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A Co-Worker

I’m not sure when it all started- The shame. The guilt. The nightmares. I just know that it hit me like a speeding truck. I thought I had put it to the darkest and farthest part of my memory, but that’s the funny thing about your mind. It plays tricks on you. It makes you believe that you’re this fully functioning human being until one day it all comes rushing back and there’s not a damn thing you can do to stop it.
When I was seventeen, I met a guy at work. He seemed fun and outgoing. He always had a knack for making me laugh and I thought he was pretty cute. We were pretty flirty until I found out he had a girlfriend. (Despite the rumors floating around at work, I was not that kind of girl.) Eventually. I tried distancing myself from him but I found him still hanging around where I was working trying to grab my attention and convince me it would be kind of cool to have our own little fling.
I was an extremely naive teenager coming fresh off of a previous break-up with what was very quickly escalating into a dangerous relationship. I got out and just wanted to have fun, like normal teenagers do. I wasn’t okay with the idea of him having a girlfriend but because there were no REAL feelings there, I didn’t see any problems hanging out once in a while if his girlfriend was okay with it. (See? Naive teenager.) He, however, was 20 and I’d like to say I should have known better than to believe he was genuine.
One night I went over to my best friend’s place and she was inviting her boyfriend. She encouraged me, as teenage girls do, to bring over this cute guy I told her about. I insisted I wouldn’t knowing he had a girlfriend, but my friend took my phone and invited him anyway. He showed up that night after we had been drinking. I had a few, but I had to make it home that night and I can’t get anything past my dad so I was taking it easy. I remember being tipsy when he showed up, but nothing over the top.
My friend had a lot more than I did and it had been a while since she had seen her boyfriend, so they went out to his car and left me in the basement with the guy I knew from work. I don’t remember a ton, but I remember all of a sudden feeling totally drunk. To the point where I could barely move or speak. I remember him laying me back on the couch and searching for something in his wallet. He was ripping my pants off as quickly as he could and all I can remember after that was him saying in my ear, “I’ve been wanting to do this for so long.” I blacked out and when I opened my eyes he was gone. He left me lying on the couch with my pants off, so when my friends came back that’s all they saw. They thought I encouraged it and I started crying. I was hyperventilating and completely out of it. I could barely catch my breath, and when I did I just wanted to sleep and when I did, they found a condom in the couch.
I saw him at work the following day. I didn’t say a word. I just wanted to get away from him. I put it to the back of my mind and never spoke about it again- only to my closest friends on the rarest of occasions. I thought I was doing fine. I really did. I’ve held on to this story for 10 years. My mind tricked me into thinking I was okay. I never acknowledged the damage this caused when it happened. Even when I considered that this might be a contributing factor to my poor relationship choices. The years that followed were painted with abuse (both verbal/emotional and physical) and years of low self-esteem and an almost non-existent sense of self-worth.
It’s hard not to fall back into old habits. It’s getting harder and harder to push this to the deepest, farthest part of my mind. My mind is tricking me less and less these days. It’s forcing me to deal with the reality that this happened. This was real and it was wrong and it wasn’t my fault. My friends from that day still don’t believe what happened. They don’t want to call it what it was, but I will. It was unwanted. It was unprovoked. It was rape. And it was real. The guilt is real. The pain is real. The emotional scars, ten years later, are real. I’m not sure where I go from here, but I thought this might be a good start.

— Survivor, age 27

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