I’m having a flashback right now, a trigger warning.

The coolness of the bathroom floor, a stark contrast to the sweaty guys surrounding me. We had been like this for fifteen minutes: me, lying on the ground, clothes askew; them, forcing their way into me, on me, around me. 10 hands tracing my body, forcing their way inside.

I remember the way it felt: like being stabbed over and over and over again. Of their erections pushing against my back as they dragged me to the ground, of the blood on the back of my head from where it hit the tiled floor. I remember the way it smelled: like sweat and sawdust and orange juice. I remember the way it looked: underwear pulled halfway down their legs, the five of them in a circle–one holding me down, the others taking turns. I remember the way it sounded: the drip drip drip of the bathroom sink I didn’t have time to turn off, the muffled screams, the quiet no’s, the moaning and groaning, the sweet nothings of ‘slut,’ and ‘whore,’ and ‘worthless’ whispered in my ear. I remember how I felt: disgusting and ugly, broken and used, and oh so so alone.

It’s funny how the memory hasn’t faded with time; right now it’s gotten stronger only because I’m working through it, and trying to move past it. Instead of repressing, progressing.

15 minutes of biting and choking and pinching and grinding. Of going in and out in and out. I don’t know how many times–I lost track. Enough to get me pregnant. Enough to make me wish I would die right then and there. Remembering 5 year old me, with ten year old fingers tracing parts of my body I didn’t even know the name for, how I wish I had said something.

This time, I stayed quiet too–my no’s eventually turning to silence; the more I fought, the harder they raped me, bit me, threatened me. And when they were done, when they had their fun, I cleaned myself off. Straightened my clothes. Sat in front of them the next day in English class; felt him breathing down my neck.

It’s all coming back to me now, the feeling, the smells, the images. Only this time, it’s different. This time, there’s a dog snoring next to me. In front of me, there’s a coffee table with a blue-flowered runner on top, a Beatrix Potter picture is hanging on the wall. This time, I’m safe.

This time, I spoke up.

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