Surviving the Monsters

A Young Woman’s Battle To Find Help After A Sexual Assault (TW SEXUAL VIOLENCE)

Maria Vargas, Copy Editor

The parking lot was dimly lit, bathed in a yellow-tinted light, only a few minutes from her house. But she sat a lifetime away. 

The low hum of her car engine played in the background and headlights from passing cars blurred in the distance. The wind swayed in the trees around her. 

Almost like a dance. 

She sat in a panic, engulfed with the thoughts. The thoughts that seem like monsters, big, controlling and scary. Always there, lurking. 

Dying seems like the easiest option. The quickest way to escape the monsters that crowd her head. Their names: Shame, Fear and Pain. 

They’ve accompanied her for a long time, seemingly growing bigger as the years went by.

Shame whispers to her, “It’s all your fault. That boy never would have touched you like that if you didn’t let him.” She believes him. 

After all, it was her fault that she never told anyone what happened with that boy. That he molested her when she was six years old. Those memories flashed in and out of her head as the monsters tightened their grip. Shame stole her words, making it more difficult each year to speak up.

Becca began to look back on her day. It seemed like a regular winter day for a 16-year-old girl. Sleep in, get dressed, scroll through social media, meet up with a friend and head to a late movie. 

But it wasn’t a normal day, Becca spent her free time texting the crisis hotline, it was nice to have someone to unload on sometimes, and that day Pain had been gnawing away at her.

Pain was never one to talk. He liked to twist her stomach, push tears out her eyes for hours on end, convince her that maybe if she hurt herself he would go away, she carved away at herself believing him. He loved to lie.

Becca was just a kid. She trusted him; he was almost seven years older than her and they had been family friends for as long as she could remember. She had no idea what he had done to her was wrong until years later. But by then Fear had crawled into her thoughts, whispering that it was too late.

“Who’s going to believe you?” Fear repeated. “And if they do they’ll never look at you the same.” 

She snapped back to reality and looked up, realizing there were too many people around for her to crash her car. But that didn’t stop her from continuing her plan. Becca finally drove home and crawled into her bed, the only piece of furniture visible in her room. 

Clothes covered the floor and were thrown everywhere; her room reflected her head. Messy, sad and chaotic. There was no time or energy to clean it up. She’d be gone soon anyways. Becca set an alarm for 3 a.m. That’s when she’d get up, head back to the parking lot and end her life. Crashing her car would be quick and easy.

She closed her eyes and fell asleep, feeling safe in the knowledge that it would all be over soon.




It was 2 a.m. and there was a pounding on the front door. 

She jolted awake and her heart sank in her chest. They were here for her.

Shame spoke to her then. 

“Look what you’ve done. All you are is a burden. Think about your poor parents.”

Fear chimed in. 

“You’ve been caught. They’re going to take you away. You’ll have nothing left.”

She had said too much to the person behind the screen, they knew what she was planning. 

The voice of a grown man floated through the house. Her parents hung onto every last word trying to grasp what he was saying but his words just floated around Becca, the lines between what’s real and fake began to blur. 

He told them that he and his partner had been sent to look for Becca hours ago, that they needed to take her to be “evaluated” at a hospital. Finally, everything clicked into place. They were police officers, the woman behind the screen had sent them. She knew Becca was planning to kill herself. 

“I’m so sorry,” she told her parents while she sobbed. 

The officers walked up the stairs of her house and entered her room. There she sat, tears streaming down her face, about to be handcuffed and taken to a car that lights up in red, white and blue. 

The female officer began questioning her while her partner wrote things down in a notepad. She asked standard questions: What’s wrong? What was happening? What were you planning to do? 

After Becca was questioned the officers made way for the door, but the female officer stopped and turned around. 

“Don’t keep any secrets,” she told her in the darkness of her room. 

That woman looked her in the eyes as if she understood. As if she knew what had happened all those years ago and she had been in the dark place Becca was in now. Those four words gave Becca the strength to keep going. 



Once Becca arrived at the hospital, everything felt numb. She couldn’t feel the tears that streamed down her face. They stripped her of anything that she could use to hurt herself. 

Earrings, necklace, rings, shoelaces, phone. She walked through a metal detector and into a world she had never experienced before.

A nurse named Kim stood in the empty hallway writing as Becca looked around. 

“Look how alone we are,” Fear told her. “Mom and dad left us here and it’s all your fault.” The officer’s words rang in her ear. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to tell someone, she thought to herself. 

“NO! You can’t tell anyone. Think of the way she’ll look at you. You caused this,” Shame yelled. 

“I’m here because of you, no one is going to help you,” Pain whispered. “What’s the point of embarrassing yourself along with that?”

The thoughts wouldn’t stop. They pestered her endlessly but for the first time, she kept going. She took back her words and made them her own.

She looked at Kim and took a deep breath. In and then out.

Becca began to recount the events of that day, spilling out everything she had held in. 

She told her that she was six and he was almost 13, that they were playing “house” on a family camping trip. 

She told her how he pulled Becca away from the group.

How he brought her into that little camper and began to touch her in ways that were foreign to her. 

How she thought it was okay because he was older and must have known what he was doing. 

How when she realized it was wrong years later, she felt it was too late to tell anyone what happened. 

All those words she held in she was finally able to say. And in that dimly lit hallway on a cold linoleum floor, she felt a feeling she had never felt before, free as if she could breathe again.

Talking about her past was the first step in changing how she viewed herself. But, that was just the beginning.



Months later Becca was back in the hospital for the fifth time. Even though she had made the first step, she still has a ways to go. 

She drew with silver and it turned out red, pills she collected rattled in her backpack, some days she just felt numb because Pain had taken over. 

But that time in the hospital, things began to change. Becca began to accept help for her problems, and speak about the monsters in her head. Counseling sessions were filled with talking about Shame, Fear and Pain. She saw that she was a survivor, that even though she carried the weight of her past, she was still alive, and there was still a future. 

Becca has struggled with the weight of her past her whole life and hopes that by speaking out now others will feel less alone in their struggles. She’s realized that it’s never too late to stop hiding behind your monsters. 

Now, as she sits telling me this story she prepares to finally go tell the boy’s mother about what happened 11 years ago. Something that she feels is crucial to her recovery. Fear, Shame and Pain still linger at times, they’re not the kind of things that go away. But, they’re not huge monsters anymore, they don’t control her. They fit in the palm of her hand and sometimes they bite or whisper mean things but she’s learned how to tell them no, how to swat them away. 

She’s not their victim anymore. She survived and she’s no one’s victim.