My Speech from the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event on May 4, 2013.

I was truly humbled by the amazingly brave women, and the men who were there to walk a mile in high heel shoes for them, that I met at the event.
Here is the transcript of the speech I gave at this event.

Good morning!  I would like to thank the Philly WAM Girls for their work and dedication to this cause.  I am honored to be a part of it. 
We are all here for a common purpose.  We are here to stand up for victims of sexual assault and gender violence.  
My name is Valerie Ricapito and I am a rape survivor.  I am here today to stand up for myself and for those like me.  I am standing up here today because I will no longer be silent.  I am here today to tell you my story. 
I was raped 13 years ago and for 10 of those years I remained silent, never pressing charges, just hoping it would be like a bad dream and eventually fade off into the distance.   I was filled with shame, guilt, anger and embarrassment over what happened.  You see, at the time of my rape, I was a peer educator at my university.  I was a part of a group that taught students how to stay safe from sexual violence.  I knew all of the right things to do.  I knew how to protect myself and I educated students how to do the same.  I was street smart and book smart. This was something that would never happen to me…until the morning that it did.
I went to sleep one night next to my boyfriend, a man who professed his love for me every day.  I woke up the next morning to that same man holding me down and raping me.  I said “No.”  I tried to fight back, but how do you fight back against someone who is bigger than you, strong than you, and is using that strength to do the unspeakable?  The harder I fought the more force he used.  And just like that, I became a statistic.  I went from the girl who, by all accounts, had a great life and a great boyfriend, to a girl whose life was shattered by that “great boyfriend.”
Over the next 10 years I pretended that it never happened. I locked it so deep in my psyche that it never came to the surface.  It was replaced by anger, fear, shame and a general distrust of men, with the exception of close friends and family.  I saw every man as a potential rapist.  I lived my life in fear without even letting myself fully accept the reasoning behind it.  I became a home body, avoiding social situations as much as I could unless I was with a group.  When I did go out alone, I developed a tough, “stay the hell away from me,” exterior that kept attention away from me.  Overtime I became a shell of the person I used to be.  I felt dead inside.
The truth has a way of coming to the surface, often at the most random and unexpected times.  My truth came out to my mom while we were watching a movie.  A character in the movie was raped the same way I was and before I could stop myself I said, “If anyone ever did that to me again I would kill them with my bare hands.”   I prayed that she didn’t hear that one word – again.  As it turns out, that was the only word she heard.  And just like that, my secret was no longer a secret. 
As I have started to come to an acceptance of being raped, I decided to make my journey to healing public.  I made this decision in the hopes that others will be helped by my journey and realize that they are not alone.  In July, I started writing a blog to document my experiences – the good days and the bad – as I go through counseling, and start to get back to the person I was before the rape.  Through this, I have found a community of friends, sisters and supporters who have helped me through tough days and cheered me on through good days.  I now have the strength and courage to speak out, stand up, and help bring an end to the shame that comes along with being raped.  
While I wish every single day that this never happened to me, I am proud to stand here today as I reclaim my voice to say to the world that I survived.