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Jun 15

Erica’s Story: I still can’t say the word “rape”

Hi, my name is Erica. On November 4th, 2008, the day the results of the presidential election were announced, I was sexually assaulted. It was a Tuesday night. Myself and a couple of friends were at “The Irish Times,” across from Union Station, having drinks while waiting to find out the results of the recent election. I was 19. Obviously Obama was the victor of this election. Everyone at the bar (including myself) was in good spirits upon hearing the news.

Eventually, my friend (K) and I ended up going back to my ex-boyfriend’s house to celebrate. After we arrived, we had a few drinks with my ex (R) and his friend P. At the time, I was a sophomore at Catholic University (in NE, DC), and I knew R from college. R was also a bartender at a local bar and P was an occasional DJ at the bar. P was much older (mid 40’s) and he was also the bar’s resident dealer of cocaine. Incidentally, P happened to be a retired policeman, and he made it very clear that even if he were to be ‘caught’ dealing drugs, he would never be convicted because of his affiliation with the fraternal order of police. He emphasized this frequently, including one specific incidence where he was extremely intoxicated and I asked him if he was ‘ok’ to drive home. Upon asking him this (in concern) he replied that he ‘was an ex-cop’ and that ‘no cop would ever say shit about it’ if he were to be pulled over. After that, R had cautioned me not to ask P something like that again because it would make him angry.

Anyway. On the night of the election, K and I went back to R’s house with P & R. Once we got there we did a couple lines of coke, and had some more drinks. After a while, I told them (P & R) that I didn’t want to drink any more because I knew my limit and I didn’t want to get sick. At this time, K had already gone to bed in the guest room upstairs. When I told P and R that I didn’t want to drink any more, they joked around that I was ‘a pussy’ and that they expected more from me. Regrettably, I gave in and I took another shot. Soon after, I started to feel extremely sleepy, so I went to the living room to lay down on the couch. P and R were still in the kitchen talking, and at that point I guess I fell asleep.

A while later, I remember waking up slightly and hearing P talking to R as R walked upstairs. He was telling R that I was “totally passed out” and wanted to know if R wanted him to carry me up to his room. R said no and told P to let me sleep, and then continued climbing the stairs to his bedroom. At that point, I must’ve fallen back asleep because the the next thing I remember is waking up to someone pulling down my underwear. Then I realized P was getting on top of me. It happened so fast and I was so groggy that I just froze. I didn’t scream or push him away. Then he was inside of me. It hurt incredibly. I had only had sex 3 times in my life, and those 3 times were with the same person (R). I was so scared I didn’t know what to do. I just remember feeling like he was crushing me because I could hardly breathe. Apparently, P still thought that I was asleep, and for some reason, my initial reaction was to go on pretending that I was asleep. In retrospect, I don’t know why I did that. It was stupid of me not to yell or push him off. I guess I just kept thinking that if he knew I had woken up, he would get angry or worried that I’d scream, and then he would hit me or something. I don’t know why I was so scared of being hit by him, considering what he did to me was a million times worse… I don’t know why I reacted the way I did.

At any rate, I pretended to be asleep throughout the entire time he was raping me. I don’t know if he thought i was sleeping or if he knew i was awake and just didn’t care because even though I didn’t try to move, he kept grabbing and squeezing parts of my body. He also kept whispering things to me about how bad I needed this and how he’d show me what it was like to be with a black man. He said other things too but I tried not to listen. I was so embarrassed. I just laid there and kept my eyes shut tight while trying not to cry. After what felt like an eternity, he came inside of me. I didn’t even care at that point, i just remember being relieved that he was finally going to get off of me. Once he did, he went to the kitchen to make himself a plate of nachos – as if nothing had even happened!! After he finished eating, he walked to the door and he left. He didn’t even bother to pull up my underwear and sweatpants.

After he left, I waited for about 15 minutes just to make sure he was really gone. Once I was sure, I ran upstairs to the guest room and woke up K. I told her that we had to leave right away and that I’d explain later.

By the time we got back to my dorm, it was almost 6am. My roommate had just gotten out of the shower and immediately asked me what was wrong. I sort of waved her off but I was crying and she kept asking, so I briefly explained and said we could talk about it after I had slept. Then she asked me if I was going to class that day and I told her no.

I told K she could go home and that I would be fine, but she insisted she was staying. She slept on the floor until late afternoon, but then had to go home and have dinner with her parents (she lives in Columbia, MD). She said she was sorry and that she would call me as soon as she could.

I turned off my phone and stayed in bed the entire day trying to sleep but having little success. I just remember being so tired that I couldn’t even make myself shower. I felt like scum and all I could think was how I couldn’t tell anyone else because I hadn’t even fought back.

That night I eventually turned on my cell and checked my texts. One was from R asking why we had left so early, and the other was from my friend E. E was a couple years older than me and she went to American University. We had met while waitressing at the same restaurant the previous summer.

Anyhow, E was like a big sister to me, so when I got a text from her asking how I was, I just broke down. I called her, hysterical, and tried to explain. She asked me if I had showered and then she told me to stay where I was because she was coming to pick me up.

E told me that I needed to go to the ER and get an exam. Being a broke college student, I told her I couldn’t afford to go to the emergency room and she told me that they wouldn’t charge me for a rape kit. I didn’t believe her, but she said she was sure of it and not to worry.

The closest hospital to Catholic University is Washington Hospital center, and after checking in at the ER, a nurse came to talk to me. She was amazingly sweet and I will never forget how she treated me.

The rape kit was excruciating, but I declined half of it because I wasn’t going to press charges (which i sorta regret, but I also wouldn’t have won in a trial). The nurses there felt like sisters. They wanted me to press charges but I told them that, with P being an ex-cop, I was more than uncomfortable. They didn’t pressure me. They were the kindest people I have ever met, and that experience is part of the reason I wanted to go into nursing.

After all of that, I went back to school and pretended everything was fine for a while. I had been bulimic for a few years and was pretty high functioning, but what happened really just sent me into a spiral. I started skipping class just so that I could binge and purge upwards of 10x a day and I really didn’t care. I would still go out – to the same bar that P was a DJ – and drink there. It was the only place I could drink underage. I only told a few people, including a friend of mine, M, who had also been sexually assaulted by someone else. She also went to the same bar and had a few college friends there.

One night, I was at the bar drinking with R (the bartender) and P approached me. He said “I heard that M is telling people that I raped a girl from CUA. Do you know anything about that?” I fucking froze, as usual, and said “no I’ve never heard that.” WHY DID I SAY THAT? Why didn’t I step up and confront him? I really don’t know. We were in a public place. He couldn’t have hurt me there. I really don’t know.

After that, I stopped going to class and essentially flunked out of school. My bulimia was raging and I couldn’t keep my shit together at all. My eating disorder treatment team told me that I had to go to inpatient treatment again. I rebelled, but they told my parents and I pretty much had no choice. I was in treatment for about 9 months dealing with a lot of trauma from my past. It was probably for the best.

A few years later, I had finally gotten myself together and stable. I was living in DC, nannying, and trying to go back to school. One day, I got a call from a debt collector who said that I owed $300 to Washington Hospital Center. When I asked them what I owed money for, the woman told me that it was from the exam I had the day after I was raped. I BROKE down. I thought I had finally started to heal, but this ripped me right open again. I cried so hard, and the poor debt collector felt awful but she couldn’t do anything about it. I ended up paying her the $300 (I guess the bill had been sent to my dorm after I dropped out), but it was such a slap in the face. I don’t wish it upon anyone.

Anyway, that’s my story. I’m still a work in progress, but I’ve truly never been the same. It’s impossible to get close to anyone and even more impossible to have sex. I’ve never had sex sober. I’m 28. It’s pathetic. I’m trying hard, though, and I have hope for the future.

About the author

WYR

When You're Ready.org is a community for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories.

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