On the night that lead me to what I believe, this is what I remember. He woke me in the darkness saying “Come with me or I’ll slit your throat.” I felt the pressure of the blade on my skin, and any hopes this was a dream vanished instantly. Kneeling by my side, I could feel the warmth of his hand on my back. His face was difficult to make out, but I remember his broad shoulders and the vague outline of his moustache. He moved slowly and quietly as he lifted me to leave with him. I can’t recall what my body did in those moments, but I can still hear the thoughts that were racing through my mind. Don’t go. Fight if you have to. Don’t go. My first attempt was weak. With careful movements I tried to break free, but he slowly began to press the blade into my skin. I tried with more force. This time, I grabbed the end of the blade, pulled it from my throat, and screamed, a horrific cry for help in hopes of waking my mom. He released me from his grip, slipping the knife from my hand, swiftly and quietly exiting out the front door.
After that night, I was forced to realize how scary the world can be at the age of sixteen. I used to think nothing bad could ever happen to me, and it was a struggle accepting that something could. His voice couldn’t seem to be shaken from my mind, and I saw his face in every person I met. I felt violated, scared, angry and confused. I couldn’t understand what I had done to deserve this, and I didn’t recognize this weak, hate filled person inside me that felt so lost.
My mom showed me I was not alone. She made me realize I was capable of more than I was giving myself credit, and I had to start believing in myself if I wanted to get my life back. So I decided to pick myself up and carry on. I learned how to cope with my fears and discovered an inner strength I didn’t know I had. It was difficult at times, but my family and friends were always there to remind me I was strong. I’ll never forget my first day back to school after the weekend it happened. I walked in the front doors of my high school and could feel every set of eyes glance in my direction. I knew every one of them was talking about what happened to me, and anxiety took over as the pace in my steps began to increase. I didn’t know how I would make it through the day, and rounding the corner of the hallway, I found all my best friends waiting for me with flowers, hugs and smiles at my locker. I broke down into tears and was so grateful to have them there. I gained a new appreciation for people, and despite what had happened, I started to see the good in everyone. After my experience, I realize the importance of helping others. How showing someone they are not alone can make a big difference in a person’s life. People exist, to help each other remember there is nothing in life that can’t be overcome. This I believe.