'I am a survivor': Finding strength in speaking out

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Hunter
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
I yelled “no, stop,” but it didn’t matter. Between the closed door and the loud music in the house, no one would be able to hear me, and the only two that could didn’t think twice about the words I was saying.

What was supposed to be a good time at a party ended up being my nightmare; a nightmare that became a reality as I was raped by both men at the same time.

They didn’t care that I was a 5’2”, 100-pound girl, who was drinking for the first time. They only cared about their ill-intentions of taking advantage of my completely vulnerable situation.

No matter how much I had to drink, I was still conscious. I will never forget their faces as they entered the room, locked the door and began to approach me.

They treated me as if I was a rag doll just there for them to have fun with. I felt like I wasn’t a human being anymore. I kept hearing one of them say, “it’s okay.” No! It was not okay! Nothing about the situation was okay!

It’s easy for people to say I should’ve done something and I should’ve fought back, but I just froze. I felt as if I was outside of my body, watching a horror movie of what was being done to me. I had two men hovering over me, each of them at least double my body weight. I knew I didn’t stand a chance.

When they were done, they went back to the party as if nothing had happened. My life would be changed forever. They stole who I was.

According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, every 107 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, totaling 293,066 victims each year. Of those victims, 68 percent of sexual assaults are never reported to the police, meaning 199,285 victims never report their assault.

After that night, I was a part of that 68 percent.

The reason I did not speak out for so long is the reason most men or women don’t: I was scared. I was afraid to tell anyone that I was drinking that night. I was afraid of what the guys would do to me. I was afraid I wouldn’t win the case because of the alcohol in my system. Most of all, I was afraid that no one would believe me. What proof did I have?

My biggest regret that came from not saying anything was that the men that did this to me were never brought to justice. Without punishment, nothing would stop them from doing it again. To this day, I am haunted by the thought of what they could be doing to other girls out there, all because I was afraid to turn them in.

About a year after my assault, I had enough of staying silent and I began to speak out. Although I did not have any information needed to press charges, I was able to share my story with others in order to warn them about dangerous situations and encourage them to speak out if anything were to happen to them.

Now, six years later, I am proud of the many lives that I may have touched with my story. I was strong enough to move past what was done to me, grow from it, and help others that may not be as strong. I have taken my regrets from my experience and assisted victims in bringing their suspects to justice.

As we enter into the month of April, a month in which sexual assault awareness and prevention is recognized throughout the nation, I challenge you to speak up.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, I urge you to push past the fears you may face and speak out in order to bring that person to justice and protect the men and women that could become victims after you.

If you know someone that has been sexually assaulted, try to understand where they are coming from. Be the friend that they need you to be and then get them the help that they want or need.

For questions or to report a sexual assault, please contact Moody’s Sexual Assault Response Coordinator hotline at (229) 257-7272.