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Too me, the #MeToo movement has to be the most gratifying thing I have ever seen. You see, the first time I was sexually assaulted I was in ninth grade. The guy I was dating, was slowly working up my trust in him. He came to church with my family, Sunday dinners, and I was at his home often. Finally came time for the Valentine's Dance. We had lots of fun, laughed with friends, and went to his house to hang out for a couple hours before my curfew was up. The next thing I know, I am in the bathroom vomiting. I clean myself up, and his aunt takes me home. The first few days, everything was hazy. I could not remember anything that happened after the dance. I knew I should, I did not drink or do any recreational drugs - my dad was a strict Baptist Gideon and would find out easily in a smaller town. When I was not grounded within a week, I knew I had not done anything against his rules. So it is up to the next weekend, and I am out shopping with my step-mom. We are looking at items for a spring picnic. She shows me several different colored checked picnic tables, and I bust out crying. I did not know why, and my step-mom looked at my like I has lost my mind. It felt like it honestly. I had just turned 15, what was wrong with me? The previous week I was perfectly happy, and now this!? I knew something was not right at all. I went to my best friend, and told her about my memory loss from that night. She decided to help me figure out what I lost. A few days later, she told me she had overheard some guys talking about my boyfriend. When she confronted them, our worst nightmares came true. My boyfriend and his cousin had raped me in the cousin's bedroom. The walls? Black and white checker board print. Just like those tablecloths in the store that had made me cry. To this day, I can not be sure if I was drugged, or my mind just blocked everything out to save my mind from cracking. I choose to believe the latter. This was not my only experience with being abused, beaten, or raped. Just my first. I was far too trusting in my younger years. I was later on married to my first husband, who very quickly became violent. He yelled, screamed, and threatened me. Pretty soon, my nightmares in the past became reality once more. The man I married would do things too me in my sleep. That was a nine-year hell. I finally got out, only to discover the new guy in my life would be slamming me down on beds and couches in our home. This way, I never bruised. This man was my second husband, and he actually sent me to counseling saying there is no way a doctor would agree with my claims of him being "mean" to me. He also wanted proof I was not lying about my past abuses. I was in therapy for nearly two years. It was at that point that I learned the different stages of recovery in my therapist's eyes. He told me there are three in his eyes. Victim, survivor, and thriver. The victim stage is the longest. It is when you think of your abuse and abusers every day several times a day. Nightmares are a nightly occurrence. Then you have survivor. It is everything else. The reality of what you have been through, less nightmares, and less trusting of others. But the final stage my therapist demands....thriver! It is when the nightmares stop, the trust returns, and you are not hard on yourself at all. You have stopped blaming yourself for something that was never your fault to begin with. This is my life now. The life of a thriver! I went to college and got my degree. I found a real man who has never laid a hand on me or threatened me in any way. I have a home, grown boys, and two grand-babies at the age of 41. My life has changed so much, and I am proud to be part of the #MeToo movement! It is about time women had a real voice, and stood up too say "This is my life and my body!! You have no right to touch me without MY permission!!" (Tiffany Allen)