“It’s a beautiful thing, to be a survivor of something so heinous.”
“I felt like a broken record. It was embarrassing for me. I told people after the first and the second…but after the third [rape] I felt like a freak show,” said Samantha Moore. Samentha’s experience with multiple incidents of sexual assault by a stranger left her feeling self-conscious and blaming herself.
“Even for the longest time after my second rape, I hated leather jackets because he had a black leather jacket on, so that was something that triggered."
After being disheartened by the lack of police response from the first two assaults, Samentha hesitated to report the third rape, which occurred on her college campus. Her boyfriend at the time ended up reporting to police. The perpetrator was arrested and tried, but ultimately he was not convicted.
In the years after trial, Samentha struggled with effects from surviving multiple sexual assaults. She began overeating. “I just thought if I made myself less attractive it wouldn't happen again,” she remembers. Sexual violence can sometimes influence a survivor’s perception of the body and feelings of control. In some cases, these feelings can manifest into disordered eating patterns that may be harmful in the longer term.
As Samentha began to shed feelings of guilt and shame, she began exploring a healthier path for her body: lyrical dance. Samentha had danced since she was a young girl, but she found that a lyrical style helped her to express the pain that she couldn’t share verbally. “I was able to create something so beautiful out of something that was just...not.”
In time, Samentha grew more comfortable talking about what happened, but she didn’t always find the support she was looking for. “Even when I did try to talk to someone they would say something like, ‘that’s amazing you survived.’ That’s nice. But that’s not dialogue.” It can be challenging for loved ones and friends to find the right words to say when someone they care about has been impacted by sexual violence.
“I finally did some research to find somebody who could actually help me. And that’s how I found RAINN.” Samentha first reached out to RAINN through the Online Hotline, a free, anonymous service available 24/7 to survivors of sexual assault and their loved ones. “Sometimes typing it is actually easier until you’re ready to talk about it. After that, I built up to calling [the National Sexual Assault Hotline] and talking about it outloud.”
Today, Samentha spends her time taking care of her smart, beautiful daughter and sharing her story at speaking opportunities around the Washington DC area. She feels that it’s important to share messages of hope—but that it’s also important to talk about the challenges that come along with pressing charges. By talking openly about these challenges, she hopes to influence and improve the way perpetrators are brought to justice through the criminal justice system.
“Being able to help another victim is so important. Whenever a survivor gets to a place where they feel comfortable, utilizing your edge on surviving can help those who might have just become a victim.”
Samentha is one of seven survivors featured in the RAINN Survivor Series. Learn more about the campaign.
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org, y en español: rainn.org/es.