my favorite music and started to get ready, but this time I threw in a glass of champagne. I remember at some point before we met again at 8 PM I video chatted my best friend and she immediately explained “I told you it was divine! I have never seen you smiling so hard over a guy.” I laughed and responded, “I know, right.” We proceeded to laugh and make jokes as 8 PM approached. I headed downstairs and there he was with 24 more roses! I promise I could smell him from the elevator. The night was just as beautiful as the day. While we were at dinner we had a few drinks, as we headed back to the room he asked me if I felt comfortable enough coming back to his room for an hour before we went to bed in our separate rooms. I wanted to say no, but I did not want him to think I was uncomfortable with him.We had been talking for months, and on top of all that I kept thinking about all the nice things he bought me and did for me!
“I can come for an hour but that is it,”are the words I wish I never spoke.
When we made it to the room everything went left. It was like I had never met him before. He kept grabbing me and trying to kiss me. He became forceful with me demanding I perform various sexual acts on him. I kept saying I am not ready for this. He asked me why and stopped touching me for a few minutes. Then he began to touch all over me again, but this time he was holding me down by my arms. I couldn’t move at all, but he kept kissing on my neck and face. I kept asking him to stop but he kept going. He kept reminding me of how many women would kill to be in my position. He continued to tell and remind me of all the nice things he bought for me. I stopped talking and just laid there. I felt no matter how much I asked him to stop he would not stop. I did not want to make him mad so I closed my eyes and just became numb. I tried to convince my brain he wasn't on top of me or even inside of me. I remember blacking out and waking up later that night with him asleep beside me as if nothing had happened.
I rushed out, grabbing the black dress, I wore earlier that night to dinner, off the floor. I got back to my room and tried to rip the dress off my body. I now hate the black dress I once thought was beautiful. I jumped in the shower and began showering. I was rubbing so hard I felt dirty and disgusted with myself. I felt ashamed and more importantly, I felt confused.
I did not want to tell anyone what happened to me. I begged him to stop but I also just laid there without fighting back. Why would he do this to me? Why could he turn so violent with me so fast? What did I do wrong? How do I tell my friend “I know I was smiling last night, but today I am in fear… what do I do?” I stayed up for hours staring at myself in the mirror crying.
The next morning was awkward. He sent more gifts to my room and acted as if the night before never happened. I was beyond ready to go home but my flight wasn’t leaving until 2 PM. I continued to sit in silence with him as he continually apologized. He told me he thought I wanted it because I did not get up. I wanted to scream, “ I COULDN'T GET UP!” But instead, I shook my head and said “it's okay.”
It was not okay though, he took advantage of my body. I know he heard me ask him to stop over and over. I know he could see as he was on top of me that tears were rolling down my cheeks. Why couldn’t I get the words out before I got on the plane? I was so confused. I questioned myself, maybe I did lead him on… no no NO I KNOW HE HEARD ME SAY, “ NO, STOP”.
The plane finally took off, yet I believe my soul is still trapped in that hotel room. My friends were obsessively asking how my weekend went. I had already planned for them to pick me up so I could tell them all about it, so I stared out the window the entire flight practicing what I would tell my friends.
As planned my friends were waiting and waiting for a great story. I told them all the positives, I could not find the words to tell the truth. They were so excited and happy for me, meanwhile I was dying on the inside. For days the guy continued to reach out to me until I blocked him. I did not know what else to do. I was scared of him and I never wanted to see him again, I wanted to forget what happened to me.
After weeks of feeling confused and lost I decided to go to therapy to help process what happened to me. It helped me a lot with understanding that I NEVER GAVE THIS MAN CONSENT TO TOUCH ME! I SHOULD NOT FEEL ASHAMED. HE TOOK ADVANTAGE OF ME! NO ONE DESERVES TO TOUCH MY BODY WITHOUT MY PERMISSION.
I did not owe him my body. I did not deserve to be in this dark place. I decided to trust him. I remind myself daily there was nothing I could do to keep him from assaulting me that night. I want to choose power. I do not want these thoughts to haunt me any longer.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for listening to my truth. If you made it this far and any part of this story connected with you, I am here to tell you and myself, It’s not our fault. We never asked for this to happen. And we never deserved for our stops, nos, and silence to be ignored. Our bodies are our bodies, Not Theirs! No one deserves to touch our bodies without our consent!
National resource RAINN they have a hotline and online chat
NWA Center for Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-794-2304
Children's Safety Center (Washington): 479-872-6183
Children's Advocacy Center (Benton) : 479-621-0385