Jessica's story As a 16-year-old who hadn’t had a boyfriend before, one of my first sexual encounters was a memorable one, for all the wrong reasons.When I was in high school I met a guy, ‘Josh’, who was friends with ‘Sam’. ‘Josh’ ended up being my first sloppy kiss and we weren’t really ‘official’, but we did try a few things. ‘Josh’ wanted the ‘one thing’ in the end – that didn’t bother me as I leant towards wanting to do those sexual things. But when we broke up, his friend ‘Sam’ found out what we had done and thought he would try some things on me. Things just escalated from there and it felt like he had me wrapped around his finger.‘Sam’ was two years above me in school. He teamed up with one of my friends, and they coaxed me into a dark room one lunch break. After this occasion I had to soldier on during school that day feeling numb and sick to my stomach. I wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing that just happened.To this day, I don’t know why, but I kept going back for more. Maybe because I was a vulnerable teenager who just wanted an older man to touch me, or it might have been because of my friend egging me on.The next few occasions again occurred in the dark room at school. After a lot of hesitation, I gave in and let him have what he wanted. I remember one time being topless and him turning the light on and off just so he could get a buzz out of my reaction.Things didn’t get any better from then onwards. In the school holidays ‘Sam’ and I had organised to meet up. He said he was going to show me a hill which was near his house and that we were going to climb it. I’m sure this was a move that he had used before on other girls. Little did I know how the day would pan out.I lied to my mum and said that I was meeting a friend for the day and had to make my own way into town by catching the bus. I met him and his dad in a public place, and then we started to drive out of town. I started to worry because I didn’t know where we were going. When we finally reached his house, his dad left us alone together for the rest of the day. The thought of this still makes me feel sick.We went into his house – not anywhere near the hill that we were going to ‘climb’. Before I knew it, he had shut his bedroom door and we were alone. The only thing I’m grateful for is that he wore protection.I had a pillow over my face as I couldn’t stand to look at him. I was frozen and just took his assault with so much indignity.When it was over he pretended like nothing ever happened. He offered me a shower, but I knew if I had one my mum would notice so I refused. I wish I did take that shower all those years ago as I would have felt a little cleaner as I would have washed away what had just happened to me.We watched Shaun of the Dead and afterwards he put on the song Help Is On Its Way by The Little River Band. For years after the assault, I couldn’t bear the thought watching that movie or listening to that song.When I got home my mum asked me lots of questions, and all I could do was tell her little white lies. I can’t remember how I dealt with what happened.A year, later I eventually made the courageous move to open up to a boyfriend. He helped me in so many ways. We went to see the school councillor together so that I could share my traumatic experiences. My parents found out, and I had to write down exactly what happened so the police could be notified. Writing that statement was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.From that moment, I was given the help that I needed. I had counselling sessions every fortnight outside of school. Even though I was missing out of school, every session that I went to helped me. I suffered from PTSD, so had to take small stages to build up to anything sexual with my boyfriend. To this day, I am still very grateful to him for being so understanding, patient and compassionate. At school, he would cover my eyes and play silly games with me whenever he would see the perpetrator in view. There was no better person to help me start my journey to recovery. We are still friends today and I really appreciate having him around.As things were slowly improving, I found out that the perpetrator worked in a supermarket that I frequently visited. For months I could not go anywhere near there as it caused me too much grief and anxiety. Eventually, with the support of my boyfriend and councillors, I was able to take the first step through the doors of the supermarket.The perpetrator was interviewed by police and confirmed that my account was all true. He was ordered to stay away from me and to not make contact with me ever again, even on social media – he was asked to block me. Apparently, he was sorry that it happened but never said so to my face. If given the chance, I would probably face him and accept his apology one day.My parents and I later found out that he had done this to another girl previously which made us all feel very sick. The police told us that he had been put on the sex offenders list and he was let off with a ‘warning’. If he did it again, he would get charged. The legal system should be tightened for crimes like this. No one should ever have to go through something like that in their lives.I may have only seen the perpetrator a few times in the past eight or so years, but when I do see him, I remind myself that I have come out stronger than I thought I would ever have. What happened all of those years ago does not define me on who I am, but it has helped me understand how precious life truly is. My advice for someone who has been through a traumatic experience or is still going through one is to reach out for help as soon as you can. It’s never too late to ask for help and you should never be ashamed for asking. There are people out there willing to help you.