Updated: Mar 19
Content Warning: This story contains descriptions of a traumatic sexual assault that may trigger or distress some readers. The characters in this story are fictional. Please be aware and take care of yourself while reading. I stand with and support all sexual assault survivors and their stories.
Rachel sat alone in her dimly lit corner office on the top floor of one of the world's most powerful, respectable law firms. Staring at the computer screen in front of her, Rachel could only hear the hum of the air conditioning. It was late, well past midnight on a Friday evening. She and another fellow lawyer, Eve, were the only ones left in the building. The darkness outside pressed against the windows like a suffocating weight, making Rachel feel trapped. Rachel, one of the firm's most successful lawyers, had been here many times, working late into the night, trying to win cases that others had taken on but ultimately gave up. Tonight was different. The silence and darkness around Rachel felt like an oppressive force that threatened to crush her.
Rachel took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She tried to shake off the feeling of being trapped, watched, and vulnerable all at once. But it was her past trauma creeping back on her, the night of her sexual assault while she was in a prestigious law school a decade ago. As much as Rachel tried to push back the trauma, she couldn't live another day with it. Rachel stood up from her executive desk and took a deep breath. Rachel knew what she had to do. She needed to talk to Eve, her close friend, colleague, and the firm's other successful lawyer.
Rachel walked down the quiet hall to Eve's office and hesitated momentarily before knocking on the door. "Come in," Eve said. Rachel opened the door and stepped into the room. Eve looked up from her desk and saw the distress on Rachel's face. "Hey Rachel, what's wrong?" Rachel felt tears welling up in her eyes. She tried to speak, but her voice felt caught in her throat. Eve stood up and walked over to Rachel, touching her shoulder. "It's okay, Rachel. You can tell me." Rachel took a deep breath and looked up at Eve. "I need to talk to you. About something that happened to me in law school. I wanted to tell you sooner, but I was too scared and let it weigh on me for too long."
Eve looked up from her desk, her eyes softening at the sight of her colleague and friend in obvious distress. "Rachel, of course. Here, sit down," she said, gesturing to the comfortable armchair in front of her desk. "Would you like some water?" Rachel shook her head, her gaze fixed on the floor. "No, Eve. I just need to talk," Rachel's said barely above a whisper. "I know you're busy, but this darkness, here and inside me, is just getting too much." Eve stood up from her desk, crossing the room to sit beside Rachel in the armchair. She took one of Rachel's hands in hers, squeezing gently. "I'm here for you, Rachel. Whatever you need," she said, her voice full of empathy.
At that moment, Eve asked gently, "Rachel, if you ever feel ready to share what happened, know I am here to listen. You are in control of your story." Rachel took a deep breath, feeling hope ignite within her. She knew she didn't have to share her story until she was ready, but Eve's mere support offered her to feel seen and heard. Deep down, Rachel felt empowered to reclaim her narrative on her terms.
Content Warning: The following scene describes a traumatic sexual assault that may be triggering or distressing for some readers. Please take of yourself if you decide to continue reading.
Rachel's voice shook as she started to speak. "It wasn't just one guy, Eve. It was a whole group of them. And these weren't random men. They were men - fellow students - I thought at the time I could trust with my life. But something on that night changed my world and the way I look at men forever. Before I knew it, these same men surrounded me and threw me down like a pack of wild animals going in for the kill. They took turns. One by one. One. By. One. To them, I was some fucking amusement park ride for their sick, fucked up pleasure. Over and over. And over. And over. I couldn't even tell you how many there were, Eve. I felt like I had lost control of my body." Rachel shook her head, tears streaming down her face.
Eve's eyes widened, and her hand slowly moved over her mouth in shock. "Oh my god, Rachel, I had no idea. I'm so sorry. I can't even imagine what you must have gone through."
"It gets so much worse, Eve. Worse than you could imagine. The assault was unimaginably horrific. They did unspeakable things to me, and I was paralyzed with fear. I felt completely alone the whole time, like nobody would care if I disappeared. Or I would die and be headline gossip for the whole world."
'Rachel, I can't even imagine what you went through, but please know that I believe you and am here for you. You don't have to share anything else if you don't want to,' Eve said.
"No, you don't understand, Eve." Rachel continued, "Something was taken from me that night. Something I'll never get back," her voice growing more desperate. "My body was violated in ways I can't even describe. And the pain, both physical and emotional, is something that still haunts me. It's a constant reminder of what they did to me."
"Rachel, hey, it's okay. I'm with you. I believe you. Stay with me. You're not going through this alone. I'm here."
"They laughed, Eve! Laughed like a pack of hyenas reveling in their prey's terror. It was the sound of pure evil. And it's been haunting me ever since. I can't escape it, can't forget it. It's a constant reminder of the monsters they were. They did unspeakable things to me, over and over and over again. In my mind, it felt like an eternity. And when they were done, they left me alone and shattered. That laughter, Eve. That deranged, evil laughter. It's something that will never leave me."
They sat silently for a few minutes, Rachel's hand still clasped tightly in Eve's. Then, finally, Rachel spoke again, her voice barely holding it together. 'After it was over, I just wanted to die,' she said. 'I felt so dirty and broken. Used and violently violated. These monsters stole from me the only thing that I had control over and could guard with my life: my body, my identity. Nobody came to my defense. I felt alone that night, like discarded trash nobody wanted." Rachel's voice gradually grew more intense. "My hopes, dreams, feelings, thoughts? My body?! It never mattered shit to those bastards. Because in the eyes of this fucked up patriarchial world, my body is not - and never was - my own. As if I'm supposed to be fucking grateful that this happened to me! Or that I asked for it. Oh, right, because I'm a woman. And we all know this world thinks women are supposed to 'please the men but keep our mouths shut over our feelings!! Goddammit.." Finally, the weight of it all was too much. The walls of trauma crumbled around Rachel internally. Rachel cried as she had never cried before.
Eve quickly reached across the desk with one arm to get Rachel into a protective hug, "Rachel, it's okay, it's okay. I'm here. You're safe. Let it all out. I've got you. Rachel, I've got you."
The gravity of Rachel's trauma hit Eve like a runaway freight train. In that quiet moment, darkness had lost its suffocating hold on Rachel, and she felt renewed. Rachel was free. She had reclaimed her narrative. Rachel took a few minutes before she continued. "I couldn't tell anyone. I didn't want anyone to know. What happened to me that night is something I would never wish on my worst enemies. I felt so violated and vulnerable at that moment I didn't think I could ever trust men again. Thank you, Eve. For letting me explode."
Outside, the darkness of the night began to fade, replaced by the soft light of dawn. The sunrise slowly crept up over the horizon, painting the sky with shades of pink and orange. As Rachel and Eve sat together in the quiet of the dawn, watching the sky light up with the promise of a new day, Rachel felt a sense of peace wash over her. She felt heard and understood. She knew the road ahead wouldn't be easy, but she also knew she wasn't alone. Eve looked at Rachel, her eyes full of compassion and understanding. "I want you to know I believe you, Rachel. What happened to you was not your fault. You didn't deserve it, and it wasn't okay." Rachel felt a lump form in her throat as she looked back at Eve, grateful for her unwavering support. "Thank you," she whispered.
Eve smiled, reaching over to take Rachel's hand in hers. "We're in this together, Rachel. No matter what happens, I'll always be here for you." Rachel felt a glimmer of hope stir within her, a newfound sense of strength and resilience as a lawyer. As the sunset slowly appeared, she knew that the darkness of her past couldn't hold her down any longer. Rachel had a friend, an ally, a beacon of light in the dark. And with that knowledge, she felt ready to face whatever the future held - professionally and personally.
Survivors of sexual assault are not alone. It takes immense courage to share one's story; we must listen with empathy and support without judgment. Believe in survivors, stand with them, and advocate for their healing and justice.