When I was 16 years old I went to a party with a male friend of mine. This friend and I had an on again off again flirtatious friendship. He and I had never had sex, but we had gotten close on numerous occasions spread over a couple of years. This friend and I both drank way too much, in a room full of people who also drank too much. I had recently lost my virginity with someone that I thought I loved. At 16, I didn’t know what love was, or even what it looked like because of the family I grew up in. The boy I lost my virginity to was sleeping with several other girls, and even had a second girl friend. This crushed me. I was unable to see past it. I saw only how broken, and used my body and heart was.
My behavior at this party was a sign of depression. My mother was so deep into her drug addiction and depression that she didn’t see how broken I’d become. My father and step mother lived in another home, and the few phone calls here and there were easy enough to disguise the truth. My sisters lived in another home, and led very different lives. I was messy. I was complicated and at times rebellious. I was independent and desperately trying to escape my life.
So I drank. I drank and acted promiscuous with my friend. I trusted him, and knew that he was a good person. And he was. When I got to the point that I couldn’t stand, or talk he carried me up the stairs to a bedroom where he thought I’d be safe.
But I wasn’t safe.
I was a broken girl, who drank just as much as everyone else. Who wore jeans, a tank top and a cardigan to a party with her friends.
I was a girl who fell asleep. I was a girl who crawled to the attached bathroom and threw up in the toilet, on the floor and in my hair. I was a girl who fell back asleep in the bathroom. I was the girl who woke up to a boy dragging me by my legs back into the bedroom. I was the girl unable to speak beyond a slur, unable to yell for my friend for help. I was the girl who cried silent tears while that boy unbuckled my jeans, removed my underwear , held me down, pulled my puke stained hair and raped me. Details are fuzzy, but his face was clear. His face I’ll never forget.
He left me on that bed with my pants around my ankles. I threw up again in the bed, but couldn’t move. I regained consciousness a few hours later and walked outside to my car. I drove myself home and spent the day in the shower and on my bathroom floor. I spent the day washing him away, but I learned quickly he will never wash away.
I was still a broken, used girl. No one noticed.
One week later I intentionally sped my car off of the road, aiming for the butt end of a guard rail, missing it by inches. My car went into a ravine, and I was unharmed.
I said nothing. The boy who raped me was someone I knew by name. He was older than me, and was friends with my friend from that night. He left the next week for military boot camp and I’ve never seen him again. I told everyone that it was a car accident, I was avoiding a deer.
I was still a broken, used girl.
After the rape and my failed suicide attempt my body held no value. I let people use me, and let people treat me however they pleased. I acted out even more, used humor and promiscuity to cover my scars.
I am now 27; 11 years ago I was raped. I know who raped me, but I never reported the rape. I first admitted out loud that I was raped one year ago, 10 years after the rape.
What’s going on in our society today makes me feel broken, and used. I didn’t report what happened to me for so many reasons. In high school people called me a slut almost every day. It didn’t matter that I had only had one sexual partner, I was a slut to everyone. I was outgoing and flirtatious and because of that, I was labeled a certain kind of girl. I had been drinking, and drank often to cope with my realities; so would anyone believe that I didn’t want it? Did my friend that night know what happened? Does he think I’m a slut too for leading him on all night and then sleeping with his friend? Would anyone believe a word I said?
And the truth is, had I reported it that night… no one would have believed me. My confession would have been immediately met with
Were you drinking?
Were you leading him on?
What were you wearing?
Did you really fight him off?
So I didn’t say anything. I felt so broken and so used that my way out was to commit suicide. I tried, and failed; and even that was so easily dismissed.
What happens to girls, to women, here in America is so easily dismissed.
I am sharing this now to try and open even just one mind to what’s happening. Women, courageous women, are telling you they have been raped and our country is telling them that a mans reputation is worth more.
I can’t guarantee that all women are or will be honest, but I can tell you that saying this out loud is more painful then that last breath I took before I jerked the wheel of my speeding car.
I didn’t report my rapist then, but you can fucking count on me to scream his name as loud as my lungs will allow if he is nominated to a Supreme Court seat, or any other position that holds power in this county.
I wish I had reported it then, even though I feel confident that it probably would have gone no where. But maybe, he would have to walk around living with even just a little part of the shame that I do. Maybe he would have nightmares like the ones that I do. Maybe he would still remember my face, instead of moving on as if he didn’t rape me that night. I’ll continue living with the guilt of how many other women he might have done this to because I wasn’t brave enough to report him.
Ive learned to forgive myself instead of hate myself for being weak when I should have been strong. I am raising three daughters in a terrifying world. I promise to be strong for them. To recognize the signs that something horrible is happing to them. I promise to believe them beyond a shadow of a doubt when they confess to me. I promise to fight by their side should they need me to. I promise them, and every other woman to believe, support, and acknowledge their pain before ever questioning.
I have to trust that this pain I feel 11 years later is what they feel. It hasn’t lessened in 11 years, and I can’t foresee it going away in the future. It doesn’t matter if it’s been minutes, days, a year or 30. If a person is accused of rapping another person, it should make everyone stop and question what view of reality they’ve accepted. Is it real? Or is there a chance that I’ve dismissed the harder reality for the one easier to accept .
I was surrounded by people, showing so many signs… but it was easier to write me off then to face what was happening to me. It is easier to say a few women are lying, then our culture is flawed. It’s easier to say taking a knee is disrespectful then to admit we are still a racist country in 2018. It’s easier to make fun of #metoo like it stands for pound me too then to acknowledge that the majority of women in your life have been sexually harassed, abused or raped and you have been part of the culture and system that allowed it. It’s easier to criticize shows like 13 Reasons Why then to watch those gut wrenching scenes with our children and help them cope with how fucking hard it is in high school.
The boy who raped me was so popular. He was so charming. He smiled and made everyone laugh. That same boy raped me, with no remorse. People are complicated creatures, and sometimes we creatures are secretly just cunning monsters.
I imagine this is going to be a hard story for some of my readers who know me personally. I have told only a few people in my life what happened to me. Please respect that just because I’m sharing this on a public forum, doesn’t meant I want to discuss it at a family party.
I have to work very hard every day to tell myself that I am not broken or used. I am not defined by what happened to me. It took a long, messy, painful journey to become the woman I am today. I stand with the women brave enough to speak their truth.
A few months ago my youngest daughter fell and needed stitches in her forehead. It was such a hard thing to watch, as doctors took their instruments and stuck them into my little girls forehead wound looking for debris. They pulled the wound open, dig deep, and searched for all of the bad.
Sometimes you have to tear something open more, pull it apart and cause a bigger mess before you can begin putting the pieces back together… before you can begin to heal.
Our country is being ripped open, and a lot of people would prefer we not make a mess.
We have to. Rip them to pieces ladies, it’s time for us to start healing.