Aug06

How My Silence Led to My Sexual Assault

As you can tell by the title, this is a very heavy topic. I also grew up in an environment where sharing something like this is deeply shameful, so this is definitely not easy for me to write. But we live in a culture where women are assaulted then ashamed to report it, as if they did something deeply horrendous when they are victims. It’s time women stop suffering silently and know that their value is not based upon other people’s actions against them.

I’ve always been taught to be a “private person”. It was classy, it was graceful, I was told, and it became my idol. When I was 13, a boy in my class didn’t hide how he felt towards me, and naturally people began to ‘ship us. But my false idol said I wanted a relationship where my friends can’t make comments or judge us. The idea of hiding a relationship from my friends started to sound more and more desirable. Ten years later this summer, I learn that I had gotten exactly what I asked for.

I spent this summer working with a professional on why I struggled so much in the past year of my Christian life with being vulnerable with my sisters and loving to my brothers. I was way too used hiding from my friends. Hiding left me with no accountability, nothing to show me right from wrong, and nobody to tell me what I thought was a friendship with someone was actually a toxic relationship. It was a relationship where I had to listen to “male problems”, be available whenever he traveled to the city to take me out, be pressured to do things I am not comfortable with, and be told I was too high maintenance for saying no. Eventually, I began to give in with my other friendships to seek approval.

I got approval from someone who I also thought was a friend. What began as a friendship changed the day he said the game I was playing, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, sounded pornographic. I could have stopped it all then, but I was already terrified of saying no. Since then, almost everything he texted was sexual and he turned each one of Link’s weapons into something disgusting. Unknowingly, I had entered another toxic relationship on top of the one I was already unknowingly in. I lived thinking that there was something wrong with me for feeling sickened.

This second toxic relationship was my assault. I consider myself lucky. I had just started graduate school and it was a really cold winter. Spring was approaching so he said we could wait until to meet up when it’s warm enough for me to wear less clothes. However, I attended a gathering where both he and a female friend were present. It went smoothly until we had to say goodbye. My friend hugged him first, and when it was my turn, he assaulted me through the hug, in front of my friend, who later told me she had no idea for months because I acted “cool as ice” even though we had taken the train home together.

I did not acknowledge it as an assault, because the idea of what he did was normal had already been drilled into my head by our culture. I thought there was something wrong with me. I thought it was my fault. I thought if I told my friends, they would think I am too high maintenance and stop speaking to me. I had lost the ability to speak up and the ability to make my own decisions from my first toxic relationship. I thought it was wrong to have my own thoughts and emotions.

NYU Asian-American Christian Fellowship was the first environment in my life where I suddenly didn’t have to do things I didn’t want to, and could have filling, enriching conversations. My fire for Jesus was lit really quickly and I got baptized in five months, but my habits of pleasing guys and trying to prove myself weren’t washed away in Washington Square fountain. I wasn’t able to trust my friends or treat them well, but worse I wasn’t able to trust God. It wasn’t until my trip to St.Louis last Christmas at Urbana Missions Conference that I truly felt God for the first time when He called me to mission work, during which I also learned I had actually have a right to speak because I am a human.

It allowed me to finally put an end to my first toxic relationship, but the hard part was getting my life back this past spring. I was challenged to serve my campus by being a leader in my fellowship, I was challenging strangers to share their testimonies for my #OneLinerTestimony project, but what was far more challenging was merely speaking to my friends so that we could love each other and build each other up, and also be each other’s support when we are in need.

That brings me to why I am sharing so openly in this post. Silence is evil. We are all different in terms of comfort level – some of us can stand up in front of strangers and admit the most private things in our lives, others can only turn to our closest friends. Either way is perfectly okay. But silence is not our comfort. It is full of suffering and darkness.

To anybody who is struggling right now, please do know that your fear of speaking is valid. It’s okay to be afraid to ask for help, even from your closest friends. I’ve spoken up little by little this past year to be able to write this post today. This summer I had amazing support and warm comfort from my sisters when I learned I was in two toxic relationships and I’m slowly accepting it to be able to start anew. I am so lucky to be here, safe, and I have my whole life ahead of me.

Even now the thoughts going through my head are that people are going to think I’m fragile or be afraid to come near me after reading this, but I want to defeat that lie. I want to speak up for many women and girls out there who are afraid of the same things. You are not weak, you are not fragile, and your friends aren’t going to think they will hurt you by helping. They love you so much that they are willing to shower you with that love before anything else.

Please join me to end this silence.

Included: a selfie because for the longest time, the one person I didn’t want to look at was myself.

Write a Comment

15 Comments to "How My Silence Led to My Sexual Assault"

Sue wrote on 6th August 2016 at 11:16 PM

You go girl! You are strong and courageous. Thank you for sharing about your toxic relationships to encourage others who may be suffering similarly to speak up as well. God is really working in your life. He’s using your talent in writing as well as your life experiences and skills you’ve learned in life. I heard that your one-liner testimonies became viral. 😀 Praise God, the one who changes lives and gives people testimonies to tell.

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Liv Reply:

Thanks Sue!

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Pauline wrote on 7th August 2016 at 8:02 AM

I am so sorry to hear about your toxic relationships. I always feel so much for a friend online or offline who tells me that they’ve been through those relationships, it sucks knowing that people can do such things to another person and not understand that it makes them uncomfortable.

I applaud you for this post, you’re right silence for leads to suffering alone and doubts in whether you’re the one in the wrong/it’s your fault etc. I know how that feels, especially right now with a recent event in my life.

I started going to church weekly again and have found calm and peace when I’m at church. I’m glad to have decided to go again and make it a routine because without God, I would not be able to go through certain aspects – especially some events.

Keep smiling, beautiful!

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Liv Reply:

Thanks Pauline! I’m happy to hear you are finding calm and peace at church. Going to church is important if you believe in God because it sets aside time to devote to loving Him for how much He loves you. You know that of course ^_^ and I just want to encourage you to keep going!

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Georgie wrote on 7th August 2016 at 8:13 AM

Silence is deathly. I feel like I can relate to your experience because of my own silence – I didn’t have anyone to talk to and confide in because the way I had grown up, so many things had been taboo. I didn’t know who to talk to and if it was acceptable to talk about my problems. So when something came up that concerned me, I didn’t know. I didn’t understand that certain things were not OK. I didn’t know how to bring these issues up with my friends.

It became really hard to trust people after I had a toxic relationship with someone. This person used and abused me and I led myself to believe that they were treating me normally. I thought it was OK. I thought it was somehow my duty to do what the person wanted because I had developed feelings for them from the beginning. I didn’t know that what they were doing to me was for their own benefit and that they didn’t share those feelings with me.

This was probably the second really toxic relationship I had, and it was only a few years ago. I think I remember my first one being in high school, when someone touched me inappropriately without asking my permission, and I had no words to defend myself and I kept letting it happen.

It can be so hard to open up. But thank you for sharing your story, and I am glad you are in a happier place today.

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Liv Reply:

Thanks Georgie!

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Michelle wrote on 8th August 2016 at 8:00 PM

Silence can be deadly, but don’t ever think it leads to being assaulted, sexually or not. It’s never your fault, verbally or nonverbally. I just have a problem with your title but not your story. It happens all too much.

To be honest, I was sexually abused when I was younger and when my mother started getting abused too, she called the police, but before then, she knew. I didn’t know how to tell my parents, but the longest time, I convinced myself that liking it was my fault, but it’s not true.

It was an abuse of power and authority on the part of my dad’s cousin, but honestly, I’m glad you were able to share this story. I don’t talk about my past and how mental illness came to me, but it happened because of my abuse, but I am more than that.

I too, hated myself because of it, but it’s never our fault. Never ever. We can control only our reactions and no one else’s. I think, after awhile I will talk about it more. I’m already open about it, but facing it has been difficult. Thank you for speaking out. Hugs Much love <3

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Liv Reply:

Thanks Michelle! I don’t mean for my title to say that me being silent directly caused my assault, but that the mentality I developed slowly led to it because even for more than a year after my assault I was still silent. I struggled with my friendships all this time because I couldn’t trust myself to trust that my friends are not going to judge me for something I didn’t do.

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Michelle Reply:

It’s okay. I understand that feeling because with my molestation, it took a long time to trust people but I’m doing better now with meds and therapy, but of course I have a mental illness. I’m glad you’re doing better and sharing your story. It isn’t easy and never your fault. Stay strong <3

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Tara wrote on 12th August 2016 at 10:10 PM

Thank you for sharing this, Liv. This is such a powerful read. I am so glad that you were able to find the support you needed to pull through this and to share this with other. Silence is, indeed, deathly, and while it can be hard to speak up, you just have to speak up because otherwise nothing may get resolved.

Thank you for speaking up, Liv. It’s hard, but people really need to speak up about these assaults and such. We can’t let those doing the assaults get away with it! Getting help or asking for help shows that more strength and power than not asking. Spread that message, Liv. Spread it to all the individuals who have been assaulted or are in a toxic relationship.

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Liv Reply:

Thanks Tara!

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Cat wrote on 14th August 2016 at 6:30 PM

I’m sorry those two relationships happened to you 🙁 I really hate how women are shamed for things like this when they’re the victims. Many are afraid to speak up because of that, which is very unfortunate. Thanks for sharing your story with us, and I think you are awesome and strong for doing so!

Those relationships definitely sound toxic. You shouldn’t have to put up with things you’re uncomfortable with, and no one should make you feel bad for being uncomfortable. That’s just wrong. I can’t believe he turned something you love into a sexual thing like that, and then to assault you is terrible.

I’m glad you were able to put an end to your first toxic relationship and are working on moving past them. I think you have a great message in this post, and I hope it encourages more people to seek help if they need it!

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Liv Reply:

Thanks Cat! I think women are afraid to speak up because we are told that if it’s “wanted”, then it’s not considered harassment. And we are then beaten into thinking we don’t have the right to not want it.

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Bubblez wrote on 20th August 2016 at 3:16 PM

I’m sorry to hear about your toxic relationships! 🙁
I’m so glad that you decided to speak up about it!

And my sister also went to Urbana last year and I am glad that you are able to find peace by going to church more often! ^_^

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Ethetica.net | A Sneak Peek of My Thesis wrote on 14th February 2017 at 6:10 PM

[…] my faith. But after 9 months of recovery by reading a book that helped me learn my independence and acknowledging the toxicity in my life, my game has transformed into a small indie experience about […]

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