Izzy's Story This is my story. August 11, 2021 I was in California for a wedding. I was so happy and excited at the time, and overjoyed for this wedding. A couple nights before the wedding, my life changed…forever. To put it simply, I was a victim of sexual assault. I was a confused, young, and vulnerable little girl. This night changed my life, as I dealt with cops and had to go to the hospital for what felt like eternity. The ups and downs that had followed this tragic event are indescribable. A person I was close to at the time, made it clear that she did not believe me. Those words that she spoke over me that night now haunt me forever, but with lots of work and with the support of my family and sweet boyfriend, I went to counseling and started tackling my trauma. I was ready to fight. After many interviews, phone calls, and emails with my detective and DA, we thought we had this in the bag. I had all the evidence- even DNA proof. He was arrested. I knew that many, many cases of sexual assault do not win, let alone go to court. But I was determined for myself, and other women, to put this evil man away. Justice was all I could think about. So I continued to fight. He bailed out before his preliminary hearing. But I was still so hopeful for my case to go to court. I continued practicing my story with my counselor. I was preparing for the fight of my life. I’ll spare the details of how horrible this past year has been, fighting this legally, and never getting closure while knowing he’s still living a free life. One night, my boyfriend and I were on our way to church to see our sweet young adult friends. That’s when we got the call. The call I have waited for… for approximately 337 days. All I heard were the words, “we cannot press charges.” And that’s when everything I fought for ended. Or so I thought. I tell this story because I am so heartbroken that the justice system failed me and so many women. I can't begin to explain how robbed I feel, for so many different reasons. But me and MY team fought. I know I gave it all I had. I am at a loss of how this chapter will close- it just feels so void. There’s a lot of emotions, thoughts, and feelings that follow this dreaded news. What I will say is that counseling has helped me so much. I have learned to be okay with letting the victim's side of my story come through. I have always been so hard on myself to stay strong, don’t let the tears fall, and most of all- don’t let anybody see my pain. Counseling has taught me that it is okay to have my weak moments. I have learnt that there is strength in tears. And, I have learnt that it is okay to lean on safe people. When I was put in a fight or flight situation, I did neither. I froze. And I want to make it clear to other survivors that froze, you made it out alive. Your body protected you the best it could. You did everything right, and now you are a survivor. A SURVIVOR. As well as this, survivors of this kind of trauma should always remember it is never your fault. You did not choose this- no matter what people say or don’t say. I encourage counseling when dealing with the emotions of this trauma. It can change everything about your story, and help you realize that what happened to you was valid and scary. Speaking for myself, there were many times I convinced myself it was my fault. But counseling and the facts made it apparent to me that it was not. I don’t know how my story will impact anybody, but I know it needs to be told. And if this story reaches you, I am so proud of you and your strength. And if you haven’t heard it from someone else, I am so sorry this happened to you. YOU are a survivor. I am a survivor.