Well, I am sitting in an empty cafe supposed to be studying for finals, but I can’t. I’ve been staring out the window while a single spider-web strand blows from the wall and quiet jazz music plays. It’s been 5 months since the first time it happened, and a couple since the second. Same guy. He was my best friend. I’m almost done with my freshman year at college. A supposedly small, conservative, safe campus – and a supposedly respectable, kind gentleman. We never had any romantic contact, he was interested in another girl and I was interested in another guy, which is why it worked out so well. I met him the first day and we hit it off, neither of us knew anyone coming in to college so we helped each other through a lot, and I mean a lot. I took harder classes than I should have, and would get stressed a lot – in addition to being severely homesick and having constant friend problems (I guess I just don’t know how to pick ’em). Freshman year had been tough and unstable, but he was always my constant. If I got another bad grade we would go do something fun like dance in an old train car or if I got sick (which was every other week) he would take care of and check up on me, etc. He was like the older brother I never had but always wanted. Always protecting, always safe. I told him that all the time and even wrote him a letter just so he knew how great I thought he was. I wasn’t clingy like I might sound just reading this, it’s just hard to convey everything he was to me at the time. He had and continues to have one of the best reputations on campus, while I am now just the good girl who went bad. Many forms of self-destruction cross my mind now. I’m not supposed to be the girl who needs counseling, the girl who drinks because she’s trying to forget something, the girl who’s rushed to the hospital in the middle of a panic attack because no one knows what to do with her, the girl who doesn’t know what to say when people ask her how college is going, the girl who’s parents argue with her and each other all the time because they’re so mad and hurt, the girl who has no interest in possibly ever being in another relationship again, or the girl who can’t bring herself to trust anyone anymore. But this girl is now me. My story is not one of violence or rape, it is one of deep confusion and assault.
The only thing I can say about what he did is this: he thought I was asleep both times. The first time was so confusing, my mind literally psychologically blocked it out. I completely ignored what happened, dismissing it as a dream. I guess I was in denial. We continued to be friends as if nothing ever happened. The second time it happened, he took it further. I was in such complete shock I couldn’t do anything for a while. I then got the nerve to text him and eventually we met up, he seemed so broken about it that it was hard to see him like that and I tried to comfort him. I was still in denial. He was still my big brother, right? He didn’t mean to do that, did he? The gravity of the situation didn’t hit me until a few days later. I had no idea I had been sexually assaulted twice. No idea. Pressing charges, telling people, nothing crossed my mind. I was still the same girl, with the same normal problems, able to do the same normal things. Well, not really. I had a couple panic attacks (but I just blamed them on other things) and my friends kept asking what was up with me. I finally told my closest girlfriend parts of what happened, no details. She started crying and I was shocked. “It’s really no big deal,” I said, “I just don’t know how to act around him really anymore is all.” She replied, “You were sexually assaulted, and we can’t handle this alone.” That shook my world and I will forever be in debt to her for saying it. I had to stop minimizing my problems, I had to get help. I told my parents even though I knew it would hurt them. I told the school even though it was incredibly difficult. I allowed myself to start seeing a counselor even though it was embarrassing. I see him around because even though it’s hard and I could get him kicked out, it’s the one thing I am willing to sacrifice for him. Not who he is- but who he was to me, to the good friend in my memories that inhabits the same body as this criminal. But at the same time I am not a doormat and will not allow me and my family to be stepped on for the reasons he did what he did. So at this point I am considering reporting him. It wouldn’t be out of anger, it would be out of my duty to do what I can to make sure it doesn’t happen to someone else. There are obviously many other factors that play into such a big decision, and I believe there’s strength in either doing it or not doing it in my case. I’ll take a few months to think about it first though. There are so many stages to recovery, and right now I am in a state of anger, driving me to write this story. But this is not my whole story, this is the beginning of a new chapter. One involving slow healing, a LOT of learning, and a different world perspective. Maybe one day I’ll be able to help another girl through this, maybe my daughter. That will have been worth it. Since the incidence(s) I have paid many consequences. I’ve withdrawn from classes, failed out of others, I never feel safe and basically all my friendships fell apart, and I feel like a walking pity party whenever I have a panic attack or have to fight one off in front of someone. No area of my life has not been affected. It’s like dominos. But it’s also like this hole I put in my ear. One day I was very broken. There are those days. So I walked a couple miles by the road on my own to a tattoo parlor to get a piercing. It hurt quite a bit when it happened, it seemed like it was taking forever even though it only lasted maybe a couple minutes. Every time I touch it since then, it hurts. Sometimes I don’t even have to touch it. It’ll take a while to heal, and even then, if I touch it wrong it’s going to be painful. If I try to forget about it and take out the earring, there’s just going to be an empty, ugly hole- because it happened. So instead of doing that, I take care of it and clean it and do what I need to even if it’s uncomfortable so that it won’t get infected; so that I can heal- and one day I’ll be able to take out this little metal ball and put a pretty diamond in that reflects light, catches eyes, and represents good things in the world. Because even though I sure as hell can’t see them right now, I know one day I will; because they are there.
— Chloe, age 19