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Jillian Perih

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

Why I shared my story on national television

I sat down in front of a camera took a deep breath and told eight strangers about my sexual assault before I could even tell my family. Not because I was ashamed – not because I wanted to hurt them – because I knew before I told anyone close to me – I needed to heal.

Everyone heals in different ways and everyone expresses their emotions differently. For me, I heal through telling stories and have found in the past telling my stories in a structured way gives me relief. I am extremely happy to have used the outlet I did – to not only heal – but to hopefully help others.

I don’t think that the general public knows exactly what kind of emotional, physical, and mental trauma sexual assault has on survivors. As odd as it may sound, I feel as though sexual assault is trending right now – it is on the brink of being a conversation so loud and so prominent that people cannot ignore it and things might actually change. This may also be because I am now hypersensitive to it. I see and hear it everywhere. Before my assault I only ever heard about it on things like Law and Order SVU. I don't want people to talk about it just because it happened to them. I want the conversation to be louder, so the people in the back can hear. I want people not normally exposed to the conversation to be talking about it. I want to make sure that survivors feel support even when the law can’t convict. I want to make sure we aren’t silent – because silence does not bring change. Discussion brings change. Dialogue brings change.

The effects of assault or endless – every single survivor has a different story with different outcomes and different traumas to overcome.

While my story is just one of the masses – it’s important for people to know. My hope is that people reading about just one incident will open their eyes to see that this happens every single minute to people around the world. If my story gets you talking, if my story gets attention, it is important to know this is ONE story or the billions of others. Our rape culture is unacceptable – and we need people to FEEL something about it in order to DO something about it.

Here is how it feels for me:

Moments after my assault I went into total fight or flight. I escaped. I ran. And I found a way home. All I grabbed was my cell phone. I was constantly looking back to make sure he wasn’t chasing me.

Within an hour I had gotten home and my roommate agreed that I needed to call the police. I was quickly taken in an ambulance – not to a regular hospital – but a Rape Treatment center. At first I was disgusted places like this HAD to exist…but I later found out it is an amazing place and outlet for myself and other victims.

By the time I got to the hospital – cops had met me there. I was receiving all the questions you could imagine – and I was sad to know I could only answer a handful. Regardless of if I drank to much or was drugged – at this point I felt totally hopeless, discouraged, and disappointed in myself. How could I not know the answers to something that happened within the last two hours?

What I did know – is that I was receiving massive amounts of texts from an unrecognizable number. Texts that not only insinuated rape – but also threatened me. Things that insulted my soul. Things like “you fat cow” “Moo” “I wasn’t finished f*cking you” “I have aids you are going to die”.

I will spare the gory details of a rape kit as it is different for everyone. But in summary, you get violated by an assailant and then have to strip down and let a nurse take care of you by looking and examining every.single.part of your body. Following the exam, I was given a shot in the butt and pills for chlamydia and gonorrhea. However, the part that really bothered me – was the part that could have potentially saved my life. The HIV treatment. Law requires you to be treated for HIV if you are threatened with it; you require the immediate exposure medicine to lower the risk of contracting the disease. They were not going to bring this man in test him – so to be safe I was began my treatment. This required taking two doses of horse pills a day that made me so nauseous and tired I dropped out of school. Every single day for a month I was given a reminder that I was sexually assaulted by an evil human. Happy and grateful to say it was just a threat and I tested negative on all of my follow up tests.

The thoughts that came up in the days, weeks, months, and, now, years after the assault are all traumatizing. You can heal from the event but certain things will never be the same. Below you will find a few of my thoughts and actions that I have had the last three years.

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What sounds less serious rape or sexual assault – want to make sure I make this as easy as possible to tell my sister.

Do I want one pizza or two while I sit in my bed avoiding human contact?

Do I hate men? Or do I just hate that man?

Will I ever be able to stay at a cheap hotel again? Or will I always have night terrors about it?

I wonder if I will ever be sexually active again. Will I ever want to be intimate?

How can I regain control of my life?

How is this not able to stand in court? How am I supposed to move on? This man just gets to walk away?

Will I ever be able to tell a significant other about this? Will they consider me damaged or undesirable?

You don’t get it. You will never fucking get it.

Oh, wow, there are some really inspiring stories and women on campus who have been through the same thing.

Okay – going to read the Stanford Student’s letter today. *Next day* Okay got through a paragraph time to continue… *4 days later* It took me that long to get to the bottom. I am so happy I did. I would like to hug that girl.

Ready to heal – lets meet the women who will help me. She wants me to FORGIVE him?!

Hell no. I won’t forgive him – I will forgive myself for ever feeling like it was my fault.

Oh let me watch the news this election season. Wait, did they just say grab her by the pussy?

I wonder how many times on each different news station, they are going to talk about sexual assault and not give a trigger warning. I wonder if anyone else has cried over this. Am I being dramatic?

No seriously, if I hear the word sexual assault on the news again without a trigger warning I might fucking lose it.

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This is for the survivors who went to court and won. This is for the survivors who went to court and lost. This is for survivors who reported but “didn’t have a strong enough case”. This is for the survivors who got treatment. This is for survivors who didn’t have the means to. This is for survivors who never told a soul. This is for the survivors that think it was their fault. This is for the survivors no one believed. This is for the survivors who were too young to know that is was called rape. This is for the survivors who are males. This is for the survivors of color who have historically been at a higher risk. This is for survivors in our armed forces. This is for survivors who are inmates. This is for LBGT survivors. This is for survivors in the transgender community. This is for all non-binary survivors. This is for survivors assaulted by strangers. This is for survivors assaulted by acquaintances. This is for survivors assaulted by significant others. This is for survivors assaulted by family. This is for the victims who lost their lives.

This is for any and all survivors. Do not let the legal system define your sexual assault. Do not let this experience silence you. You are a human, worthy of all the love in the world – including the love you give yourself.

Jillian Perih7 Comments