I’ve never tried to write about my sexual assault. There are so many accounts out there already, from women braver than I; women who fought to be heard despite living in a world that tries to silence them.
I’ve asked myself, “Why does the world need to hear the story of yet another rape victim?”
I’ve told myself, “People in your life don’t need to know this sort of thing, they’ve heard enough. You’ll hurt them.”
However, it has occurred to me: my story is necessary because it’s yet another story, like the millions that came before, about a rapist who will never pay for what he did. Another story about a rapist that probably does not believe he’s really a rapist. Another story about a girl who couldn’t turn to the systems designed to protect people for fear that she wouldn’t be believed, or that the system would turn against her. No, this story may not be unique. But that is exactly the problem.
The first time I was raped, it was someone I went to high school with, and I was seventeen. The second time, I was eighteen, and it was a university classmate. I was in denial and refused to call it rape, insisting that I’d just been wrong to put myself in situations alone with these boys and that they must have thought I wanted it somehow. And then I was raped again and again when I was nineteen and twenty, by figures of authority I’d thought I could trust. It was time for me to admit it was rape.
I spent a large amount of my adult life trying to come to terms with everything that’d happened to me (or as I saw, that I’d let happen to me). I spent most of my life blaming myself for always freezing, for never being physically or mentally strong enough to get away. For being a victim and allowing more people to victimize me.
By the time I was twenty-three, I’d recovered from the PTSD I had developed, and I’d started to move on from the blame. But then it happened again. Worse than before, because this time it was a friend that I loved; a friend that’d been there for me for years; a friend that knew about my previous assaults.
Because of these things, this has been the hardest by far to move on from. Over the past nine months, I’ve had long periods of time where I was fairly certain that I’d ‘gotten over it’. I’ve had periods where I’ve wished harm on myself and on my rapist. I’ve had periods where I denied what had happened and considered trying to re-establish our friendship.
So because of all of this, that is the story that I’m going to tell you today.
Last November, I spent the night with a close friend for his birthday. Whether he didn’t have anyone else to invite or if he just wanted to spend it with me, I don’t know, but the two of us hit the town. We drank, and we went to a karaoke bar, and we drank some more. This was not the first time we’d done this; this was a kinda regular thing for us. I was, by all accounts, drunk. And so was he. Not blackout drunk, but drunk enough that I couldn’t manage an hour long walk home. I couldn’t afford a cab home, or much of anything that month, and he’d insisted that the night had been out of his pocket so that he’d have a fun birthday that year.
So, I decided to stay at his place since there was plenty of space.I dozed off in his bed while watching Rick and Morty, assuming (based on all past experience) that he’d wake me to move to the couch, or move there himself. However, what I was jolted awake by was much less pleasant. I’ll not go into detail, but the long and short of it is that I froze, afraid to let him know he’d woken me for fear of what worse things he would do. And so he raped me, slid my clothes back up, and left a note on the bed next to me and snuck out to the couch.
The moment he was gone I began to sob. I couldn’t breathe. I was afraid to move in case he realized that I knew what he’d done. I had no way home since I couldn’t afford a cab and was still unable to walk a full hour. And so I stayed there, curled up, waiting for the morning busses to begin.
In the morning, I snuck out of the house and went home as quickly as possible. I immediately jumped into the shower, where I stayed for 45 mins, sobbing, retching, and trying not to think of how filthy and violated I felt. I curled up in the baggiest clothes I owned, not wanting to see my body. Not wanting to acknowledge its existence. My body was no longer my own; he’d taken it.
Later that day, I was taken to the hospital to report the rape, get shots, and file a police report. I was asked if I wanted to press charges. I thought about the justice system, and I thought about what had happened. I counted the factors: I had been drunk, he’d paid for our drinks, I had been close friends and had a history with my rapist, and I’d willingly slept at his house. I knew I didn’t have a chance, and so I filed the report anonymously, such that it would only be brought up should he ever be involved with the police in the future.
Would I have wanted to press charges? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. But do I think that they’d decide in my favour? No. The system is not in my favour nor any other victim’s. I know this from the million stories that came before mine. So, I decided not to open myself up to the kind of pain that would come from rehashing the details in court, and having both my testimony and my character torn to shreds by a defense attorney.
I moved on in the only way I could. I confronted my rapist via online message, advising him that I knew what he did and that I’d filed a police report, and then blocking and deleting him from every piece of social media that I could.
After that, I spent days agonizing over how to tell his girlfriend, a mutual friend, who I felt had a right to know. With help from friends, I was able to tell her. She took it surprisingly well, better than I expected (and in hindsight, perhaps too well). She insisted that he must have been too drunk, that he said he didn’t remember, and that he wasn’t coherent. She ignored the fact that he was coherent enough to clean me up and leave me a note. She wasn’t sure what to do; she loved him and she cared about me, and she had to make a decision.
In the end, she decided to stay with him. And she also decided to remain friends with me. In all fairness, I could have severed the friendship myself, but I am not one to burn bridges, and I did care for her. I thought I’d be able to handle it. I thought, “I’ll just never really think about it.”
However, that became increasingly hard to do, because, over the span of a few months, she began talking about him as if nothing had really happened. She’d tell me the mundane bits of life and what he was up to.* And at first, I thought that I could be okay with that. But now, I’m not so sure. I don’t like remembering that he hasn’t paid for what he did. I don’t like the reminder that he’s still just happily living his life, being a success, when what he did to me has deeply damaged me; has severely impacted my mental health, and made it so that I can’t trust a large majority of men that I would not previously have categorized as untrustworthy.
*I’d like to note that I absolutely adore her and value her friendship, and don’t want to sound in any way that I want that to end.
And so that’s why, on a not-so-special day like today, I finally decided to write about this. On a day where I was reminded about the number of rapists out there who will not pay for what they did, I decided to add my story to the growing archive of stories just like mine. Today I will acknowledge that I will likely never get any closure with this rapist. That this rapist will likely never acknowledge that he is, in fact, a rapist. That he will move on with his life and have his relationships unhindered by what he’s done and is capable of.
So I guess I have to move on too. Eventually, I’m sure that’ll happen. Though I’m sure for me, the pain will never really go away, not entirely.
But I’m not going to let it ruin my life. He will not have that power over me.
My life is mine, and he can’t touch me anymore.