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Jennifer Baker - February 19, 2019

Why I Kept Silent

With everything in the news recently about sexual assault, I felt prompted to share my story.

My name is Jennifer and I’m a survivor of sexual assault. I was raped by a man who I was set up on a date with years ago. I kept silent for 20 years and I want to share my story now to hopefully help someone else who may be suffering in silence.

I was 18 years old when my friend set me up with someone who seemed nice and charming, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was young, naïve and insecure. What I thought would be a fun night with friends turned into the worst night of my life.

My friend left me at this person’s house by myself. I had nowhere to go. I was stuck in a stranger’s house with no way of leaving and he raped me. The next day when I told my friend what happened, she didn’t believe me. I was crushed and I couldn’t believe she would actually think I would make something like this up. But that’s what happened to me so many years ago.

I spoke the truth and I was not believed. At that moment I made the decision not to tell anyone else what happened for fear they wouldn’t believe me either. I didn’t report it to the authorities. I didn’t tell my family, friends or anyone else.

I kept this dark secret for 20 years and it almost killed me. It started wearing me down until I couldn’t breathe. I blamed myself for what happened to me. I kept asking, “What if I had never gone to the party? What if I had spoken up when my friend was leaving?” And several other questions that held me captive for so long. That’s how I felt until I started sharing my story with people I trusted.

Logically I know I did nothing wrong, but for some reason I blamed myself for the rape. That’s why I kept silent. I thought it was my fault and this compounded the negative thoughts I had about myself. It wasn’t until I found my voice that the healing began. I was still afraid of judgment and pointing fingers, but I stepped out in faith. The years of silence, shame and blaming myself finally started to dissolve.

Many survivors feel guilt and shame about something that was done to them, but it’s not our fault. Rape is rape and no means no. I’m speaking out now in hope of helping others who may be suffering in silence. When I use my voice, the heavy weight on my shoulders gradually starts to lift. I can finally breathe as I’m taking one step at a time on this healing journey.

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