He's probably a doctor now. I don't know -- I didn't keep in touch. 

It's been 18 years since my only encounter with him. My girlfriends and I attended a Super Bowl party and ended up missing dorm curfew, so we had to spend the night. The three of us huddled together on a pulled-out futon as our gracious host made his way up to his bedroom. About two hours later, he woke us up to tell us he was headed to work. We could stay until daylight; his roommate, a fellow college student, knew we were there. 

The stairs creaked with an eeriness that I can still hear as the roommate made his way down the narrow stairway. Seconds later, there was silence followed by a dip in the already crowded futon. He had climbed onto it with us and began making his way towards me. I felt a vulnerability that I can't say I've ever revisited. I pretended to remain asleep as he reached around in the darkness for the button on my jeans, then my panties.

Uninvited, he stuck his hand down my pants. I found myself in a moment reminiscent of sleep paralysis with a demon sitting atop and I could neither scream nor talk. Trauma has removed the parts of my brain that remember this day best, but I recall fake coughing uncontrollably until my friends were awakened. The roommate was gone before their eyes opened. I didn't tell them a thing. 

There would be many more parties there, though I never attended or explained myself. 

Sometimes we stuff the silence in our own stories, other times it's a societal norm. No one will believe me, we tell ourselves; oftentimes no one does believe us. Or we had to have done something to warrant the unwanted advances. We blame ourselves; fear keeps us from the anticipation of further victimization. Many of us wait a couple of forevers to tell our stories; sometimes we never utter a word. 

According to USA Today, a 265-page report by National Research Council shows that about 80% of sexual assaults go unreported to law enforcement. Further, a national study done by Center for Research on Violence Against Women estimated that only 37% of reported rapes are prosecuted, with just 18% of those cases ending in a conviction.

And sometimes those convictions are overturned, like the infamous case of defamed TV dad, Bill Cosby, whose sexual assault conviction was recently overturned by Pennsylvania’s highest court, as Blavity previously reported.  

Today, my heart breaks for the survivors of Cosby's wrath and every other person in the world who has experienced sexual assault of any kind, especially the ones who stood in the face of the devil and spoke out for us all. The strength it takes to stand in your truth is immeasurable and that's why it hurts me to see yet another predator free from a system that hardly ever holds people accountable for sexual assault. 

If you are a survivor, I believe you. Stand in your truth and hold tight to your convictions, however long it may take you to tell your story, or if you never do. Someday, we may be in a world that uplifts survivors, but until then, we'll keep fighting and sharing and holding strong. This is but another hurdle. 

If you need information or help with reporting sexual assault, RAINN, the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, has provided a list of resources. You may also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline for assistance at (800) 656-HOPE.