Warning—this story contains descriptions of sexual violence. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The writer of today’s Debrief is a 28-year-old woman from a Boston suburb who wishes to remain anonymous. She wrote this piece when she was 26, with more explicit details of the violence and her experiences, which I have posted here on my personal blog.
I thought after my first experience that it would be over. That I would be smart enough to not put myself in those situations again. I would no longer be naïve; I would no longer be desperate. I would no longer be that girl. Yet, as I have grown older, as I became less desperate and less naïve, it still happened.
I was 20 the first time. It was Halloween and I dressed up as Loki from “Dogma” with one of my best friends as Bartleby. It was actually a pretty good costume. We went to a party hosted by friends of friends, and I met him. He had longer hair than I would have preferred, but he wasn’t unattractive, and I liked the attention at the moment. We talked, I invited him to the “Rocky Horror Show” event that I managed at college, and things kind of moved forward after that. I cannot actually remember if we ever went on any dates, but at one point I went over to his apartment for dinner and a double date with his roommate.
As the night drew to a close, we went into his bedroom. Clothes came off, things started to happen. Then the question came. “Are you ready? Do you want to do it?” My body was telling me yes; my heart and head were screaming, “Is this the man I want to lose it to?” I said yes. He went into the bathroom to get a condom and while he was gone, I realized that I wasn’t ready. That he wasn’t the one I wanted to lose it to and basically what the heck was I doing there. When he came back I told him that I was sorry and I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t ready and you could tell—at least I thought you could—that I was freaking out a bit. He told me it was OK, and we started making out again.
As we were making out, he started trying to have sex with me. I remember trying to push him away and of course not succeeding. This man had way more power than I did. I didn’t scream, I didn’t push him off me, I didn’t say anything. I didn’t even sink my teeth in somewhere to get him off me. Instead my mind left my body. I was in pain and crying, and all I could think of were shining rainbows and bunnies. I kept thinking to myself, “Find your happy place.”
He got off me and went to the bathroom. I just lay there. My eyes had no more life. I felt like my spirit was gone. It was as if not just my body was raped, not just me as a person, but also my soul. He came back to tell me the condom had broken and that he would pray for me. All I could think was, “Jewish people don’t say that, and I’m Jewish.”
For six weeks after that, I stuck with it. Having him force me to have sex every night he came over, finding ways to push him physically off me even though he was stronger than me. Trying to deny and deny what was happening to me. I finally realized: “Who am I? This isn’t me. I am not that girl who gets sexually abused.” Soon the flashes of reality came back to me, the helplessness, my fear, it just kept hitting me. I kicked him out. Told him to get out of my life.
I felt like I learned my lesson, and I would never let that happen again. I would be stronger, no more fear. I would stand up for myself.
Well, that turned out to be true bull. Things kept happening. Men forcing sex on me. I would repeatedly say no, no, I don’t want it…and then my favorite line: “Oh, honey, you know you’ll like it. How do you know unless you try it?”
When I explained my rape to someone, they said, “Oh, so it was a benign rape.” Why was it benign? Because my clothes weren’t ripped off? Because I didn’t kick and scream at the top of my lungs? Because I didn’t tear my nails in his skin while running to the cops?
No, I didn’t report my rape or my abuse. No, I haven’t reported anything I have gone through with these men.
There is nothing about my rape that is benign. Benign rape is just as bad as “bad” rape, if that is even a term.
Questions run rampant: Can I ever find a relationship that is normal? A relationship that is healthy? A man who won’t force anything? Someone who will respect me? Give me the love that I deserve?
I don’t know the answers. But I am tired of these situations. I am tired of constantly feeling like maybe it will be all right in the end. It’s not alright. None of this is OK.
The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center provides free and confidential services to victims of sexual assault, survivors of sexual assault, and their friends and family. The hotline is a 24-hour service provided to help anyone affected by sexual assault: (800) 841-8371.