I wanted [my family] to see me as this perfect person but obviously the best relationships come from people accepting you for who you are.
In my second year of college, I met this guy who would flirt with me all the time and I was very clear about not being interested in him. One night I got a little too drunk and he told me he’d give me a ride home, but instead of taking me to my house he took me to his house — and raped me.
I remember waking up the next morning and feeling like it was my fault. I think it alienated me from my friends and family a little bit. But I realised that one of the main things I needed to do in order to heal from it was to tell other people.
I ended up writing a personal essay about it for my school newspaper. Part of this decision to write this essay came during the #MeToo movement. I get this email from my mom saying: “I’ve been seeing all of these posts on Facebook and I really wanted to post my own story but I thought it would be really unfair if I hadn’t talked to you guys first.” I immediately call her and she tells me about her own experience with assault. That really opened my eyes.
I think that writing that article definitely changed a lot in my family and made us a lot more vulnerable and respectful of each other. To feel understood by another person is really important. It’s about finding support networks that you are comfortable with because you’ll be amazed by how much love you can receive if you just let yourself receive it. — Lila Reynolds, a visiting intern from the United States at The Star newspaper, as told to Arielle Schwartz