Updated: Mar 11, 2020
You think you are prepared. Know exactly what you would do, how you would do it, How you would feel, what to say... all until it happens to you.
TRIGGER WARNING: contains sensitive material pertaining to sexual assault, physical assault, thoughts of suicide and mental health.
(Listen with headphones for a better experience :3)
It took one sentence, a few simple words, an assumption that completely shattered the mask I wore. The mask that has lost its pieces but was held back together with tape and glue. A mask that was already at its ends. Broken, not all at once, but fell gradually... piece by piece.
I was shooting a show that brought together those who felt different from “normal” society where they can truly be themselves. An event with zero judgement, yet here I was faced with a presumption about my own life. This stranger spoke nonchalantly about depression, suicide, anxiety, almost normalizing it as if it were no big deal. This isn’t normal. Do people really just randomly speak this way in a venue? They asked what drugs I take and I was confused. He continued to list the prescription medications he consumes and I now understood what he was asking. I answered with "none..." and that's when he said the line that changed everything.
“Wow. So you’re one of the lucky ones. Must be
Are you kidding me...
That short conversation didn’t sit well with me. I have heard and experienced worse situations that don’t come remotely close to something as small as this, yet I couldn’t ignore it and move on like I have. Then it dawned on me… no one really knows me. The real me. My struggles. My triumphs. My story. All people know is the online presence known as “eevee” who loves to take pictures, going to shows, watching anime and is always smiling. My mask was all everyone knew. It's the only thing I let them see. Only very few saw what was underneath. Such a rare sight. My mask was my comfort but it made me feel alone. I don’t want to be alone anymore.
Don’t worry, she learned to turn this bad luck to good.
Here is my lucky story.
"It's okay!" "No biggy!"
"I'll be okay!" "haha"
"I'm just a little tired." "I'm busy, i'll talk to
"I'll get over it." you later."
"Nothing is wrong!"
My first boyfriend broke up with me because I was awkward. I was fifteen. He was my first with that foreign label(title?). He’s dated someone before, he’s had a girlfriend. Another foreign label. I never kissed a boy. This was my first. Just a small simple peck to him, but to me, it felt like rainbows and butterflies. Didn't seem like he enjoyed it, he's had better. I'm sorry it wasn't up to par with the last. It seems childish, but this naive child believed in sweet magic, fairy tales and happy endings. The hopeless romantic gets a taste of bitter reality.
*snap* The mask is on.
In high school, I dated a dude for three days. Three days. 3 days. Let that sink in a little. I broke up with him because he made me feel extremely uncomfortable. Touching me inappropriately in public spaces, in front of others as if the chances of getting caught gave him even more thrill.
"I don't like it!"
That was the first time I have ever been touched.
*crackling sound* Cracks appear on the mask. ˢᵐᵃˡˡ but visible.
Although it was terrible, I was proud of myself for not hesitating and getting out of it the moment I knew something wasn't right. He would cry when he saw me around school and my peers would all tell me I broke his heart. It was a very small school so I heard it constantly but it didn't faze me a single bit. Instead I was more confused and laughed because... remember those three days? Yeah that's why. Dude it was only... sigh... you get the point. I never really mentioned what he did to anyone besides my best friend at the time because he was out of my life and just a
Or so I thought.
The school was having an assembly. Students, teachers, and other faculty gathered into our cramped, office looking “auditorium” filled with chairs. I took my seat and out of all the students in the room… you guessed it. The 3-day ex just plops down with the most mischievous smile I have ever witnessed. I wanted to immediately get up and move but the assembly had started. Great. While the guest speakers were presenting, I felt something slowly travelling up my thigh and when I glanced over it was his hand. Wha-- My body just froze. This can't be happening.
He reached his destination and I jumped but not enough. I didn't want to make a scene. I didn't know what to do other than keep scooting in the opposite direction till I was shoulder deep with my neighbor. He noticed what was happening and reached towards the 3-day ex's hands, holding them, joking around to also not make a huge scene but still stopped the nightmare. A few moments later it was an intermission. Before the next half began, I moved seats to sit with my friends and they noticed I was shaking and asked what was wrong. I told them what happened and I started to cry. They comforted me and gave disgust glances at the 3-day ex. That was it. No one told a teacher. No one really did anything. I didn't do anything either. I could have saved myself and yet I yearned to be saved. No one saved
me. It must not be important. I chose to forget about it and move on. I don't matter.
*snap!* the first pieces of the masʞ begin to fall. I’ll be okay.
Dear Mr. "I made a mistake,”
Thought you were sweet
One of the good ones.
stuck between something old and something new
you chose me
Ignored that red flag
I was just so glad
You were my first
something I could never forget
A naive girl, what a fool
Those happy thoughts I now regret
I drifted to sleep
you were there to comfort me
I wanted you to hold me
not touch me, unconscious, against my will.
you confessed in a text
a new thought:
I'm just a sex object...
Move on and forget
Thank you, next.
*snap!* goes another piece of the masʞ. I’m fine.
The next was a true sweetheart. Definitely seemed different from all the rest. I had my doubts at first, my guard was up. I have learned my lessons. He spoiled me, made me feel special, took me on fancy dates, showed me affection. What more could I ask for. My longest relationship to date, one year. He called me the one, I was special, he loved me. Although he was "Mr. Right '' it felt wrong. Nothing serious really, sometimes feelings fade even with the best of them. It was only right to let him go. About a few months later, he's engaged to the girl he would randomly talk to me about. The coworker who would flirt with him continuously and send him photos. I guess I should have seen that coming. All those times you mentioned her, you trying to confess weren't you?
*snap!* drops a piece of the mɐsʞ.
The first person I said "I love you" and meant it picked me up against the wall in a dark alley by my neck. Why is this happening to me? What did I do?
"I hate you!" "I never loved you!" "You thought I wouldn't hurt you!" "Look!" "This is your fault!" he yelled, the stench of alcohol leaving his every breath.
I moved a fair distance away where I was able to escape, eventually. He was persistent, driving miles down south when I repeatedly said it was over. Why doesn't anyone listen the first time? I'm okay.
After all this, I was getting more comfortable being on my own again. Going out, enjoying life, being single, starting my photography career, finishing school. They always say never go looking for a relationship, and each time I never did. This wasn't any different. He made me feel a type of love that I have never felt before. A love not towards him, but towards myself. He taught me self love. Maybe unintentionally but I have never felt more confident and comfortable in my own skin. I was practically glowing! Then came the lies, the sweet talk, being stood up, played. I saw the red flags and listened this time. I spoke my mind. What caught me off guard is that, although childish and ignored me, he admitted his wrongs on his own. What I thought was a sign of good was actually just manipulation in disguise. I fell for it so many times. My kindness and power to see good in people was being abused. Unfortunately, I let this get the best of me and all that new found self love was easily crumbled up and thrown in the trash. I was convinced it was my fault. That everything was my fault. It was foolish, I know that now.
*snap!* more pieces of the ɯɐsʞ.
I hid my pain and played pretend for too long, I craved the escape. The escape of reality, of feeling sad, of caring, of really feeling. I started believing in my own lies. I believed I was okay, everything was great, that I was happy. Smoke and forget, get high and care less.. I was more lost than ever. Who am I?
Now here comes the big one. WELCOME TO THE PRESENT.
This is why I have been quiet. This is why I have been away .This is what I am currently healing from. Everything mentioned above as well, but this... this one is the biggest demon I am conquering.
On April 13, 2018, I was raped by one of my b ̶ e ̶ s ̶ t ̶ ̶ f ̶ r ̶ i ̶ e ̶ n ̶ d ̶ s ̶. A night out with my two best buds. The trio, we called ourselves the Raveateers (cringe but it was special.) Bottomless mimosas, house music, good company, the safety and comfort of being with friends you trust. What could possibly go wrong? Everything. I made a mistake of trusting one. They helped me into bed. I have never been so intoxicated before but I had a great night. One for the books as they say. One left, one stayed behind and closed the door. He laid into bed next to me. Signals were shooting everywhere throughout my body but it wouldn't listen.
Get up! Say no! "N-nn...oo.."
He didn't hear you, say it again! Push him off! Stop him! Scream! Fight! Please stop! Stop! stop. stop... plea--
I was a corpse: lifeless, unable to move, to speak. All I could do was close my eyes and let the tears roll down my face feeling his hot sweaty breath on my neck. The bed squeaks, his moans, my silence, all fades away. One final grunt and I know you‘re finished. You dressed me back up, you kissed my forehead and left the room, the last words I heard before losing complete consciousness, "Fuck, I'm so sorry."
Me too. What's the point anymore...
I didn't tell a single soul for over a year. I have heard tragic stories regarding others, on the news and read in books. Learned more in class. You think you would never be in such a situation and might have an idea of how you would handle it. But when it actually happens to you, everything you thought you knew just vanishes. At least it did for me.
*snap* The ɯɐsʞ is broken. What did I do to deserve all this? Forget and move on. It d̶ i̶ d̶ never happened.
Early 2019: I was diagnosed with clinical depression. Majority of my clothes didn't fit. Everything was extremely loose. I lost weight not because I wanted to but because I couldn't eat. I never felt hungry. I could go and did go days without eating. Everyday I went through the motions but it wasn't me. Sometimes I couldn't remember how I got somewhere or even forgot what I did that day. The negative thoughts consumed me. I would never act upon them but that didn't stop them from whispering to then yelling when I was all alone in the dark. Too scared to die, too scared to live. I was completely lost. He moved on with his life. The trio split now into a duo. I was relieved I would never have to see him again.
Until I learned he was my friend's boyfriend. Shit.
Tape the mask. Glue the pieces together. Put it back on. No one will notice. No one ever did.
August 2019: I told someone for the first time. He noticed. I spoke it into existence. It did happen. All the pain and suffering I just pushed into my subconscious came flooding out. I was overwhelmed with negative emotions. I forgot how to genuinely smile. It sucks when your own
mother tells you "I wish you would smile more again.” He encouraged me to seek help, to tell my friends, to tell my parents, to seek justice. He and others comforted me and reminded me constantly I am not alone. Thank you for the huge push, I am forever grateful. Thank you to everyone who has been by my side through this journey. I love you.
September 2019: I finally sought professional help. I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and PTSD. I learned to open up and speak my feelings without feeling guilty for doing so. My therapists too, pushed me to seek justice. I didn't want to at first.
Therapist: "Why don't you want to prosecute him? The first reason that comes to mind."
Me: "I don't want to ruin someone else's life and--"
Therapist: "I'm going to stop you right there and read to you the note I just wrote down. 'Does not want to prosecute rapist for fear of ruining his life.'"
Holy crap... What is wrong with me? How did I not realize I even said that. Because you have given up on life, given up on you. I always put myself last, I can't do that anymore. It's time I took care of number one... me. I was scared but I had even more support. I am not alone. I could do this, I need to do this.
*** Call it naive, call it being too nice, call it fear, call it whatever you like. I still gave him a chance to come forward. I asked him to make time to speak in person because I wanted to talk about something really important. He had no clue what about. He was distant, He didn't care. Two months passed and he never made a single effort. He had his chance. All my doubts disappeared, now it's my move.
December 2019: I went to the authorities. I spoke my truth, the first steps to prosecution. I was nervous but I wasn't afraid. Everyone I spoke to during this process added more comfort and made it easier. I was ready for what I will have to go through for doing this. I'm tired of all the bad and not doing anything about it. I am tired of people hurting me and getting away with it. I am tired of forgetting and pretending it never happened. I deserve justice, he deserves punishment for the crime he committed.
January 2019: I spoke with a detective. We were going to attempt to get a confession out of him.
Call #1: No answer.
Call#2: No answer. Left a voicemail.
Call#3: He's the one calling me.
I was completely caught off guard. I was ready when I was the one calling him but not the other way around. My mind went blank. He answered so cheerfully. I didn’t know what to expect but it certainly wasn’t this. I was stuttering and panicking so much I was just going to hang up the phone. That’s when the detective peeked through my peripheral vision with a thumbs up and a pat on the back, reminding me I am not alone. I gathered myself and focused. This is your chance Ashley. Now or never. I played along with the cheerful act. Something I am good at since I’ve always worn my mask. I began talking about April 13th. He remembered the show, he remembered the mimosas, he remembered me flirting at the bar with someone else. He remembered how drunk we were. He remembered he couldn’t drive so Raveateer #1 did. He remembered everything. Not once did he deny the events leading up to the tragic climax. As we got closer to that point, I began to notice that cheerful tone was diminishing and the sound of worry played through the cracks in his voice. Music to my ears. It’s time. I took off my broken mask. I said it. No sugar coating. He was quiet… unable to think of an excuse or a lie. Caught off guard no doubt. My heart was racing and everything came out like word vomit. He had the nerve to ask to talk in person, “I gave you two months… it’s too late.” He said I confused him, sending mixed signals, “I was unconscious and it isn’t the first time I deny your feelings towards me.” He never had a comeback because I was right, and he knew it. I wanted him to tell me what he remembered from that night, his truth. It wasn’t any different. He confessed. We got him. I got him. For the first time in a very long time, I felt true happiness.
That didn’t last very long.
Weeks passed. I haven’t heard from the detective. I was starting to lose hope. I called and left him a voicemail.
More weeks pass.
It’s the detective. Just by the tone in his voice when I answered I knew it wasn’t good news. I was right. They aren’t going to prosecute him. Even with a confession there isn't enough evidence to do so. Everything else he said after that didn’t matter to me.It was all muffled, I couldn’t hear any of it. It wasn’t like I was expecting anything, just more confused that he admitted to it and that means nothing. I thought hearing him at least confess would give me the closure I was looking for but finding out that he was free… it wasn’t enough.
On top of all this, my friend (his girlfriend) had reached out to me because I have been quiet. Haven’t really spoken to anyone and off social media. She asked what was wrong. I was done putting others' feelings into consideration when mine are always being disregarded. I come first now. Finally. She deserves the truth so I told her. She didn’t believe me. She believed him. He told her it was consensual and I just wanted to stop so we stopped.
Are you fucking kidding me.
She said she wasn’t invalidating my feelings yet she questioned me. I didn’t ask for that. She asked what she expects me to do. Literally nothing. You asked what was wrong so I told you, I didn’t ask you to do anything. That just proved to me she didn’t really try to understand my feelings or even took them into consideration. Protect the monster at all costs. Can’t blame her, I can put myself in her shoes which is why I didn’t try to prove anything further.
I was angry. I wanted him to feel all the pain he’s put me through. I wanted him to hurt like I did. I wanted him to see what he did to me. I lost all forms of hope because of him. I lost myself, over and over and over again. He raped me over and over and over... and I let him.
But exposing him for the monster he is point blank is not me. So here we are.
I was tired of being hopeless. I was tired of not knowing what to do. I was tired of being sad and making those around me feel my pain. I was tired of wearing a mask that no longer even worked for me. I was just so very tired. I remember crying my eyes out alone in the dark. Holding my chest because the pain was just too great. The negative thoughts were eating away at me. Just end it. Make the pain go away. You’re weak. You’re nothing. You did all that and he still got away with it. You stood up for yourself and nothing has changed.
I’m not weak. It is because I stood up for myself and went through all that that proves my strength. I was able to move forward and speak my truth at this moment because I am strong. I may have not gotten the justice I deserve but I got the truth. I know it, my friends know it, my parents know it, my family knows it, he knows it. I learned that this type of injustice happens all too often. There are many others whose voices aren’t heard. It isn’t fair but you can’t let that stop you from living because then you are letting the evil win. Evil wants you to stay quiet, to feel like you're insignificant. It feeds off of your tears, your heartbreaks, your pain and it gets stronger every time. Don’t let the evil gain an ounce of strength, and if you feel as though you have lost all hope, dig deeper. There is hidden strength in you that will surprise you and feels amazing once you tap into it. To me, the most important part of healing is speaking your feelings out loud. Tell someone. Something many don't do because of fear. Because you don't want to make people worry about you. Because you don't want to be a debbie downer. Because you don't want to be sad in the first place. Who cares. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to cry, to be angry, to curse, to scream. Negative feelings are just as important as the positive ones. It is better to understand why you are feeling negatively rather than ignoring it because it will never go away. You think it might, but it’s still there, hiding in the dark, waiting for the next tragic moment to make its appearance once again. The most difficult part is figuring out what to do after you understand your pain. Finding closure. It isn’t easy to find sometimes, but it is definitely worth it. I needed to find a new form of closure and this is it. I combined these negative feelings with my passion and created art. I found new hope in this project. Turned bad luck to good. A story of growth. Thank you.
You’re hiding now but I know you will see this. Someone who is speaking the truth wouldn’t block me or go private or hide from the world. You will always be hiding while I will be living because I spoke not only my truth but THE truth. You don’t define me. I do.