In a video to promote her book My Life as Eva and a candid Teen Vogue interview, YouTube star Eva Gutowski talked about being raped at age 16.
"There are some things in life you prepare for and some things that just hit you like a ton of bricks," she says in the video, titled "I Am A Victim Of Sexual Assault." "For some reason, either nobody wants you to feel anything or they want you to feel everything."
It then shows Gutowski as a high schooler, panicking in the middle of class due to the burden of her trauma. When she finally confides in a teacher, a weight lifts — until she realizes her school has alerted law enforcement. Because of this, she has to go to the hospital so evidence can be collected and talk to police officers regularly about an incident she wanted to keep private.
The video highlights the importance of a victim's right to decide whether to report a crime. While we may want justice to be served, it's often served at the expense of a survivor's mental health.
But the most important message Gutowski wanted to convey is that there is life after sexual assault. "You can get through anything," she says at the end.
"I know that so many people are trying to get through something. I thought that even though this story is about sexual assault, it would still inspire a lot of people to find the light to push past their hardships," she explained to Teen Vogue. "When this happened to me, I had this feeling of worthlessness for months. But you have to move past that feeling. You have to show yourself how amazing life can be, and I know it's hard, but it's undoubtedly possible."
Gutowski's story is all too common, yet many survivors end up feeling alone. Her words serve as an important reminder that while rape may change survivors' lives irrevocably, it doesn't have to break them.