I was 21 years old.
It was a critical time in my life because everything changed. I had to accept the fact that I was no longer a virgin. The blood coming from my period stained my thighs and soaked through my black tights. Tears fell down my face as I laid still on the sofa. I recount this moment when I hear people make jokes about rape. “That’s not funny,” I say when people laugh. I feel the need to be vocal and clear, “I was raped by a boyfriend.” I replay that scene in my head whenever I read news about victims and their rapists.
I’m crying out of frustration for the victim at Stanford. Two little girls in my hometown – five and seven years old – were raped, physically abused and stripped of their childhood last month. A college student was strangled to death after her attacker sexually assaulted her on the University of Texas at Austin campus. My perception of injustice changed and I want to fight the system to punish these harsh crimes.
Earlier this year I finally told my sisters about what happened to me five years ago. My voice was shaking and my heart beating fast. I casually hinted that I was sexually assaulted by my boyfriend at the time. I brushed it off when the conversation got heated. I’ve always felt better when I write so I wrote a poem and posted it to my Facebook page and got a shocking number of response. To my disbelief, some of my girl friends suffered from the same reason – they have been raped – and remained silent. They thanked me for writing what they had gone through and it empowered me to fight for us.
Flashback to that night when I was over at my ex-boyfriend’s house. My older sister and her boyfriend drove to his place because they were worried sick and my best friend told them my whereabouts. I didn’t pick up my phone because I was drunk. It was unintentional and probably the fifth time I had ever drank in my life. My relationship was going downhill and I chose to spend New Year’s with my boyfriend hoping we would make up. He lived right across from me and invited me last minute to the New Year’s party he hosted.
My sister arrived just moments after my boyfriend “finished” with me. There was loud banging at the door and I was laying still in the living room. As soon as I heard her voice (a friend of mine who lived at the house opened the door), I pulled my tights up as fast as I could because I didn’t want her to worry. I didn’t want her to see me this way. She was crying hysterically because I didn’t answer my phone and she had no idea what had just happened with me. I held my composure to save my face. I believed my boyfriend was somewhere in the house hiding and cleaning up. My sister and her boyfriend called my boyfriend a “scumbag” for being an asshole and ignoring me for an entire month.
After my sister’s boyfriend dropped me off at my townhouse, I called my boyfriend while leaning over the toilet but he didn’t comfort me. Instead, he just told me to sleep and hung up. I jumped in the shower and stood under hot running water until I was fully conscious. My body just didn’t feel the same anymore. I was trying to wash away the feeling of penetration. I was scared and felt used. Worthless. Disgusted. How could this filth be cleansed? I was on my period and he didn’t use protection. I scrubbed myself even harder down there. Everything was a bloody mess.
I try not to think about this critical time because I don’t want to remember. Maybe those around me couldn’t tell, but I was fucked up in the head for a while. But I went to see my boyfriend the next day anyway.
At the time I thought if I mentioned a single word about what happened to me, everyone was going to fucking judge me. They’re not going to think of me the same way anymore. They’re either going to feel sorry or think I deserved it. I thought it was a minor problem but the more I analyzed it, I blamed myself for the trouble. He didn’t attack me. But he thrusted inside me. I didn’t give him consent. I didn’t want it. We broke up a week later and I watched him walk away. But I kept reflecting my history with him. I couldn’t hold it in anymore and told my best friends. They said what happened to me was sexual assault. It was rape and he wasn’t aware of that.
My first thought was literally: Mom and Dad will disown and kill me if they found out that their daughter was no longer “pure.” They would not defend me and would blame me for putting myself in that situation. I didn’t even think about myself, all I could think about was how others would perceive me. Can you even believe it … I thought about the wellbeing of my rapist. I thought about the devastation my sisters would feel if they knew what had happened to me.
Anyone who knows me well know that I don’t play pretend, but I had to cover up. I was losing my spirit and authenticity. I repeated to myself that life goes on and will be OK. I will continue to create and make my surroundings beautiful again. I vowed to protect those close to me so this won’t happen to them – so I can be there for them if the worst happened. I lost the desire to care for a relationship and focused on my health. I grew into a strong and resilient individual. I looked for ways to be inspired and dropped my leadership roles to buy time. I never sought professional treatment or use of drugs. I knew I was better and capable of patching myself back up with great support from close friends and family. As long as I was laughing daily, I was healing.
I started dating again about two years after the incident. When I told my new boyfriend about what happened, he wanted to file a police report. But I didn’t want to. This caused a lot of issues between us and we argued nonstop. Because I didn’t want to destroy my ex-boyfriend’s future. I didn’t want to ruin his career or his current relationship. Because we shared the same friends and were in the same circle. Because what I went through wasn’t intense as other cases. What will the police do anyway? Will it matter to anyone? Will they trust me? I didn’t want to add to or be a number in college rape statistics. I didn’t have evidence. I was heavily intoxicated and semi-conscious when it happened.
I struggled for a long time and felt so much guilt. I wrote a shit ton on Tumblr, unleashing my anger and giving small hints about this person. My grades dropped significantly and I couldn’t recall anything I studied. Absent-minded and slow, for the most part. I teared up a lot during class and hyperventilated in public spaces. I had issues with being touched, even the slightest bit. Sometimes I couldn’t be without friends or else I felt suicidal. I didn’t believe I was raped, but reality is, I was. I cared about my boyfriend at the time and went to see him that New Year’s Eve. My best friend fixed my hair and wished me luck. I wore black tights and a new holiday dress that my sister got me a few days before as a Christmas gift. I can’t wear it anymore because it’s a reminder of that night.
I was a true idiot for getting back together with my ex-boyfriend but am thankful that we are no longer together. I think if dicks were castrated, I would live in peace knowing that attackers won’t sexually assault anyone again. It’s strange, because when I saw my ex-boyfriend at Greek events (fraternity and sorority functions) or ran into him in person, I faced him with confidence and without a damn in the world. Can you believe he showed up uninvited to my 25th birthday celebration and going away party? What a dick, right.
To my brave sisters and brothers – the victims who suffered rape, sexual assault and violation – I love you and stand with you. You are beautiful and I’m so sorry that someone fucked it all up for you. I am grateful for the people who support you and understand that rape culture is unacceptable. It takes a great deal of courage for victims to publicly share their story. And it’s awfully heartbreaking when a victim dies because of a rapist. Stay strong my friend – you are everything.
I am sharing my story because I am ready. I know there is someone out there who can relate to me, and the number of victims are far more than reported. I also want to let you know that I’ve always had a strong passion for combatting sex trafficking and after this incident, I developed a passion for educating and preventing sexual violence. Don’t give up on life, don’t let your rapist define you. xo
I am not ashamed of what happened to me. But I was ashamed and kept to myself. For two solid years, I felt guilt, stupidity, sadness, anger and frustration. Through it all, I focused on progress. I have forgiven, I have moved on. I am resilient. I am stronger.
January 1st, 2011