My first night out at the bars in college was one that began with much excitement and anticipation. It was a freedom that I had never felt before. I felt old. I was in a new place with people who had absolutely no opinions of me. I was ready to establish myself in a way that I was never able to in high school. I wanted everyone to like me and, selfishly, I wanted everyone to be jealous of me. I wanted the other people in my class to think I was “cool” and mature and ready to take on anything the world could throw at me. I really was just trying to convince myself and my multitude of buried insecurities that those things were true.
My roommate and I got ready together in our new dorm room that we had spent the day decorating. I wore a floral skirt and a cream spaghetti strap tank top. I put on my favorite pink lipstick and maroon vans. I felt beautiful and confident… a feeling that was very unfamiliar to me. I was nervous but also excited to go to a party that some upperclassmen had invited us to. I was looking forward to drinking and partying and being a college student. All normal feelings for the first Saturday night of college. Little did I know the night would not end as happily as I was hoping for.
The first sign of trouble was my friends and I started heading towards the party. As we waited at the stoplight, a car of college-aged guys slowed down just long enough for one of them to lean out the window and yell “SLUTS!” to us. I immediately became uncomfortable and self-conscious. The outfit that I had so carefully planned and picked out suddenly seemed inappropriate. My skirt seemed to have shrunk 5 inches and my tank top was suddenly stretching to cover my too-small breasts. One word from a stranger and I was about ready to turn back and hide under my covers. But I couldn’t let my new friends see just how insecure I really was. So I tried my best to bury the thoughts and move on, although it was in the back of my mind all night.
Once safely at the house I quickly found myself stumbling over my words and feet; forgetting what had happened on the road just minutes earlier. We headed to the bars, tripping over each other and talking far too loud. The next occurrence that set me on a track to disaster happened on the dance floor at a bar. Guys had never shown me much interest in high school, so when I arrived at a bar full of men who were ready and willing to grind up against me I was overwhelmed with curiosity. My insecurities flew away as an attractive, Latino man asked me if I would dance with him. It started with light grinding, but escalated very quickly. I had never gone further than making out until this man slipped his hand under my skirt and started rubbing my vagina over my underwear as we danced in the sweaty dark and crowded club. It took me by surprise, but I didn’t stop it. It was the most attention I had ever received from a guy, as disgusting as the scenario was. I felt wanted. For once I w asn’t thinking about how my legs were too long or hair too thin or nose too bony. I was thinking about the fact that this man wanted me. When he pulled my underwear to the side I finally got overwhelmed and grabbed his hand to stop it. I turned around and he said “I had fun dancing with you. Can I get your number?” I gave it to him, and then leaned in for a full-on, public make-out session. I felt violated but liberated at the same time. I was no longer the shy innocent girl that high school had defined me as. I was a new woman. I gained experience and confidence right then and there. As we left the bars I knew that I would not be contacting or responding to him. He had served his purpose for me. And deep down I felt embarrassed about letting him touch me that way in such a public scene. He was just a stepping stone on my way to the real problem.
My roommate’s boyfriend walked us home to the dorms. We were drunk and unfamiliar to campus and we needed help getting back. The two of them held hands and flirted and kissed all the way back. I felt jealous and painfully aware of the fact that I was third-wheeling. I found myself wishing desperately that I had someone to hold hands and go home with after the bars. About ten minutes out from our building I turned around and saw this guy. He was tall, maybe 6’4. He had a manly stature and a baseball hat on. He had crystal blue eyes, a big nose and a crooked smile. He was walking alone and I was instantly attracted to him. My roommate and I started to flirt with him, innocent and friendly. He asked for my number and I quickly grabbed his phone and entered in my information. I remember the hope I had. He was cute and likable and he had asked for my number. I asked him if he was drunk and he replied “No, not really.” And he returned the question. I laughed and said “definitely”. He walked all the way back to the dorms with us. I should have known why at that point. I think deep down I did, but I was hoping for different.
The closer we got to the dorms, the more I realized that he was coming back with me. I started to panic as we reached the front door and he was still with us. I looked at him and said “I’m so tired I am going straight to bed”, hoping he would take the hint and leave. He just said “what?? Bed now?” and continued walking with me until we were literally at the door to my dorm. I realized that I either had to tell him to leave or invite him up right then and there. I thought to myself “what could it hurt to talk a little more and maybe make out a little? I really like this guy.” So I told him to wait there while I go check in at the front desk and I would let him in the side door. My roommate and her boyfriend were still there outside the dorms at this point. After I checked in I saw that she was calling me. I picked up and she immediately said “Are you ok?? Do you want him to come in??” I responded calmly and just said “Yeah fo r sure! I’ll just make out with him and talk to him for a while. Don’t worry. I won’t sleep with him. I kind of like him!” content with my answer she told me to have fun and that she was going home with her boyfriend. I ran to the side door to let this tall stranger in.
We sat on my small fold-able couch and chatted for maybe ten minutes. I showed him pictures from my recent trip to the Caribbean and he told me about his home town. All normal stuff. This is where it starts to get a little ugly. When there was a lull in conversation I decided, on a confidence high from events that had taken place that night, to go for it. I leaned in and we started making out. I was happy because this is exactly what I wanted to happen. I was hoping that we would just make out for a while and then talk about maybe seeing each other again. But things quickly went the other direction. He aggressively pulled my legs around him. A move that I thought was a little rough but I went with it. Before I knew it I was lying on my back, head and back on the couch and feet on the ground holding me up. He pulled my skirt down to my feet. This is when I looked at him and said: “No sex tonight. I am a virgin.” He just nodded and continued on to slip his hands under my ta nk top and go for second base. I was alright with this, hoping that he had understood and changed courses. I can deal with second base. But all of a sudden my underwear was off. He moved his head to my crotch and sucked on my vagina, very briefly and very aggressively. I pulled him back up to where he was before hoping he would just go back to feeling me up. Something that once seem so scandalous but was now completely a comfort zone in comparison to the alternative. That’s when I realized that he wasn’t wearing pants either. I was face to face with his erect penis… a very scary and unwanted reality to be faced with. He started putting it on and near my vagina. I kept saying “no, no, no.” But he kept at it which sent me into a complete panic mode. He didn’t have a condom on and I was worried that he was about to insert it without one. So I looked at him and said “well do you at least have a condom?” He, taking that as my consent, imm ediately found one in the pocket of his jeans which were crumpled on the floor in the corner. He tried putting it on, but it just got bunched up and it wouldn’t fully slide onto his now somewhat flaccid penis. At this point I knew I wasn’t getting out of this without us having sex. It had gone too far and I was scared and too afraid to back out. He had completely forced me into becoming an active participant. So when he said “looks like I need a jumpstart” and grabbed my head forcing it to his genitals, I willingly started giving him a blowjob. I wasn’t about to let him enter me without protection, and if a blowjob would prevent that then I was willing to do it. Once he was hard again and the condom was on fully, He thrust it into me without any hesitation or warning. It was shocking and painful and very upsetting. He fucked me hard, throwing me against the fold up couch. My back hurt as it was slammed against the metal bar that was the structure of the couch. I cringed in pain but I couldn’t say anything. I was relieved and happy when he said “I think I just came” and pulled out of me. The condom was drenched in blood. An absolutely terrible sight that I will never get out of my head. I slowly pulled my underwear back up and put on a t-shirt from my drawer, as he pulled the bloody mess of a condom off and cast it into the trash. My entire body hurt and I was on the verge of tears. We both stood up and I kissed him, trying to make things better, but it was different this time. His mouth was firm and he was no longer kissing me back. I patted him on the chest and said “Congrats, you have my virginity now.” He laughed which made me naively believe that perhaps there was still a chance that he did actually like me. So I said “you have my number, text me!” In a last desperate attempt to make what just happened not so bad. He said “Yeah I will” and walked out the door. I never heard from him again.
After the initial shock and pain, I started trying to find ways to cope with it. I couldn’t admit to anyone what had really happened, especially myself. So I started telling myself that I should be happy. I had finally lost my virginity. Someone somewhere wanted sex with me. I told myself to be relieved that I had gotten it out of the way. I was no longer the virgin. The first person I called was my best friend from home. She was asleep so I dialed my sister’s number, hands trembling with waves of shock. I told her that I had just lost my virginity, voice shaky and breaking. She asked if I was crying, and I said no although I realized as soon as she said it that I was. I told her that I wanted it and I was happy and that he was going to text me tomorrow. All lies that I wanted myself to believe more than anyone else. I laid in my bed and sobbed myself to sleep. I knew it wasn’t how I was supposed to feel but I refused to admit to myself that it wasn’t OK. I ha d lost my virginity to a rape. Something that I could never get back. Something that changed the way I see men. Something that changed the way I see the world in general. Ever since then I have expected the worst out of everyone. I don’t want to date people anymore. I have had numerous one-night-stands since then and felt absolutely nothing afterwards. I don’t get crushes and I don’t get attached. I don’t let people get close. I am forever changed after what happened that night.
So many completely ignorant people in the world would say that I asked for it. I wore the slutty outfit didn’t I? I let him into my room, didn’t I? I went in for the kiss, did I not? Some would say that I was begging for it. The true reality is that I said “NO”. Several times. The truth is that I was intoxicated and he was not. The truth is that I woke up with extremely painful black and blue bruises on my lower back and arms where I was slammed into my own furniture. The truth is that he sexually abused me and still doesn’t know it. The truth is that I will never be the same. At least now I can tell myself that I know what happened and that I am not to blame. I have not really recanted the story in full detail until now. I felt complete guilt and shame about what happened until I finally realized that it was NOT my fault by any means. I wish I could say that I learned from this experience, but I can never fix it. I can never go back and lose my virginity again in a different way. It is over. The only thing I can do now is try to move on from it and if I am lucky, stop it from happening to other girls. Everything that I wrote is completely true to the extent of how I remember the night.
— Survivor, age 19