Being raped by my brother’s best friend was the most confusing thing to ever happen to me. It’s been six years since that night and it still affects me. I want to tell my story because only through reading other survivor’s stories was I able to finally accept what happened, confront my rapist, and move on. This is my story:
I was nineteen and one summer night my siblings and I threw a party when our parents were away. The party was my idea and I had never done anything like that before. I was a “good girl” and very reserved throughout high school. When I started college I had my first taste of alcohol, began to rebel a bit, and tested the limits. So that night we had about seventy people at our house, ten of whom were my friends. My brother’s best friend came and I was so happy to see him. His mom had suddenly passed away just a month earlier and I wasn’t sure that he would come. He and I had a history. I had met him when I was 13; he was two years older than me and I had a crush on him. He was very cute and charming, but also kind of a manipulative and an asshole. He was a “bad boy” in every sense of the word. He was so slick; he could talk you into anything. He wasn’t always a good friend to my brother either. He had an off-and-on-again girlfriend throughout high school who he cheated on. So yeah, he was that kind of guy.
Over the years we hooked up (as in strictly made-out) a couple of times. We liked each other… at least I liked him. He dragged me along a lot of the time…he would flirt with me when he saw me at my house, but then pretend I didn’t exist in school. But that was okay. He was the kind of guy that you had fun with…not the kind of guy you’d want to have a serious relationship with. By the time this party came around, we hadn’t had anything romantic go on between us in over a year. When his mom died, I felt so horrible for him. Having lost a parent suddenly myself, I could empathize with him. All I could do was let him know I was there if he ever wanted to talk.
So when he showed up to the party, I hugged him and told him it was so good to see him. The night went on without any interaction between us. Side note: I had just started taking Prozac and you’re not really supposed to drink on those meds. In the past I had only drank beer. But at this party, one of the guys made jungle juice. I had never tried that before, and I remember watching him make it – he poured every type of alcohol you could imagine into that jug. I decided to try it and it tasted so good – I couldn’t even taste the alcohol. I figured a little bit wouldn’t hurt. Well, that was a mistake. Not even a full cup later and I was so, so sick.
I was in the bathroom puking for almost an hour. I had never been that sick in my whole life. Everything was foggy. My head hurt. My stomach hurt. After coming out of the bathroom when I was done, I ran into my brother’s friend. He suggested we go outside and sit on the front porch so I could get some air. I figured that was a good idea and so I went. It was just the two of us. He brought me out a vitamin water and I sipped it. We talked for what felt like forever. I remember staring at him and not really hearing everything he was saying. His face was clear but the space around it was sort of fuzzy. What I do remember was he talked about how he missed his mom and how he didn’t want to live in a world without her. He was saying that he wanted to die, too. Having felt like that before myself, I felt a connection to him. I told him to be patient and that it would get better. And that he still had a lot to live for. I just felt so sorry for him; I knew that nothing I said could make it better, so I just listened and hoped he would be done talking soon because I felt like crap.
My memory skips a bit after this part. I remember we were in my room and he waited for me while I washed up and changed into comfy clothes. Then we ended up in the guest room downstairs. I remember my best friend pleading with me not to go in there with him. I told her to relax because we were just talking and nothing was going to happen. I told her that he was really upset and just wanted someone to talk to. So we sat on the bed and talked. I wasn’t feeling nauseous anymore, just kind of loopy, still drunk, and really tired. I don’t remember much of this part; I think we began talking about our history together. He told me that he and his girlfriend were on a break, which I knew was a lie. He said he wanted to take me out on a date next week and I told him that he was full of shit and that was never going to happen. I don’t know what we talked about next. I just remember that he pulled out his dick and said he just “wanted to see what I would do.” I looked at it and didn’t do anything. Maybe he thought I had never saw one before? So I told him I wasn’t a virgin and he acted SO surprised. I assume that we kissed at some point, but I don’t remember kissing him. Looking back, I feel like once he heard that I wasn’t a virgin, it was like a switch flipped and he saw me in a different way. The next thing I remember was that he was on top of me. He pulled my shorts down and I pulled them back up and said No. He must’ve said things like “C’mon” and “Please” because I vividly remember saying No about fifteen times. He pulled down my shorts again and was trying to stick it in. I remember it hurt and I put my hand down there I guess trying to adjust it. I kind of felt like Okay this is happening either way, and I just didn’t want it to hurt so much. I remember breathing heavily and he told me to be quiet. The next thing I knew he said, “I told you it would be quick.”
What???? What the hell just happened? I had said No but he did it anyway. Did he just cum inside me? These were my thoughts. “What did you just do?” I asked him. His exact words were “What- you’re not on birth control?” NO! I told him I wasn’t. Just because I wasn’t a virgin didn’t mean I was on birth control, which I’m assuming is what he thought. His response? “Oh…well you better go pee then.” Yeah, because that will make it better! I went to the bathroom and peed right in front of him. When I was done, he told me he had to leave. I was so confused…I asked him why he had to leave right that second. I reminded him that he drank before and probably shouldn’t drive. He left anyway with barely a goodbye.
I don’t remember this but my best friend who was at the party said that I came out of the bedroom crying. She asked what was wrong but I didn’t say. Even though I didn’t realize what had just happened, I knew something didn’t feel right and that’s probably why I was upset. The only thing that stuck out in my mind and what I kept thinking about was the fact that I kept saying No. I kept saying No, but he did it anyway. No condom, no pulling out… how he could be so disgusting and disrespectful? I have some blank spots with that night, but saying No is something that I still remember so vividly. No, no…no…no…no…no…NO. Wasn’t one “No” supposed to be enough?
The next morning I went with my friend to get the pill, which was humiliating; I felt so ashamed. I couldn’t even bring myself to tell her what happened yet. He and I texted a little that day and he told me he felt like he had betrayed my brother and didn’t think we should see each other for a while. Now, I’ve been through some pretty rough times in my life, but I can honestly say that I have never felt as low, as horrible, and as confused as I did that night. I remember sobbing uncontrollably; I just didn’t understand. I felt used. I felt like I did something wrong. I felt like I wanted to die. When my Mom came home that night, I ended up telling her everything. I couldn’t pretend that I was okay.
I went to my psychologist that week and told her what happened. She told me right away that what happened was date rape, or acquaintance rape. What?? Really? No way, I didn’t believe her. I thought about the stereotypes of rape. This wasn’t a stranger in a dark alley. This was a friend. It wasn’t violent. We were both drunk…at least I think he was drunk? I agreed that he took advantage of me but it couldn’t be rape. And then I thought of all the things I should’ve done but didn’t or couldn’t do because I was drunk, which again, felt like my fault. Like I shouldn’t have let myself get like that. I thought, I didn’t push him off me, I didn’t yell or scream for help. Maybe if I had been more forceful, he would’ve understood that I didn’t want to have sex. My Mom wanted me to press charges, but I said No way. I was still so confused.
When I told my brother the details what happened, he was so, so angry at his friend. But like me, he made excuses, too. He said things like, Well, he’s been going through a really difficult time, he hasn’t been himself. He was so wasted. I agreed that he was going through a rough time and I felt really bad for him. But I wasn’t quite sure how wasted he really was. I mean, this was someone who had been drinking since he was fifteen and had a very high tolerance for alcohol. Even if I was wrong and he was “wasted” then why was he 1) able to cum right away and 2) able to drive 45 minutes home. I didn’t get it.
These thoughts consumed me for the next two years. Was it rape? Or was it not? I didn’t want to even think about it. I cut ties with him and it was all in the past. I now had someone special in my life…someone who was a good person, who made me feel loved, and safe. But after awhile, no matter how hard I tried, it seemed that I couldn’t move past what happened. I had changed. I didn’t go to any more parties. I didn’t drink anymore. I avoided certain places that I knew he hung out in. I was so afraid of running into him. I felt like I was always looking over my shoulder. When I saw someone that looked like him, my heart raced. And when I actually did see him on campus, I had my first ever panic attack. It affected my being intimate with my boyfriend in the beginning of our relationship. I had recurring dreams about him, too; in the dreams I was always running away from him. After three years of experiencing all these things, I figured it was time to address it again with my therapist. I went through the whole thing again with her and though it was hard, I was finally able to admit to myself what it was…it was rape. I decided to write him a letter, just for myself at first because I figured it’d be cathartic. And then I decided to send it.
Basically, in the letter I told him that I knew what he did to me. I told him that I remember saying No repeatedly and that saying it once should’ve been enough. I asked why he cared so much about betraying my brother but not about hurting me. I asked how could he use me like that when I considered him a friend. I asked how he could not even apologize for hurting me? I told him that I wasn’t confused anymore about what happened. I wasn’t going to call what happened that night by “any other name” anymore. I was calling it what it was and it was rape. I said that I wanted to make sure he knew what he did to me. I told him that I didn’t want him to ever forget it because I never will. I said, “I will not be the only person who carries this burden…I want you to carry it too.”
I felt on top of the world when I sent that message. And then I felt extremely bad a few hours later when he responded. Honestly, his response was what I expected it to be…but that didn’t make it hurt any less. He was never going to admit what he did. He didn’t take any responsibility and in a twisted way, turned the whole thing back onto me, making himself look like the nice guy. He said, “It was not rape. And don’t let yourself think that it was because I don’t want you to carry that burden.” That’s nice of him, right? Then he said he was “sorry for the result of what happened and wishes he could take it back because things aren’t the same between him and my family, but he wishes me well.” Sweet of him, right? He was sorry for the result, but not the action. Oh, and do you want to know the best part? He’s a police officer now.
So, that’s my story. I’ve realized many things over the past few years. I know that what happened wasn’t my fault; it didn’t matter how drunk I was. He was the one who decided he wanted to have “sex” with me and didn’t care what I said or how I felt. I know that alcohol doesn’t excuse his actions. Alcohol may have played a role in that it made me incapacitated, but alcohol didn’t make him rape me. He was the one who took advantage of me and chose to ignore my protests. It makes me so sad to know that my story is like so many others. Approximately one in four college aged women is date raped or experiences an attempted date-rape situation. For over eighty percent of rapes in general, the victim knows their attacker. These statistics are insane. I know that date rape or acquaintance rape can be so confusing, because you have this connection, or past, or tie to your attacker. It makes you not want to come forward. That was never even an option in my mind. Why would I put all of us through that when I knew nothing would come of it? We live in this rape culture- one that blames the victim and makes excuses for the rapists. I know that it can be scary to tell people for fear of them not believing you, or saying things like, You were both drunk, it was just a mistake. But in the end, you know the truth. And in the world we live in, sometimes that has to be enough. I give so much credit to the girls that do come forward. This is an issue that no one seems to wants to talk about. It seems that the dialogue is just beginning. These girls are so, so brave and they are the voices for all of us.
My story continues because I still live with what happened. It still affects me and I still have dreams. That made me so angry for so long- the fact that he could just appear in my dreams. The dreams are different now though. They’re not like before where I would run away from him. In the dreams I have now, he’s just there. There’s no interaction between us, but he’s there. I think it symbolizes my feeling that, in a way, he will always be there. What happened is part of my past and I won’t ever forget it. There will never be a time where I look back and think, Oh, I vaguely remember him. There will never be a time when I think about that night and not feel hurt. Or when I hear a story of rape and not have those feelings rush back. Part of moving on is accepting that it will come up. Accepting that is the hardest thing to do. But once I did accept it, it felt like a weight was lifted. I accept that I’ll be reminded of him and that I’ll be reminded of what happened at random times throughout the rest of my life. And when it comes up, I let myself feel it. I feel sad, hurt, or mad…but only for a minute. And then I let it go. I let it go because holding onto that anger just does more damage to me. I let it go because life is too short to dwell on the past. I let it go so I can be a happy and healthy person. I let it go and I choose to be free.
— Survivor, age 25