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A personal story in honor of One Billion Rising

*Trigger warning*

“She is still a prisoner of her childhood; attempting to create a new life, she reencounters the trauma.” ― Judith Lewis Herman

Bright and vivacious at seventeen, I’m quickly settling into my new home, getting to know my flatmates over spaghetti dinners and football games, and keenly exploring a city 1,000 kilometres away from where I grew up. A week after boxes had been unpacked, and pictures hung on the wall I sprawl across my bed and begin reading Lucky, written by Alice Sebold. As the memoir begins to describe the author being raped on her way to her University dorm, my heart races; I know this feeling. For a split second I’m in my childhood bedroom. There’s a man on top of me, tears are streaming down my face. He’s putting his fingers inside me, asking if it hurts. Always one to please, I’m thinking yes! stop! while simultaneously shaking my head no; he’s smiling. In an instant my memories of childhood turn from Big Wheel races and ice cream trucks to flashing, vivid memories of sexual abuse.

Far from close friends and family, I’m in the thrashes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Nightmares and flashbacks haunt me. I feel detached, numb and disinterested in my friends, my work, and my hobbies. I pull away from every loving touch; the thought of a man’s hands on my body makes me physically ill. I become obsessed with figuring out how I was able to block such ...