"Has sexual assault changed you?"

As with everything, people are interested in whether or not sexual assault has changed me. In short, yes, it has.

Before experiencing sexual assault for myself, I wondered why some victims would keep their experience to themselves, blame themselves, or not report it to the authorities.

However, having considered keeping it to myself, blamed myself for two months, and never gone to the authorities, I feel I'm now better equipped to understand why people make such decisions. I've been on the receiving end of people pressuring me to report my experience, because "I owed it to other women". I've been the girl who blamed herself, no matter how many people told me that I was not responsible. I've been the girl who intended to keep it to herself until seeing the face of someone she wanted to protect.

I don't think that's the only way that it's changed me though. I think I'm a lot angrier now about false allegations. Such allegations make it harder to talk about a genuine incident of assault - it feeds the fear that people won't believe you. It is truly terrifying to think that people might not believe you when you tell them that you've been assaulted.

The fear that someone may doubt how iolated you feel, about how badly your confidence has been knocked, that fear is truly indescribable. I've been on the outside looking in while women have made false allegations about sexual assault. Those experiences definitely intensified my fear of telling people what had happened.