Sexual Assault Awareness + Dating Safety Tips from a Survivor


***TRIGGER WARNING: Rape, Sexual Assault***

What does sexual assault awareness mean to you? To me, it means so much more since I am a sexual assault survivor.

I want to expand on my experiences and share some dating safety tips. Even though this can happen at any time and any place, I think dating safety is a good place to start when talking about sexual assault awareness.

I was sexually assaulted when I was 17 years old.

I was a senior in high school, and this proved to be one of the most challenging times in my life. At the time, I was a leader in my AFJROTC (Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps), I was on the track team, and I was participating in my school’s theater program.

It was a Wednesday evening. I was at youth night at church. We outlined our bodies on a huge piece of paper and were told to write all the good things about ourselves.

I had a friend outline my body and then I left.

There was a very handsome football player texting me. He wanted to meet up at the store parking lot across the street. I was in disbelief that he even wanted to talk to me, and I was so excited.

I got to the parking lot and hopped in the front seat of his car. We talked and listened to some music and then he kissed me. I had a tingling feeling all over my body. Butterflies?

We moved to the back seat, and he pushed me down and pulled down my pants. I tried to push him off a couple of times, and then I just laid there until he was finished. Then, I climbed out of his white and gray Chevrolet Avalanche and slowly walked over to my car.

I drove back to church. And I tried to forget what happened. . . I didn’t know what happened. I felt alone.

So I called a friend from middle school and told her about the experience that I had. She told me that I had been raped. I had never heard this word. I didn’t really understand what this meant. At 17 years old, I didn’t understand consent or rape.

I’m glad that my friend explained this to me. She also cared for me over the phone (as she lived in a different state) and told me to tell my mom.

I told my mom that Friday.

My mom took me to the ER to get a physical exam done. This was before a SAFE or SANE nurse (Sexual Assault Forensic Nurse Examiner Expert) was popular. An ER doctor (male) examined me while a police officer (male) questioned me and took the clothes that my mom had collected before we went to the ER.

Oh, did you want to know what I was wearing? Jeans, t-shirt, granny panties, and a bra. Nothing fancy. Normal teenager clothes. Yes, the police officer did ask me.

EVERYTHING hurt all over again. I felt so uncomfortable. I felt all alone again.

The police found the video from the store of me limping back to my car and questioned the young man about the incident. The police decided that they didn’t want to ruin this young man’s football career, so they didn’t push further.

My dad was deployed with the USAF (United States Air Force) at the time. He was infuriated that the school and police had done nothing to protect me after this young man hurt me. My dad called the school to ensure that they took this young man out of all of my classes.

Sexual Assault Awareness + Dating Safety Tips from a SurvivorThis did not stop the whole football team from taunting me daily at school. They also came to my work and called me names there too.

My parents paid for me to spend a week with my family that lived in a different state. I don’t remember much. I remember sleeping on the couch and watching them walk around and try to help me.

» »  RELATED READ: A Letter from a Domestic Violence Survivor + Facts and Resources  « «

My father somehow got military orders to move with a month left of my senior year. I felt relieved to escape a nightmare I never wanted to live in. I have been in therapy ever since this traumatic experience in my life. Slowly, I have grown and learned to adapt with my PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

After sharing my experience with you all, I would like to share some dating safety tips. If you are a single parent or you have kiddos in the dating scene, this would be a good read for you.

My Dating Safety Tips

  • Share your location with someone and let them know where you will be. Also tell your safety person when you should be done with your date.
  • Wear whatever you are comfortable in.
  • If the person you are dating makes you uncomfortable in any way, LEAVE.
  • Double and group dates are always an option. Have a bowling night with friends or dinner with another couple.
  • Understand CONSENT. You can always talk about your boundaries whether it be a hug, kiss, or a night tangled in the sheets. If there is no consent, STOP. And if they don’t stop, LEAVE.
  • Overall, have fun. That’s what dating is for.

Other Dating Safety Tips from Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)

  • Meet somewhere public during the daytime for a first date.
  • Provide your own transportation so you can leave if you are uncomfortable.
  • Be mindful of your (and your dates) alcohol and drug intake which can impair judgment and lead to dangerous situations.

This is a difficult story, but it’s my story. It makes me who I am today. If you are a Sexual Assault Survivor, YOU ARE SO STRONG!

References & Resources

Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico

Women Against Crime Self Defense

New Mexico Legal Aid

Sexual Assault Recovery Services

UNM Event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.


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