Based in Singapore, Heretochange is a collection of anonymous accounts of sexual harassment from across the world.

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Story 25

"Fighting back is HARD especially when you think you're in a position of no power."

I was on a "fun" weekend trip to DC with my roommate and friend that I trusted. She said we'd be staying at her boyfriends apartment and I didn't ask about sleeping arrangements because...well.. I trusted her.
We reached DC and spent the day doing touristy things. Her, her boyfriend, his cousin and me. Subtle jokes were thrown around about how the cousin and I should get together and being a good sport, I laughed.

As the evening came around, we were joined by their friends. More guys. We went out to a fancy club that night and the music was great. I knew I had to be careful with so many guys around so I watched my alcohol intake. My roommate was busy with her boyfriend and in the meantime, I was getting a lot of attention from the guys. The cousin, however, wouldn't have it and insisted that I only hung out with him. In my attempt to avoid him and the other guys, I went around the club alone and found myself hanging out with the drummer with the sickest African drums. I was having a blast and enjoying not having to deal with the drunk chauvinistic pig. He found me and sadly, I had to spend the rest of the club night hanging out with him and his friends. I pretended I was enjoying myself. I wasn't.

We came home and there was about 8 of us in a 2 bedroom apartment. my roommate and her bf dashed to their room while the other couple went into theirs. It was me and 3 other guys left to share the air mattress and the futon. Great. Before I could understand what was happening, an argument broke out between the guys. They were fighting about who would sleep next to me. "This is weird..." I thought. They were actually arguing. The noise forced my roommate's boyfriend to come out. They go outside the apartment to discuss while my roommate stays in her room. They come back inside and an executive decision is made to have me sleep next to the cousin (lets call him X). This was 7 years ago and I've forced myself to forget the details but basically, X slept next to me and touched me all night. I was awake for a long time and was frozen, lying on my back thinking "WTF is happening". I couldn't call my parents (I told them I was staying at my friend's aunt's house), I didn't know anyone else in that apartment or in DC. And i had another night to spend with them. 

The next morning I was the first to wake up. I packed whatever I had and messaged a family friend who lives in Maryland, just outside of DC. I asked if it was ok if I came to stay with her. She graciously said I was welcome to stay with them. I Thank God everytime I think about this story that I had somewhere else to go that weekend. After an awkward breakfast I said quick byes and got the fuck out of there.

You wonder how a woman can go through rape, and other horrendous things and not be able to scream, shout or fight back. After this incident I understood completely. Fighting back is HARD especially when you think you're in a position of no power. I knew no one there aside from my roommate who was too busy having sex with her boyfriend to think about me. 

If I was in that situation again, I don't even know if I could do things any differently. None of this was my fault and I won't blame myself for any of it. Not even for freezing and being silent while I was groped all over. 

On the recommendation of my college counselor, I told my roommate about the incident.She seemed sympathetic but the seriousness of the situation was lost on her. She might know what happened but she'll never know that that incident (and her reaction to it) drove me into a semester of depression and loneliness. I got out of it on my own, luckily, but I know many other woman don't.

Thanks for letting me document and share my story.

Story 26

Story 24