Lauren s Story
Chicago, IL USA
"The first time I learned what rape was I was in 6th grade. I watched an episode of Law and Order SVU, and learned that a woman was forced to have sex. After that, I forgot about it and continued on with my life.
I was struggling with anorexia, depression, and anxiety and continued to doubt my self-worth and question why I was here. The first time I was assaulted was in 8th grade. I didn’t want to touch him, I wanted to cry, but I froze because I was scared he wouldn’t like me anymore.
After this, I believed I was dirty and no one would ever love me. I put my focus into running and controlling my eating and tried to deal with my parents’ divorce. I went to a Catholic school, and, after this happened, I believed God wouldn’t love me. How could he love someone so horrible as me? It was all my fault, and I was devastated and hated myself completely.
My freshman year of college I had just gotten out of a relationship that I felt so safe in. When I decided I wanted to try dating again, I was excited. He seemed nice. He took me on a date, held my hand, and told me I looked pretty. I was naïve and trusting. And then, he wouldn’t stop hurting me. I told him no, I asked him to stop, and he wouldn’t. I was crying, but my tears and sobs were silent.
It was an out-of-body experience, physically I was being raped, but I couldn’t do anything about it and I just watched as I was completely frozen. When I left, I thought it was my fault. I didn’t realize what happened until I got to the pharmacy to purchase Plan B. I tried calling my roommate and my best friend, but instead I picked up Plan B and started sobbing in Walgreens. I was terrified, alone, and didn’t know what I was going to do.
I joined a support group at my college, a group for survivors. And, it gave me friends and a support system of women who knew me and knew my pain and believed in me. I learned how to cope, and started journaling again, and began to heal. I began boxing. I wanted to feel safe and believe that, while I lived in Chicago, I would know how to take care of myself.
And, then my junior year I went on another date. He was so nice, funny, seemed so interested in me. And then I froze again when he started to hurt me. He wouldn’t stop. And, I didn’t know why this was happening again. Why did I have to be sexually assaulted again? What did I do to deserve this? I left and cried in the Uber. I got home and was alone, I sobbed in the shower. I kept all of this pain inside because I knew if I tried to process it all, I would have left school and not come back. I felt weak and believed, that I would be broken forever.
My mantra is, 'What happened to me isn’t okay, but I’m okay'. And, not every day I believe this, but I hope if I remind myself this I’ll start to believe it and will regain love and hope for myself. When the #MeToo movement started, and 'Time’s Up' occurred, I felt hope. I believed maybe other women wouldn’t have to go through the pain and fear that I still struggle with. My PTSD haunts me, my nightmares consume me, and yet I still fight.
I am studying to be an elementary educator- I want to teach my students that they can be the solution. I believe consent needs to be taught to everyone at a young age. I believe that all people, no matter their race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation need to feel safe and deserve to be respected. And, I believe that it starts through educating and making people feel loved. If you believe in respecting others, you wouldn’t want to inflict pain on others. We need more of that in this world. All I want is for every person to feel safe when they’re out, to feel loved, and to remember that they matter."
Lauren Crowe is a Loyola University Chicago Campus Representative