When a friend of mine told me she’d been raped a second time, I said I could feel it.
My heart was beating so fast.
I thought about it every day, in my head.
My friend had been raped by two men in a bar in France.
“You have to be careful,” my friend said.
I had been on drugs for several years at the time.
I’d been using cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy.
I hadn’t been clean since college.
My boyfriend had been sober for a while.
“Don’t be afraid,” I told her.
“It’s not like this is going to happen to you.”
I had told my friends about the first time I’d had sex, in the year before my 16th birthday.
I was afraid, but I couldn’t help myself.
It was that feeling of being helpless that had been driving me.
I needed to talk to someone.
I went to a support group, but was turned away.
I wanted to tell someone, but nobody would listen.
I told my boyfriend, and he was supportive, but then I told him what happened to me.
He said he didn’t think he was ready to talk.
The next day, he asked me what I wanted.
I said that I wanted him to understand.
I also told him I had heard stories of other women who had been sexually assaulted by men.
He agreed, but said I needed time to think.
I didn’t want him to be the one to give up, so I told myself that this was what he needed to understand: that I had a problem and needed to help me.
So I sat down and tried to understand what was happening.
It took a while, but eventually I got the message that he needed some help.
I sat with him for three days, talking about everything, trying to understand why I was feeling this way.
It’s not that I didn, or didn’t, have a problem.
I’m a pretty straight girl, and I’ve always been pretty comfortable in my own skin.
But it was a shock when I was told that this guy had a girlfriend and was a boyfriend.
I felt like I was missing out on something special.
I wasn’t sure what to say.
My emotions were racing.
I knew I had to tell my boyfriend I was a virgin.
He was angry at me for saying I was having sex, but also at me because he thought I was lying.
I started to cry.
It wasn’t until the next day that I told our friend what happened.
He called me the next morning, sobbing.
“I’m so sorry,” he told me.
“He’s going to be really angry.
He doesn’t understand.”
My friend and I had talked about how we were scared of men, but this was different.
The men who had raped me felt like they were protecting me.
They didn’t like me, and they didn’t understand why.
But that didn’t stop them from raping me again.
It made me feel powerless.
I can’t describe how much my heart was racing.
Then I got an email from a friend, who told me that I was being taken to the police station because I’d asked about the sexual assault.
The police had me arrested, and my boyfriend was detained.
I left France, feeling ashamed, because I felt I had lost control and that I’d taken matters into my own hands.
I still feel ashamed about the incident.
I’ve had to live with guilt ever since.
But I know that the way I’ve dealt with my shame is what will help me deal with the sexual assaults.
Rape culture, clean culture, rape culture, culture of silence, rape, rape I can no longer breathe.
It feels as if everything I have experienced in my life has been erased.
I have no friends, no family.
My parents are all dead, and the only person I’ve ever truly cared about is my boyfriend.
But there’s a problem here.
I don’t know what to do.
I know I’m not alone.
The stigma around sexual violence is very, very strong.
People don’t believe rape victims.
I used to tell friends and family that if they ever felt that they could do anything about rape, they should talk to me and try to understand it.
But, in France, that’s not what’s happening.
They say that I’m just a slut, a bad person.
But what if I really am?
What if what I’ve been telling myself is true?
What happens to a rape victim, after she’s been raped?
I want to be able to talk about my experiences and help people understand.
But for now, it’s just too much to bear.
What I want is for people to understand that rape is not just about a woman’s body.
It is about the power of rape culture.
This rape culture is a culture of secrecy and silence.
It targets women who are