Rape isn’t real.

Growing up, my mom and I would watch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit every night. No joke. If you had asked me then, I would have told you that I was basically an expert on crime and detective work. If you had asked me then, I would’ve told you exactly what rape was. Rape was walking down an alley and being attacked by a man that was hiding in the shadows. Rape was getting drunk in a sorority and being attacked by a frat boy. Rape was just another episode of a TV show I watched every night before bedtime.

To me? Rape wasn’t real.

It was something horrific that happened in movies and TV. It was something that friends of friends have heard of, but it was never real and present in my own life. Until it was.

October 2013, I (like every other college-aged girl) had downloaded Tinder and met a boy. We had gone on one date and he seemed very nice. He was a returned missionary, he went to BYU, we had tons of mutual friends, etc. I mean, it seemed totally fine.
Thanksgiving 2013 was the first year that I didn’t spend a holiday at home with my family.  Everyone was out of town and I was in my off-campus apartment all by myself for the whole break. He called me and asked if I wanted to go get pizza and watch a movie with him since his roommates were also all out of town. Seemed alright… right? I went, and it was fine. His TV was in his room, so that’s where we went to watch the movie.
We made out and then he told me that he didn’t want to drive me home because of all of the snow. So I said, “ok.” I mean snow sucks, right? So, I fell asleep in his bed.
I don’t really want to go into the graphic details and I hope you can understand why, but I woke up around 2 AM to him on top of me. He had pulled my pants down while I was asleep and I woke up screaming. Obviously, it was all really scary, but it was also really hazy at the same time. It’s kind of hard to explain; it felt like an out of body experience. It went on for a few minutes minutes until I was able to punch him and kick him off. I demanded that he drove me home ASAP. And he did.
I got home, sat in the shower on the floor and cried. I went to church that morning and went straight to my Bishop. I didn’t know what else to do. He seemed like the only adult that I could turn to. We talked, I told him everything and he just kind of sat there. He finally asked if I was planning on going back to BYU (I wasn’t taking classes that semester) I said yes. He said that this kind of behavior wasn’t appropriate if I  wanted to return to BYU. He said that I didn’t deserve what happened, but that there were  things that I could’ve done to prevent it from happening. For example: I shouldn’t have been there by myself, I should have walked home when he told me he couldn’t drive home, I shouldn’t have been there past curfew, etc. He then asked if the guy was temple endowed. I said yes, because I knew he had served a mission. He said that he was more concerned for the guy because he had already made temple covenants. He said that it didn’t really sound like the kind of thing to report since I went there and broke honor code willingly and what not.
My bishop gave me the Miracle of Forgiveness and told me to meet with him again in a month. I did and well… that was that.

I’ve struggled with the idea of sharing this part of my life with the internet world for a very long time. It’s for sure not my “brand.” But, a very special dinner made me realize how important it is to share my story and to heal.
I was able to attend a Honey Organization Survivors’ Dinner a year and a half ago. I sat at a table of women that had been through the most terrible things. It was a safe place to talk, but when I was given the floor to talk, I told them that I was just there in support and that I didn’t have a story of any sort of sexual assault. At that given moment I had told 5 people what happened to me. At that dinner I saw the strength and power all the other women had after confronting their battles head on. I wanted to feel that– I wanted to feel powerful. I hadn’t felt power or control over myself since he took that away from me. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I confided in one of my best friends that night about what happened to me and about what I was going to do to take back control.

It wasn’t until two months ago that I decided to tell my parents. After speaking with several people and a new LDS Bishop, I knew that this was the next step. I sent them an email because I couldn’t bear to say any of it over the phone. To this day, I can’t tell this story and use the R-word out loud. I can type it, I can text it, but I just can’t say it. It just still feels so unreal. Telling my family was a weight lifted off of my shoulders. My parents knew that something had changed in the past few years and I think reading everything answered a lot of their own questions. It felt like I could finally breathe a little easier.
A month or two ago, I was speaking with a friend (who most definitely did not know my story) and he said, “You know… I’m surprised at how many girls are actually sexually assaulted. I met the cutest, sweetest girl and she later told me that she has been assaulted. I couldn’t believe it.” The surprise in his voice was so unreal to me. But, I understood it. I understood the thought that rape couldn’t be real. There is no way one human being could do that to another human being. It doesn’t happen in my cute Mormon community and it surely can’t happen in Provo, UT.” I understood what he thought, because I thought the exact same thing up until it happened to me.
I’m sharing this with you because I want to help put a face to a word we’ve all heard, “rape victim.” If you know me in real life or even from my social media, I’m sure all of this is a big surprise. As a young girl (thanks to Law & Order: SVU) I had an idea of what a rape victim looked like. It was not what I see in the morning everyday when I look in the mirror. It wasn’t me. But, it’s so important to acknowledge that sexual assault victims are everywhere and they all look very different. Sexual assault is very real, it’s time we start acknowledging that.

Real quick, let me just jump up on this soap box: Your body is YOUR body. No one (and I mean NO ONE) has possession over your body. You don’t owe anyone a dang thing. Abuse is abuse, whether it’s physical, sexual, or emotional. I know it’s easier said than done, but if you find yourself in an abusive situation, you have to get out. You have to save yourself. Also, everyone has their agency and sex is not a “if and then” situation (if you do this, then you have to have sex.) If you have been abused, no matter the circumstances, it was not/is not your fault. I don’t care if you were drunk, I don’t care if you were breaking the honor code, and I sure as hell don’t care how long your skirt was… it was not your fault. It will never be your fault. Please remember that.

I will not let any of this break me. Last night I woke up from a horrible dream and couldn’t sleep for hours. The nightmares, the being scared of falling asleep, the fear of being alone with men that I do not know well, it’s all still there. But I believe that there is a light at the end of all of this.
I want to end this with my testimony of love. I know that seems ridiculous given how heavy this post was, but I know that love is the light at the end my tunnel. I have a Heavenly Father (and my parents here on Earth) that will help me through this. Not only that, but there are so many resources out there to help people who have gone through these types of things. If you are a victim, know that I love you. Rape, pain and assault is all very real, but so are you. I understand you, and I see you. You are not invisible. You will survive, just like I have, and just like we will fight every day to do.
xoxo Kristen
 Here is a link to Honey Organization. Seriously, obsessed with them and all of the work that they are doing. If you are a victim, the loved one of a victim, or if you just want to get involved, please check out their website.

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  1. Is that guy still at BYU? Your bishop told you not to report him? Because you would get kicked out because you broke curfew and room rules…my guess is you probably be suspended, but not kicked out?…but he should have been kicked out! Can you still report him? The fact that the bishop didn’t push to get him removed from the school… Is he still a Bishop? I would go to the stake pres. And tell him that bishop needs better training. All crimes should be reported to the law. What the heck. Good for you to speak up and try to spread awareness.

    1. Thank you for saying that! I was thinking the same thing! There should have been action taken against that guy. I’m disappointed in that bishop.

    2. How and why was the writer given the book the miracle or forgiveness as if there was anything she needed to be forgiven for? She did not sin, and should not be treated as such. Our LDS culture is so backwards at times. Victims of rape should be loved and attended to emotionally, spiritually, and physically, not chastised. Shame on that Bishop any any other leaders like him who victim blame even in the smallest ways.

  2. Thank you for having the courage to share your story and shed some light of the myths of what rape is and is not. You did absolutely nothing to deserve the ASSAULT that took place. He should be punished for not being able to control his urges and make the righteous decision to respect you. It’s a matter of consent and you in no way provided that even if you were sleeping in his bed.

  3. Somehow I stumbled onto your lovely blog…it must have been a friend of a friend who “liked” one of your posts on Facebook. I just wanted to thank you wholeheartedly for your positivity and uplifting messages. I am not usually a commenter (especially on strangers’ blogs) but your warmth just emanates even with such a hard and uncomfortable topic. There are a couple of characters in your story that would be so easy to tear down, demonize, or write a post purely ranting about but you don’t. You are focusing on the good you can do and how you want to be stronger. You inspire change and offer advice. I really, truly respect that and thank you from the bottom of my heart. This post has uplifted me, inspired me, and motivated me. We need more like it in the world.
    Girl, you got it.

  4. Thank you so much for writing this. Your story and testimony really beought peace to my heart and comfort to my soul. Thank you so much. You’re amazing.

  5. I do not know you. We have never met and odds are we never do but I want to say 2 things to you. 1-First and absolutely foremost thank you, thank you for having the strength to share, thank you for having enough faith in us as a human family to share that kind of truth is awe inspiring to me. Your strength and fearlessness is both admirable and rare. 2 you are literally changing the world. If we could all be as open and honest as you about the things that have happened to us I believe we would all feel more love and compassion for each other. I wish you the absolute best of fortunes as you continue down your path. God bless you and keep you always.

  6. I just randomly read your blog post about a very sensitive part of your life and how this deeply affected you. Thank you for sharing your story and the need we all have to be more aware of this reality. You are such a strong person and I hope you continue to live life to the fullest. Thanks again for sharing!

  7. Wow. My goodness, this is incredible thing to share and very powerfully written. I’m so sorry you had to go through something like that. I hate to ask, but was the boy ever confronted about what he did? I just hope you get your peace and justice. Thank you for sharing.

  8. I’m Dana’s cousin and I read this on her Facebook page. You are so brave and this is a beautifully written and important post. Would you mind if I shared this on my Facebook page as well?

  9. I’m sorry for what you went through. I can’t fathom for the life of me why anyone would blame you at all. It didn’t have to be at night, or in his apartment. It could’ve happened anywhere, anytime. What a tragedy. Thank you for sharing this and showing the LDS community who the victims are. It wasn’t your fault. You trusted him, and he failed you. He had no right. No right. I hope you can move on from this pain and find peace.

  10. Thank you for sharing your story. I admire your strength! We need these stories in our community–it can’t be a “hush-hush” topic anymore.

  11. Hugs to you!! I admire you for being brace enough to share something so painful and difficult to talk about.

    I have been through a very similar experience, but didn’t see it for what it was at the time because he was my fiancé. I also wasn’t brave enough to stand up for myself and went ahead with the wedding. Fortunately, we divorced 2 years later without any children in the picture.

    Thank you for being real and helping others through your experience. You are right–it was NOT your fault!

  12. Thank you, Brave sister, for sharing this and empowering us all. It’s been 25 years since I narrowly escaped assault at BYU. Women have the right to be safe in any situation, but unfortunately that right isn’t always honored. And when it isn’t, women and girls need to know they do not hear the burden of fault.

  13. I grew up in my own little LDS community being taught that rape was a fool’s reward and I had that (unfortunate) mentality until I was seventeen. When my uncle came into my room while I was sleeping and raped me, I realized that rape happens to anyone – the victim is absolutely blameless. Where I’d once questioned what they did to provoke their attacker, I learned there’s nothing – NOTHING – that a person can do that justifies assault.

    It’s been 12 years since the night my perception changed and I’ve spent the last 12 years advocating for rape victims because no one deserves to be touched without their consent; i hate that it took me so long to shake off my upbringing and the toxic thoughts it caused.

    Thank you for sharing your story, for being strong and courageous in the face of what is certainly a difficult topic to talk about. Stay strong, sister, and know that you’re not alone.

  14. Girl, you inspire me. Thank you for sharing your very real and very honest story. I don’t know you and I can’t imagine the depth of your pain. But you are amazing and you amaze me!

  15. I have been through this when I was in my early 20’s, with a young man that was LDS. I also told my bishop who said he would have to talk to the young man’s bishop. One month later that young man had a TEMPLE recommend in hand and went through the temple. I can’t believe how similar our experiences were.
    I was completely shatter after that. My testimony has been on a downhill slide ever since. The blame the victim and not report them is the worst possible thing to do to a person.

  16. I hope you have reported that boy to the police. He needs to be accountable for what he did and to prevent him from doing it again. Not getting in trouble the first time many times will empower him even more to do it again. The bishop needs to be counseled and reprimanded also. So thankful that you are taking steps to deal with the attack.

    1. Victim blaming must stop in our LDS culture! There is a major issue with female victims often being more severely treated than male perpetrators. It is sad that the male driven leadership cannot see this horrible patriarchal pattern.

  17. I am heartbroken that you went through those espiriencrs and amazed that your faith is still so strong. Thank you for having the courage to share.

  18. Thank you for having the strength to post this. I had a very similar experience happen to me, when I turned to my bishop he told me that it wouldn’t have happened if I wouldn’t have done this or that and that it was my fault for putting myself in that situation. For the longest time I blamed myself and never felt so alone. This subject is so hushed that it’s hard to feel like someone truly understands especially in the LDS community, not saying that negativly I love my Savior and this experience I went through helped me gain a better relationship with him and another bishop that understood what I went through. But sex is a topic that is strictly “it will happen when your married” but when you’re put in the situation of rape you feel like this huge weight is dropped on you and you feel like there is no way out. So thank you for opening up and sharing your experience. I’m just so grateful, your post will help other women. It definitely helped me! ❤️

  19. I really appreciate your blog today and identify. I was a victim of rape by my then husband, return missionary, married in the LA, CA temple. I did not realize early on that what I was experiencing was rape, I learned that during my divorce as I was earning my degree in Criminal Justice. I goo thought I knew what rape looked like, and Domesic Violence too, yes that was a huge element of our “marriage”.
    I want you to know you can move on with a healthy relationship, there is an amazing life after such an awful experience I found about 2-3 years of counseling helped me more than I could have imagined. My divorce started in 2001, it was final in 2003, with me having custody of my 2 young daughters. I was able to remarry in 2005 to an amazing man who was raising 4 of his own children, a year and a half later we had a 7th child together. We are celebrating 12 amazing years of marriage next month, and will have 3 grandchildren by the end of the year. My husband also adopted both of my girls a few years after we were married and sealed in the temple.
    Thank you for bravely sharing your story, I hope the bishop has learned from the experience you had and the young man you trusted while you were dating has also learned and at some point held accountable for his actions, sadly this is a behavior that tends to be repeated in life and is about power and control. Nobody deserves to be used in this manner, most don’t fully understand how much affect this can have on someone’s life until it happens to them or maybe to someone they care for.
    Thank You!

  20. Thank you for sharing this. I grew up similarly, so disconnected from any type of abuse, and I thought being with Mormon guys I knew was safe. One night I went out with a guy from my ward and after we saw a movie he suggested we go out to a farm his family owned. It sounded fun and exciting. So we went and I got back at about 3am. I happened to be safe and they guy was a good guy and everything was fine. But years later as I’ve heard of other women like me being assaulted in similar circumstances, it has haunted me that I “put myself in a potentially unsafe situation.” My heart goes out to anyone who has been assaulted because I think most women have been in situations where they could have been assaulted, and the only difference is whether or not the guy happened to be a good guy or not. Women should not have to live in fear–thank you for speaking out and helping other women know they aren’t alone.

  21. Thank you for writing this. While we may never know each other, your story is my story. Everything from being a returned missionary, the experience with to the bishop, to sending an email to your family… these are the words I have not been able to write. I’m so glad you have the gift and courage to bring awareness here. You are a brave, beautiful soul.

  22. Thank you from a 2x victim of rape. I hope your words go pout to the whole world. I needed to hear that then and so many need to hear it now. God bless!

  23. Writing this was so brave. It is so important for girls of all ages to know that despite what they hear, they are their own and nobody deserves any part of it. For whatever reason a lot of people can’t understand how damaging it is to objectify someone or to assume permissions to things they consider harmless. Someday everyone will understand how things really are and it will be because of people that aren’t scared of opening up- like you.

  24. So brave!!! to go into details of what you experience! It takes alot to tell anyone what you experience! Telling the bishop was good, to air all that out! But his advise sucked!…He was probbly shocked u told him first! But still that is a crime! Why didnt you go to the police?.. You might of had your reasons.
    Im glad you join a group to help with what you experience!…Stay close to HF & his son JC!
    And this blog will indeed help other victims who experience similar or exactly what you did!..
    Your such a strong person!…

  25. Hi, Kristen. I came across your blog on facebook and first and foremost, I just want to thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry that it happened to you. I’m upset that the bishop said those things and at the same time I’m not surprised. Damn, Bishops! Secondly, I hope you took proper procedures in reporting this, because this isn’t something that should be taken lightly. I’m not sure if you feel like you should proceed to report it but I really think you should. He took that from you. HE broke that trust. You being out pass curfew and all that nonsense DOES NOT justify, him “finding himself” being on top of you much less IN YOU!

    I’ve been sexually assaulted before..when I was much younger..and recently, I was sexually harassed, by a member of the church as well; he was supposedly a ‘friend,’ and a ‘brother,’ to me. But when he broke that trust, it traumatized me. To the point where I couldn’t even face him nor his name. I even stopped going to church because of it (because I couldn’t be around him). I even lost some “friends,” as well, because “it was my fault.” Because “if it wasn’t true then there shouldn’t be a problem.” I’ve honestly, grown numb to it. I wouldn’t say I’m OK with what happened but I just don’t react anymore..kind of like, I just swept it under the rug. I’m not even sure how else to deal with it, especially because every one else doesn’t seem to believe me. A lot of peoples perspective on it was that it just isn’t that much of a problem, because, it didn’t happen. For the most part, I kind of just want him to apologize to me and understand the damaged he had caused but I can’t even be sure about that happening so I basically live with it…pretty much in secret..or at least to myself and just don’t bring it up. Anyways, I hope all is well with you, Kristen. Much love, girl .

  26. I was sexually abused by my father. My sister’s were too. I talked to my bishop, and asked for a blessing. In this blessing he said, or God said(?) not to berate my father. My earthly father loved me and wanted what was best for me. My sister’s patriarchal blessing told her that she would bring him into the church one day. He’s dead now and that never happened. What a burden for a victim to carry!!
    I left. Not going to that church or any church for that matter!
    I still have family in church, and if that’s where they have peace of mind, who am I to say what’s best for them? But this choice is best for me.

  27. Thank you thank you thank you thank you for sharing this. There is great power in vulnerability, and the more willing we are to talk about the things that make us ache, the closer we come to solving the problems that made us ache in the first place.

  28. Kristen, you are amazing! I’m inspired by your courage, strength, and love. Every time I hear/read a story like this, my heart breaks for the inhumanity that runs rampant in our world. Your willingness to share this shows that we can always speak up and speak out against the devastating problem of sexual assault. God bless you for this. And I pray it inspires others to open up to those whom they love.

  29. I just found your blog and read your story! I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I went to tell someone my story and they said, I don’t believe you. Or “I don’t believe a guy like him would do that to you.” It was awful. Rape culture is real. I’m so sorry you had to go through that! I wish that I had known about that Honey Organization! I love reading other survivors stories because while they all are tragic, they all have the same forgiveness and the saviors love a part of it! Sending love!

  30. I want to be all Mama Bear and give you the biggest hug right now! You are an incredibly strong young woman and I am so proud of you! It doesn’t matter the circumstances that lead to this horrible event, it is not your fault. I wish you never would have experienced this but I do know that you are strong and will overcome. Love you!

  31. That out of body experience is known as disassociation. You may also experience memories of the event as you attempt to push them down. Embrace them so that you can stay healthy. If you develop flashbacks to the event; know you are not alone. God will guide you in this. All things happen for a reason.

  32. Thank u for sharing ur story. Mine is very similar. And I’m glad it’s not just me. Still struggling. But glad healing is possible.

  33. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I think it would be really helpful to women (of all ages) if you could add at the end of your article how we can be safer when we are on a date with a guy so there is less of a chance to be raped; a list of safety tips we can follow. We need to be careful and have safety rules, just like we did when we were kids / teenagers, such as never go into a boy’s room, never spend the night at a boy’s house, go on dates in a public place, say goodnight at the door and don’t invite him in your house, etc. I have been in situations when I was almost raped, and it was because I was alone with a guy in his house. Safety rules for dating shouldn’t change just because we no longer live with our parents. We need to be careful. We don’t know who we can trust.

  34. That’s insane. That dolt of a bishop needs to read this. And that disgusting guy should have been reported. I am so disgusted hearing these stories of priesthood leaders who haven’t been adaquately trained. And Miracle of Forgiveness needs to be retired!

    And breaking curfew or not…that NEVER trumps rape. Never!

  35. I feel for you sister, and no daughter of God should go through such pain. I can see where the Bishop tried his best and failed. Though the church is true, sometimes, the people are not, even a Bishop, I myself experienced an unrighteous bishop that I still have a hard time seeing in a better light. Telling your story is a big part of getting through the terrible ordeal. Though you are not at fault, sadly, you cannot control what your bishop does and what your horrible friend did and did not do to correct himself. When one goes about life without the proper channels of repentance for something they did, remorse, seeking help, forgiveness, etc. You can only wish them luck with their Eternal perspectives. I hope you will find peace over this terrible ordeal and that the help is around you to feel nothing less than a beautiful daughter of God regardless of Satans traps & helpers. Know that you are Whole in his eyes and that you are never alone. God bless you dear. <3

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