When I was 17, a group of my best friends and I were partying on one of our friends' family's boat out on the bay. Despite being underage, we were all of course drinking heavily. At one point, I blacked out in the bedroom nook onboard, and all I remember was my male "friend" ("S.B.") taking off all my clothes, as I tried to garner the consciousness to say "no" and squirm away. I just remember being fully naked except for my bra, and his fingers on my vulva, near penetration. But I was nearly incapacitated, slipping in and out of consciousness, so I has no strength or cognitive ability to defend myself. Furthermore, we were on a boat... in the middle of the bay.... Where would I even run to? I was immensely lucky to have another (male) friend ("J.S.") more coherent than I was, laying next to me. In what I later understood to be active bystander intervention (and a pinnacle example of male allyship), J.S. was able to non-confrontationally fend S.B. off of my naked body as I could barely hear remember J.S. saying to S.B., "Nah man, that's so fucked up, she's unconscious. Leave her alone. This isn't cool." S.B. called J.S. a "cock block" and eventually left me alone. I even barely remember J.S. putting my pants back on me and staying with me the rest of the evening. J.S. even went on to be mocked as a "cock block" for weeks among the group of guys. J.S. and I remained best friends well into adulthood and I could never thank him enough for his actions that night. I later learned that my two other female friends were elsewhere on the boat, similarly passed out, and two other guys (who we were less familiar with, but were friends of S.B's) weren't so lucky. One was stripped naked and digitally penetrated, the other was raped (penile/vaginal penetration) while she was barely conscious. I've never forgiven myself for not being there to intervene in their assaults the way J.S. was thankfully there to stop mine. One of my girl friends from that night and I only spoke about our experiences on the boat once... at least 10 years later. Through a lot of tears, it was clear she was very desperate to compartmentalize and not discuss it further, which I respected, Once in my early 20's, I ironically (and completely unrelatedly), went on to work in anti-gender-based violence advocacy on hotlines, crisis counseling, leading hospital advocacy programs, directing a Safehouse, and in research capacities. Even in the early years of my career, I never once thought about my experience as "Sexual assault" since it was "only attempted" and never completed penetration. And as I directly served survivors day-in and day-out who were escaping situations one-thousand times worse than my adolescent experience... my experience never even surfaced in my consciousness as a sexual trauma even remotely related to my work. It actually wasn't until my first Take Back the Night rally in undergrad (I went to college later in my early twenties after working at the safe house for a few years to help pay for tuition), that I heard other survivor stories that were similar to mine. Up until then I was only exposed to the worst-of-the-worst/chronic violence through my work with survivors. After listening to my peers' experience with drug/alcohol facilitated SA at college parties, where they were unable to consent, did I realize that my experience was indeed sexual assault and I had more in common with my clients than I anticipated. And that this buried trauma was able to better shape my professional life for years to come. The testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in 2018 was also a pivotal moment in my healing as her story was so very similar to mine... albeit decades apart and... let's just say S.B. is no where near the level of a potential SCOTUS nominee. But I couldn't help but crying uncontrollably through her testimony, since it was another reminder that my experience (although not completed rape), was indeed worthy of honoring and holding space for. I still work in gender-based violence prevention and response (and always will) but I'd be lying if I said I still tend to minimize my own experience. Even as I'm helping to shape policy, create a data standards, write reports, and build products and programs from my role in a global tech company, while fighting for the recognition of those with my exact same experience.