The first time I was raped, it was St. Patrick’s Day. I was 19. A friend invited me to a house party with her boyfriend and his friends. The house was just off a county road that led straight into my hometown. I was one of the last people outside. At the time, I was kind of flirty. My intention was never to lead people on, I made it clear I had a boyfriend (now ex). It eventually got down to just me and one other guy at the fire. We were talking and having a good time for a while, but then I started getting uncomfortable. I said I was going to go to bed soon, because he started acting too sexual. I reminded him of my boyfriend, told him I wasn’t a cheater. He said that it was cool, and that he should probably get to bed as well.
He came up behind me and pinned me against a work table. I tried to pretend that I wasn’t in the middle of an assault. Maybe if I tried to like it, it wouldn’t hurt quite so bad. I honestly don’t know if it helped at all, I don’t remember feeling much after a while. Not him inside me, not my hips scraping against the table, not the lumps on my head. I kinda went numb. From a mental health recovery standpoint, trying to like it was a horrible idea. I think that is why I have doubts about it qualifying as rape. I flirted with him, I tried to enjoy it. I thought about how this would affect my sex life. Would I still enjoy sex? I thought about calling the cops when he finally finished, but I didn’t want it to get my friend in trouble for underaged drinking or her boyfriend and his friends for supplying. I thought about calling my mom to come get me, but she thought I was at my friend’s house, and I didn’t want to let her down. I was smarter than this. I knew better. I went through everyone I knew, in my head, but nobody except my boyfriend seemed like a viable option. He wasn’t pleased. I couldn’t bring myself to say I was raped. I tried, but I choked every time. I ended up saying that “I got fucked, but I didn’t want it”. He, naturally, thought I cheated on him. I told him I didn’t cheat, I didn’t want the sex. I still couldn’t say rape. He didn’t understand, I was saying I fucked another guy. I told him I was hurt and I needed him and I didn’t cheat on him. He finally understood what I was saying, and asked if I was raped. I said yes. He then told me he was on his way.
The sun was coming up by the time he got there. He took me back to his parents house, and helped me get cleaned up. I then made another horrible mistake for my recovery. I asked him to have sex with me. At the time, all I could think about was that the last person to have touched me, the last person to have been inside of me was my attacker. I thought it would help. It hurt so much, but I didn’t let my boyfriend know. I just needed to be in control. I think this also contributes to me not always thinking of it as a rape. My friends all questioned me on this decision. They all said things along the lines of “if you were raped, why did you have sex right away? Shouldn’t you not want sex for a while?” Everybody copes differently. I didn’t enjoy sex for a while, but I kept doing it. I felt like I had to. I couldn’t let this man ruin sex for me. I couldn’t let him control my sex life any more than he did that night. I couldn’t control what he did to me then, but I could control when I chose to have sex after. So for a while, every time I started feeling out of control, I had sex. Sometimes four or five times a day. Never more than a day without. I started drinking a lot, until one night I was determined to lay outside beneath the trees and stars until I froze to death. Thankfully, my boyfriend found me and got me back inside. That was my rock bottom.
After that, I stopped using sex as a coping mechanism and slowly started to enjoy it again. I found out a while later that the next day, my attacker told everyone how he got laid, which made me think even more that he didn’t know that I thought of it as a rape. I couldn’t talk to the friend that invited me to the party for a while afterwards, because I blamed her. If she hadn’t invited me, I’d still be whole. But when I finally did reach out to her, she told me she knew I didn’t want it. Without me having to say it. She believed me before I even told her. I forgave her, and realized that it wasn’t her fault, or mine, the second she said that.
The second time, I was 21, and I was gang raped.
I’ve never said it out loud. Even now, almost four years later. The detective thought I was drugged, but I didn’t go in for the rape kit soon enough to detect anything. It was all a bit blurry and had very movie-like flashes of images. I can remember exactly how it felt, and how confusing it was… I met a group of guys that worked together at the bar. They all seemed very nice. we talked about fishing, where we were from, local activities, etc. We got to “their place”, which ended up being a hotel. That’s when they told me they were only there temporarily for work. I should have just left then, but I still gave them the benefit of the doubt. We continued talking and joking around. I only had one or two more drinks, but I didn’t watch my cup. All of a sudden I was way drunker than I should have been, I could see how I was acting inappropriately, but I couldn’t stop myself. They would tell me to do something and I’d do it. Then the drowsiness hit me and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I said I was going to leave and walk home. I was assured that I could sleep there and get a ride to my car in the morning, as it had started to sprinkle and it was almost a two mile walk home. “Only sleep?” I made sure to ask, not able to form sentences anymore, my tongue was so heavy. They promised. Nothing inappropriate. They had to go to sleep too, as they worked in the morning. Last I remember, I was walking towards the bed, feeling relieved that I could just go to sleep now. What felt like minutes after starting to feel drowsy. There’s no way I would have made it home.
Something wakes me up, and everything seems different. I’m laying down, but something isn’t right. But I’m so tired, I cant keep my eyes open. Blink, I feel like I’m being crushed. It’s hard to breathe. Blink, there’s a person on top of me. What’s he doing? Blink, I can feel him inside of me. Why is he doing this? They said I could just sleep! Blink, it hurts, I should say something. But my mouth won’t cooperate. Blink, oh, now he’s standing next to me. Thank God, it’s over. I can’t believe I let this happen again. At least it was over faster this time. Flash, what was that? Why does my chest still feel so heavy? Blink, oh there’s someone on top of me, now. When did he get there? Blink, there’s someone else laying next to me, too. How many people are sleeping in this bed? Flash, oh my god, that was so bright. Flash, I think guy 1 is taking pictures. Flash, why would he be taking pictures of me sleeping? Flash, oh no, this guy is fucking me too. Why didn’t I feel that before? My mouth feels so dry and my tongue heavy, but I manage to ask the guy with what I think was a camera “why are you doing this?” Not sure if he understood me or responded. Blink the weight is gone, the other guy must be done. Blink, I see most of my clothes on the floor. No time to look for my underwear, though. Blink, I’m tying my shoes. I’m really regretting wearing my Converse, I can’t just slip them on. But they glow in the dark. Blink, I’m running out of the room. Blink, I’m two blocks away, and nobody will answer my calls. It’s almost 6am, and I have nobody. Blink, I’m in my car. I shouldn’t be driving. Blink, I’m home, in my bed, alone.
I went to sleep, and went to work like nothing happened. It was my first shift after being promoted, I couldn’t miss it.
It happened early on a Thursday morning. I reported it on Friday night. I should have gone in right away or not at all. Maybe if I’d gone right away, they would have done more to get these guys. Instead I went through hours of interrogation, examination, preventative shots in the ass, HIV tests, agonizing months waiting for results, and having to repeat the tests a year later, had to send all of the clothes I wore off to evidence. All for the men to claim that only one of them had sex with me, and that I was willing. That’s when the case stopped. They told me that if I pursued it, it would be a ‘he said, she said’ trial and most likely they wouldn’t see any jail time.
In the DNA tests, they found two sets of male DNA inside me. Only one of those matched the two guys I actually remember raping me that night. That means there were at least three men that night. Who knows how many actually took a turn while I was unconscious, possibly drugged. I remember there being at least 5 people there when I started getting drowsy, one was sleeping. But I think whatever it was that they gave me wore off sooner than they thought it would. I remember them just staring at me when I got up and left. Like they were just as confused as I was. I feel so disgusting when I think about them taking turns with my unconscious body. But I can’t shut it off. Because I will never know how many there were. I let myself get raped not once, but twice. And by a total of at least four men. It’s possible that I’ve been raped by more men than I’ve willingly had sex with. But its at least as many. I’ll never know.
You think when it happens, that the second time will be easier. You think you know that you aren’t to blame. You think you know how to cope. I hope for some people that that is true, but for me it wasn’t. It was and still is, so much harder. I let myself get into that situation twice! And for me, it wasn’t an unavoidable situation. Neither of them were. I got drunk and made mistakes. And then I did it again. I went to the bar alone, I left the bar with people I didn’t know. I knew better than that. I thought I was being cautious at the time. I wasn’t wasted, I charged my phone before going out, I held onto my drinks at the bar, but not at their place. For some reason, I thought these were good people and that since there were so many of them, that I was safe. So I let my guard down when I shouldn’t have. And I know I shouldn’t blame myself, but they wouldn’t have followed me home, they wouldn’t have kidnapped me, they were never violent. I went to them. That was my mistake. I still think about the second rape daily. I check their Facebooks from time to time and everytime I do, I desperately hope to see that they have gotten prostate cancer and had a botched surgery that will leave them limp for the rest of their lives. But they appear to be living happy lives with girlfriends and children. And I hate them for taking my happiness. I hate them for how worthless I feel. I hate them for convincing the cops that I wanted it. And I hate the cops for questioning my integrity. For asking if I was sure I didn’t just make a drunken mistake and regret it later. I hate them so much for making me question myself. For not doing everything they could to get these guys. I hate the detective, whose wife worked in victim services, that told me it wasn’t worth pursuing. Because I believed him. But mostly, I hate myself. I let it happen. Twice.
— Survivor, age 25