I've never written this story out before, but for some reason, I feel like now is the time. I've reached a place in my life where I'm tired of having my past control me, and feel proud of the work that I've done to overcome, change, and transmute the things that have happened to me.
And also I am coming to understand that it's a story that’s worthy of being shared. I think the lessons from it, or at least I hope, can positively impact other people.
I'm 17. I'm wearing ripped blue skinny jeans, a flower bustier, a black zip-up sweater, and a red basketball toque. I don't know who I think I am or why I was dressing like that. But like I said, I was 17. I just wanted to fit in and be cool.
It's my first semester of University in a small, and extremely cold town. A town where there's not much to do other than go to the university bar/club every Friday and Saturday night. So, that’s what I’m doing.
It’s 10 pm and I’m with my roommate drinking Apple Smirnoff Vodka. Mixing it with Sprite and 7 up like children. But then again, I guess we were children - I was 17.
I drink way too much, of course, before trekking out in the fresh dump of snow. The club is not far, maybe a 10-minute walk. But the cold kind of sobered us up, so when we get there the first thing we do is order two $2 shots of vodka EACH from the bar. I cringe now just thinking about it. Who in the hell drinks vodka shots? A reminder that I’m 17.
We dance and sing to Don’t Tell Em and Like a G6. Stopping every 10-15 minutes to take more shots. At this point, me and my roommate and I are both proper, sloppy drunk. Before long someone comes up behind me and starts dancing. It's a boy, a boy that I know, a boy that I like, and a boy that I told recently that I am a virgin. It’s 12 am.
I don’t to this day know why I told him that. Maybe because I was 17. He’s 23 and all his friends were in their early to mid 20s. He tells me that I look pretty. At this point, I've lost my roommate.
I remember being around all of those friends of his and them joking about me being a virgin. I don't remember telling them that I was a virgin, maybe I did, maybe he did. But I guess now they knew. Did everyone know?
I remember more dancing and more drinking. I remember the cold walk back to my dorm room. I remember being in my dorm room. It’s 1 am. I remember that boy being there too, lying next to me on my new white Urban Outfitters duvet cover.
I remember talking, and I remember smoking. I thought I was having a good time. I’m 17 and can’t believe this older guy is interested in me. In my head, I was lucky.
I remember us kissing, I remember saying yes, and then I remember screaming and I remember saying no. I remember thinking “This isn't how it's supposed to be.” “The lights are on.” "All my clothes are on.” “This doesn't feel good. “I don't know how to make it stop.” “Why is there a pillow on my face?”.
When he finally got off of me, I remember curling towards the wall into a ball. I remember feeling shame about my own body for the first time.
I listened to him zip up his pants next to me before standing up. He looked at me, looked at my bed and made a gagging noise. I remember uncurling, looking to where he was looking and seeing a bright red blood stain on my new Urban Outfitters duvet cover.
He looked at me, face serious as a judge. And what he said I will always and forever remember: “That's disgusting, but at least we know you're actually a virgin… or at least you used to be.”
I remember him putting on his snapback hat, zipping up his puffer, tying up his boots and leaving. He left and I was still 17. But I never felt or experienced life as a 17 year old again.
Sexual Assault Made My Period Painful
That moment, that fateful occurrence, changed my relationship with not only my body, but also my blood and my menstrual cycle for the rest of my life. I never even had period cramps before that day, and now I understand that my physical trauma was a trigger for my endometriosis and chronic illness.
How I’m Healing
This is an extreme experience, but I think the lessons and unlearning that I have had to do because of this has value for other people. Hopefully, most people haven’t experienced something as specific and challenging as I did, but we all grew up in societies that shame and perpetuate raging period stigma. It is my genuine hope that all people with periods will hopefully be able to take something from this, and use it to heal their relationship with their bodies and their blood if they need.
Here are 3 things that I did to heal my relationship with my menstrual cycle and my blood:
Journaling is such a powerful and prophetic exercise when it comes to healing. It took me years to understand exactly why I hated my period so much and why it was so difficult. Yes, this was amplified because I had many visceral and serious conditions (Endometriosis), but I now understand they were exacerbated because of how I thought about my body.
I hated my own blood, I resented my body for bleeding, and I resented my period and that only made everything worse. For years I took intentional time to journal about this, get to the root of my beliefs, and create new stories around my period that would better serve my body. Some of my favorites were:
- What are my beliefs around period blood?
- Where did those beliefs come from?
- How can I challenge/change/improve those beliefs?
- What are my new beliefs around blood?
#2 Practicing Blood Rituals
Now this one is not for everybody, but one thing that I did to heal my relationship with my menstrual blood was creating rituals that honor it. For me, I mostly practiced free bleeding. Some of the other rituals that I've come across use period blood to water plants, make face masks, and paint or create art with.
Other ideas can be found here that explore Indigenous menstruation rituals, and tips on how to heal your cycle naturally.
Period rituals can play an important role in switching your relationship with your period blood from something disgusting, dirty and shameful, to something sacred. Take time after journaling and reflecting to choose rituals that are right for you.
#3 Connecting with Other Bleeding Beings
You might be surprised to know that most people with periods are on a similar journey. We all have some sort of internal journey we have to go on to change our relationship with our menstrual cycle, due to the stigma and shame that our society perpetuates around this topic. Since I've been doing this work, I have been able to connect with so many people and hear similar stories repeated over and over again. Engaging in the act of sharing in community and building deep connections around this topic has been so healing for me.
Find groups and people in your area who are having these conversations, and if it doesn't exist, create it for yourself. Knowing that there are other people with you on the journey that will help you when you feel down and low, and celebrate you when you are high. You don’t have to do it alone.
If ever you want to connect with me about your own personal experiences with menstruation or sexual assault or blood, know that I am an open book and I have an open (internet) door. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me @domuniquelashay at any time!
Domunique, for Aisle
Domunique Lashay (she/her) is a menstrual health advocate, content creator and writer. Follow her on TikTok: @domuniquelashay
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), or find other resources here.
❤ For more period science, hacks & tips