The night I wanted to say no.
***Writers note/trigger warning: After reading this back to myself, proof-reading, I want to warn you that this isn't for the weak. It is a difficult topic and hard to read. I wanted to warn you.***
I hadn't ever really dated as an adult. I was in relationships for the 14 years post high school. One of those almost killed me. I didn't use substances and barely drank. So once I was free, my drug of choice was going out, and my favorite high was occasionally bedding men. I have to laugh for a second because I have no clue why I used the word 'bedding', I mean is that said anymore? What is the alternative, occasionally sluttin it up? Cringe, not my proudest times, but in comparison to the wild 20's most of my friends had while I was settled and had a baby, it could've been worse. It was the closest I could get to feeling, well anything at all. While I was emotionally disabled, it was some sort of connection, a use-use situation if you will. Now it was not too crazy, like I said, earmuffs for mom and dad anyway, but for anyone who likes to judge, here is one that will make it easy, and then I hope you feel like a real asshole for it. #nojudgementzone
Anywho, back to my story. I suppose I was out of my old life for about a year when I started going out. The attention was a welcomed change and hearing that I was attractive to someone, whether it was a pickup line or not, took some getting used to. I was so accustomed to being degraded and belittled, it was almost difficult to even accept a compliment at first. But I did enjoy it, of course, I mean who doesn't?!
So there I was, frequenting a popular dance spot at the time, a regular Saturday night, having a blast. I was completely naive to drugs, and date rape, the only sexual violence I encountered was in my relationship, and at the time, I thought I had no say because we were in a relationship. (sadly) So this attractive guy comes up and dances with me and we have a blast! We end up hanging out the majority of the night and then exchange numbers. No, this is not a one-night-stand story, he actually wanted to take me out on a date. Something I had not done, like ever, in a dating type situation. The previous relationships just kind of were, there was no "dating phase" just a jump right in kinda thing. So he calls the next morning and asks me to an early dinner. We meet at a local spot and again, enjoy each others company. He was super charismatic and funny, not to mention good looking!!
He tells me how much fun he is having and how he doesn't want the night to end, but he knows it's a Sunday and I have to pick up my son, (sweet of him to care) but would I like to go to his place, "just around the corner" and watch a movie. I had no idea what I was getting myself in to and had zero reasons to think he wanted to cause me harm. I also loved the positive attention and desperately missed the company in a dating setting. So, I agreed. We could hang out some more and I would still be in time to pick up my son. And, this guy was really awesome, and into me! Duh, of course, I will.
So we drive separately to his house, and we walk in, movie ready. But wait, his roommate is there, watching TV, "we can just watch it in my room, follow me" as he grabbed my hand. No introduction to the roommate, a rather large man, who just looked me up and down. I felt this uneasiness and once we got into his room, I knew I was in trouble. He locked the door behind me, and said to have a seat... looking behind me, the only "seat" was the bed. I uneasily sat on the edge and tried to calm myself. He was actually putting the movie in and grabbing me a bottle of water out of the mini fridge... this was fine, right?!
Not twenty minutes into the movie, things were not fine. He began getting closer and leaned in to kiss me. I pulled back and put my hand up to his chest to stop the advance "I thought we were just going to watch a movie" I said. He laughed, "Well I have got you here now, don't I?" And he came in again, more forcefully. Let me tell you about split-second reactions... it is like trying to make a decision, within seconds, on hyperdrive. Reaction. Everything in me said "fight! run!" but there was an awareness to the situation instantly, retreating back to the abusive relationship knowing that every time I fought back I lost way worse than I ever did just taking it. Just take it. And so I did. I enabled the third F often forgotten in flight or fight, I froze. I decided not to scream for help because what if the roommate was in on it? I didn't fight because the force of him on me was already so oppressive that I could barely breathe. I didn't have a weapon or my phone (he courteously took my bag for me at the door). I decided to concede. In a flash, imagining not getting to my baby because I was in a hospital, or worse, made me take a back seat in my own body.
I had become a pro at separating body from mind and feeling, over the years of abuse. I knew how to detach from this because I had been with men unemotionally. And there was a tremendous weight, a guilt almost… no definitely, from social experience, like I deserved what I was getting. You know, I went to his house after all. I even drove there. And I went into his room, willingly. And maybe I looked cute so I must have been asking for it. I had recently been out with different guys, so I must have wanted this. As if simply being around another human, meant I was signing up to be raped. The idea that I had voluntarily gone there, I didn't fight him, meant I couldn't even call it a violation. Split seconds.
And then, just numbness.
I know it was extremely rough and volatile because I was a wreck down there for weeks. I know it lasted for around a half hour or more because by the time he was done the movie was still on, but near the end. Scared to move, he said with a smile, "Do you know your way out, or need me to walk you to your car?" Like all of this was commonplace for him. As if he wanted to seem as though he was a gentleman and wanted to make sure I got out okay, after obliterating my body. What is happening to me? I gathered my clothes, limped to the door grabbing my bag and clutching it to me, exited as quickly as I could. The roommate mumbled something, but I just made myself focus on the door and getting out. Completely overwhelmed I made it to my car, I dropped all of my belongings in the passenger seat and sat there staring at it all, knowing in mere minutes my baby would be getting in the car and I had to pull myself together. Don't cry. Don't feel anything. I swallowed everything that had just happened, I decided to never tell anyone and to bury everything about the last 24 hours. To forget his face and where I was, compartmentalize it all.
Easier said than done because even sitting was painful. Going to the bathroom was excruciating. I winced during every shower and prayed that the condom he used worked as I awaited test results. To put it in perspective, I went through 15 hours of labor before having a 9 pound 6 oz baby, and I had been sexually assaulted before.... this was different. Maybe because the mental anguish I tried to bury only compounded the past abuse, maybe just the sheer violence I had endured. Probably both.
I can't tell you what he looks like. I can't tell you where he lived, outside of a general area. I remember the smell of his comforter, oddly. I remember the force in which he assaulted me, and the pain I felt as soon as he was done and I got away, that lasted for weeks. I remember throwing my phone across the room when I saw his number come up on my phone 3 days later. I remember thinking that people would say it was my fault. And until last Saturday night, I never told this story in detail, to anyone, let alone the world. But after I spoke about it Saturday, as with most other topics, I share because I can. I am sick to my stomach and a little achy all over from the intensity of the suppressed memory, but I can share, so I am compelled to.
My hope is that it reaches someone that needs to know they are not alone. That they know that no matter what anyone says or thinks, it is not their fault. I don't care if you are naked and drunk, high and all alone with your ass up in the air, none of that makes another person violating you acceptable. Sexual violence is a horrible experience, whether in a relationship or in the clutch of a stranger. No one "asks for it", and the notion that it is deserved is disgusting. It's like saying the person who got their face chewed off by a bath salts eater shouldn't have looked so scrumptious. Disgusting. Seriously.
So if it is you, hear my words above. If it's someone you know, share it. If it is for a movement, count me in. There is help available.
It is never okay to cause harm to another human, with negative intent. Not ever.
Sending out some love y'all