Jess’ Story: Delayed Reaction and Unraveling

Jess’ Story: Delayed Reaction and Unraveling

I was on an overseas adventure with a male friend. We were jetlagged after 32hrs in transit and were just going for one drink before having an early night. One drink turned in to many drinks at a fun, relaxed, local, beachfront bar. I remember seeing him dancing playfully with a little girl who I assumed was a family member, and I remember thinking, “what a sweet man “. I remember making eyes at him from across the room, and receiving the same back. I remember feeling butterflies, thinking that this sweet man might be interested in me. I remember having way too many drinks, being allowed to pour my own from behind the bar, and handing out shots as though I owned the place. I remember laughing and having fun. I remember my friend and I being encouraged to follow this sweet man and his friends to the next bar, but first needing to follow them all home so they could change. I remember someone passing a joint around, and me passing it on to my friend whose eyes were barely open. I remember going for a walk with this sweet man and sitting with him. I remember kissing him and then feeling dizzy because I had shut my eyes. I remember his hands being all over me and then suddenly realising that I had let myself become alone with a strange man, in a foreign place. I remember trying to convince him to go back to the house where everyone else was just to realise, there was no one left there. I distinctly remember feeling unsafe, but not knowing how to get myself to safety. I remember going to the bathroom to try and compose myself, but then not knowing how to help myself. I remember him coming in and undressing me, showering me. I remember there was bedding everywhere, as though there were too many people planning to sleep there. I remember thinking about how many friends he had, and wondering when they might be back. I remember trying to open the door, just to find that it was locked – I likely would have been able to unlock it, but was too drunk to figure out how. I remember trying to play it cool and placate this strange man. I remember him being on top of me. I remember thinking “if I just try and enjoy it, I will be ok!” “if I just try and enjoy it, it will be finished quicker”. Then I remember waking up and leaving, out the window because the door was still locked.

I didn’t remember this until a year after it happened. One year, and I had been raped three more times, in almost identical situations; Where drinking and flirting had turned in to me being raped. It happened at New Years at a friend’s house, where a sweet, married man decided he “couldn’t help himself”. It happened in the middle of a cricket pitch while being escorted home by a sweet man who was a local at my favourite bar, it potentially also happened on another holiday overseas, after a night of celebrating my birthday – but I don’t remember enough to know for sure. It is so hard not knowing for sure. Harboring so much guilt and shame, for something I don’t know for sure.

The amount of shame and guilt I have felt. Feeling as though it is my fault for getting in that situation over and over and over again. For not doing more to stop it. For freezing. For feeling like I have cheated on my boyfriend, now husband – but can’t ever know for sure. I have felt like an idiot, like a coward. I have felt invisible – like it didn’t matter that it was me, it didn’t matter that I was there, my needs did not matter – I did not matter.

I know now that my freeze response is my body’s primal way of keeping me safe. There is nothing I could have done differently, and I should not have had to do anything differently. It is not my shame or guilt to feel, it is theirs – For taking advantage of a sweet girl who saw the best in them.

Author

WYR

WYR

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

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