Once Was Already Too Many Times
TW: Description of sexual assault and rape included I, like many others, don’t talk about it much. I’ve always been one to deal with bad things on my own. I don’t enjoy burdening other people with the knowledge of my problems. Even just thinking about it puts a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat. Every muscle in my body feels week as I begin to think about how I should tell this story. I will preface this by saying that I was raised Christian. I have always had Christian beliefs and values deep in my heart. I believe that sex – at least in my romantic relationship(s) – should be saved for marriage. I should also preface this by saying that I’ve never been comfortable in my own skin. I never thought of myself as someone who could find a “good” guy or even just a guy that didn’t do bad things because of my lack of confidence. Anyway this is all besides the point. My point is that my self esteem, for much of my life, was so low that I cared little for myself or the things that might happen to me. That is why I decided to start dating my attacker. It was my sophomore year of high school and at that point, no guy had ever really shown any interest in me (save for a one month middle school fling), so when my attacker asked if I wanted to go out with him, I was thrilled. There was, however, a small piece of me that knew he wouldn’t be good for me. He smoked pot on the regular and would drink way more often than what might be considered “healthy” but I went for it anyway. After all, he was the first guy to actually like me so that was probably the best I could do, right? That was the mindset I had up until probably four months before the end of that relationship. Three entire years later. I know it took me so long to end things with my attacker because my experience with him was the only one I knew. I was terrified of being alone and I was always being told by him, “I love you so much you can’t leave me,” or sometimes, “if you leave me you’ll have nobody else. You’ll regret your decision so you might as well just stay.” Those things he said to me were never really things I was concerned about until the nights -yes, nights plural – he decided to take advantage of me. I wasn’t worried until the nights he said “I just love you too much to not have sex with you. I need you and you won’t be able to stop me.” I wish I could say that this was something that only happened to me once. Actually I wish I could say it never happened to me at all, however this was something that happened to me a countless number of times over the course of the latter two years we were dating. It makes my skin crawl just thinking about the things he did to me. The first time was the absolute worst out of all of them. It happened on a Tuesday afternoon in February. Up until this particular Tuesday, we had been getting together weekly to study or do homework together and to just hang out for a while and watch Netflix or whatever we decided to do. We were dating after all. He had been bugging me for a while to have sex with him but every time he asked, I said no because, like I said, that was not something I wanted to do. Up until that awful Tuesday night he listened. Up until that night he respected my decision to wait until marriage. Up until that night he didn’t seem to have a problem with my choice. But that night, it was like something flipped inside of him. We had decided to take a quick study break to make out for a little bit because why not, ya know? Everything was completely fine, but then I felt his fingers reach to unbutton the top button of my blouse. I pulled away, startled. I asked him what he thought he was doing and he said, “just trust me,” so I did. He hadn’t given me a reason not to trust him with my safety in the past. His hands went back to the buttons and as more and more of them came undone, a feeling of sickness and dread grew in my stomach. I knew I needed to distract him somehow so I grabbed his hands before he had the chance to take my blouse off completely and said “I don’t want to do this,” but his response was, “relax its not like I’m going to rape you or anything.” He shook his wrists from my hands and pinned my arms down on one side of me with one hand so he had the other hand free to slip my blouse off. Then he started kissing me (rather forcefully) everywhere. My neck, my chest, my stomach… His hands then travelled from my wrists to the button on my jeans. I told him to stop. He didn’t. I told him I didn’t want to go any further. He didn’t care. I told him this was wrong and that he needed to stop right now or I would scream. He acted as though he didn’t hear a word I said. Before I knew what was happening, he had peeled my jeans from my legs and was beginning to take off my underwear as well. I tried to fight back. I tried to convince him to stop. I said no. I said it so many times. It was all for nothing. He didn’t listen. My body froze and I could not make any sound come out. It was like my mind was forcing me to just take it. After that, all I remember is feeling him inside me. All I remember is the pain, both physical and emotional. There was just so much pain. I couldn’t understand why he thought everything was okay as he was having sex with my practically lifeless body. As I was laying there, so many thoughts were flying through my mind. “This isn’t happening. Boyfriends don’t rape their girlfriends. This is how I’m losing my virginity. Maybe I’ll wake up and this will all have been a bad dream.” It WAS happening. A boyfriend WAS raping his girlfriend. It WASN’T just a bad dream. When he was finished, all I could do was lay there. I was still frozen. I was still absolutely terrified. He acted as though everything was fine. All he did afterwards was put something on Netflix and lay down beside me. I stared through the TV as the words “I was just raped” crossed through my mind about a million times. After, there was just emptiness. There was just darkness. Emptiness and darkness are painful. The most unfortunate thing about my survivor story (in my opinion) is that this happened almost every time we were together. Sometimes multiple times in a night. Every time I said no and every time he didn’t listen. Eventually I started blaming myself. I turned to self harm for a while just so that I could feel anything but empty.. so that I could feel my pain on the outside rather than on the inside. I have learned so many things from my experiences with sexual assault and rape. First, you should never try to deal with these things alone. Even if you don’t want to talk to anyone you know personally about them, you should at least call a hotline or talk to someone who is trained to give advice about these situations. I was lucky enough to be blessed with an amazing best friend and an incredible boyfriend who have done nothing but support me and love me and encourage me throughout my healing journey. I don’t know where I would be without them. Second, none of it is your fault as the survivor. The blame is always and will always be solely on your attacker. You are not to blame. Third, you are not alone. Not one survivor’s story is the same as yours, but people know how you’re feeling. Don’t be afraid to post in a site like this. You won’t only be heard, but you will also be acknowledged and validated. Lastly, even if its sometimes difficult to believe it, you have so many people in your life that love you and want only the best for you. They don’t necessarily need to know your whole story or even any of your story at all, but they’re there. Don’t forget that. You’re worthy of life, you’re worthy of love, and you’re worthy of the knowledge that someone cares for you deeply. Don’t ever give up fighting. The pain is tough sometimes. I have days where my rape is all I can think about. I have days where I almost can’t even bring myself to lay in a bed that isn’t mine because beds and other people’s bedrooms are a trigger for me. But I also have days where I feel like I’ve come so far since everything happened. I have days where everything is light and happy and I almost forget what happened completely. This is a fight that may never end but that doesn’t mean you should just stop fighting. Keep fighting.