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By Natalie Nolt. January 2013.

I was 15 years-old... I was so ashamed to tell anyone; when I did, no one believed me because I never told the police."

It’s very difficult to talk about what rape feels like at exactly the moment it happens or is going to happen, because words rarely cut it.

Rape is a physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, personal identity, gender and sexual violation, all at once. At the moment it happens, for most rape victims, something in the fabric of the world as we knew it, rips wide open. For those who had such low self-esteem that they already felt they only deserved pain or suffering, rape validates that feeling.

But the pain of rape doesn’t stop once the rape is over: not even close.

Like most people, I don't enjoy talking about rape. I’d love to never have to talk about it again. It also makes a rape survivor more vulnerable than rape has made her or him already to talk about rape or their rapes so publicly that thousands and thousands of people will know they've been raped.

But I talk about it, no matter how difficult, because it is so crucially important to talk about, and because until we all really get talking, things are not going to get better.

I am a rape and sexual abuse survivor, more than once over.

I was 15 years-old when my rape happened.

I was spending the weekend over at my best friend’s house, like I had done many times before. I had fallen asleep on the couch while watching a movie and woke up with my best friend’s younger brother climbing on top of me. He was a quarterback for the football team and at least 150 pounds larger than me.

He had all the control being on top of me. My pants and panties easily ripped off me like they were paper. I tried to struggle to a point, but his immense size and weight made it impossible to break free, and the more I fought, the more violent he got.

To prevent me from screaming, a pillow was shoved in my face and the more I resisted the further my face went into the pillow – and few times, I passed out because of this. I realized that the less I fought, the less force he used and the less pain I felt.

Soon my body just shut down, too paralyzed to move.

My mind went someplace else – like I was watching this happen to someone else.

I was so concerned that my best friend and her family would hear or even not believe me; this worried me most. I didn’t want them to no longer like me and I didn’t want her beloved brother to get into trouble. He was very popular and the family’s favorite.

Some men say, after being involved with a sexual assault, that it couldn’t have been rape because the woman wasn’t kicking and screaming, or trying to run away; it is not the woman’s job to run away.

Besides, many women feel that if saying, “No, stop that” wasn’t paid attention to, why should screams be any different? It is a myth that if a woman doesn't fight during a rape it was consensual. This is a touchy subject for me, and such myths really bother me. They may be afraid of hurting the rapist, especially if he is a friend.

This was my case.

Someone who presses charges for rape has to go through a humiliating medical exam, long questioning sessions by police and the district attorney to see if there is a case, and a session to explain to family members that they were raped. I felt too ashamed to endure this and felt nobody would believe me, which ended up being very true.

I was a virgin and never even kissed a boy prior to the rape.

The blood from the tearing of my hymen and anus was all over my body, the bruising inside my thighs and inside didn’t heal for months. I suffered such horrific PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) afterwards and spent a few weeks in a “mental” hospital for a suicide attempt. This is where I learned I was pregnant and about the serious damage my body endured from the rape.

I was so ashamed to tell anyone; when I did, no one believed me because I never told the police.

The stigma of having lost your virginity this way, to have lost control over your own body is horrifying, but to have no one believe you or think you’re crazy because your suffering in every way was most difficult.

I have worked very hard since that time to regain my voice, to take back control.

The fact that my rapist was African-American made it more “embarrassing” to my family…as if I was dirty. I’ll never forget my mother telling me I was a “natural born whore.” This is why I believe my family easily passed along my rape as wanted – even though the hospital doctors and nurses did not believe me.

However, the nurses who helped me to recover from my physical wounds for months afterwards – they always believed me.

The nurses always believed I was raped.

Linda was an RN and the only one I trusted to do vaginal exams. I was pretty physically beat up in the inside. I couldn't sit down for a few days. The doctors I saw were men, and all I remember is feeling humiliated and ashamed.

I was Pregnant

You have to remember I only saw the doctor when it was discovered I was pregnant, so I remember the doctors asking if I was saying I was raped because I didn't want to get into trouble. My mom thought that was the case, and by then I wanted to forget and felt if my own mom didn't believe me; no one else would. Linda never asked me, but she just knew. I think rape survivors just know. I had major complications from the abortion which required medical support afterwards. I don't recall anyone asking if I ever wanted to terminate the pregnancy, but at 15, parents could decide [for their child].

That is what bothers me to this choice whether to have sex and no choice to be pregnant or whether to carry to term. I understand why a woman would feel embarrassed or ashamed and don't tell. I don't know a single survivor that told and got justice. You spend so much energy trying to prove you were raped.

From the pressure of my mom, I told the doctors it was not rape – just said it was rough sex from a boy I did not know...the hospital doctors and nurses did not believe me. This was said so no law enforcement agency or trouble would happen to my best friend's brother. I protected him in fear of losing my friendship, but when it was discovered that something happened between us, my friend's family banned her from speaking to me because I was trouble and the truth never came out – but I think they knew.

What followed were flashbacks, self-sabotaging behavior, eating disorders, low self- esteem, and years of self-cutting, depression, and suicide attempts.

Rape victims have to deal with rape and its severe consequences. It's something we didn't choose to take part in; for our whole lives, including people thinking things about us that are not often true and which are very hurtful, we have to deal with that. In justice systems and in many communities, rape victims hear rape is their fault far more often than rapists hear that it is theirs.

If you're lucky enough to make it to trial with a good defense attorney, they can make you look like an awful person deserving of such a thing. I'm not sure if I'd tell if I have to do it over again......every time afterwards I experienced sexual harassment at work or been touched without consent by a boyfriend after my rape I could never scream or 'fight' back in anyway maybe if I fought for justice I wouldn't have felt so defeated.

Rape is so often being seen as a minimal crime, and rapists are often treated better by society than the victims of their crime are. This is my case and the stigma of being raped prevents me to this day from being open with family and friends.

At 34, I have finally found my voice...all these years fighting for the dignity taken away from me.

Hopefully, by sharing such stories we can start to change the face of rape victims.