I was 16 years old. I spent the night drinking at a house party with a bunch of my classmates. (Yes, illegally drinking.) I drank to the point where I was fairly intoxicated— flirting and kissing a boy I met way back in sixth grade. He was a bit of a troublemaker, smoked a lot of pot, and didn’t do well in school. He was nice to me though, and I enjoyed his company.
After kissing for a few minutes, he guided me to the bottom of the staircase that led up to the bedrooms. He suggested we go upstairs — I knew what that meant (or at least I thought I did, in my virgin mind). I knew I wasn’t ready for sex, especially in this setting. Most importantly, we’d be alone. I had a bad feeling about it, and I was apprehensive. My gut told me, You don’t have to do this. I spotted a couch in the living room to our right and it looked like the perfect spot to hang out — no one was in the room, yet it was public enough for an exit plan, if need be.
“Let’s hang out here,” I suggested.
It would all be okay, he assured me. If I got scared, I could tell him to slow down and he’d stop. He smiled. He seemed genuine. It’s as if he sensed my fear and knew exactly how to respond. I reluctantly followed him upstairs and shoved my petty, childish fears to the back of my mind — I had been drinking, so my fear was more intellectual than physiological anyway.
Things went from innocent and playful to confusing and terrifying, very quickly. The minute he shut the door, his demeanor shifted considerably. It was as if he was in “mission mode.” It was obvious that he had already decided that we were going to have sex, and that me agreeing to come upstairs with him was consent enough for him to do it.
He ignored my panic. It was like his body was on autopilot... like I was no longer in the room. Within a few moments, I became an object to him. I was no longer a living, breathing human.
I told him to stop.
I said no. After no response to my desperate pleas, I resorted to whimpering, even crying a little bit. I eventually admitted defeat and let my mind take me away. I still remember the color and texture of that ceiling to this day.
He was strong, aggressive, and absolutely wasted, so I don’t know if he knew he was hurting me as much as he was. One of the scariest parts for me was that he was completely silent for all of this, save for some heavy breathing and moaning. Those sounds honestly haunt my dreams to this day — they signified to me that from that moment on, I was merely a device for gratification, rather than a whole entity. I kept waiting for him to communicate with me, but the last thing he actually said to me was at the bottom of the stairs, before all of this took place.
He finished and came to, finally noticed that I was crying, and immediately ran downstairs. I sat there for a few minutes, confused and upset. Why didn’t he listen to me? Why did he lie to me? What do I do now? I felt that I had no choice but to rejoin the party as nonchalantly as I could. I basically held my breath as I walked downstairs. I then found him and some other boys yelling at each other and fighting. Prior to my entrance, he had announced to the entire party, “Molly was crying while I fucked her.”
Prior to my entrance, he had announced to the entire party, 'Molly was crying while I fucked her.'
...So he did know that I didn’t want it. How was that not signal enough for him to stop? He was kicked out of the party, which was a welcomed relief. I called my Mom to ask if I could just spend the night. Surprisingly, she let me.
I ended up telling everyone at the party that nothing actually happened. By then I was in survival mode — when I had to put on a good face, I knew how to do it. I just wanted so badly for someone to see that I was hurting, but that was a little too much to expect from my peers, I suppose.
I smoked and drank the rest of the night, trying to forget it and act as normal as possible. The most vivid memory I have from the party afterwards is after I got so messed up, I just laid on the couch and stared into space. The song “Fuck the Pain Away” by Peaches played on repeat for at least an hour. So I’m drunk and high, laying on the couch, and listening to the chorus, “fuck the pain away, fuck the pain away, fuck the pain away” over and over, on full blast. I remember some of the very same boys that kicked him out of the party got obnoxious and “jokingly” held me down and fake raped me, getting everybody at the party to laugh. That really baffled me and actually hurt my feelings, since I thought they were kind of on my side in all of this.
At school on Monday, he approached me while we were all waiting for the bell to ring. He said he was sorry, and my knee-jerk response was,
“Friday…I don’t remember. Paul told me what happened.”
I distinctly remember telling him, “It’s okay. You were really drunk. Nothing bad happened.”
…But it wasn’t okay.
Once those words left my mouth though, I couldn’t take them back.
Rumors were flying around school. A teacher that I trusted and had a good rapport with confronted me one day after class— I immediately confessed, in tears. I had been holding onto this for days and was so relieved that a safe adult finally knew. She was supportive, and gave no inclination that she would tell anyone else.
She let me skip her class and go home early a few times— I cried every day. By Friday, she was concerned. That afternoon, I received a call on my home phone around 4:30 pm. It was my principal. I attended a fairly large public high school, so I had never even met this man before. It was obvious by his tone that this was a business call. He got straight to the point- one of my teachers told him what had happened. I am a minor. School administrators are mandatory reporters.
My stomach dropped. I became light-headed. My face grew hot. Report it? Everyone at school was already gossiping about me. I was completely mortified and just wanted it all to go away. I expressed anxiety about this to him, but was simultaneously met with apathy and sternness. I didn’t have a choice. Just like the weekend before, I didn’t have a choice. I never did. He told me that I had to at least tell my parents, before things moved forward.
“You can tell them what happened, or you can tell me what happened and I will call them. Either way, you have until 8:00 pm tonight, at which point I will call your house and confirm that you have discussed this with them.”
After he hung up, my mind started racing. How the fuck was I going to do this? I didn’t even consider what happened to me to be rape at the time. I was drunk and I willingly went upstairs with him. Everyone, including my classmates, my teachers, and now my parents, would know how much of a slut I was.
He gave me a mere three hours to do one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life.
My mom, dad, and I were enjoying dinner that night (thank God my brothers were already off at college), when I stopped them in the middle of the conversation, handed them a letter, and sprinted upstairs to my room. These words felt unspeakable; I chose to write them down instead. In the letter I said that there were rumors going around about something that happened at the party, but that nothing actually happened, and that they needed to call my teacher tonight and set the record straight. Five minutes later, I heard a knock on my door. My mom kneeled at the edge of my bed, while my dad stood in the doorway, refusing to make eye contact. I felt so disgusted that they were probably picturing it at that very moment. My mom asked me humiliating, intrusive questions.
“Were you drinking that night?” No. Okay, maybe just a little bit. (Not telling them how much, though).
“Did he get hard?” I don’t know. (Of course he got hard, Jesus Christ Mom).
“Did he penetrate you?” No! (Yes — it hurt…a lot).
I basically blacked out halfway through the conversation. In that moment, I wanted to disappear forever. My own FATHER, listening to me discuss a teenage boys’ penis…awkward cannot even begin to describe it.
My mom called my teacher and “set the record straight.” I saw the school counselor the next week, as is protocol, but she was unsympathetic. I had been caught drinking at a party a few months prior to this and had an athletic suspension- my track record wasn’t stellar. She said she would report the statistic, but obviously not go to the police, considering nothing happened.
At the time, I honestly felt like I had no choice but to lie about the whole thing. I still had a year and a half left at that school, and I still had to see him every single day. If I reported it, it wouldn’t blow over like I was hoping it would. Everyone would look at me differently. No one would believe me, since they had already formed their own opinions about the whole situation anyway — I’d look like a liar either way. Days had passed and there was no evidence left. My principal and the counselor were very cold, my parents were crossing boundaries, and it just seemed easier to put it behind me and move on. I think for a small period of time, I convinced myself that nothing actually did happen. I was used to pulling myself up by the bootstraps and planting a smile on my face — that year I became a professional.
He bothered me for months afterwards. He called me, texted me, left drunk voicemails on my cell, put his arm around me at school, and sought me out at parties. Avoiding it wasn’t working — after all, nothing happened for me to be so afraid of him, right? He concluded that he got laid that night, plain and simple. So what did I do? I went along with it. I got into random cars with him and smoked pot. I rode in the backseat and pictured my death while he drunkenly drove 90 mph down country roads. I took shots with him at parties and pretended everything was fine. He wanted to have “sex” again. He asked me why I told my teachers that he raped me and laughed as he asked it. He made friends with my new boyfriend at parties. I couldn’t beat him, so for a while, I joined him. If I was in control of it, then nothing else mattered.
I was not okay for a long time. Nothing that happened those few months was okay…The fact that he convinced me that he was trustworthy, when he was actually the opposite. The fact that he took advantage of me and then told everyone about it. The fact that he gave me a half-ass apology, in front of everyone at school. The fact that my teacher said she’d keep my confidence, but didn’t. (I understand why, but it just felt like another betrayal at the time.) The fact that my principal was so harsh about it. The fact that I was forced to tell my parents and that it just felt like another violation. The fact that I felt like I had to lie in order to survive that year.
The fact that the week after this happened was the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I heard statistics about sexual assault every morning for a week over the intercom. The fact that they illustrated the number of sexual assault victims every year by placing blue post-its on random student’s lockers, and I exited my class to find one slapped onto mine. The fact that I felt like I had “RAPE VICTIM” written across my forehead. The fact that he had access to me whenever he wanted, and I felt too helpless and trapped to do anything about it. The fact that I was a virgin. The fact that before all of this, he was my friend. The fact that I felt I had to actually pretend to enjoy the constant company of my own rapist— something that I hope no one ever has to experience.
I said it was okay, but it wasn’t. It’s not okay in the slightest. It’s not okay that my guy friend got me liquored up, pressed me to undress when I already told him no, and then led me into another room to have sex with me, while another boy watched. (This was before I was raped, and I got away safely.)
I said it was okay, but it wasn’t. It’s not okay in the slightest.
It’s not okay that I tried to stop drinking a year after this incident, went to a party sober, and was sexually assaulted while I was driving a drunk friend home. I was trying to be nice and get him home safe, and instead he fingered me, attempted to climb on top of me, and kissed me up and down my arms and neck while I was driving home at 70 mph on the highway. He refused to tell me where he lived, and by the time I found his house I actually apologized to him, for giving him any wrong signals... He said that it was no problem, I was just a bitch anyway. He slammed the door and walked away. I confronted him the next day, and he told me he didn’t even remember me driving him home and that he was sorry, but please could I keep my mouth shut about it? I asked him, “Isn’t it more important that this doesn’t happen again?” He responded with: “Kind of.”
It’s not okay that after all of the times I was violated, I just started randomly fucking guys in order to feel more in control of my sexuality. I had one boy that I consistently had sex with, on a “friend” basis. One night, after a mere three drinks, I blacked out so bad that all I remember are flashes of him leading me to different parts of the house and having sex with me. I woke up with blood all over my underwear and shirt, and developed a urinary tract infection three days later. Why he had to be so rough with me, I will never understand. It’s not okay that I had to find out about his HIV status from his best friend, rather than him, and it’s not okay that he overdosed on heroin before I had the chance to talk to him about it. It’s not okay that despite the fact that he treated me like nothing but a prostitute, a piece of meat, and a place to blow his load, I had developed unhealthy, fucked-up feelings for him... because I didn’t think I deserved any better.
It’s not okay that a boy I was sleeping with in college had plans for anal sex without telling me. I was so shocked that he started to do it without my consent, that aside from some wincing and uncomfortable groans, which I know he saw, I said nothing. He met my pain with silence, too, and continued despite my obvious apprehension.
It’s not okay that my college boyfriend always pushed my head down to his dick while we were making out — There are better ways to get what you want. (Asking comes to mind.)
It’s not okay that one night when I was extremely intoxicated, sitting at the bar and struggling to stay conscious, I felt a hand between my thighs, belonging to a man that I had never even spoken to before that moment. That probably wasn’t the only time that has happened either.
It’s not okay that I won’t even let my husband, the one decent man who actually loves me and treats me well, touch or be near me most days. That has less to do with him, and everything to do with other men’s choices.
None of this is fucking okay. Sexual trauma, and the residual trauma from the aftermath of the assaults, has dominated my life for over a decade. It controls what seems like every aspect of my thinking, my behavior, and my relationships. I lost a lot of things that year — things that have been difficult to regain. Never will I be able to wake up in the morning and stop being a former rape victim. Never will I be able to just conveniently forget what happened to me all those years ago. Never will I be able to unlearn the things I have learned about the human condition from these events.
All of these things are extremely painful to face and accept, but what hurts the most is that my story is not unique. Not in the slightest. This shit is still mocked by people on a daily basis. People still say things like “she’s just pulling the rape card.” People still choose to focus their arguments about rape culture on false accusations, rather than actual rape cases. Many rape survivors contemplate, or are successful at taking their own lives. Rapist’s indiscretions are still largely ignored, while many victims’ past mistakes become public display.
Someone may be reading this right now and be thinking, well, a lot of these things happened when she was drinking, didn’t she know any better? It’s not a secret that I drank a lot in those years— I became addicted. I wanted to forget all of the things that I endured. I wanted to stop being scared all the time. I wanted to not care. I take responsibility for the fact that I put myself in risky territory. Let me make this clear though: Drunk or sober, I still didn’t deserve to be violated in the ways that I was. No one does.
It still takes more than just our words for many people to believe that these things are true and that these things happened to us. We are liars until it is proven that we are telling the truth.
It has to stop.
The more powerlessness I experience, the more I will write about it. The more voiceless I feel, the more I will share my story. The more disgusted and angry I become, the more I will fight misogynistic assholes on the internet. I couldn’t be there for myself when I truly needed it. Now that I am an adult, I have a choice in how I make up for lost time. If your story is in any way similar to mine, please know that you are never alone. It is not too late for you to make up for lost time, either.
This post originally appeared on Glorious Publication.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.