Ashley Billasano was a girl just like me. So much like me, that this story has affected me in a deeper way than perhaps it would have otherwise. Ashley and I both grew up in the Austin area. We both were sexually abused by our fathers, raped other times, and used eating disorders and self-harm to cope with this. Both of us were failed by Travis County Child Protective Services, who neither served nor protected us. We both attempted suicide more than once.
The difference is, I survived.
Eventually, someone heard me. Eventually, I received the help I so desperately needed. Tragically, no one heard Ashley or was able to help her before she succeeded in taking her own life. I can’t explain why I was spared and Ashley wasn’t. I can’t explain why someone intervened on my behalf and no one got to her in time. And I can’t imagine how Ashley’s friends and family are feeling right now.
But I can imagine what Ashley was feeling. I remember vividly what it felt like to think that no one believed me and no one was going to help me and I was all alone with my hellish pain. Ashley left us with a record of her pain, a record of her experiences and reasons for taking her life. She made it public for a reason. And when I heard that Twitter took those messages down I was angry, because she wasn’t heard when she was alive. She deserves to be heard now. So I am publishing her tweets just as she wrote them, unedited and uncut. Ashley wanted the world to know what she went through and she wrote it rather eloquently. Perhaps her writing will encourage other survivors to come forward with their own stories. There have been far too many deaths due to silence. Let us remember Ashley Billasano and how the system did not work for her. Let us do better the next time a victim has the courage to report. Please, let us do better.
A website and foundation have been set up in Ashley’s honor, their mission to help victims of abuse deal with the effects and prevent more tragic suicides. www.ashleymariejustbreathe.com
10:50PM Nov 6th: “I fuckked up my own suicide” yeah tell me about it…
6:44AM Nov 7th: Staying home today. Can I reach 1000 tweets??? I’m thinking yes!
9:45AM Nov 7th: just woke up
9:45AM Nov 7th: Don’t feel too well
9:45AM Nov 7th: There is somebody in my dreams
9:46AM Nov 7th: I want them gone
9:46AM Nov 7th: How can we control our dreams?
9:46AM Nov 7th: Hummm wish somebody would text me
9:47AM Nov 7th: Kinda lonely right now
9:47AM Nov 7th: There was so much more I wanted to do
9:48AM Nov 7th: Ahhh well time to move on
9:48AM Nov 7th: My thought process is too crazy
9:48AM Nov 7th: I totally think I’m bipolar
9:49AM Nov 7th: Or just crazy
9:49AM Nov 7th: Idk.
9:49AM Nov 7th: Humm I remember why we broke up
9:50AM Nov 7th: I shall do it again
9:50AM Nov 7th: Because this time I don’t have a bf
9:50AM Nov 7th: And I really don’t care anymore
9:51AM Nov 7th: I should get ready then
9:51AM Nov 7th: Should have gotten everything last night
9:52AM Nov 7th: Still just trying to raise my numbers
9:52AM Nov 7th: So I met this boy
9:52AM Nov 7th: He was very cute you see
9:52AM Nov 7th: Quite popular too
9:53AM Nov 7th: Me and this boy started talking
9:53AM Nov 7th: Then we talked a lil more
9:53AM Nov 7th: Then he let me in his front door
9:54AM Nov 7th: We walked up the stairs where everything was quite
9:54AM Nov 7th: And he whispered ‘you look beautiful’ into my ear
9:55AM Nov 7th: Shivers moved down my spine
9:55AM Nov 7th: And then he began to kiss my neck
9:56AM Nov 7th: I know you’re thinking ‘why did she go’
9:57AM Nov 7th: And all I can say is my father told me so
9:57AM Nov 7th: So he kissed me sweet and laid me down on his bed
9:58AM Nov 7th: I started to shake he said ‘give me head’
9:58AM Nov 7th: I laughed at him and said ‘I’m a vegetarian’
9:59AM Nov 7th: Then I wondered why I had really come to him.
9:59AM Nov 7th: See I’ve been in this situation before
10:00AM Nov 7th: When a boy I loved said he would leave if I didn’t give it up
10:00AM Nov 7th: And I told my friends I had done it even though it wasn’t true
10:01AM Nov 7th: Because he was telling everybody the same things too
10:01AM Nov 7th: But here is the honest truth
10:01AM Nov 7th: I never did it till I was sixteen
10:02AM Nov 7th: I did not know the boy
10:02AM Nov 7th: And I never got to know him
10:02AM Nov 7th: He was older stronger and high at the time
10:03AM Nov 7th: He probably will never admit I was a crime
10:03AM Nov 7th: His breath smelt sour like smoke and his kisses became rough
10:04AM Nov 7th: Then I tried to sit up and say ‘I’ve had enough’
10:04AM Nov 7th: My attempt of getting free were feeble
10:05AM Nov 7th: I decided to scream ‘please stop’
10:05AM Nov 7th: but he just took a pillow to my face and put me in the dark
10:06AM Nov 7th: First to go were my shoes. I feel my feet go cold
10:06AM Nov 7th: Next my pants, he was so bold.
10:07AM Nov 7th: It hurt so much as he entered me
10:07AM Nov 7th: Guys I’m telling you my first time was taken from me
10:08AM Nov 7th: He noticed and said ‘are you a virgin?’
10:08AM Nov 7th: I nodded through tears as he kept barging in
10:09AM Nov 7th: He finished and was done with me
10:09AM Nov 7th: I lay on his bed lifeless
10:10AM Nov 7th: He let me stay there and sleep
10:10AM Nov 7th: Then he offered me some weed
10:10AM Nov 7th: I said ‘no thank you I don’t do that either’
10:11AM Nov 7th: He said ‘girl you’re no fun. See you later’
10:12AM Nov 7th: I started to get dressed and he came back in
10:12AM Nov 7th: He came close; i tried to get away from him
10:12AM Nov 7th: He told me ‘dont be scared’
10:13AM Nov 7th: and like an idiot I believed him
10:13AM Nov 7th: He asked if I liked it
10:14AM Nov 7th: I shrugged my shoulders
10:14AM Nov 7th: He leaned in for a kiss, and I let him
10:15AM Nov 7th: He laid me down and rubbed my back
10:15AM Nov 7th: I cried in his pillow. He cried back
10:15AM Nov 7th: He said he was sorry
10:16AM Nov 7th: I said ‘it’s okay’
10:16AM Nov 7th: we laid there together just bathing in our fears
10:17AM Nov 7th: I don’t know why. But I saw the human in him.
10:17AM Nov 7th: He was probably just as broken as me
10:18AM Nov 7th: He drove me to my park
10:18AM Nov 7th: I got on the swirly slide. I just laid there and cried
10:19AM Nov 7th: I finally walked home
10:19AM Nov 7th: My father opened the door
10:19AM Nov 7th: Asked me ‘how was it’
10:20AM Nov 7th: I said ‘i’ll never forget it…’
10:20AM Nov 7th: as he pressed for questions. I grew impatient
10:20AM Nov 7th: Said ‘dad in so tired can I just go to bed’
10:21AM Nov 7th: he dismissed me and I trudged up the stairs.
10:21AM Nov 7th: My legs hurt. And my heart was filled with despair
10:21AM Nov 7th: I went to the bathroom and locked the door
10:22AM Nov 7th: I took apart a razor I had just gotten from the store
10:22AM Nov 7th: I did what I had to do to forget.
10:23AM Nov 7th: It seems it’s been my only way since sixth grade
10:24AM Nov 7th: When the kids called me fat even though I was a double zero
10:24AM Nov 7th: And I began to watch my weight like it was a MTV show.
10:25AM Nov 7th: I cried as I remembered how I’d starve for days
10:25AM Nov 7th: And my parents never noticed
10:26AM Nov 7th: So I laid there and watched the blood gather on the floor
10:26AM Nov 7th: Then my weak hands reached for the door
10:27AM Nov 7th: I ran into my little sister she saw and shook her head.
10:27AM Nov 7th: Then she looked at me and said. ‘Just don’t let them see sissy.’
10:27AM Nov 7th: she kissed my head and walked away
10:28AM Nov 7th: I swear after that night I was never the same
10:28AM Nov 7th: My dad became to want ‘favors’ from me too
10:29AM Nov 7th: He would use it to bribe me if I wanted to hang out after school
10:30AM Nov 7th: I didn’t know that I should have told somebody what he was doing to me
10:30AM Nov 7th: Sex just became second nature to me
10:31AM Nov 7th: My father let me as long as he got details sometimes I’d even have to let him see
10:32AM Nov 7th: I was just a young girl. Who quickly became afraid of men.
10:32AM Nov 7th: Then years past and it never stopped.
10:32AM Nov 7th: Finally on day I began to pop
10:33AM Nov 7th: I sent a boy away
10:33AM Nov 7th: And told my father enough was enough
10:33AM Nov 7th: He cried and said ‘I’m just so weak’
10:34AM Nov 7th: I looked at him and saw the brokenness too
10:34AM Nov 7th: I took pity on him and became the fool
10:35AM Nov 7th: Things never changed they just got worse
10:35AM Nov 7th: Till one day I met a boy who in the end hurt my heart worst
10:36AM Nov 7th: We met in my typical situation
10:36AM Nov 7th: We were both undressed within a matter of seconds.
10:37AM Nov 7th: But I could tell he was different.
10:37AM Nov 7th: I pledged myself by not hooking up with complete strangers.
10:38AM Nov 7th: But for him I was eager
10:38AM Nov 7th: But there was something different about this guy
10:39AM Nov 7th: He returned the favor and actually said goodbye
10:40AM Nov 7th: On the bus ride home we sat next to each other. Talked for hours on end
10:40PM Nov 7th: We held each other’s hands and told each other our favorite bands
10:41PM Nov 7th: He looked me dead in the eyes and asked if I would please consider seeing him again
10:42PM Nov 7th: I went home filled with smiles and cheer
1:01PM Nov 7th: Annyways. The guy eventually asked me to be his girl
1:02PM Nov 7th: And things were great for a while
1:04PM Nov 7th: But my dad got in the way. And ruined everything. One day I just couldn’t do it. So I told my boyfriend my secret
1:06PM Nov 7th: What happened next was a blur. I told him not to tell. We tried to act normal. We had been dating for over a month when I took his virginity
1:07PM Nov 7th: I fell in love for the first time. But my secret was too much for him. He needed time to think. I thought I was going to lose him.
1:09PM Nov 7th: A lot happened. But all that matters is that my secret was about to become puplic. Him & my friends made me tell
1:10PM Nov 7th: All my efforts to keep a normal life were crumbling right before my eyes.
1:11PM Nov 7th: I remember telling my closest teacher and CPS and the police and dectectives. I remember having to tell them everything about my dad
1:35PM Nov 7th: It was my boyfriend who told my mom. And she came to get me.
1:37PM Nov 7th: Weeks passed then I got the call. They said. ‘Sorry but there isn’t enough evidence’ I hung up.
1:38PM Nov 7th: That’s when I changed. I didn’t care anymore. And the people I was meeting gave me no reason to.
1:39PM Nov 7th: The guys I’ve been with, ha none of them care. They just look at me like I’m just some other hoe.
1:40PM Nov 7th: To that I say. I guess I am. I don’t know how else to be. It’s not my fault. Somebody else chose that for me.
1:47PM Nov 7th: Well that’s. The story of how I came to be who I am. Well the condensed version. I’d love to hear what you have to say. But I won’t be around
2:08PM Nov 7th: Take two. Hope I get this right