Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster
March 29, 2016 11:00 AM EDT

Anyone who’s read the New York Times bestselling book Luckiest Girl Alive will remember the haunting chapter that reveals Ani FaNelli, the protagonist of the novel, was gang raped as a teen. In this week’s Lenny Letter, author Jessica Knoll writes that, while the book is a work of fiction, this particular aspect of it was inspired by one of her own experiences in high school.

“I know that before I was old enough to drive, I liked A Boy,” she writes in the powerful essay. “I know that I went to a party at which the ratio of guys to girls was not in my favor, where I drank, flirted with A Boy, was dazzled by A Boy, drank some more, and slipped away from the waking world. I know I came to on the floor of a bedroom, A Different Boy’s head between my legs. I remember A Different Boy from a flare of coherence earlier, trying to help me walk when my anesthetized legs failed me.”

She details waking up multiple times, each time to find a different boy taking advantage of her. She also says she awoke to find herself bleeding and in pain—but that, for a long time, she hesitated to label her experience as “rape.”

“I called it rape, once,” Knoll writes. “In a drunken confrontation with A Boy. The next day, terrified the herd might come after me even hungrier (trash slut had appeared on the inside of my locker just days before), I called A Boy and apologized. I apologized to my rapist for calling him a rapist. What a thing to live with.”

Read her entire essay over at Lenny Letter.

More Must-Read Stories From TIME

Contact us at

Read More From TIME
You May Also Like