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Confused for Too Long

So many stories here have helped me to feel okay, so I figured I would give back in hopes that my story might comfort someone else who may have experienced something similar. I was raped when I was 17 on a family vacation, and for 8 years of my life I blamed myself. At the time I had a boyfriend, who I am still with today 10 years later and we are now engaged. However, for 8 years I did not tell him, or anyone what happened to me. I hid it in the back of my mind and often times pretended like it didn’t even happen, like it was some sort of weird bad dream. But as I started getting older, and thinking about marriage with the love of my life, I had to tell him what happened so many years ago.
It went down like this: When I was on vacation with my family I also had one of my girlfriends with me, and we bought drinking wristbands from two resort employees even though we were only 17. We then decided to go to the disco on the resort that night. We met these two guys and hung out a bit, but I remember saying to one of them who was clearly interested in me that I was not looking to hook up with anyone because I had a boyfriend back home, so if he was “looking to get laid” he should move on to someone else. He seemed disappointed but sort of shrugged it off. They walked us back to our hotel room (big mistake, because now they knew where our room was) and they hung out for a bit longer in our room just chatting. I was laying on the bed and the guy then laid down beside me and started kissing me. I pushed him off and said no, then they both left. The next day we saw them again at the club, being two 17 year olds with wristbands we wanted to have fun and party, and I want to kick myself so hard for going back there. When you are young you feel invincible, like you have total control over your own destiny and nothing bad could even happen to you. But it did. We continued to party, dance and drink, which at the time I thought was innocent enough. At some point in the night, I started feeling very different, not drunk, but something different. They were getting us drinks all night, it was an all-inclusive resort they didn’t even have to pay, but I’m sure they could pay some bartenders to supply them with date rape drugs. I will never know how they got the drugs, or what they even were, but I know that I was not just drunk those nights, and there is a reason that two days blurred into one in my memory, because that’s how messed up my memory is when it comes to this.
Anyway, I remember bits and pieces of those nights, but it is never a full picture. I remember going to a burger joint at some point and feeling really out of body, like I wasn’t there. I remember skinny dipping at one point, and seeing my friend run away, but I couldn’t call out to her even when I tried. The most disturbing thing I remember is him, on top of me in in bed. I was so confused, and so out of it. I remember feeling numb, like I couldn’t feel anything that was happening to me. I remember not being able to speak, I remember feeling like what was happening, wasn’t really happening to me but to someone else. I remember he moved me to the shower at one point, but there was no water on, he moved me to the couch where he put me on top of him, but I just sat there limp. He moved me to the bed at another point, and he was behind me. I could not tell you what order these things happened in. I also have no concept of time. All I remember is feeling nothing at all, emotionally, physically, mentally, and being in-and-out of consciousness. The next morning, he was gone and my friend came back to our room and we both said that we think we had sex last night (he had a friend that clearly liked her as well). We both seemed unsure. I still don’t know how she feels about that night, we have sort of lost touch after this event.
I think one of the major reasons I blamed myself for everything is because I went back to the club a second night even after all this just happened to me. At the time, I was 17 and did not have much experience with sex and so I think that I was just really confused, and I thought that it was just a “drunken mistake” or something. We both went back to the club the next night, and they were there, and we talked to them like nothing was wrong at all. I cannot believe how I reacted. My therapist thinks I went back because I was looking for answers, which is comforting. But, I also think we went back because we wanted to carry on like nothing bad happened, if we just kept on our same pattern of underage drinking and partying, then we didn’t have to stop and think about what just happened. The second night the only memory I have is him passed out on the foot of the bed naked, and I woke up confused and angry so I started kicking him to wake him up. I kicked him so hard that he fell to the floor, and just laid there on the ground. I passed out after this.
It’s really hard to get to the truth of something when you don’t have all the information yourself. But I found that in my lack or memory is the truth itself, this wasn’t my fault. How could I blame myself for something I don’t even remember? I couldn’t answer any of my boyfriend’s basic questions when I first told him I thought I cheated on him many years ago. Where were you? I’m not sure. How long was it? I don’t know. What did he look like? I can’t really remember. How did it happen? I don’t know. I don’t remember how it started, or how it finished. All I remember is feeling numb and out of it.
I realize this story is a difficult one to understand, I struggled for about a year to finally figure out how to define what happened to me. I have never been so confused in my life, and under so much pressure. I was terrified to identify as a rape survivor because I didn’t want to incorrectly label myself. I didn’t want to say I was raped until I was 100% sure that’s what it was, and it was a really difficult journey to get there. My boyfriend proposed to me a year after I came out with all this, and he has been the most amazing support through it all. Sometimes it is difficult because he has doubts. Sometimes he is scared that I am still lying, that I am hiding from the truth, that I cheated on him. And whenever he gets upset and says things like “I hope you’re not lying” or “I hope you’re not wrong” I get super angry. But I have to remember everything I put him through too, I did say I cheated on him, even though I was wrong about that it still hurts him. It’s hard sometimes to feel bad for yourself and for others around you at the same time. Comforting him seems so backwards when I feel like he is accusing me of lying, but I know I have to be patient and realize what I’ve put him through emotionally. I am still terrified of people calling me a liar, and questioning my story. I feel like for a year I was in an intense interrogation room and now I feel very sensitive when he questions me. I guess all I can do is find reassurance that I figured out the truth for myself, finally. Also, I am getting stronger on the daily, and I no longer blame myself for what happened to me, which incites mixed emotions of relief, anger and sadness simultaneously. My advice to others, if you are confused about something that has happened to you, talk to someone. I wish I had much earlier.

— Survivor, age 27


  • Alissa Ackerman
  • Survivor, age 27


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