In 2015, it was reported by the National Center for Transgender Equality that nearly half of people of trans experience will have experienced a sexual assault within their lifetime.  One in ten were estimated to have been assaulted within the past year.


I will never forget that moment that essentially changed my life.    


It was 2017 in-fact.  January 31, 2017.  


It was a mild day in North Hollywood, and I was meeting a guy (“Reggie”) for an afternoon lunch date at Trader Joe’s.  Reggie was a guy who was interested in taking me out to lunch to get to know me (although I wasn’t interested in much more than an association or acquaintanceship with him).  


This afternoon consisted of me packing and preparing to move (pretty boring, mundane stuff).  The afternoon lunch excursion was intended to break up the monotonous packing that had been going on that entire weekend.  It was a casual hangout; nothing intimate, fancy, or personal. Since I was moving, I was merely in a cropped sweatshirt, leggings, sneakers, and a backwards cap.  


Our lunch was pretty boring and uneventful.  We had basic conversation over salads and drove back to my apartment.  We got out the car, and we hugged each other goodbye.  I then realized that he wasn’t releasing me from his grasp.  He then forced a kiss on me as I tried to pull away.  He kept kissing me to prevent me from talking.  I tried to excuse myself, and pull away, and he pulled me back; pinning me against car.  


Reggie was a big guy and built like a football player; standing at 6’3” and weighing close to 300 lbs.  Now, I am not fearful or afraid when interacting with a man, and usually have a few weapons of defense on me to protect myself.  Today was the one day I left the house emptyhanded.  And it was becoming apparent that this was not any interaction.  Reggie had me pinned tightly against his car and lifted off the ground.  I tried to tell him that I needed to get back to my packing and back in.  He insisted that I invite him in so we could “finish inside”.  His hands were gripped tightly around my wrists, and he wasn’t letting go.  As he began to push my arms back behind me, I turned to look down the residential street; hoping and praying for someone to walk by.  


Every second that passed seemed like an eternity.  Reggie had me trapped where I could barely budge.  


When trying to escape his grasp wouldn’t work, I tried to reason with him.  I told him how it wouldn’t be good today because we wouldn’t have privacy.  I also told him that I had a lot of packing to do and a pretty full day I needed to get back to.  I said my neighbors would see our carrying on and complain.  Any excuse I could give him.  


After what seemed like forever, he lessened his grip on me.  He kept kissing me as I tried to casually pull away from him.  He assured me that he was going to call me as soon as he got home so we could continue today’s tryst.  He barely let me arm go as he got in his car to pull off.  I blocked him and deleted him instantly.  I called my best friend and confessed to her the whole ordeal.  She asked if I wanted to call the police, but I told her I was fine.  I went about the day as usual.  



Now, this wasn’t even the first time I had been attacked or assaulted (I had been raped years before by an acquaintance), but this time greatly affected me.  It started with restless sleep, and nightmares.  That gave way to severe anxiety and PTSD.  Simple tasks such as walking down the street or catching the train consumed with crippling anxiety.  I would see men that resembled Reggie even in the slightest and would instantly freeze and experience mild panic attacks.  It became increasingly more difficult to do normal functions in my life, such as running errands and enjoying leisurely strolls within the city. 


I blamed myself.  For a very long time.  I blamed myself for not protecting myself, and letting my guard down, within the slightest.  I put my guard back up so high that a man would have to catapult over it to reach me. Dating, for me, because somewhat non-existent as I often was fearful of being attacked.  When I would interact with men, I would take extreme precaution.  


How does one deal and cope with sexual assault?  That answer is different for every person that experiences it.  


For many, it is near impossible to cope with the trauma.  For me, going back to therapy helped a great deal.  It helped me process my complex and complicated feelings.  It also helped me deal with feelings that I tried to self-medicate with alcohol and pills.  I also didn’t try to force myself to feel any way; taking each day as it comes.  Whatever I was feeling, I tried my best to sit in those feelings as best as I could.  I was sad and depressed.  A lot.  I was very much angry and hurt.  I also felt powerless and like I was unable to protect myself.  


What helped me the most is being vocal and sharing my experience.  Being open freed me of the emotional burden and weight it continued to burden me with.  The shame, embarrassment, and continuous pain I felt did not need to be felt in the dark.  This traumatic experience was not going to be weaponized against me.  


Life will never be as it was before the attack.  That time seems so distant and far away.  Even now, years later and a thousand miles away, it still affects daily life and daily interactions.  All I can do, and have been able to do, is take it day-by-day, and take each day as it comes.