It was early into my first year of college in New York City. (I’m from a really small Midwest town and grew up as a painfully awkward band geek and was going through my first ever breakup with my then-long-distance HS boyfriend back home but we were trying to stay friends).
I actually vividly remember the beginning of this night and I was curled up in sweats and a sweater in my dorm room, drinking peppermint tea and working on a paper I needed to write for my theatre history class (I went to a very small acting school). And one of my dormmates came into my room to convince me to go to a party on one of the floors in our dorm building that night.
I was really new to parties and had only drank alcohol one other time but I was excited to make friends. So, I threw on a sweater, a skirt, some tights and headed to the party.
The rest of the night is pretty black. This is the only night I’ve ever blacked out from drinking and I don’t think I’ll ever really be able to remember everything as it happened. I was sitting on the couch talking to a girl from my school one minute then I opened my eyes and was suddenly grinding with a boy I don’t remember meeting.
Then I remember him leading me to his dorm room and saying “lie down, take a nap.” I think I fell asleep but I don’t really know. I know that at one point I woke up and shouted “don’t take off my tights, I didn’t shave!” because I think drunk me thought that would make him stop.
I opened my eyes again at one point and realized we were having sex and that I was naked but I couldn’t feel anything. Then two girls from my dorm came banging on his door looking for me but I don’t remember if either of us answered them or why they went away.
I’d only had sex with one other person and he was my first love and even having sex with him terrified me because I felt so young and unready for anything and afraid of everything.
I go to a really small school so everyone knew the guy and congratulated me on landing my first one-night stand so I just played it off as that. I cried so much in the bathroom that day. I was always the intelligent, hard-working, independent feminist who spoke out against issues and made petitions and went to protests. I’d given speeches about date-rape and campus-rape and how disgusting it was and how people needed to be charged. And suddenly I was that girl who got drunk at the party and woke up with a stranger and I was mortified. I didn’t know what to do or how to handle it and I was afraid if I told anyone how I felt they’d attack me or call me crazy or accuse me of slander. I tried confessing it to my ex-boyfriend and he told me he was disgusted with me and to never speak to him again.
There’s nothing more frustrating than regretting something you know you didn’t actually do. There was nothing I could do to change this because it wasn’t a mistake I made, it was something that was done to me but I knew I was still the one who would hold all the blame for it and it really broke me down for awhile. I was eighteen.
That following summer I would drink too much at a 4th of July party, crawl onto my friend’s futon to go to sleep, and wake up with her boyfriend’s best friend inside of me.
These things are so hard for me to admit to people because it’s so much harder when the assaulters are people you actually know. I don’t want to ruin anyone lives. I just really wish these two guys hadn’t done that. I wouldn’t have had sex with either of them if I’d been the least bit sober and it makes me feel nauseous and dirty and gross that it happened and I didn’t get to have a say.
My family has no clue and my friend’s only know bits and pieces of it all. It’s been really hard for me to call it rape because that makes them rapists and me a victim and I don’t know how to handle that.
I wanted to end this on some sort of resolution or realization of some sort but I don’t think I really have any right now.
I’ve healed a lot since then and I’m still healing. I’ll think I’m fine one moment but then it sort of ebbs and flows. It’s just understanding and accepting that this actually happened to me that’s been the hardest.
But, I’m working on it and I’m still growing.
— Survivor, age 21