It’s a strange thing to say you don’t realize you are being raped. If someone is physically doing something to your body that you don’t want to happen, how can you not realize it? For me, it was like falling down a well; a dark blackness closing in on me. But I remember, very well, hitting the bottom of the well – because that was the moment I fought back.
My First Mistake
It was odd that our date was on Valentine’s Day, but I assumed we simply decided not to mention it. He had plans with friends and was going to meet me afterward. By the time he wrenched himself away, it was later in the evening than I had planned. He suggested he come over and we watch a movie. (I can hear you groaning.) I love to go out, but I’m a “Netflix and chill” girl at heart. I desperately want someone to watch movies with on a couch. He basically offered me chocolate-covered strawberries. So he came over.
Now, no one comes over to my home. No one. There is an aluminum baseball bat behind the front door. And I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.
My Second Mistake
When George came in it was obvious something was off. I’m an intuitive person and there was clearly something funky about his energy. He couldn’t sit still. He had never been in my home, but he had no respect for it. He bounced from one room to another. He couldn’t focus. I wasn’t sure what was happening. My guard was up, but I was confused.
Now, I listen to my own instincts above anything else. You can tell me I’m wrong. I’ll listen. But I won’t believe you until it feels different. Period.
My Third Mistake
George finally sat down on the couch and invited me to join him. I sat a safe distance away.
“Let’s talk about family!” George announced, in a loud, happy voice. “Tell me about your family. My father beat me.” The words fell in the room like a lead balloon. Uhhhh. This was the moment my mind started to not understand what was happening.
Clearly, he was hurting and I would happily help him. But he had sort of dropped this at my doorstep – in the beginning of a date that really wasn’t going well. This was not normal. I think we can all agree this was not normal.
Now, when I’m uncomfortable, I leave. Instantly.
My Fourth Mistake
George bounced up from the couch to use the bathroom off the front room. I was still trying to process what he had just said, and what I was supposed to do with this information. But when I looked up I was shocked to see that George was using the toilet with the door open, and was staring at me.
“Oh!” I barked. “George! Close the door!” George locked eyes with me and boasted “You know you want to see it.” I shielded my eyes and started to grow very uncomfortable. The brain slowed down even more.
This person was in my home. He was here. He was bigger than me. He wasn’t acting normal. He was hurting. Did he need help? What was happening? What options did I have? Before I could answer any of those questions, George had his hands on my waist.
Now, no one touches me until I feel completely comfortable – which is why I am rarely touched.
My Fifth Mistake
George steered my body into the dark bedroom. I locked my hands on the doorframe and held my body there. I told him I didn’t want to do this. I told him I didn’t want to go in there. I told him to stop.
George’s hands didn’t listen. They were probing my body. Slipping into my pants pocket he pulled out my wallet and teasingly taunted me with it. When I went for it, he grabbed me and threw me on the bed.
My brain shut off.
Now, my brain never shuts off.
My Sixth Mistake
The moment on the bed is very blurry for me. I don’t have much memory of it. I don’t know how my clothes were removed. I don’t know what I said, or didn’t say. I think my brain was honestly very confused.
Someone is trying to be intimate with you. That is something you have been taught to do when you feel safe. That is also something someone does when they like you. So, how can someone trying to be intimate with you feel so ugly, unsafe and unwanted? Imagine trying to understand all of that while struggling with a 200 lbs man trying to remove your clothing – and you’d invited him over!
Shame. Guilt. Sluttiness. Anger. Fear. Fire. Fury. Sadness. All of it, in the space of seconds, floods my mind, and I start my fall down the well.
Now, I feel used, broken and like no one wants me. None of those feelings ever left me.
I remember the thought that caused the reaction. The darkness closed in. I felt the loneliness and fear. I remember feeling him inside me. I remember not wanting him inside me.
I thought, “Just let him get it over with.”
That is when I hit the bottom of the well.
As soon as that thought registered in my mind, an incredible new swell of strength rose within me. A scream started in my head. A voice inside me said “No.” I heard it softly. But I didn’t move fast enough and suddenly the voice inside my head shouted at me: “NO!!!!!!!”
All at once, an opposite wave of emotion enveloped me. I felt my anger. I felt my stubbornness. I felt my power. I felt my body. I felt my space. I felt my defenses. I felt a steel strength in my spine that I never knew was there. As these emotions washed over me they suddenly exploded in a raging fight.
Literally, seconds before I had simply resigned, and now George had a fucking wildcat on his hands. I kicked. I punched. I scratched. I pumped my legs. I beat his back. I ripped him out of my body and to the end of the bed.
Stillness landed on the bed. My brain grew silent. Time stopped.
I growled at him, “This is not happening. If this is what you want, you might as well leave.” I was poised and ready to kick him. I was not done fighting. This was not going to happen.
Panting after the fight, George looked at me and said, “Then, when?”
That was the moment I laughed in his face.
When I laughed at George he and I both knew that he had no more power over me. I was not going to allow this. I was not going to be further manipulated. I was not going to be his victim or mine. He could see I was ready and willing to fight. He could see there was no more resignation in me. He could see he lost.
Now, I thrill in being alone, because at least I’m safe. But, oh my god, I am so, so alone.
The Eye of the Storm
You’d think that was the end of the story, wouldn’t you? That was just halftime. A rape is not a single moment; a rape Although George never touched me again, the rape was far from over.
George spent the night passed out on the bed. I couldn’t sleep; contending with a consuming energy pulsing through my veins. The threat was over, but the hurt lingered.
I curled my body into a ball on the couch in the front room. Lit from the streetlights outside, I focused on the individual strands of hair floating in front of my face. I heard my breath in the quiet room as I stared blankly at the floor. Unable to calm or soothe myself. I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t focus. Inside my head was a mess of feelings I didn’t understand. Thoughts burned through me like a lightning blast – appearing and vaporizing within milliseconds of each other, leaving a scar of emotion in its wake.
The next morning, George left with a hug at the front door. I took a shower – erasing all evidence. I dressed and prepared to leave for work – all while functioning on automatic pilot. I was still completely unaware that I had been raped. I just knew that I was experiencing an overwhelming flood of emotions that I couldn’t catch onto or slow down.
I walked to work, aware that my body was sore. When I sat in my chair spikes of pain danced through my body. Suddenly, I was aware of how much I ached and where. My neck hurt. My arms hurt. My thighs hurt. My butt hurt. My vagina hurt. My chest hurt! I remember focusing on my chest and thinking “What kind of fighting was I doing last night that my chest hurt?” I’m an active girl and not once in my life have I done an exercise that made my chest hurt.
The rest of the day was a fog mixed with a cocktail of body aches. But the final punch was waiting for me at home.
The Ripple Effects
There was a smear of blood on my bedframe. Seeing it, my body went cold. That was the moment the word “rape” first entered my head. The full impact of the body aches, the adrenaline, the discomfort, the anxiety surfaced with the stunning realization that I had been raped.
George casually contacted me a few days later. I immediately confronted him stating he’d raped me. George disagreed. He argued that I had wanted it; that I misunderstood; that I’d invited it. Overall, George’s stance was “that was no rape.”
The process of calling your mother to tell her you’ve been raped is odd. You’re not dead, but you feel dead. Still, you can’t call someone when you’re dead, so you pick up the phone, and smile like normal and say “hello!”
That night, my parents were throwing a party. If I had more patience and awareness, I might have waited. But, dealing with a flood of emotions leaves little room for patience and awareness. I was desperate for something familiar, warm and loving. I needed to tell my mother.
You don’t just open your mouth and say “Mom, I was raped.” At least, I didn’t. Mom provided idle chit-chat, telling me about the party preparations. I was walking to work and had a few more blocks to blurt it out before I started my shift.
I don’t remember saying the words, but I remember the silence on the phone. You could sense the words hitting my mother, slowly, like raindrops. The silence of the slow understanding, the information, the awareness, filled the space of empty words. She told me later that she spent the party crying in her room.
Rape is not an easy word to arrive at or adopt. As a person concerned with other’s feelings, the idea of slapping such a statement on someone else’s actions was hard to do. Nor does the word “rape” just attach itself to the man, it attaches itself to the woman as well. As a rape victim, you are damaged goods, used up, discarded. Nothing about calling yourself a victim of rape is empowering.
You carry your rape with you everywhere you go, all the time.
This is what it is to be raped. No police were called. No charges filed. George and I crossed paths a few more times but shared nothing more than dirty looks. It’s not something you advertise. It’s not something you talk about. It affects the rest of your life in countless ways: comfort, vulnerability, strength, safety, self-esteem, pride, joy.
When I allow myself to dig into my life to find the moment things went off-course, I always end up at George and the Uninvited Penis.
It’s a strange thing to say you don’t realize you’re being raped. But afterward, I promise, you never forget.