Not broken, just bruised.

Not broken, just bruised.

A #SurvivorStory by Kaylyn

At 25 years old, sexual assault has become a pattern of violence in my life. At six, I was assaulted by my babysitter while my parents worked, and my brother sat close by in a neighboring room. At 16, a “close friend” assaulted me in the front seat of his car. At 22, a stranger raped me in the bedroom of a friend’s home as the New Year’s Eve celebration came to an end.

On three separate occasions and by three different men, my body was defiled and used to satisfy desires not held by me. On three separate occasions, three different men attempted to ruin me, steal my innocence, and shatter any feeling of safety I may have had. On three separate occasions, these men tried to break me and steal the light I had inside me. At six years old I wasn’t asking for it. At 16 years old, I wasn’t asking for it. And again at 22 years old, I still wasn’t asking for it. So, to those three men, I am now 25 years old, and guess what? I’m STILL not asking for it. While this story might seem bleak, it is far from that. I am a fighter. A warrior. A survivor.

Everyone experiences hardship at some point in their lives, but not everyone experiences sexual assault. To my fellow survivors, sexual assault does not define who you are. It doesn’t and it will never have the power to define who I am. To my rapists, you didn’t define me. You didn’t break me. You don’t own me or any part of me that you took.

What does define me is how I’ve handled and responded to these horrific experiences. In my mind, I had two options: learn from my rapists, or run from them. I had to decide whether I was going to grow from my assaults, or if I would crumble because of them. I have been alive for a mere 25 goddamn years…and I’ve been raped THREE times, by THREE DIFFERENT RAPISTS. You aren’t men. You are weak, pathetic individuals who have strategically prayed on any vulnerabilities I may have shared with you. But even after each of you raped me and attempted to steal pieces of me that I feared I’d never regained, I found them. I found them and I own them. Those parts of me were never for you to take, and they were never for you to control. Despite all that you have done, I have picked myself up and built a new and improved version of myself on the road to recovery and healing. And this should terrify you because guess what? The comeback is always greater than the setback.

Despite what the three of you did to me, I chose not to crumble. I chose to use what you put me through to grow, rebuild, and move forward. I learned a long time ago that the way the three of you took advantage of me, my body, and my autonomy would never define who I was or who I became. I could have turned to drugs, alcohol, or other means of self-medication. I could have let you destroy the fire that has always been inside me. But I refuse. I refuse to give you, RAPISTS, the power to hurt me any longer. Instead of fueling the fire of self-hate and pity, I redirected my energy. I chose self-love and growth. I chose forgiveness. I chose me.

I am a survivor. I am a warrior: I am a badass woman. To the three rapists who thought I wouldn’t share my story, or that they would silence me forever: you were wrong. You will never control another part of me again. Like a phoenix, I will continue to rise from the ashes. I am a survivor, hear me roar.

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