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Like many women, I don’t have just one story. But there is one that left me more fearful of being a woman than the others.

It starts as most of these stories do. I was just going about my evening, enjoying a night out with friends. Or at least people whom I thought were friends... They had insisted we join another group of people they knew and that we go to another bar together. I agreed, happy to go along with the flow and enjoying myself. It’s never the reason why, but I know I wouldn’t be the first woman to say, “If only I hadn’t drunk so much…”

Throughout the course of the evening, I was being harassed by the group of “friends” we had joined. There were three men in particular who were so insistent, asking me to flash my breasts, kiss them, and dance with them, even after I refused multiple times. I brushed it off, thinking that my friend’s friends surely wouldn’t take things further. I was wrong.

When it came to the end of the night, we drove back to one of their apartments for a nightcap. Except I had been tricked into going home alone with one of the men from the other group. He forced himself on me, telling me to just go to sleep so he could have his uninterrupted fun. My fight or flight response kicked in and I managed to fight him off, kicking and screaming while he pinned me down by my wrists, face down. 

When I finally fought free, he seemed unfazed, saying I was overreacting and that he “was just horny”, I grabbed my things and in a wild panic started to search for the door. This part left me so scared, because he laughed, sarcastically asking how I would find the way out, who would I run to? We were alone and no one was coming to help.

I blindly fumbled for a door handle and ran away, not knowing where I was or how to get out but knowing that I mustn’t, at any cost, stay within a mile radius of this individual and terrified that this wasn’t an isolated incident. So many men have done this and come away with nothing, while for me, it left me fearful, skeptical, and exhausted—mentally, emotionally, and physically. The bruises took weeks to disappear.

But it took me longer than that to trust anyone again.

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