“You know you don’t have to be scared of me,” my boyfriend whispered to me late one night after I told him that I didn’t want to have sex.
But no matter how safe I feel with him, I still am terrified that I will be sexually assaulted.
By: Landon Funk
When I was in college, I was raped twice – once by a close friend and once by an acquaintance. Immediately after both events, I went into a deep depression and experienced PTSD on a regular basis. It was hard enough to be an Ivy League student-athlete and these traumas were unwelcome in my already-hectic life.
In January 2017, I wrote a piece for babe about these assaults and their effect on my mental health. When the piece went live, everyone I knew knew about what had happened to me. The article was all over social media, and a few local newspapers and television stations picked up the story as well. To say that I received a lot of press would be an understatement.
After the sexual assaults themselves, my boyfriend at the time helped me receive the help that I needed, patiently allowing me to heal and protecting me when I was at my most fearful. Since the Babe article was released, my dating life has changed drastically.
Every person with whom I go on a date has read the article I wrote in January. Every. Single. Person.
In a world of online dating, I knew what I was getting into when I published the article. Most men who read the article still came to the date anyway, but either never called me again or thought that I need saving.
The hardest part about dating after being sexually assaulted is proving to the other person that you are able to handle yourself and your baggage.
No one believes you, constantly reminding you that “you should just be over it by now.”
The thing about sexual assault survivors is that we never “get over” our trauma. We learn how to deal with it. It is troubling that the stereotype of a rape victim is a crazy, deranged woman. In reality, these are some of the strongest women on the planet.
Think about it. We went through an assault that stripped us of our power and have managed to come out on the other side, stronger than we ever were before.
While anxiety may run high on dates, especially if you went public about your assault like I did, you need not be afraid to be quintessentially you.
A sexual assault does not define who you are; it is merely a part of your past. Start to embrace your inner beauty, and confidence will naturally become a part of your personality. Dating after sexual assault is incredibly difficult, but it is not impossible.
The more vocal and communicative you are about what you are comfortable with, the more your partner will understand what you are going through. At points, it feels like you are on your own island, but it does not have to be that way. If someone is serious about you, then your assaults will not make you any less beautiful in their eyes.
Take a breath, and make your first step.