Emelen & Banks

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"I was assaulted my first year of college, twice.

These instances would be described by urban dictionary as "date rape". I was not followed into an alleyway or kidnapped on my way home. I don't know what happened exactly. I know that it happened to a lot of first year students because we were underage, therefore the way to party was to go to a fraternity house—where they were known for drugging the PJ. I didn’t press charges for either of these occasions, I didn’t even think about it as rape until it happened a third time a few years later—that time I did press charges.

There was a familiar hollowness that allowed me to connect the dots. It felt like what I would imagine drinking bleach would feel like, down to the acrid taste that coated my mouth. Until this, I didn’t have a name for what happened to me my first year of college. I only had nausea, insomnia, and a crushing sense of apathy. I barely passed my classes because I couldn’t get out of bed. I dreaded seeing them on campus. I was unable to sleep without reliving the bits of my memories paired with my horrifying imagination to fill in the gaps. I withdrew from college, putting on hold a full scholarship to the university of my childhood dreams. I became a full-time hostess to support myself and spiraled deeper into a self-loathing cycle, looking inward for reasons to my pain.

After 6 months I was unhealthy and unable to reach out to anyone to talk about what I was feeling and doing to my body. Out of the blue, my coworker found a puppy. The day I met Banks, I made the best irrational decision of my life. He helped me in ways I cannot fully describe. He allowed me to feel safe in my bed again. His eyes promised to protect me. He gave me a reason to stop hating myself because now I had a responsibility to love him. In the past four years since adopting Banks, I have returned to college and graduated, learned another language, traveled by myself to multiple countries and continents, become a performer, and a teacher. Since Banks has come into my life, I have been able to heal. I can now tell my story without crying.