Salt & Light: A Guide to Loving Northwest Indiana

Page 50



My name is Ashley, and this is my story. I was raised in a good home. I have two loving parents and a sister. For me, life was running smoothly. I was your average middle-school student. In eighth grade, the idea of being popular became more and more important to me. As I JVUZPKLYLK ^OH[ [OH[ TLHU[ P[ KLÄUP[LS` PUJS\KLK OH]PUN H IV`MYPLUK +\YPUN [OPZ [PTL VM YLÅLJ[PVU HUK ZLSM KPZJV]LY` 0 went to a party with a friend and met a guy. We started talking and ended up dating. 0 OHK WYL]PV\ZS` KLÄULK MVY T`ZLSM ^OH[ H KH[PUN YLSH[PVUZOPW ^V\SK SVVR SPRL 0 OHK ZL[ IV\UKHYPLZ MVY T`ZLSM HUK 0 thought I had shared those boundaries with him. But as weeks turned into months, he pressured me more and more in ways that were increasingly uncomfortable for me. I found myself giving in, and our relationship crossed some of the physical boundaries that I had set for myself. I felt ashamed and guilty. I didn’t feel I could talk to anyone. I was afraid my parents would be disappointed with me, so I didn’t talk to them. I didn’t want my friends to think differently about me or judge me, so I didn’t talk to them. I felt very alone and wondered if my life even mattered. I remember one day as I was drying dishes, I was holding a knife. I thought, "What if? Would anyone notice if I were gone?" I was in a very dark place, feeling pressured by my boyfriend, alone, with no one to talk to. I was unsure of what to do next. That week, educators from PATH (A Positive Approach to Teen Health) came to my school and talked with my class about relationships, about healthy choices, and about how valuHISL LHJO VM \Z PZ +\YPUN [OVZL [^V Through the help of PATH, Ashley found value in herself and others, and now serves as a peer mentor.

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