I was walking into my dorm room. It was dark, the blinds pulled down and lights off. As soon as I opened my door and pulled my key out of the lock, I felt someone behind me. Before I could turn around, I was pushed into my room and I heard the door close and lock behind us. I stood up to go to the door, but he slammed me down onto the floor and told me to shut up.

This couldn’t be real. I’d already been assaulted twice, the second time by a stranger in my dorm room two months prior, and I knew from being an activist that stranger rapes were so rare.

Then he whispered, “Third time’s the charm.” I knew, then, that he had to know about my previous assaults. He knew who I was. Maybe he was my second perpetrator angry that I’d spoken about being assaulted at a rally earlier that week. Maybe if I hadn’t spoken out, I’d have been left alone.

He yanked my shorts and underwear all the way off. He grabbed my arms and wrapped my underwear tightly around my wrists until I couldn’t feel my fingers anymore. I started to cry. He took my shorts and stuffed them in my mouth so I couldn’t scream.

I couldn’t see exactly what he was doing at first, but then I felt him try to pull my legs apart. When I wouldn’t, he started to punch my legs. When I finally opened them, he pushed the hairbrush into my vagina. It hurt, but I couldn’t scream.

I tried to untie my hands and ripped my underwear slightly. He got frustrated. He reached over and found my phone cord. He wrapped it tightly around my wrists and then tied my hands above my head to my desk chair leg. Then he pulled the hairbrush out and pushed it into the other place he could hurt, and then took it out and put it back in my front, which burned. Then he pulled it out and I felt something sharp. It was a pair of scissors. He inserted it into my vagina and pulled them open. I thought I’d die; I think I wanted to. When he finally pulled them out, I felt him try to put them in my back. When he couldn’t find the right angle, he got frustrated. He picked up the hairbrush again and put that in my back. He left it in and picked up the scissors again. He shoved the scissors in my vagina again and pulled the scissors open. I thought both of them together would kill me.

Then he pulled them out reached to the side. He grabbed my razor out of my shower caddy. He put that in me, so far in that he barely had enough handle to hold onto. I still kept wondering if this was some kind of sick, PTSD-like nightmare. Then he whispered, “Want me to pull it out?” I tried to say yes. Then he started to pull it out. It was cutting me. I started screaming but my screams were muffled. I felt blood on my legs. He cut my thighs.

Then I felt him pick the scissors up again. He put them back in me and pulled them open as far as he could. Then he got up and ran out of my room, just like that, leaving me in the dark in excruciating pain.

I was scared to move or even breathe because I thought if I did, the scissors would hurt me more and I’d bleed to death. But he’d left me tied up. I didn’t want to live, but I knew I had to untie myself. I didn’t want anyone to find me like that: lying half naked on the floor, bleeding, bound and gagged with scissors in me. No one could know I let something that gross happen to me again.

It took me forty minutes to untie my hands and take the scissors out. I fell asleep on the floor like that, blood and cuts on my wrists and legs, body burning, mind spinning. I woke up in the morning and spent an hour staring at the bruises on my legs, trying to come up with an excuse for the cuts, the bruises, the pain, the tear-stained face. It turns out I didn’t need excuses, because nobody noticed or cared to ask what happened. Nobody noticed how much my face contorted in pain every time I sat down, or how I was wearing long sleeve shirts even when inside warm rooms to hide my wrists, or how I stopped running because I didn’t want to expose the bruises on my legs by wearing running shorts.

I told myself after my first assault that I’d collapse if I ever experienced a second. I told myself after my second assault that there’s no way I’d be able to survive a third.

What is there to tell myself now?

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