*Trigger Alert: This article is about rape and sexual assault. Please read and share with care.
Ten years ago (maybe 9, I’m not sure) I was out with some friends. I had way too much to drink which was unfortunately typical at that time. I went through (more than once) a period of time where a drink or happy buzz wasn’t quite enough. Self-medicating I suppose. Anyway, I ran into a guy I had dated for a short period of time. He was definitely not one of my proudest moments. I was testing the “worst possible scenario” type life. haha. Many of us have been there. Hmmmm…let me see what it is like to date someone who is the opposite of everything I stand for, is sort of embarrassing, almost sad in a way, and treats me like crap. That sounds like a fantastic idea. I will not listen to my friends and will find weird reasons to explain why it works. Luckily it only lasted a couple of months before the rest of my brain throat punched the stupid part of my brain. Boom. Reality. What the f#<K am I doing? I am better than this. I told him we were done and attempted to pick myself up and become me again.
Anyway, several weeks later or months later (I am not sure) he was at the same restaurant on this particular night (way too small of a town). He was trying to get me to stay with him and hang out or to come with us to hang out. I remember my friends telling me to get into the car and telling him no and to leave me alone. I remember sitting in the back seat of my friend’s car and him being outside of the car. I think he was in his car. I remember the look on his face. I can’t really describe it but it was kind of desperate or urgent maybe – I’m not sure. They took me home, made sure I got into my house and left.
I lived alone.
When I woke up, the guy was laying next to me and we were both naked. I tried to recap the night in my head. I was very confused. I looked at my phone to see if there were any texts or calls indicating I had invited him. I 100% did not invite him. There were no calls or texts. I can’t remember if I texted my friends at that exact moment or if it was later or if it was a call. At some point that day I asked them and several times again over the next week to make sure I heard it all correctly. They dropped me off alone. I went in alone. I think he told me nothing happened or that he tried and it didn’t work or something like that. I don’t actually remember. Something seemed off and it felt bad…nothing physically at that point…but that icky feeling they tell you about when you are a kid and an adult is being inappropriate. That feeling in the pit of your stomach.
I had that feeling.
I think I asked him how he got in and I think he said I let him in and seemed happy to see him. I don’t actually know. I felt foggy and just wanted to forget the whole thing. I was embarrassed and mad that I couldn’t remember what happened.
About a week (probably less) passed and I noticed something was off physically. I noticed things were not right. I went to the doctor and they discovered a problem that could be fixed immediately. I had forgotten that I had my period the night that “Date Rape” showed up. Something absolutely did happen that night and he didn’t even stop to remove my tampon.
Date Rape. That was the nickname I gave him after this doctor’s visit. It was definitely a coping thing. I couldn’t actually say his name after that. I even referred to him as that if I ran into him. A really messed up pet name. I did tell him about the doctor’s appointment and I did tell him what he did was wrong. I know I am no hero for that. It was the lamest and most passive way of handling a pretty damn horrible thing. I am fairly certain that had I called the police and pressed charges that he would not have gotten in trouble and I would have been the one who was punished. I know that sounds even more pathetic. I am regretful that I did not do more. Not for me, but for someone else. What if he thought this was ok? Actually, I know he thought it was ok. There is this weird ignorance in the world that makes people who only think about themselves find ways to do what they want, explain what they did, and not get in trouble. He wanted to have sex, he knew I was drunk, my friends told him to leave me alone, he showed up at my house…
Some people are reading this right now and thinking “He just wanted to see you”, “He probably thought it was ok”, “If he showed up and you didn’t tell him no then he didn’t do anything wrong”, “If you weren’t drunk, you would remember”.
I went through the same thought process. I think I was even nice to him when I ran into him months later. I acted like nothing had happened. I kind of blocked it out. Maybe I thought it was my fault. It would come back into my mind and bug me kind of like that one weird hair that everyone has that grows in a weird spot and you urgently need tweezers to pull it out. So I would go out with friends or go shopping or go for a run to forget it. Then one day, maybe years later, it clicked. Something bad really did happen that night.
I have gotten drunk and woke up next to someone before this happened, and after for that matter. In those situations there were times when I didn’t remember what happened. My first thought in each of those situations was “ugh. That was stupid. I would not have done that if I wasn’t drunk” or “I wish I would have remembered if that was fun” or “I’m embarrassed because I remember none of that”. I knew I had consented but just made a bad choice, or not my best choice. I wasn’t raped or taken advantage of in those situations. In the moment I had regret, but that was on me. I had no “icky” feeling.
The night Date Rape showed up was different. Something bad happened. I may not remember, I may not have shown it at the time, but something bad happened.
I have been talking to friends, family, strangers a lot about these kinds of situations lately. I think it is because of everything in the news. I think it has sort of resurfaced these things for so many. Although the specifics of the situations are different there are some things that seem to be the same for all. They don’t remember all of the details. They remember the details that let them know that something was/is very wrong. They know the difference between regret and this feeling. They did not report it. They coped on their own. The person who did this to them continues on. They find their own ways to keep living normally or they try to get by because they never figured out how to deal. Some are doing “better” than others.
1 in 5 women will have been raped in their lifetime. Almost half of those will be by an acquaintance. Only 16% of rapes are reported to the authorities. The statistics increase with attempted rape, stalking and other types of sexual violence. I am, unfortunately, only talking about the rapists who were successful. Side note: Attempted rape still makes someone a rapist. Just because the goal was not achieved does not mean that person is innocent.
We live in a time when things can generally be awesome but can sometimes be very scary. I don’t get drunk anymore. I had a couple of situations that happened after that night that led me to decide it is not worth it to be that impaired. I need to take care of myself since ignorance and violence do not respect innocence and vulnerability. A clear head will always be more likely to avoid an unhealthy or dangerous situation. This does not mean I am never going to have someone do something bad to me ever again. Things can still happen but I feel like I am better equipped with a clearer view. I also try to avoid being alone or out of contact with trusted friends when I am alone. If I am traveling alone, I communicate my location and when I am moving to the next location. I want to be clear that this is my personal choice. I do not think that getting drunk is the cause of these situations. I do not feel that walking down a dark street is the cause of these situations. The cause of these situations is violence, ignorance, and lack of morals for those who are doing these acts. I just feel that I understand my reality and the reality of the world I live in. I do not like it. I do not think it is fair. I do think it is reality despite my feelings about it. So I choose to live a bit on the defense. This empowers me and makes me feel like I can enjoy life without fear. I do always look over my shoulder. I don’t think I live in a world where I don’t have to do that. That might sound sad and maybe it is. I do get sad. I do get angry. As a whole, I am not sad. I am not angry. Living on the defense has become second nature and I don’t really think about it most of the time. I live a pretty awesome (if I do say so myself) and happy life. This works for me.
I read a post on Instagram or another site the other day. It said the next time you hear a man say he is scared or nervous to live in this day and age (referring to being accused of rape) to mention that we are also very hard on murderers. If the response is that he has never murdered someone, you may have just learned something about that person. It is not scary to be a man right now. Men can choose to make decisions based on what feels right (morally right, not physically right). There is a difference. If you have to beg or push or harass someone to talk them into sex..it is not your moment to have sex. If someone has not invited you over and you show up at their home to have sex after being told to leave them alone, it is not your moment to have sex. Sex should be obviously, not questionably consensual. That is not a difficult thing to understand. Men can make choices to avoid harming another individual. Women can not make these choices for men. Women can only be in control of their own actions. It is not a scary time for men. That is deflection. That is not reality.