I was raped for two years. And that was only the first person. During that two years there were others who tried and one who succeeded. All of this happened before my 18th birthday.
My first relationship began when I was 16, it only took him a week into it to say if I didn’t start having sex he wasn’t going to stay with me. He was the first guy to really pay me any attention, a tale as old as time I know. So I had sex with him. And it was a first time that I don’t wish upon anyone.
He picked me up and we drove to his mom’s townhouse. He wasted no time in taking off my clothes and pulling me into his bedroom. With no trace of romance or care he pushed himself inside of me and then got mad at me when I said I was in pain. Angrily he asked if I wanted to stop. From his tone I knew that if I said yes he would be done with me. So I bit my tongue and shook my head no and he did what he wanted until he finished. Not even five seconds later he got into the shower and left me lying there. I remember pulling the blankets up to my chin because I felt so vulnerable, the only thought in my head ‘what did I just do’. When he came back he yelled at me for staining his sheets and said I had to get up so he could wash them. He then fell asleep on the couch. There were no tender kisses or words of comfort to ease me into it. There was no affection in his actions. That never changed when it came to sex with him.
Our relationship was a tumultuous one. It was full of constant fighting; him hurling accusations at me over any little behavior he didn’t like, and me tearfully trying to explain what actually happened instead of what he perceived. Most of the time I feel like he made up the things he said to me as a way to keep me in check.
I did care about him so not every time we had sex was non-consensual but for the majority of the time we had sex even if I told him I didn’t want to. I kept my mouth shut about it because I thought he loved me. That’s what he told me so it must be true, right? I told myself that every time he ripped down my pants and underwear and forced himself inside of me over my protests. I wish I would’ve spoken up, or even just realized what he was doing to me. At the time I didn’t know that it was rape.
It took me two years to realize that. Two years to realize that when you say no, that doesn’t mean to do it anyway. Two years to realize that his version of play wrestling left my muscles sore and his favorite moves left me unable to breathe. Two years to realize that he would say anything to me to keep me around. One day I was the “most beautiful girl in the whole world” and an hour later he would accuse me of cheating or tell me that I should just live with him because my degree would just be a piece of paper and I would amount to nothing.
I thought he was the only person who cared about me, that he was the only person who could possibly love someone like me.
He was the same person who made me suicidal. He knew I struggled with depression and every time I talked about it, he would bring up how he actually made an attempt on his life so I must not be that bad off. The longer I was with him the more I fantasized about crashing the car, wrapping myself around a tree and being free. But at this point I didn’t realize that ridding myself of him would have the same affect.
When I look back on who I was when I finally got him out of my life all I see is a shell. I had nothing left. Years of abuse had left me with no self esteem or respect and the overwhelming feeling that I would never be good enough.
During the relationship I was raped in the back of a car by another man, one who I agreed to go on a date with before I was exclusive with the other. Instead of going to see the movie, he parked in an empty lot and proceeded to take my shorts off and push himself inside me. I had him take me home immediately afterward.
Two coworkers during this time also made attempts at sexual assault. One invited me on a date and after he forced his dick in my mouth. The other slammed me into a wall at work and kissed me before grabbing my vagina, of course he picked the room with no cameras or other coworkers.
Then I went to college.
I started drinking. A lot. I started smoking weed. All the time. I just wanted to numb what I felt. Or in this case didn’t feel, I felt nothing. I spiraled.
A guy would pay me a compliment, so I would make out with him on the dance floor. A guy took me on a date and so I would sleep with him. This was my life for the next year.
During this time I lived with an amazing friend who made it her mission to tell me every day that I was beautiful and worthy and she never let me drink alone. She did everything she could to protect me from myself while at the same time not judging the decisions I made that I knew even at the time were the wrong ones.
Over the past three years I’ve gone from rock bottom to where I am now. And I can’t say the assaults have stopped even though I now love who I am.
Just recently I went on a date and afterwards he walked me home (before leaving I told him that there was absolutely going to be no sex that night). He said he had to use the restroom and I let him up (he was drunk, and I was sober, I figured I’d be okay). He tried to force himself on me, pulling out his penis and getting my pants down while I was trying to fight him off. I finally won the fight and kept repeatedly telling him no. I managed to get him out of my apartment and I immediately burst into tears.
I thought that with age these assaults would stop. That I would recognize a situation and be able to keep myself safe. Unfortunately this isn’t an issue that goes away with age. And yes, as you get older you get better at reading situations, but we’re only human. It’s in our nature to see the good, to want to trust. I gave into that notion on the wrong date but luckily I had only drank two beers to his eight. I’m convinced my sobriety is how I was able to get him off of me. He even commented at one point “why are you so strong” and I replied “apparently for moments like this”
What baffled me most is that he texted me a few DAYS later saying that he was sorry for doing something so inappropriate. He knew it was wrong and he still waited four days to say sorry. He then had the nerve to ask me out again. I blocked his number with no response.
I could go on and on with stories of assault that have plagued my early adulthood, but that’s not going to solve anything. What will is speaking up. Showing how little men know about their own behaviors. None of those men thought they did anything wrong. They all asked me out again after their respective assaults. And for so long I thought that was normal. That maybe dating was just different then I had made it out to be in my head. Or that maybe it was just me, and this was the best kind of person I could attract.
I don’t want this to be a story that encourages pity. I am a strong, independent woman who does not consider herself to be a victim but a survivor. I’ve put myself in therapy for years to work through all of these experiences in a safe space instead of the bottom of a bottle. And I encourage you to do the same.
Rise above it. Don’t let these shitty experiences control your life. You are beautiful. And strong. And independent. And most of all, deserving of love that doesn’t leave you feeling that something’s wrong with you.
We are painted as victims but that’s far from it. We are survivors and we will come back stronger than ever.
— Survivor, age 22