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  • "Well, that only took an hour to write," my daughter said after uploading her personal essay to a college application. "Yes, three years and one hour to be precise," I replied.

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    Sitting in the waiting room of a shrink’s office surrounded by motivational posters and self-help magazines was terrifying and ridiculous. It was all I could do not to run back to my mom’s car and lock myself in there, demanding to be taken back home. Needless to say, the first session was not a success.
    After many sessions of sitting in a frumpy chair with a loud obnoxious clock being the only noise in the room, I began to open up to my therapist about why my mother was dragging me to her office every Monday. Speaking in a monotoned voice I said, “So my mom is convinced I need help since she thinks I was sexually assaulted… but it’s just whatever” and that was the end of that conversation. Months went by and I continued to avoid the subject of sexual assault until I finally everything began to catch up to me. Nightmares were my nightly routine and high anxiety chased me during the day. These symptoms lead to a diagnosis of PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. At the time, I had a very closed minded view of mental illness. I refused to accept the diagnosis that resulted from the sexual assault. In my mind, I believed PTSD was only for survivors of wars or natural disasters, those who had an actual reason to have symptoms of PTSD.
    Even the diagnosis did not change my mind about what had happened. I still believed that my mom and therapist were being overdramatic. Then one day it hit me like a hurricane; my emotions were whirling around me and my family felt the aftermath.
    After that, I talked openly with my therapist. I confided in her and slowly began to see that I had thought I would be unaffected but realized I harbored deep emotions that I needed to deal with in order to be happy in my life. I told my therapist that I was scared, alone, and ashamed. I felt immediate relief from the burden I had been carrying for so long, but true recovery would be a process played out over time.
    Today, I consider myself a warrior. To be actively engaged in my school, my studies, with my friends, and most importantly, with my family has been a hard won victory for me. When I look back at the road I have travelled, I am always amazed that I did not give up! The tools that I developed to overcome this tragedy will be used to forge a bright future. Pursuing happiness and emotional health has made me driven and motivated to pursue courses of study in college that are interesting and meaningful to me while ultimately leading to a fulfilling career. It is my goal to attend and become actively involved with a responsive university that supports prevention and educational programs on sexual assault within its campus community.
    In closing, I wonder sometimes if I would be as passionate or ambitious of a person if such a negative event had not shaped my life. The person I have become is the byproduct of the events that have shaped me and I long to support others facing the same challenges. The reality of my life is that I was sexually assaulted at fifteen years old. He took my virginity and rearranged my self-worth. Forgiveness for him is something I continue to strive for but have not totally achieved. I continue to work towards that everyday. My sexual assault does not define me, how I overcame it does.

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    Her personal essay was reposted with permission. I am so proud of my girl. It's not every day your daughter writers her ass off.
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