Monday, July 20, 2015

The R Word

This post has taken me weeks to write. While most posts I can write in a matter of minutes, this one required me to wrestle with my own demons and is about a topic I could say so much about. The topic I'm referring to is rape. As a social science major, I've always been aware of the rape culture that exists in our society, however, I never truly understood what that meant until I was raped.

Last fall, I moved back to school early so I could get settled into my new apartment, where I would be living alone, and get settled into my new job. I was in a toxic relationship, and most of my friends from the previous year had either graduated and moved on, or had not yet moved back for the new school year. I was very lonely, especially since my then fiancé had a particular talent for making me feel alone in a crowd. One day, a guy came in to my work who looked, dressed, acted, and talked like he was gay. I waited on him and he was the funniest, most complimentary person I had met in a long time. He came in again a few days later because he, "had to see Miss Lana Del Rey's doppelgänger again!" The third time he came in, he asked me if he could have my number so we could have a lunch date sometime. Being foolish, naïve, and unsuspecting, I gave it to him. We went out to lunch a few times, and each time was very enjoyable; I thought I had a new friend! One night, I was upset with my fiancé and I was texting my new gay best friend about it, venting about how insensitive I thought he was. "You know what you need, darling?" he asked, "You need some girl time. I'll come over and we'll watch a movie or something and get your mind off that stupid boy. Just text me your address….”

I remember opening the door to him, "Hi, Gorgeous," he exclaimed as he waltzed right in like this was the hundredth time he had been over, setting a plastic bag down on the coffee table. "I brought some snacks and drinks with me; what should we watch?!" We turned on Netflix and he ended up convincing me I needed to start watching, "Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23," (I haven't been able to watch that show again since that night) and about 20 minutes into the first episode, I was feeling better about my situation. We were laughing, he was giving an obnoxiously hilarious commentary on the show, we were both snacking, I was sipping on a coke...and I'll never be able to define the moment I was drugged and my consciousness slipped. I remember him trying to kiss me and my attempts to shove him away, but not being able to move my arms; after that it's mostly a bunch of flashes. Occasionally, when I dream about that night, I'll remember something new. Those are the nights that I wake up shaking and wanting to cry, feeling like I'm about to lose my mind because I can't be certain if I'm truly remembering something that my subconscious is finally allowing me to see, or if it's something my mind just fabricated.

The next morning when I awoke, he was gone. I laid there on the floor offering a fervent prayer that my heart would simply stop beating. I couldn't cry, though I wanted to, all I could do was lay there feeling the numbness that overcame me so strongly it had its own level of pain attached to it. After an unknown length of time, I crawled on my hands and knees into the bathroom, turned the shower on, and sat in the tub with the water washing over me. Eventually I stood and scrubbed my skin with a ferocity that hurt before collapsing on the bottom of the tub once again. It was then I realized that no matter how long I stayed in the shower, the water would not be sufficient for me to feel clean.

With a trembling body, I turned off the water, dried off, donned some loose fitting clothes, and walked into the living room to survey the damage. The first thing I did was throw everything out. The snacks and drinks he brought went straight into a trash bag. I then vigorously cleaned the kitchen and living room and took the trash out because I couldn't stand to have one single remnant of him in my apartment. Then I sat down. To be completely honest, I don't remember what I thought, or what I did for the next few hours, all I remember was at some point going back into the bathroom and deciding that it "didn't happen," it was all just a bad dream, and I needed to get dressed up and go out and forget about everything and have fun. I text my fiancé and made plans for a date with him that night, and spent a copious amount of time trying to make myself look perfect, but what I couldn't change was the look in my eyes....

My fiancé didn't notice anything that night. I let him stay over later than normal, but eventually felt an overwhelming urge to be alone and kicked him out. I didn't sleep that night. My eyes refused to close. I got a lot of reading done that night, watched "How I Met Your Mother," and just tried to process that numb feeling I couldn't shake. The next morning I stopped and grabbed a Monster on my way to work. By the time I got off work and ate, I was ready for bed. I wasn't used to pulling all-nighters and was exhausted. I laid down in my bed and soon drifted off to sleep, only to wake up screaming minutes later. As soon as I began to drift off, it was like he was right there on top of me again. It literally felt like I could feel, smell, and hear him all over again. I sat there and cried, then got up and watched more Netflix. After a couple hours I began to doze off on the couch, and was again greeted with a flashback. This time I wasn't going to risk seeing that again.

That following week, I attempted to live life normally; I attended classes even though it was intensely difficult to focus in my sleep-deprived state, I went to work, and would go home and do anything I could to stay busy (I watched a lot of Netflix last fall). After awhile, when all I wanted was a good night's sleep, I did what I knew people with PTSD often do to cope: I turned to alcohol. I discovered that if I took enough shots, I would pass out into a dreamless sleep, and if I did dream, I didn't remember it the next morning.  Thus began the vicious cycle and habit I would wrestle with for the next several months. After awhile, my behavior became quite self-destructive, to the point that my friends and even my fiancé began to notice. I'm fairly certain most people chalked up the changes in my demeanor to the unhappiness in my relationship and my lack of readiness to be married. While that definitely played a role and inhibited my healing process, that alone would not have been enough to put me in the deep end like I was. 

Then one night, everything changed. After fervent prayers, I was finally able to summon the strength to call off my wedding and felt a peace that everything was finally going to be all right. Later on, I was sitting, talking to my new boyfriend, the rugby player. He had been a good friend to me during the previous months, often expressing concern for my wild child behavior, and offering to help in any way he could. That night he made a comment, reminding me of something stupid I had done a few months prior. I looked at him, and said, "Look, I need you to understand, this person I've been these last few months, this isn't me. I hate the person I'm becoming, I don't want to be this way, I'm just really struggling with something that happened...." I took a deep breath, and for the next hour, he held me while I sobbed and told him the story of that night. When I was finished, he kissed my forehead and told me he suspected something like that had happened based on a few comments I had made, but he had no clue that it was so recent; he promised me he would help me find help and would support me every step of the way. A few days later, he helped me get into counseling with an amazing counselor who made all the difference in the world. I stopped drinking completely, I started not only going back to church, but had a genuine desire to attend, I began to tell my close friends what had happened, and started to piece my life back together. 

Everyone wants to know why I never reported the monster that hurt me. While the answer isn’t terribly simple, it all boils down to two factors: I was in denial, and I was scared. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network), roughly 68% of sexual crimes go unreported and only 2 out of 100 rapists will ever serve time. Prior to being raped, I always assumed I would go after the person and make him pay, but I didn’t. From what I’ve come to know from my personal experience and from talking to other victims of rape, silence is not an uncommon thing in the aftermath of sexual abuse, and because of it, victims are often dismissed when they do come forward. Which brings me to the reasons I’m sharing my experience:

1)   To hopefully put my own demons to rest; it’s been awhile since this event took place and I would like to finally be completely at ease with my experience, and writing is often cathartic.

2)   I recently learned that a friend went through something very similar and around the same time, only she wasn’t so lucky; her friends and family were not nearly as supportive as mine, and she said she found comfort in hearing me talk about what happened to me, so she knew she wasn’t alone. My hope is that maybe some girls who have been raped might stumble upon my blog and realize they, too, are not alone, and what they’re experiencing is normal.

3)   I want to issue a plea to whoever reads this: if you know a girl who says she’s been raped, please do not doubt her like my friend’s family and friends did, especially if you can point to unusual behaviors that could be explained by a traumatic event like rape.

4)   Lastly, when I began to act out and push people away, a lot of people turned their backs on me or allowed me to walk away, not that I blame them. If you know someone who appears to become reckless and self destructive overnight, don’t be afraid to ask them if something happened, or to check up on them at odd times. There are three people who would either send me texts or show up on my doorstep at random times without whom, I’m not sure I would be here today…

I still struggle with what happened to me on almost a daily basis, but at the end of the day I SURVIVED. I survived because of the people God surrounded me with to hold me up when I was too weak to stand, even though they had no idea what had happened to me. For as long as I’m on this earth, I vow to be that person for anyone else who needs help, and a voice for those who are too scared to talk about what happened.


  1. Thank you for being a survior!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. You're not alone, and you're letting others know that, too. God bless!

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. You're not alone, and you're letting others know that, too. God bless!