One in Every Three Women

Graphic courtesy of Canva. Image courtesy of

Iris B.

About one in every three women worldwide become victims of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, reports the World Health Organization. And about one in every six women in the U.S. has been victim of attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, states the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network.

That’s a lot.

That’s utterly terrifying. 

That makes me not want to leave my house.

You don’t hear that many stories of women being dragged down dark alleys by strangers, but you do have that one friend who told you she was drugged at a party.

You have heard your friend’s girlfriend hollowly laugh about how he just cant take no for an answer, and you do have that cousin who was assaulted in plain sight at a family gathering. 

You also have that one aunt who has PTSD over her best friend cornering her in her own room and begging her until her no’s turned into hesitant yes’s. 

The media has this melancholy way of cloaking the words “rape” and “assault” in dark, gothic, somber scenarios that brainwash people into believing these things only happen in the shadows. That it’s always random strangers who sneak up on you, the bad men. 

But the media never covers what to do when the bad men are already cuddling with you on the couch, or if the bad men happen to be your best friend, your boyfriend, your brother, your father. “What harm can come from hanging out with someone you trust? You do it all the time. He could never have bad intentions; he said he cares about me! He loves me!” The media labels this thinking as the blame for what happened. They also like to blame your clothes, or your relationship with them, or how loud you said no. 

I would know what the media says, as I am a victim of rape.

I was wearing black leggings, a short sleeved shirt, and arm warmers. Now you might put me at fault because I went into a hotel room alone with this guy, but he was my friend. What was I supposed to think was going to happen? That’s the reality of grooming: the power dynamic. I remember being so sure he would never, ever hurt me. Sure, he was 22 and dating my 16-year-old best friend. Sure, he always tried to get me alone with him. Sure, he never took “no” or “stop” for an answer.

But, he loved me. Right? 


I had spent so long in denial. I was convinced that I was a horrible friend, a slut, a tease. I had believed that everything that happened to me was my fault for so long, and that thought still lingers in the back of my mind sometimes. But when you’re 15 and clouded by dreams and the possibility of a better life, the red flags never seem red enough. The grabs never seem serious enough. The obvious warning signs never seem urgent enough. Because boys will be boys, and he was probably just kidding anyways, so what’s the point of making a big deal out of nothing?

But when I sat on the shower floor crying after what happened, I wish I did make a big deal out of it. Nothing ever seems serious enough until someone repeats it back to you. 

People who have never experienced this pain and agony ask: “Well, why didn’t you just report it?” 

I did. I did report it, around three to four months later. And if you think reporting this stuff is easy, you are wrong. Not only is it gut-wrenching to have to speak to cops and detectives, it is a long process of anticipation and anxiety. I was told that it is estimated to take around a year or more to have everything processed through. The simple idea of having to look at someone so horrid again is nauseating. And waiting months to hear back from detectives and attorneys make minutes seem like hours.

Even with all of this, we cannot forget about the impact these things have on victims. 

About 75% of rape survivors begin suffering from PTSD a month after the assault, according to Sage Journals. Victims of sexual assault are also 13 times more likely to attempt suicide, according to National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center. But statistics and charts will never fully cover the amount of mental distress and pain that survivors go through.

I suffer from PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which causes so much more than flashbacks and daily nightmares. It causes fear, panic, anxiety attacks. I walk down streets and sidewalks, staring at everyone that passes me with dread in my heart and pepper spray in my hands. Believe me, life has changed in ways I cannot explain or put into words. I never thought that at my age, I would be more worried about being assaulted again than about how my hair looks, or boy drama. I never would’ve thought that I would be screaming to God that I know he’s not real because of what happened to me when I should’ve been going to the mall. I never would’ve thought that my poems would turn from love poetry to rape poetry. That’s exactly the thing; you never would’ve known. 

But even though it is hard for me to believe in this moment and time, things are going to get better. They’ll never be the same, that’s for sure. But what happened to me does not shape who I am. 

The man who stole so much from me will never steal my pride. He will never steal my smile, or my laugh, or my voice. He cannot hold me down or put a hand over my mouth anymore, he can’t even touch me. This never should have happened to me, but I will grow around it.

I will continue to sprout and become something so much more than this. I will do more than survive, I will live. Because this is my life, and he will not take that from me. 

And to anyone who is a victim of assault, harassment, or rape, whether you have spoken out or keep it deep within: your abuser will never take your voice away. 

My trauma does not define me, and your trauma does not define you.

I am a 15-year-old girl, and I am one of three women worldwide that has been a victim of physical or sexual violence. I am a 15-year-old girl, and I am one of six women in the U.S. that has been a victim of attempted or completed rape. I am a 15-year-old girl, and my life is just beginning. I am a 15-year-old girl, and I am stronger than I could’ve ever imagined. 

And so are you. You are stronger than you can ever imagine, and no one can take that from you.

The writer’s name has been changed to protect their identity.