The first time I was raped I was 16 years old. The night exists for me in a series of flash-bulb images that I can neither piece together nor erase from my memory, despite years of trying. I’m still not sure if it was my fault, even though I know it wasn’t.
I don’t think about it very often anymore, but every few years I revisit the spiral of shame, and guilt.
My last clear memory was stumbling away from the crowd, looking for a place to sleep. I was drunk… really drunk. I was being a typical teenager: acting out, rebelling – trying to distance myself from a goody-two-shoes image. Before that night, I had only been to a couple of parties, most of my wild stories were embellishments. My parents were known for being strict, so I didn’t get invited out very often. I wanted desperately to be part of the cool, older crowd who drank and smoked cigarettes. I was thrilled to be at the party, drinking cans of Coors and tossing them in the back yard of the kid whose parents were out of town. I realized my ride had left without me, I was feeling sick and disoriented and needed to sleep until I could walk home. I found an empty bed, it was a child’s bedroom, I was going to lie down for just a few minutes.
I’m awake and it’s dark. He is inside me. I feel sick. Who is on top of me? “What are you doing?” He grunts. I try to push him away but my arms are weak. “I don’t want to.” I try to pull my underwear up, they’re around my knees. He pins my arm down. “Please.” “Shhh.” “I’m going to be sick.” “Shhh.” He’s getting angry. There’s a crack in the door and I can see wood paneling in the hallway. He finishes on the child’s bed, next to me. He wasn’t wearing a condom. He gets up and walks out. I want to run away, but I’m ashamed and I don’t want anyone to see me. I cry myself to sleep.
I’ve known my rapist since childhood. He was one of the cool kids at my school, a popular jock who was older than me. The next morning, his friend called me a slut and said “don’t worry, I won’t tell his girlfriend.” His girlfriend found out, and soon everyone had heard what a slut I was. Somehow I was more comfortable with being a slut than with being raped, so I accepted it.
And I never told anyone, until now.
I’m afraid to tell my parents. I’m afraid my step-father will read this, figure out who it was, and confront my rapist. I’m nervous about how he’ll feel when he realizes he inadvertently teased me about the events that happened after that night. I forgave him but I’m afraid he won’t forgive himself.
I’m afraid the people in my home town will call me a liar, and judge my parents. I live 3000 miles away now, but my family will have to deal with the backlash.
I’m afraid for my rapist’s wife and children.
But today I’m facing those fears, as much as I can handle at a time. Today, this blog is the beginning of an idea that may or not become big. It’s still anonymous, but that’s okay. It’s all I’m ready for, just yet.
When you’re ready, and want to share, I’m here. We’ll do this together.