It was 1986. I was 19. I had a fake I.D. that I bought from the back of The Rolling Stone magazine. I was obsessed with Samantha Fox’s song, “Touch Me”. It was also the year that I was raped in a closet, in my hometown.
It was a chilly Friday night in November. My best friend and I had decided to go out earlier than normal. We had hoped to be back in a few hours and catch Miami Vice. She had the young girl infatuation on Tubbs. I had one on Crockett.
We entered one of our favorite bars and I was immediately approached by a man I had never seen before. In hindsight, this should have been a red flag. Our town was small and we knew virtually everyone. He told me his name was Guy. He said he had come down for the weekend to join some buddies to go deer hunting. He offered me and my friend a drink. She ordered a beer, I asked for a gin and tonic.
Before I could take a sip, “Touch Me” came on. I asked him to hold our drinks because we just had to dance to our favorite song. We talked as we danced and my friend said she thought Guy was cute and into me. I glanced over and saw him staring at us and as the song ended, he motioned for us to return and enjoy our drinks.
We talked, we laughed and I started to feel very disoriented. I attributed it to skipping dinner. We had planned to get a pizza later. He steadied me by my arm and suggested we all go to his friend’s house, watch Miami Vice and order a pizza. He told us that his friends and their girlfriends would be there and we would have a great time. He also suggested that I drive with him and my friend follow. Again, in retrospect, not the best idea.
I don’t remember ever getting to the house. I do remember waking up on a bed which was full of heavy coats. He was on top of me and he had his hands on my shoulders, he was shaking me awake. I immediately began to panic and I somehow slipped underneath him and landed onto the floor. I looked up and saw two doors and I ran to the closest door, opened it and it was a closet.
Before I could even register the awful choice I had made, he was behind me. He pushed me into the closest further and my head struck the wall. I remember the pain and I distinctly remember trying not to throw up. I tried not to think about what was happening to me. I looked up at the clothes and they were women’s clothes. I looked up in disbelief that the hangers were not all going the same direction. I remember thinking what kind of a person does not put the hangers in the same direction? I didn’t feel fear. I felt powerless, weak and insignificant. I think that is why I wasn’t afraid. I didn’t think I deserved to be. His hands were around my throat and yet I was not afraid. I never thought I would die but I really wanted it to be over. And then it was over. And that is when he said to me, “I am so glad that I met you.”
I don’t know how I got home. I presumed I was coherent enough to tell him where I lived. I do know that I passed out shortly after the rape. I also know that somehow, I was drugged. I woke up curled up on the front steps of the boarding house I was staying in. I was freezing and my head was pounding. I noticed that my undergarments were laying in a neat pile next to me. I collected myself and walked inside, picked up my bra and underwear and went straight to my room.
Shortly thereafter there was a knock at my door alerting me to a phone call. It was my best friend. She said that Guy lost her at a four-way light, she thought it was deliberate. She was frantic. She asked if I was okay and I told her that I was. She asked me what happened and I told her that I had too much to drink and that he took care of me. She said she did not understand because I only had one drink at the bar. I told her that his friends were there and that I did drink too much. She asked if I had fun, I told her I did. She was so happy that I was okay and that nothing happened. I still don’t know why I did not tell her. And I never told her but then again, I never told anyone until almost twenty years later.
I had a huge knot on my head, my shoulders, neck and jaw were sore but I told myself it could have been so much worse. Three weeks went by and the knot on my head went away and my neck, shoulders and jaw no longer hurt. It was over, the physical pain. But then the fourth week came and went and I then realized I had not had a period.
My best friend took me a clinic for a pregnancy test. She was mad at me that I did not tell her that I had sex with Guy. I told her that I thought she would be upset and think we deliberately lost her so we could hook-up. We sat in the waiting room, waiting for the results but I already knew what they were going to say. They asked me how this happened. They asked me if I knew what I wanted to do. I never told them I was raped and I listened earnestly as they told me about the dangers of unprotected sex and about the risks associated with an abortion.
My friend lent me the money to get the abortion. I promised to pay her back and also told her that as soon as I did, I was moving back with my parents. They had moved the end of my senior year and I tried to make it work but all I wanted was to go back to my hometown. Now all I wanted was to do was to get the hell out of there and fast. My hometown was no longer my home. I picked up extra shifts at the factory where I worked and paid my friend back in full.
Over the years I tried not to think about myself as someone who was raped. I would go see and films like The Accused, Monster, and Boys Don’t Cry and I would feel so deeply for those characters but I never felt like we had a shared experience. I got married, I realized I was gay and I got divorced. I developed an unnatural need to make myself physically strong and spent hours in the gym relishing 180-pound squats and 150-pound bench presses. I never really thought of myself as trying to develop a veneer of strength as a result of my rape but now I see it clearly.
I went into therapy twice due to couples counseling. I first confessed the rape to the first therapist I saw. She suggested that we could go to separate sessions. It was then that I reluctantly told her. I never told my partner at the time and needless to say, we did not stay in our relationship.
I told my current partner shortly after the Trump Access Hollywood tape surfaced. That tape really profoundly ripped the scars that had held me together for so many years. After that tape surfaced, I would have vivid dreams about the rape, I would often go somewhere else and with no warning and it was always that closet. I can’t tell you how despondent I was when he won. And I almost felt as powerless, weak and insignificant as that awful night in 1986. And then the Harvey Weinstein rape and abuse scandal came to light. And I too shared the #MeToo hashtag but I thought to myself, did I really share my story?
I have often thought about how different it would have been to have been raped by a powerful man. How different it would have been if Guy was a movie mogul, an award-winning journalist, or the president of the United States. I now understand that the act of rape is where the power lies. When I was being raped by Guy, he was the most powerful man on the planet. The status of your rapist is more of a hinderance to you feeling safe to report it and get the justice you deserve.
I also thought about Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention when John Kerry got the nomination. He said, “we are all our brother’s keeper. I thought about that and I realized that we are all our sister’s keeper too. I want to share my story because it is my story and I want to let anyone know who wants to that it is okay to talk about it, even if it takes 20 years.
I find great comfort in this passage from John Irving’s Hotel New Hampshire. This is what Junior Jones says to Franny after she has just been raped. “When someone touches you and you don’t want to be touched, that’s not really being touched – you got to believe me. It’s not you they touch when they touch that way; they don’t really get you, you understand. You’ve still got you inside you.”
This is my story. And I will always have me inside of me and so will you.
— Kris, age 50