About a year and a half ago, I was raped. In 2013, my first job was a lifeguard at a Boy Scout Camp near my home in Salisbury, Maryland. My aquatics director was a guy named, let’s just call him CJ, and he seemed alright. The day before I left to go to back to school, he told me that he wanted to tell me something. He told me that he was bisexual. I was really surprised to hear that because he didn’t seem the type. I told him that it was okay. I’m not gay or “bi” but, I mean whatever floats your boat. I figured that as long as he didn’t try to pull anything on me, I was cool with it. My mistake.
In the summer of 2014, I returned to camp but he didn’t. He visited “the old guys” every so often and we would hang out. Sometimes, it was a little awkward with him and the elephant in the room with him, but overall, he was cool. One afternoon, on the last week at camp, he texted me and said that he was coming up to visit and to meet him at the camp’s Nature Lodge. I said cool beans and asked if anyone wanted to come with me. Nobody did, but I thought that I’d at least meet someone there. When I arrived, CJ was the only one there. We hung out for a bit, but still no one came. I wasn’t sure that I liked being alone with CJ, but I figured that could trust him. Wrong.
He kept messing around and wanting to play hide and seek. I didn’t like that and said that I was leaving. He said okay and that was that. After a bit he asked if I had been on such-and-such trail. I said no but I wanted to. I’d always wanted to explore the eastern part of camp and it was cool to find new stuff. Exploring is fun. He talked about his plans for the future and asked if I was going back to camp the next year, small talk like that. He kept moving a little closer every now and then, which made me nervous. Eventually, he asked if I wanted to have sex with him. Horrified, I gave a solid NO. I guess I was so taken aback by that question, that I didn’t see his reaction.
I said that I was going back to the Nature Lodge. He followed and but kept his distance which I was totally cool with. When we were close to the Lodge, I was in front of him and he was behind. The next thing I knew, he grabbed my arms and put them behind my back. I froze. I was scared, shocked, and not sure of what to do. My shorts were yanked and I’m guessing that his were already down. He held me on the forest floor and did what he wanted. When he was done, he got off and left me on the ground. I got up like and put on my clothes. I felt like I had no purpose, just move around. CJ acted as if nothing happened. We we at the Nature Lodge by now and he was about to leave, but before he left, he pulled a switchblade out of his pocket and tossed it at me. He left and I haven’t seen him since.
The rest of the evening I did nothing. I couldn’t eat. I was scared. I was in survival mode had no idea of what to do. I put my clothes in a washer and washed them as I took a shower. The water was hot but I couldn’t feel it. I scratched and scratched my lower body until it was raw.
For the rest of the week I was in a daze. I talked to a friend about that recently and he said that I had that deer in the headlights look the whole time. Anyway, I didn’t dare tell anyone, not even my parents. A week later, I returned to school for senior year. I went to a Christian boarding school that helps teens who grew up with traumatic events. Fitting right? My dorm parent met with me the day I got back. When she gave me a hug, I was all stiff and jumpy. She said she knew right away at what happened, but still, I told her that I had been attacked.
For the first few months, we worked together. I learned that I had PTSD and still go through therapy today. One of the main things that my dorm parent told me was that this DOESN’T DEFINE ME. It just doesn’t. CJ doesn’t run my life. Even when the police detective thought I was lying about my rape, I knew that what happened happened and I’m getting better at dealing with it.
I’m now a 19-year old who is plugging through life. It was, in some ways a lesson. I paid the ultimate price in trusting people. Now, I wait to trust people. I think thing’s through more. If there’s something that I don’t feel comfortable with, I’m more likely to say something or leave.
For a while, I wished every ill thing on Earth on CJ. Now, I’m getting to a point where I could forgive him. I never want anyone to hold something against me, and I don’t want to hold grudges, even for such a crime as my rape.
Rape is extremely painful. You feel betrayed, hurt, sad, and angry. All reasonable because, yes, you should feel that way. I’m sure everyone feels disgusting, slimy, humiliated, disgraced and gross after a sexual attack. The fact is, you ARE NOT any of those. You are you. Not disgusting, but beautiful. Not slimy or gross, but clean. Not humiliated or disgraced, but honorable. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!!!!!!
It’s not easy but you can overcome this. You are still the amazing you. Your attacker can’t take that away from you. You are in control.
— John, age 19