I have grown up in a culture where rape is an epidemic. I have watched the lasting emotional effects of rape take over the women in my life that I love. I have seen strong women fall. They have yet to find peace.
Rape is not a topic that is new to me. I am confronted with it every day. Our culture does not have a proper understanding of what sexual assault is. We have been taught that rape involves violence. TV shows portray rape as a violent crime, and it certainly can be, but what about the people hurting because they have to spend every day convincing themselves that what happened to them was ok. I am here to tell you it is not ok what happened to you. It is not your fault. It is ok to feel hurt and used.
My rapist was a good friend. He helped me through my break up. I trusted him. I trusted him to never hurt me. It took me so long to see through his manipulation. He was a good man, I thought… but a good friend would not have put me through this. It was a Wednesday night. I screamed no. He asked if it was ok and I screamed no. I started hyperventilating and crying. He told me it was ok. He told me to be quiet. And then it happened. He was inside of me… I was drunk. Maybe the fact that I didn’t scream, maybe that makes it ok. Maybe because he didn’t physically hurt me, it was ok. But things are not ok.
Thursday, the day after my assault, I started drinking heavily. My behavior became irrational. I gave no thought to consequences. I stopped caring. I ended up in handcuffs trying to run away from a cop. I was becoming reckless.
While I was sober, I was my normal bubbly self. On Saturday, I went to dinner with a guy I was seeing and met his parents. It went well. Then that night I got drunk. I passed out in a parking lot of a bar.
Waking up Sunday morning with dried blood coating my left forearm was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. But then it started coming back to me. I tried to block it out. I hate admitting when things are wrong. I hate change. I hate when things aren’t perfect. I wrapped up the cuts on my arm and carried on. I lied about what had happened. I didn’t want people to think I was weak.
But the truth is I remember that Saturday night. I remember slapping the guy I was dating after he gave me a ride home from the bar. I remember stumbling over to my rapist’s apartment and him taking me to his friend’s house and laughing as I ran around kissing guys and drinking more. I remember my roommate hitting me and crying and calling me a slut. And I remember begging God to help me; to take my life so that I wouldn’t have to face the pain anymore.
I remember falling onto my roommate’s bathroom floor and slashing her razor across my wrist has hard as I could. I got in six good cuts before she ran in screaming and my guy friends began calling 911.
What hurts the most is that I put my best friend through that. She watched as I hurt myself. She saw me at my lowest point. She saw the pain I had been holding in. The following day I tried to act like everything was fine, but I knew my roommate was still upset. She didn’t understand. How could she? My rapist is her best friend.
I began abusing Adderall, trying to get through the week and my next test. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t eat. By the end of the week I literally could not muster up the energy to walk up the stairs to my apartment.
I try to hold in the tears. My breakdowns come out of nowhere. The other day I acknowledged I was sexually assaulted and I couldn’t breathe. I talked to my best friend back home who has gone through the same thing and she helped me calm down.
The rape victims in my life are blamed for what happened to them. They are slut shamed. They are harassed. They are broken. But they are strong for coming forward. I wasn’t even strong enough to accept what happened.
I was raped. I could not consent, and I did not consent. But I am strong. This does not define me. It was a wake up call. No more looking for acceptance in men who hurt me. No more making up excuses for them.
These individuals need to know that what they did was sexual assault. They are criminals. They have caused pain. What they did was wrong. I will take a stand. I will help start a movement. It is time for things to change.