Emma & Dexter

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"I was first raped when i was barely fourteen.

That was the first time I had kissed a boy, much less had sex. It took me years to realize that it was rape - not just because he was four years older, but because I remember laying there with him on top of me trying to tune out what was happening by singing songs in my head. The second time I was about to turn fifteen. That time I eventually kicked him off and ran, but not before it was too late. The third time I was a freshman in college on a tinder date gone bad. He forced me to drink alcohol until I couldn’t stand up. Then when he was done with me, he left me on the side of the sidewalk. A biker rode past and called an ambulance. I don’t remember much. I thought I was “fine” for years. I pushed it all aside, did some therapy but didn’t get too much into the assaults, had normal relationships and consensual sex. It wasn’t until halfway through my sophomore year of college that things started to fall apart. I was paranoid when I would go out and would be preoccupied with looking over my shoulder. I would have panic attacks in open spaces. I eventually stopped leaving my apartment altogether, which meant I started failing my classes and losing touch with friends. I would lay in bed all day doing nothing.

Getting Dexter, my wonderful puppy, gave me a reason to get up out of bed in the morning. I started training him to be my service dog, and having him come with me to class or the grocery store meant that I could focus on him instead of my paranoia. His goofiness started making me laugh every day. He got me to exercise. When he needed to eat, I was reminded to eat. All of the small changes he helped me make eventually built up and I was able to be a functional person again. Even though he is now “retired” from being a service dog and only works at home as my Emotional Support Animal, he still makes my life and mental health better every single day and I can’t imagine my recovery without him by my side. I’m now about to graduate, have a super cool job, and a fantastic partner and friends, and coming home to dexter is still one of the best parts of my day"