It was the perfect opportunity. I had close friends living in Hawaii and they invited me to stay with them on vacation. I was in graduate school and completely overwhelmed with courses, so a break near the beach was exactly what I needed.

Todd and Stefanie were friends I had met a few years earlier when I was living in the Caribbean Islands after college. We had worked together and had a very close bond. I considered them family.

We trusted each other completely It was so wonderful seeing them again and being able to spend quality time together. During the days, while they worked, I entertained myself by going to the beach, hiking and snorkeling. I felt very much at home and at ease at their place. They gave me a key so I could come and go as I pleased. We trusted each other completely.

Then one night Stefanie was out, and I was alone with Todd and his neighbor (and friend) who was always at their apartment. They were watching TV and before going to sleep, Todd offered me a glass of water. I drank the water, and then I excused myself and went to bed.

Not long after I retired to my room, I remember seeing Todd and his friend at my door. I bolted up in bed and I firmly shouted, "Get Out!" in an angry tone while pointing to the door. Then I blacked-out.

The next morning I felt very sore. I didn't know what to think. I was trying to figure out what happened—how could that be? It didn't make any sense. I didn't remember anything. Would it be possible to feel sore if nothing happened? I could not believe it! I did not want to believe it! Could it be that the unthinkable happened? Could it be that the unimaginable happened? I was drugged and raped by people I knew and trusted.

There must have been something in my water! I didn't think they would be capable of doing such a thing—not to me! I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to react. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know who to tell. I felt so alone and so confused. I could not even bring myself to talk about it or ask any questions. How could I accuse a friend of raping me? Was he involved, or just an accomplice? I didn't remember anything. I had no real evidence. I wasn't sure of anything anymore. I doubted myself. I doubted my feelings. And I lost my ability to trust men. I was violated, in the worst possible way, by someone I had been close to. How could he do it? I had so many unanswered questions.

I wasn't sure of anything anymore Over the next couple days before I left Hawaii, I debated back and forth in my head whether to talk to Todd about it. I felt so uncomfortable. I couldn't bring myself to bring it up. I tried to notice if he treated me any differently. Maybe he would make less eye contact because he felt remorse, guilty, ashamed? But it was impossible to tell and I didn't know if I was reading into things or not.

I left Hawaii and never said a word. It didn't even occur to me to report it to the police at the time. It didn't even occur to me what they did to me was a capital offense.

Eventually Stefanie and Todd broke up and we all lost contact, and I suppressed this horrible, unthinkable unimaginable thing that happened to me. I never told anyone. I didn't think it would do any good.

Now, over nine years later, I read about a woman who was drugged and raped by a stranger. This brought back my personal trauma that I had never dealt with. I knew it was time for me to heal from this wound—this terrible act of violence that was committed against me.

Reevaluating my life, I fear it could be a factor into why I am still single. Somewhere I know I believe that men are hurtful, selfish, and untrustworthy. And so subconsciously I have been attracting these kinds of men into my life to support what I already thought was true.

I now realize that it is time for me to break that cycle of manifesting my fears. In order for me to achieve what I really want, which is to find my soul-mate and life-partner (in every sense of the word) I need to address what happened, learn what lessons are to be learned, and move forward in a constructive (not destructive) way. If I ultimately desire to be married and have a loving family with a devoted man who I trust and who treats me with respect and is considerate of my feelings, needs, wants, emotions, opinions, and thoughts then I need to shift my way of looking at things.

What I have learned about myself is that ever since I was a child, I have always put other people's needs before my own. Many women do this with members of their family. I assume it is a partly taught, partly inherited phenomenon. It seems like a nice thing to do—to be selfless, but it's not the right thing to do if it comes at the cost of violating your own wholeness and integrity. As Hillel said, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? and if not now, when?" Even when we fly in an airplane, we are reminded to first put our own air mask on before helping children to put theirs on. We need to help ourselves before we can help others.

I was conditioned to help others first So, you see, I even guarded my friend who raped me from the pain of what he did to me. It was pathological of me. But now I understand why. I was conditioned to help others first and I was just acting out what I was taught.

In the Kabbalistic tree of life we have two polar opposites: chesed (loving-kindness) and gevurah (boundaries/strictness/judgment). In the past, I gave too much chesed to others and now I am learning that I need to also turn that chesed in towards myself. I am learning to exercise more gevurah (boundaries) so that when people treat me with disrespect I feel empowered to say: This is not okay! I empower myself to say: I will not tolerate abusive behavior. I can stand up for myself now and not worry about hurting my abuser's feelings. Why should I put their feelings before my wellbeing? Never again!

Many people have had similar experiences. They may be shy or embarrassed to talk about it, but it happens more often than we wish to think or to admit to ourselves. It happens to single women, married women (by their husbands). It happens to men. It happens to children. It happens in families, and with strangers, and with teachers, and colleagues, and coworkers. It happened in the bible to Dina the daughter of Jacob. It happened to Tamar, the daughter of King David, by her half-brother. It happens way too much.

As I put together the pieces of the puzzle of my life, I hope that I can help someone else to do the same. I wrote this article in order to support women and men who are affected by rape to get help in healing themselves so that they can move forward in a productive and constructive way in their lives. Rape is a devastating thing. Some people are scarred for life by it. Please don't let someone you love be forever negatively impacted by something that happened to him or her against his or her will.

Prevention is the key to eliminating this ugly disease from our society. Parents, please raise your children to know that it is not okay to violate another. Please teach your children that violence and abuse is never acceptable. Please educate your children to love and respect others so that they will be incapable of ever raping anyone. The whole Torah, on one foot, is—Hillel said: "What is hateful to you, do not do to another." If we could really internalize this concept, of treating others how we want to be treated, then we would never hurt one another. Please help to eradicate the plague of rape from our earth once and for all. May it be G‑d's will that all His creations treat each other only with love and respect.

Editor's Note:Below are some of the many organizations working to prevent abuse and help survivors of abuse to heal. This list was orginally compiled by Miriam Karp for a related article on abuse:

Jsafe: The Jewish Institute Supporting An Abuse Free Environment is an organization led by Rabbi Mark Dratch, which provides a certification program for communal institutions, publications and educational initiatives. Jsafe.org

Ohel Children's Home and Family Services of Brooklyn, NY, has therapy and treatment programs for both victims and perpetrators, sensitive to Jewish needs. (800)603-OHEL

The Awareness Center is a coalition of Jewish mental health practitioners dedicated to building awareness in the Jewish community. They also offer an extensive online collection of articles on issues affecting survivors of sexual abuse. Awarenesscenter.org

The SOVRI Helpline is an anonymous and confidential helpline staffed by trained volunteers who provide help, information, support, and referrals to survivors of sexual abuse. They don't have caller ID. Volunteers are trained to understand the dynamics of sexual abuse. They also have training in listening and counseling skills, emergency department protocol, legal protocol, post-traumatic stress disorder, domestic abuse, childhood sexual abuse and incest, and recommending appropriate resources. All volunteers are supervised by licensed social workers with extensive experience in dealing with these issues. SOVRI Helpline is under the auspices of Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan.

The helpline is open Monday-Thursday 9:30am-5:30pm and Friday 9:30am-1:30pm. The phone number is (212)844-1495.

Shalom Task Force Hotline provides information on rabbinic, legal and counseling services for victims of abuse in the Jewish community. (888)883-2323.

Faith Trust Institute is a clearinghouse for information on domestic violence and clergy abuse in the Jewish community. Faithtrustinstitute.org.

Association of Jewish Family and Children Services (AJFCA). (800)634-7346. ajfca@ajfca.org

National Center for Victims of Crime (800)FYI-CALL.

National Hotline for Victims of Sexual Assault (800)656-HOPE.

National Organization for Victim Assistance (800)TRY-NOVA.

Find Jewish resources by state at jewishwomen.org/directory/state_res.htm

Sources for internet and general safety include kidsafe.com

Much additional information is readily available online, through family service agencies, and in the library.