It was the summer after my high school graduation and my parents went on vacation and told me I could have my close friends over for a small party. They knew everyone that was going to be there, except for one person, who I’ll call J, that I was dating for three weeks at the time. At the party, my friends kept begging me to invite him over. I eventually gave in and did. He got there around 10pm and played games and drank a little with us and talked. Everyone loved him. J made everyone laugh and was teaching me a few Latin dances. At around 3am, the designated driver of my other friends said he was tired and ready to drive everyone home. All but J, my best friend, and her boyfriend left. I didn’t like being alone at the house, so my best friend and her boyfriend agreed to stay with me. They went to sleep in the guest room shortly after everyone left and it was just J and I. He said he wanted to stick around and talk with me for a little, which I was fine with. We sat on the couch and J asked me if I was open to have sex tonight. I said I wasn’t ready. He said that’s fine and we made small talk for a little and then he kept moving closer to me and put his hand on my leg and kissed me. The kiss became more aggressive and then he started choking me with one hand and using the other one to take my shorts off. I knew my best friend was just a couple seconds of a walk away and if I screamed or yelled that would hear me. I tried, but I could barely breathe and it made it hard to talk. J raped me. I remember it all so vividly. I remember the the digital clock I could see right behind him. I remember the sound of his panting in my ear and the sweat that dripped off of him onto my neck and chest. I remember the excruciating pain. All I could do was focus on the clock. After about 43, minutes he began to get upset that he couldn’t finish because I wasn’t “wet.” He did eventually finish and when he did, J zipped his pants back up and kissed me and went into my room and went to bed. I sat up all night on the couch just replaying the whole scene. I was still in so much pain. He got up at 9 and kissed me goodbye and left for work. I never heard from J again.
That morning, I was trying to clean the large spot of blood from the cloth couch. My best friend got up and asked what I was doing and I told her I slept with J last night and I guess I was allergic to the condom and I bled. She helped me clean and now it just looks like we tried to clean a drink off of the couch. I never told my best friend what happened. She is my rock and she is the one that always protects me. She’s my best friend, my sister, and sometimes a parental figure. If I had told her what happened while she slept just one door away, she would have blamed herself for not being there. I never really thought the event had a big impact on me until I started dating again about 2 months later.
In August of 2014, I was asked on a date by an army recruiter, I’ll call M, who I had previously met when he came to my high school to discuss recruitment with some students. M had tried to talk me into it, but I declined and he asked for my number. I gave it to him because I thought he was sweet and found out that his mom worked with mine. I agreed to the date with M in August when he said to just give him one chance to impress me. We went on a nature walk in and as it started getting dark, I told him is was probably time for me to get going. We had driven separately. As we were walking back to our cars, M said his leg was hurting and wanted to sit down for a moment. We sat down at one of the benches and he put his arm around the back of my neck and pulled me closer to him and we stated kissing. I got used to it until he stuck his hand down my pants and started biting me hard down my neck and breast. M wouldn’t stop when I pulled away, so I hit him and ran to my car. I drove home and went straight to bed. In the morning, there were dark colored bite marks down my collar bone and chest and breasts. I had to wear hoodies and sweatshirts until they cleared up. They were too dark for make up.
In December of 2014, I started dating another guy I had met, MT, while out with friends. He seemed so sweet and I felt as comfortable as I could being around him. I refused to go anywhere private though. One day, MT asked me if I would be open to meet his best friend and his girlfriend and have dinner with them at their summer house. I didn’t mind meeting them, so I drove over and when I got there, it was just MT and he said that his friend’s car broke down, but they were still on their way. We went inside and waited for them. MT poured me a glass of water and we were just standing in the kitchen talking. I turned around to admire all of the cool stuff that was in the living and room MT came up behind me and pressed himself against my butt. He backed up and started grabbing my butt and pushing against my back with his other hand and his body. I felt like he was trying to bend me over the counter. I pushed back against him and asked him to stop because I wasn’t comfortable. He stopped and looked at his phone and said his friends weren’t going to make it so I should just go home and we can try again some other time. I left and he texted me a week later saying he didn’t think we were going to work out.
I didn’t start trying to date again until September of 2015 when I had moved to transfer colleges. When I moved, I managed to become fast friends with a guy, C, who was super funny and sweet. I told him everything that had happened to me and he was very sympathetic about it all. We became close but we were just friends until he asked to take me to dinner. C and I were friends for about a month and were together all the time. Then we went on 3 dates and it was great. I happened to have brought up in the car that I had to get a new cable box for my living room and I was having trouble setting it up. C kept saying he could do it and just let him handle it. When we got back to my house, he came in and immediately started getting all my stuff set up. When he was done, I thanked him and he asked if we could go to my bedroom. I said I needed more time and I was sorry. He began to get made at me. He told me he felt that I owed him at least a blowjob after he took me out and set up my stuff for me. He began to tell me it was my fault that I put myself in those positions with the previous guys and when I was raped, if I didn’t really want it, I should’ve called the cops. At the end of his rant, C basically told me that if I wasn’t willing to have sex with a guy I date, then I’m not worth the relationship. I told C if he didn’t leave I would call the cops and thankfully he did.
I like to think of myself as a very open minded and understanding individual. I know that it is NEVER the survivor’s fault. I know that I am not to blame. Even with this knowledge, I became depressed and put on about 35lbs and my grades in college began going down. I began to wonder how I managed to find 4 of the same time of guy back to back. I began to wonder what must have done to bring about their actions towards me. What did I do to make them think I wanted sex? What was I not seeing when I ended up with 4 jerks one after the other?
I eventually opened up to my closest guy friend about everything not too long ago and he has been the most supportive and protective person. He reassures me frequently that I did nothing wrong and that I am smart enough to know that. It has helped me so much.
I have been dating a man, A, now for a little over 2 months and he is absolutely amazing. I told him from the beginning what happened and that i am not interested in sex and I’m still in the process of healing. When I told him what happened, he became so frustrated and angry about what happened to me that he began to tear up. It is something I’ll never forget. A always asks me if its okay if he touches me or kisses me. He makes me feel safe and secure and never gave me a reason to think otherwise. There have been times when I am alone with him and he touches me and I cry because I can’t seem to always shake the memories and he takes me out and we go for a walk or get dinner. What felt like a long, never-ending cycle of blame and isolation now feels like its finally ending and I am feeling so much happier and more empowered knowing that even though I dated 4 awful guys one after the other, I still kept trying and met an amazing man.
I never told anyone in my family or my best friends because I was so worried that they would be hurt. I think about telling them, but I am still not ready and I want to wait until I am further into my relationship with A so they can see that even after all of that, I am okay.
— Survivor, age 20