“My name is Jennifer Michele. I tend to rarely share my ‘real‘ story, as I don’t want to tarnish anyone involved. However, I feel it’s my place, as an advocate to begin to share my journey the best I can.
I was sexually abused when I was very young. I didn’t tell anyone because I thought it was normal, it’s what happened. When I started getting older, the abuse continued, but I realized that I deserved better when one of my teachers stepped up and realized that there was more to me than just being the quiet girl in the corner.
He made me realize what happened wasn’t normal or okay, he also told me over and over, it’s not my fault….when I finally told, nothing was done. NOTHING. I cried, I was sick for weeks and scared to death of what was going to happen if they found out that I told. Not to worry though, because even now, though the abuse continued well into my teen years, nothing has ever happened. I was told that I was just being rebellious and trying to get them in trouble.
When I met my friend in high school my world changed. That’s when I knew something had to change and that I needed to focus on being the reason it changed, talking about it and opening the eyes of others.
I grew up in a neighborhood that people now refer to as “ghetto” and attended the “public” school system, which just had to mean that I was a juvenile delinquent.
Growing up, many of my friends came from single parent homes, where the mother or father were either dead from homicide or in jail due to drugs, though it didn’t mean a lot for me when I was younger, now that I have gotten older, I realize how much that can affect a child.
Everyone has their reasons behind supporting a particular cause. Whether it be because they’ve experienced it personally, they have watched someone go through it or they simply believe that we, as people, deserve better. Whatever the reason is, they feel strongly about that particular cause and want to do whatever they can to help.
I walked into school, as I did every other day, finding my locker, saying hi to all my friends before grabbing my books and heading towards my first period class. I was no longer a freshman, but my friend was, so we would walk to my class together before cutting off and her walking to her own class.
This day was different though…she wasn’t laughing, she wasn’t smiling, she didn’t even flinch when I put my arm around her, so I knew something was wrong.
When I was 15 years old, my life changed and I didn’t even know it.
I am no different than anyone else visiting this site. Though we’ve all seen some rough things in life, my passion has always been to help others. I have always been that friend that everyone could talk to and I LOVED it!
After attempting to get it out of her all day, she finally caved when we were sitting outside, alone. She had tears in her eyes and informed me that she had been sexually assaulted.
Of course, my first and immediate reaction, was anger. I was so upset, not at her, but at the situation. I could see the hurt in my friend’s eyes and the pain she was feeling was one that I couldn’t fix.
So we sat.
We sat outside on our high school’s football bleachers and I just let her cry.
When she was able and willing, I asked her if she had reported her attacker or if she knew who he was. She said she knew but she was scared to tell the cops because she was drinking and she was only 14.
Though I told her it didn’t matter, no meant no, she was still scared, so I didn’t push her. My most important concern was her.
After a few weeks, she was finally feeling better, but because she didn’t report and get a rape kit done, she also hadn’t taken the morning after pill. My friend ended up becoming pregnant from her attacker, scared that her boyfriend wouldn’t believe her and her parents would kick her out, we were back on the bleachers, trying to figure out how we were going to get through this.
She debated between getting an abortion, but she had to have her parent there and we talked about telling her parents and begging them to believe her, but she got scared again, then we talked about going back to the authorities. Now we had proof that something had happened between her and this older man, even if no one wanted to believe that it was rape, at minimum, it was statutory rape.
The entire time she made her report, I stayed by her side, we did have to tell both of our parents, as we couldn’t drive and the closest doctor was miles away from our school.
Due to the fact she was young, had been drinking and had so much stress on her from the decisions she had to make, she lost the baby. Her attacker though? He ended up going free because the only proof they had was the baby and she wasn’t far enough along when she lost the baby to do Chorionic Villus Sampling, which is when they can do a paternity test before the baby is born, usually at 10-12 weeks.
Now, we’ve both grown up, she’s happy, has a baby and is still with the boyfriend she was with when the assault occurred.
From that moment on, I swore I would never let another friend go through that, just to end up with no justice.
Starting my website was an idea. I never thought I would be where I am today or making the friends that I have made today. I’m thankful for every opportunity that I’ve had and will have.”
I think it is wonderful that you are a strong advocate. Keep going!
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