I was sexually assaulted during my first week of college. From the moment I reported, I never felt believed or what happened to me mattered. I remember when the Chief of Police reached out and said she wanted to meet in person. I was relieved she was a woman. I thought, this will be like a real-life Olivia Benson. I could not have been more wrong. When I told her I didn’t know if I wanted to press charges, she told me how difficult a trial would be, that I’d lose friends, and that in public opinion it was my fault because I was in his room.I spent months several months depressed. I was drinking and binge eating. I didn’t care if I lived or died. Nearly a year later, I finally decided to pursue charges on my own. I was in New York City walking on the Brooklyn bridge when my phone started ringing. I remember looking at the caller ID and contemplating hitting Ignore, but I’m so glad I didn’t because that phone call changed everything.
When I answered the phone, I was guarded and prepared for the worst. Instead, the Assistant Commonwealth Attorney introduced himself to me and said, “I just want you to know that I believe you and I will stand with you.” I didn’t realize how much it mattered to hear that someone believed me. Someone believed what happened to me, and they were going to fight for me. I finally felt like I mattered and that if I could survive this, I could survive anything.