When I was 17, in my final year of high school, I went out to dinner with a couple of friends on a Saturday night. I left to walk home afterwards, and I was unaware that there was a car was following me as I did. I was almost home when I noticed the shadow of someone walking behind me. I turned around and nervously said hello to this man. He proceeded to grab me from behind with his arm around my neck, choking me with his fist in my face. He told me to “Shut up bitch or I will punch you.”, as I screamed. I did as I was told, as I was afraid he would kill me. He took my further down the street, trying to get to a more secluded spot. I screamed and yelled some more, I was so close to home. I called out for my mother, but no one came to help. He threw me to the ground and I narrowly missed hitting my head on the gutter. He pulled me by the hair to get me on my back and proceeded to get on top of me, choke me and rape me. I manage to bit e him and he finally left me alone and ran away, taking my handbag with him. I ran into my house and alerted my family, who then called the police.
When the police finally arrived about an hour later, they took me back out to the scene of the crime by myself and the first question they asked me was, “Do you have a boyfriend? Are you sure you didn’t just have a fight with your boyfriend?” I was shocked that they would ask that and felt like they didn’t believe me. I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time, in any case.
The next couple of days were very difficult. I was paranoid that my rapist would come find me and kill me. He had taken my handbag which contained by school ID and license with my address on it. I was embarrassed at what had happened to me, and tried to go to school as though nothing had happened, but gossip spread quickly in the small town where I lived. I could feel people’s eyes on me, some students even asked me about what had happened. It was very hard to focus on school, but I did my best.
My rapist did end up being caught. He was a serial rapist who had already attacked 3 other women in my town in the months leading up to him attacking me. The police caught him driving past the scene of the crime, while they were patrolling, only two nights later. The police said that the evidence I gave and my ability to give a good description of him, helped them catch him. I just wish that they had not questioned my honesty on the night it happened. It made me wonder how many other victims had not been believed, and made me think about why so many rape victims don’t come forward, in fear of not being believed.
This all happened many years ago. My rapist was sentenced to 13 years jail and served that time. I moved away from my home town and have gone on to live a happy, normal life. However earlier this year, I discovered via my local news paper, that my rapist was out of jail and actually living in the same city as me. He had also reoffended a couple of times, not rapes, but masturbation in public and stealing. He is now back in custody. Knowing that he was living in the same place as me and that I could run into him on the street gave me a lot of anxiety. I’m glad that he is back behind bars and I believe that is where he should stay. Not because I have hate in my heart for him, but because I believe he is a danger to society. I have had to let go of any hate and forgive, not for him, but for me. I can’t carry hate in my heart. But that doesn’t mean I think that he deserves his freedom if he has not been rehabilitated.
Being raped has not defined me, but it did take me a long time to not be scared to walk alone at night or in isolated areas. I believe that all women should have the freedom to walk alone at night and that we should not have to avoid this to protect ourselves – men should just NOT RAPE! We need to stop victim blaming and expecting women to not put themselves in situations where they could be raped and focus more on teaching our men and boys that violence against women is not OK. That rape is wrong and that no woman deserves to be raped, no matter what she is wearing, what she is doing, how much she has had to drink, or even if she is already kissing a man or naked with him. No means no.