After I was raped the first time, things changed. I changed.
My drinking spiralled out of control, I was lying to my parents and getting in trouble at school. At age 17, in the middle of my Senior year, I moved out – renting a single wide trailer for $50/month. I felt alone in every way, and knew I had to take care of myself. I was working as a waitress and biding my time until I could go away to college where I would escape it all. I’d have a chance to reinvent myself and go back to being a good girl.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that – I did go to college but found that environment only magnified the problems I was having. People often used the words “hot mess” to describe me and I thought it was a compliment. I got a boyfriend who treated me terribly, I incurred tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt trying to fill the hole in my heart, and did a number of other things I try to forget – continuing down a self destructive path.
And I was raped two more times.
The second time I was raped I was 19, and the circumstances were disturbingly similar to the event three years earlier. I’d been drinking at a fraternity party during homecoming week (their parties tend to last all day and into the night – as if that matters). I asked one of the brothers if I could borrow his room for a quick nap, he was someone I trusted. I asked him not to tell anyone where I was going, he said he wouldn’t. I remember going into the room and instead of crawling into the bed, I took his blanket and hid in the closet, sleeping on the floor, covered head to toe. I knew what I was hiding from, why didn’t I just leave? One of the other fraternity brothers came in while I slept and raped me. I remember the whole thing, his red plaid shirt, the smell of Black Velvet on his breath, the lumpy grey blanket tangled at my feet. He talked to me while he did it. While I fought and pushed him away, trying to get out from under him, he told me that my boyfriend gave him permission. He was laughing at me. It was over very fast. I didn’t cry this time. I cursed and yelled at him to get out. I ran to my boyfriend for safety and comfort but learned that it wasn’t a lie, my boyfriend had given ‘permission’ to his fraternity brother.
Back then, I was afraid to tell anyone for fear of losing all my friends. Of being ostracized and called ‘Pig’ by the fraternity brothers like I’d heard them chant at other girls.
Now, I’m afraid to tell anyone because I’m ashamed of the pattern. I’m afraid people will judge me for drinking now, as if I should have learned my lesson.
In my third year of University I decided to get my life together. And by ‘get my life together’ I meant get out of there as fast as I could. Despite all the self destructive behaviour, I was doing great in school and holding down three part time jobs. I even had enough credits to graduate a semester early and start my new life. A clean slate. I had a great job lined up, I was getting healthier, and I was starting to feel hopeful.
Three weeks before graduation, I was raped again.
It was another member of the same fraternity as my ex-boyfriend and rapist #2. We were friends, he continued to be nice to me even after my ex and I broke up, which was slightly against their ‘code’ but I appreciated it because I didn’t have many friends left at that point.
A group had gathered at our favourite bar for a low key night. I was on my second beer when I started feeling dizzy and sick. I grabbed his arm and said I wasn’t well, and I asked him to take me home. By the time we got to my place he had to carry me from the car. I had been drugged, and I had invited my rapist into my home. I remember him being very gentle as he helped me into my bed. I lie there, unable to move as he raped me. I remember very little, but enough to wish I didn’t.
This time, I was afraid to tell for the same reasons as before. But I was also not sure if it was really a rape because I couldn’t remember if I’d actually said ‘no.’ He was so nice to me throughout the whole thing, could I be sure it was rape? I did invite him to my house in front of five other people, maybe he was just mistaken about my intentions. But at the same time this time felt more like a rape than the other two times, because I wasn’t drunk when it happened. I hadn’t put myself in the situation.
I didn’t tell anyone because it seemed complicated to try and figure out whether to tell about this one, versus the two before it. And I was leaving in a few weeks anyway…I decided to let it go.
A decade later, I’m less afraid of talking about these two than the first one. I have no idea what became of either of the fraternity brothers, and I don’t care. I’ve lost touch with all of the so-called friends we had in common back then, the ones who knew and didn’t stop it, the boyfriend who gave permission for his friend to rape me…it’s a part of my life I’ve put past me.
But I’m sharing it in case it helps someone reading this.
When you’re ready, and want to share, I’m here. We’ll do this together.