Remembering Your Worth

**Trigger warning: talk of sexual abuse**

I was right out of college and moving to Florida for a job. I had things semi lined up and was starting a new chapter of my life. Unfortunately, the job fell through and I was left in Florida with nothing to do. I spent my days most of the time doing nothing, so I decided I would start modeling. It seemed fun and I had nothing better to do. I was open with my sexuality and body so it seemed perfect for me. I started to work with random artists for trade shoots and got some amazing pictures out of it. However, there was one session that stuck out most in my mind. He was someone who took amazing pictures, and I reached out and wanted the opportunity to work with him.

The day arrived and it was just like any other photoshoot. I got to his house and we started with the session. Usually my work would include me posing nude by the end as I was pretty comfortable doing this type of work. Sometimes I felt it produced some amazing images. The shoot was going normal. I began to undress to something more revealing for the next set and while we were shooting he asked, "Can you take off your pants?" I thought this was odd and it made me uncomfortable. But I didn't really know what to say, so I said, "okay."

In my mind it seemed odd and looking back it should have been a warning, but I was in a blur. I stripped down to nothing and he asked me to lay down on the bed so he could take shots. The next thing I know he has his hands spreading my lips and he is taking pictures. The rest is a rushed blur as I try to repress the memory. I tell him that I can just do it myself, there's no need for him to help. He says that's fine and continues, but then soon after asks, "can I lick it?" I pause, my mind races to what my next steps are and if my answer is wrong what do I even do. I tell him no since I have a boyfriend and he says that's fine and we quickly wrap up the rest of the shoot. I leave and immediately call someone I've been seeing recently. I account what has happened and I vaguely remember him telling me, "oh that's too bad", and "are you alright?" I tell him, "I'm a bit shaken up," and he says, "ah okay, well we can talk later."

This leaves me feeling empty, his reaction to what has just happened felt almost like it was a burden that I brought it up to him. I put this behind me for 5 years. I had been in many random situations where I've been mistreated and this was just another to shove down my throat and deal with at a later time I thought. Recently, I started to date someone new and this memory has been haunting me. I wanted some validation or something that what had happened shouldn't have and that it wasn't a burden. Immediately I was embraced and told it was a despicable thing that has happened. I wept and I felt my mind come at ease at least for a moment. To know after all these years I was right for being so shaken up by this guy who took advantage of me gives me some sort of strength to move on from this event. I've done so much for myself by myself, and I forget that it's okay to lean on someone else. It's okay to cry, it's okay to vent, in the end we need to remember that we are worth it.

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