Kat Duesterhaus

When I was 14 years old I was sexually assaulted by a group of guys. It happened at a party I had gone to with some of my girlfriends. 

The guys at this party were older, most of them had already graduated high school. And it was my first time drinking liquor so I wasn’t able to understand what effect heavy alcohol consumption would have on my body. Because of the liquor, and the way my brain responded to the trauma, I only remember bits and pieces of being assaulted.

I did tell someone after, but their response was basically, “What did you expect going to that party dressed like a slut?” This type of reaction is called victim blaming, and it felt like a secondary trauma.

A part of me knew what had happened was rape, but I didn’t really fully admit that to myself for 4 more years. Until I was 18 years old, when I heard a woman speak about being sexually assaulted in a college Sex-Ed class. After hearing this brave woman share her story I could no longer deny that I had also been sexually assaulted. I confided in my professor, who recommended a great therapist who helped me process the trauma and PTSD.

If you asked me how I’m doing now I would tell you that I’m no longer just surviving… I’m thriving. But it wasn’t easy to get here, and not every survivor makes it out.