Days before Stephanie Giorgi turned 27 years old, she was sexually assaulted by the service driver who was taking her home from her birthday celebration.
After a night of going out with friends, Giorgi was admittedly loaded on the car ride home — only remembering getting into the car and arriving at her house before starting to converse with the driver.
The next morning, Giorgi put together what happened and realized she had been sexually assaulted. But instead of discussing the matter with those around her, she chose to ignore and internalize the incident.
That is, until she couldn't anymore. Speaking to Cosmopolitan, she said:
"The people who would try to talk about it with me, I would dismiss it right away. I was afraid that, because of the way that society is, that they would think I had something to do with it."
On July 18, however, Giorgi noticed her hair was starting to fall out while she was taking a shower.
As more and more of her locks fell out, she could tell it wasn't normal — and she realized her body was processing the harrowing incident that she was trying to ignore. She explained:
"My body cried, for me. My body was telling me, ‘Hey, you're right to think that it wasn't OK. And if you're not going to think about it, we're going to give you something else to think about.' My body was talking to me."
After seeing a doctor, the 27-year-old learned her body was indeed reacting to the trauma of being sexually assaulted by someone she didn't know.
So on September 29, the survivor shaved her hair so she could properly fit into a wig, which she said felt "like a breath of fresh air," adding:
"I could breathe again ’cause I didn't have to see my hair fall out anymore."
Looking back at what happened, Giorgi wishes she had stood her ground from the beginning and hadn't blamed herself for what happened, explaining:
"If I could whisper in my ear the next morning, and speak to myself, I would tell myself to stand my ground and defend yourself. What happened was not OK. I wish I could just tell myself no, it's not OK, and go tell someone right now."
Watch Giorgi's full interview (below) to hear her heartbreaking story and powerful lesson she learned from it.