How I Found My Purpose After Sexual Assault

If my story can help just one person see that there is life after those horrific days, sharing it makes it all worth it.

woman looking out a window Daniela Temneanu / Getty Images

By Sabrina Sivert

Trigger warning: This piece describes instances of rape and sexual assault.

I was 15 the first time someone catcalled me. When I was 16, someone touched me without consent for the first time. And when I was 17, I was raped for the first time. For three years, one person completely turned my life upside-down with sexual assault.

I thought he would leave me alone when it was over, but for eight months, the abuse continued. He got meaner, angrier, and more hurtful. As time went on, the threats got worse. And I had to see him every day. He was my fire science teacher at school.


I don’t think I’ll remember my life before the abuse.

RELATED: The Literal Worst Thing You Can Say To Someone Who Is Suffering

I often think of who I would be today if the sexual assault never happened. Would I have followed my dreams to be a full-time firefighter and paramedic? Would I have four kids like I used to dream of? And would I have ever met my now-husband? What about moving states away?


I have so many “what ifs.” A piece of my heart will always wonder where and who I’m supposed to be. Often, I have to remind myself that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and that I’m doing exactly what I need to do.

I remember the first time the abuse happened, tears rolling down my face. I was a virgin. He made comments about my cute underwear and bra. And he stroked my hair, complimenting how it was his favorite and that it smelled like strawberries. He would also say things like, “Your eyes are prettier when there are no tears.”

He’d remind me often that it was my fault he had to do this. I would push him away, kick my legs, and I even bit his arm.

For years, I tried to fight a battle I had no chance of winning. He was 26 years older than me and over 200 pounds.


Eventually, I just gave up and lay there until he was finished.

The first time, blood rolled down my legs when I stood up. He watched my every move as I got dressed again. I never felt so helpless and scared as I did at that moment.

And as it continued to happen, I would eventually stop fighting him. I’d close my eyes and lie there, wishing I was somewhere else. I often thought of the beach as my escape.

RELATED: When These 13 Things Start Happening, You're Close To Finding Your Purpose In Life

As the years pass by, I try to find answers to questions that are impossible to find. Why me? What did I do? Could I have fought harder? What if I told someone sooner? What if I never came forward?


These questions cause all the anger to rush back. I will never understand how a person could hurt someone so badly.

How could someone take so much away? How could someone who was supposed to keep me safe do what he did? I will never understand why he did this to me, and I will never get answers to my impossible questions.

I’ve realized time doesn’t heal all wounds; some wounds will live with you forever. I will never forget what he did to me, or the trauma he left me with. But as time has gone by, I’ve tried to find a purpose.

How can I help others with what I’ve gone through? How can I help myself? And how can I heal?

I’m still here today after all that I’ve been through. He threatened my life and career to keep me silent. He would remind me daily that I would be nothing. And his words became my motivation.


I decided one day to take my life and voice back. I began sharing my story in writing, then on social media, and now, I fight for sexual assault survivors’ rights everywhere.

People asked me to speak on podcasts. I’ve been on news stations and testified in more courtrooms than I can remember, sharing my story.

Someone somewhere is going through their worst days. They may feel alone, scared, confused, and feel like they shouldn’t be here. I felt the same way for so long.


For me, the final stage of healing is using what happened to me to help others.

He didn’t ruin my career, and I’m still alive today. He made me stronger, and he gave me a new purpose in life. That purpose is advocating and sharing my story, not only for myself but for sexual assault survivors everywhere.

If my story can help just one person see that there is life after those horrific days, then sharing it makes it all worth it.

Anyone affected by sexual assault can find support on the National Sexual Assault Hotline, a safe, confidential service. Contact The Hotline or call 800-656-HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member.

RELATED: I Was An Abuse Survivor And Nobody Knew It, Including Me


Sabrina Sivert is a writer, wife, and victim/survivor advocate who resides in Florida. Visit her Linktree account for more of her advocacy work.