To begin, when I was young I developed a terrible maladaptive coping skill of cutting my skin to relieve anything that gave me stress or upset. I began in 6th grade and clearly suffered from some sort of mental illness that gave me extremely low self esteem and self worth. This is what already gave me shame and many similar feelings of a rape victim. Thus, when the major incident occurred – I was already prone to sink into the emotional aftermath seen in women and men that were victims of rape.
When I was in high school, everyone was getting their first kiss and I felt unwanted because I never even came close to a kiss from a boy. The only interaction I had with the opposite sex was when I “went out” with a boy in middle school for several days – then he stopped acknowledging I was alive and 2 people went up to me and told me they paid him to say I was his girlfriend. So I had already felt feelings of confusion as to whether or not males were interested in me or not.
But one night, when I was 15 – I went to the movies with most of the people in my grade (that was the thing to do). That night a boy from my class told me to sit next to him. In the middle of the movie he came onto me and started kissing me. I wasn’t sure how to react or what to do – this was my first kiss. The next thing I knew – he was going up my shirt. I didn’t know how to say no and I wasn’t sure what I was “supposed to do” because all of his “friends” were ranting and raving from what I remember while this was occurring. I didn’t want to make a big deal and embarrass the boy from my class and I was near the front but all the way down a crowded isle – if I got up and left, I would just draw more attention to myself.
Next thing I know, I am online on an “instant messenger: aim.” And one of the other boys in my classes messaged me and started telling me he couldn’t believe “what I did.” He had previously shown interest in me and told me that I was cruel to do that when we was sitting on the other side of me.
Then, after efficiently making me feel terrible for what I did – he told me: “Actually, this was all a bet. Joe and I got you to sit between us because we had a bet about who could touch your boobs first.” (When I was young I was always made fun of by girls and harassed by boys about the fact that I had large breasts for my age. To make things worse – I was a swimmer, so it was hard for me to try and keep them a secret.)
After this – I was harassed every single day of high school about the incident by the boys who were ranting and raving in the movies that night. They consistently asked me: “Yo – who raped you?” or “You like “so and so”? Did “so and so” rape you?”. These two boys and their “friends” were in all of my classes that year. And the worst of the boys who harassed me seemed to be in most of my classes throughout my entire high school career.
It seemed that even the girls who I considered my friends were in on it – as one of them began a nickname for me: “Whorinne”. I soon was referred to as “Whorinne” instead of my actual name. The rape comments and the nicknames occurred within reach of teachers’ ears. I was so ashamed of myself and I just wanted them to stop – so I figured if I would go along and quietly accept the comments they would stop so no more attention would be on me. I didn’t want the teachers to hear any of this because I was so ashamed and didn’t want them to think badly of me. However – it seemed that the comments were more quiet when were in classes with female teachers. As if they knew that they could be reprimanded for their cruelty. Thinking back – that makes me realize: they knew what they were doing was wrong. But then again, I think – Why me? If you knew it was wrong to do to me – what was it about me that made it easy and accept able for me to be treated like this?
I developed an eating disorder. If you asked my parents – it was a severe eating disorder and I was “really sick.” My cutting became so extreme that hiding it became nearly impossible and my swim coaches had to approach my father to tell him we needed to do something and I really needed help. The shame was so incredible that I never uttered a word about this to anyone. They forced me into therapy and I would sit in the chair and refuse to talk. It was a bad time.
But here is where I feel my story is important now…the word “rape” was used as an emotional and psychological weapon. Those boys never raped me. But they used the word rape to destroy an already fragile spirit. The amount of hate and disgust that comes up in my entire body when I open these memories in my mind is so strong that I feel like they may consume me. Although, I have always been able to push these types of emotions down because I felt that they were due to my own weakness as a person. Your documentary helped me feel that what happened to me is something that could be important and maybe make a difference in someones life.
Unfortunately my story doesn’t end there. I had other major events that affected me and similarly left me with shame, guilt and embarrassment. My first official “boyfriend” in college was when I was a 19 year old sophomore. As usual, I felt unwanted and never seemed to be significant enough to become some one’s girlfriend. That year, an acquaintance of one of my good friends on my college swim team showed interest. As usual – I was hesitant and resistant, as I didn’t trust males. After awhile, his kind gestures and unwavering pursuit of me showed my roommate that he was maybe someone who could be good for me. She told me – I can’t be afraid my whole life and I’ll never learn about relationships and know what I want if I don’t try. She was right. I don’t blame her. And I still consider her a ‘best friend.’
Once the relationships began he turned into a horrible person. He was a drunk and a pot head. If we ever did actually go out on a date, he would “forget his wallet” or tell me he will get the tab “next time.” My self-worth was low and I felt like this is what I deserved. Next, he pressured and manipulated me into sex. He knew I was a virgin and I certainly didn’t want to give myself to him. On Halloween night, I got black-out drunk (something that I commonly did as a way of coping with my insecurities and demons). When I came to – I found myself on top of him and flipped out. I jumped off of him and covered myself with a blanket; I curled up on the floor and asked what happened. As I cried he told me: “Well, lets just say you’re not a virgin anymore.” I told him that wasn’t true because I got off of him before it began. But he told me once a penis is inside of you – even for a moment – you’re not a virgin anymore. I don’t remember what happened after that.
It seems to me that abuse from men on women does not always have to be the horrible criminal violence present in most cases. To me, I feel like rape was made a mockery of and gave me the same emotional destruction I know that many women feel after a true rape. I know that many young adult women go through similar things at colleges and universities and I think that if we continue to ignore it, more and more women will engage in things that devalue their personal rights.
I have always coped with complete isolation, self-harm, binge drinking, and unhealthy male relationships. It is something that I still struggle with today. I don’t give those experiences enough thought to believe that it has effected my life – but you’re documentary has given me some courage.
My own demons are still clearly haunting me and I wish to maybe positively impact women about this issue. On a personal level, maybe this will help me move forward in my life with my head held high.