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Rape Shaming

5 Years ago I attended Boarding School in the UK. I was a good student. Sociable. I was having the time of my life. After breaking up with my boyfriend, who had moved to a different continent, at the beginning of my last semester I fell into depression. It was really just the last drop. I was very unwell for months. I slept most of the time and when I wasn’t sleeping, I was crying. I went to see the school councillor but she couldn’t help me. In this time, I had made friends with a guy in my school. He came from a very wealthy, strict family in western Africa. We had hooked up a few times, but never slept together. One night, when I had been drinking with my friends, he asked me to come see him in his dorm. I was so tired. All I wanted was to be comforted and sleep. In the 5 years since then, everything that happened after that has turned into a bit of a haze. But the few things I remember very distinctly, are him pushing my head dow n on his penis, telling me I had to “finish what I started”. I couldn’t breathe. I was choking. After it finished, I laid down. Not aware of what had happened and dead tired I didn’t leave when I should have done. He tried to touch me and take of my tights. I pleaded him not to. I just wanted to rest. The next thing I know is I had fallen asleep. When I woke up, my tights were by my knees and he was sodomizing me. I was panicking. I gathered my things and ran across campus to my own dorm. The thing about this is, had I had the right support system, I would have been shocked, I would have been upset and I would have been in pain, but I would have gotten through it. Instead what followed, was my worst nightmare. The only person I told, was a good friend of mine. It was by chance. I had met him on my way up to the guy’s dorm. The next night, he asked me how it went. When I said, not great he asked me, verbatim: “Did he try to stick his penis up your pooper?” I was so shocked that I answered truthfully and told him everything. Where he should have comforted me, held me, helped me, supported me, he went and told the entire college. I found out later, that he had been in love with me. He felt as though I had led him on and betrayed him. Instead of hearing what I was telling him, that I had things been done to me against my will, he only heard what he wanted to hear. People would joke about my being raped over lunch. “You gotta finish what you started” became an okay thing to say to me. People were refusing to sit with me because I had “hurt their friend”. I remember gathering all of my strength one day to ask him why he was doing this to me. Standing in front of him, crying, needing support more than anything and being faced with laughter by him and his friends. I had been betrayed by two people I trusted, in less than 24 hours. I was shattered. I’m not sure how I managed to finish school. T o walk on campus. Those months are mostly a blank space in my memory. I didn’t speak about it for a long time. I’m almost ashamed to say, that I even made up with both of the people responsible for this mess. I am terrible at confrontation. I will go out of my way to blame myself for things. A year later, I started hanging out with someone in my university whom I really fancied. He was the first man I was even considering getting intimate with in over a year after the incident. One night, I ended up in his room with him and as we were getting down to, entirely consensual, business I choked. I cried and panicked and left. I didn’t speak to him for a week after that. I was convinced he had forced me to do things I didn’t want to do. When he called me, crying, asking me what was going on I asked him to honestly tell me what had happened. It was horrifying because I knew deep down that he was right. That all of it was in my head. That is when I decided to get help. I went to see a therapist for 2 years after that, which was the best decision I ever made. But as much as I am convinced, that speaking about it is the best way to get through it, I still haven’t brought myself to tell my family. It may sound silly, but I just cannot let my mother to go through this pain. I’m going to have to eventually, but even 5 years later I still haven’t managed to get up the courage.
I never persecuted my perpetrator. I knew, had I told my college, he would have been kicked out. I knew his father was very strict. Strange as it sounds, I didn’t want to do that to him. And wasn’t I already the bad guy? Sometimes I wish I had done it, because this way I was the only person bearing the weight on my shoulders. And it has taken and continues to take a lot of my strength.

— Jule, age 23

1 comment

  • Alissa Ackerman

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