Hola, friends! I cannot begin to tell you my level of tired, so please excuse me if I just sit in my chair. Sundays have become my hangover/too tired to move days, so I am going to visit with you for a bit before I go to bed.
As much as I would always love to write a witty or lighthearted post, sometimes I have to use this space for serious business. Today is one of those days. I will throw the disclaimer that this post will be rather dark, so if you need to make your escape I totally understand.
There is so much in the news lately about the “rape culture”, not just around the world (I’m looking at you, India) but here in our own country as well. Women are coming out and standing together with stories of rape happening in our military and how they were kept quiet, their attackers never being punished. There are tons of male comedians who view it as a joke, as well as just rape being thrown out as a threat of some variety. If I only had a dime for the number of times I have either had “I will rape your…” thrown out to me or about someone else within earshot. I would have a lot of dimes, friends.
I’m going to tell you my story. My story of being young, stupid, and the price I paid for it. I was 14. I thought I was in love with the boy upstairs, and we had dated for about a month, and he broke up with me because I was “too much of a goody two shoes”. I was supposed to sleep over my friends house and I had left a game across the street at another friend’s house. I decided to run over to go grab it and there was a bunch of people there. My friend told me to stay there instead because they were going to have a party.
Here was my logic – I had never really done anything that could be “party” like, so I thought that if I did go over there and attended a party, the ex would hear about it (we were all sort of a circle of friends, but he wasn’t going to be there) and wouldn’t think I was too good. It made sense to me at 14 (again, young and stupid).
I went home and told my mom the change of plans. I headed back over there, determined to make a name for myself. I never, ever, could have imagined the success I would have.
There were quite a few people there and one of them had made a run to the liquor store. He brought back quite a few things and I was quickly handed a bottle of vodka. I took a sip and hated it. It tasted like burn and gross. They had me finish the bottle by myself and then handed me the other one to see how much I could drink in one shot. These weren’t the big bottles, mind you, the smaller ones. I drank half of it in one go. They told me to drink the rest and we went outside.
I couldn’t walk very well, and one pulled me off to the side. It was November, and cold, very cold. I couldn’t make out what was happening, and I had no control over what was going on. I lost my virginity on a metal cellar door in November. I remember crying, and saying no, but I couldn’t lift my arms to stop it. When he was done he dragged me around the house and pushed me through my friend’s bedroom window. Once again, I had no choice. Before it was done, another came in and decided to have a go as well. Three times, my no was not heard, or just disregarded. The third time I remember telling myself to just go to sleep. My friend ended up coming in because my mom had seen everyone outside, but not me. She told me I had to go home, my mom was looking at me. As soon as my mom saw me she called the police.
The police came and said I needed an ambulance. I remember being put in there and hearing one of them tell my mom they didn’t think I would make it to the hospital. They said if I went to sleep, I would be done. They kept me awake until I got there and after that I don’t remember a whole lot.
My mom suspected something had happened because I told her I was hurt and there were marks on my neck. She asked the doctor to do a rape kit on me, but he said he was “sure he knew how I had gotten those hickeys”.
The next day I told my mom and I went through the whole ordeal of going back to the hospital, talking to the police, telling my story. It was hard, and embarrassing. When I went back to school the tale had spread and I was taunted in class and walking down the hall. It’s part of the reason small towns really make me uneasy now. They made it my fault, and they were not going to let me forget it. They called my house to remind me that I was a rape victim and I was going to get beat up or dead. I wasn’t allowed t go outside and I wasn’t allowed to walk to school. Not only did they take away my virginity, they took away my ability to leave my house. They would still hang out around the house across the street, so I would hide in my room, terrified.
We moved out of the town after that, and we went back to the town where I grew up. I was happy to be able to be somewhere that I wasn’t going to be tormented day in and day out. One day a girl in my class passed me a note asking me if it was true if I had been raped. Her aunt was a nurse in the hospital where I was and decided to let her know.
A couple of years later, I had a boyfriend who ended up becoming roommates with one of them. I was walking home when they drove by. My friend was with me and the bf came over and told me that I had to go confront him because he said he didn’t do it, and that I consented. The bf and my friend dragged me to a parking lot where he screamed at me and I just shook. I shook and couldn’t say a single word.
It took years to really understand it wasn’t my fault. It took years more to understand I didn’t need to be ashamed. I did nothing wrong, other then have some really bad logic at a time where having really bad logic comes with the territory.
Reading these stories of women who were ignored, tormented, who didn’t have a voice makes me remember. I’m proud of them for finding their voice and coming out to say it wasn’t right and they won’t be ignored. It’s not a joke, it’s not funny, and it isn’t a threat that should be said, even in jest. When I hear it, I just look at the speaker and nod. I am coming out and joining my voice to those women. It isn’t a story I tell all the time because I dislike the looks that follow, or the pity. I need it not, because I wouldn’t change a thing. It made me who I am, but it doesn’t define me. I am reminded that a city tried to make me ashamed, but I can proudly say I survived it.
So, what happened to the two guys? I was really too scared to name one of them. The death threats were real, and so was my fear. I never did speak his name to the authorities. The other had to finish high school.
Life isn’t always pretty, and sometimes it can be downright horrible. It isn’t ever without hope though, and even in those darkest times I still didn’t give up. The treatment of this crime, the hiding and shaming of its victims needs to stop. Stay strong, ladies, and I am proud to stand among you.