I wanted to help my boyfriend (well my ex-boyfriend) through this. Although I was angry that he had covered up the incident, I knew he would need support. No one ever believes a male can be raped. I thought it might be time to share a traumatic incident that had happened to me.
“ ‘There’s something I want to tell you.’
I endured a frightening yet sobering experience when I was young. I attended a summer party with a group of guys from work. I was 18 years old – far too young to know how to handle alcohol. Of course, I wasn’t even of legal drinking age. That never stopped me or most people I knew from drinking. When the alcohol of my choice ran dry, another male co-worker offered to drive me to the store. Upon reaching our destination, I realized it was after hours, and it was closed for the evening. Instead of turning around, he continued toward the lake. I started to get an uneasy feeling.
‘Where are we going? I’m ready to go back.’
‘Don’t worry about it. It will be fun.’
Realizing that I was not in control of the vehicle or myself, I panicked. I started babbling about my aunt who lived just down the road and also worked with us at the plant.
‘Oh, we should stop by and see my aunt! She’d love to see you!’
That thought sobered him up. He knew whatever he had planned, he would have to look people in the face the next day. He turned the car around, and I was safely returned to the party with no more than a scare. The original driver who brought me to the party asked why we had been gone so long. When I told him about the detour to the lake, he was instantly angry. I calmed him down telling him nothing had happened. The conflict was avoided. I never imagined I would get out of one situation only to land in another within hours.
Later that night, I went to an after-hours party at the home of my defender.
He told me I could lie down in his room when I got tired. I had been sleeping for some time when he climbed into bed behind me. He pulled down my pants. I started to whimper, ‘No, no, no, no…’ I was pulling at my pants trying to get them back up. Then he said, ‘Shhhhh…. They’ll hear you.’
Those words paralyzed me. ‘I thought, who will hear me? What will happen if they hear me?’ Then I realized I was all alone. There was a group of people in the main room, but they were all his family and friends. What was I going to do? Run out of the room crying rape? Just a week earlier the same group of guys had been talking at work about one of their friends who had been accused of rape. They couldn’t believe some woman had made up something so horrible. I calculated my options. I was scared. I was too intoxicated to pull up my own pants. I was too drunk to drive home. It was below 20 degrees outside in the dead of winter. I’d freeze in my car. My mind couldn’t find a way out. I let him enter me.
That’s what I thought at the time – I let it happen. I didn’t punch or scratch or kick. I could barely move or think. I passed out and woke up the next morning. I had been so drunk that I wet myself and the bed. I was ashamed of myself, but it made me realize that if I didn’t have the wherewithal to go to the bathroom, I didn’t stand a chance in making it out of that room. As I got up to leave, I sat at the edge of the bed at a loss for words. I wanted to ask why he did that to me. I couldn’t get the words out. He just smiled at me. For years I wasn’t even sure that he knew what he did was wrong. He wore a condom. I was the one asleep in his bed. That was consent enough. To me, that was not. It had never crossed my mind that I was not in a safe place. The anger he had expressed at the other man who had tried to take me to the lake made me feel he would protect me. We had never flirted or kissed or dated. I just knew him as one guy in the group at work.
As a child, a room was my safe place. It was where we went to play with our toys and create our own worlds. Someone had forgotten to tell me that entering a bedroom was an invitation to enter my body. No one told me that entering a man’s room or inviting him into my home was an invitation to more. The final weapon he had used against me echoed in my head, ‘I like it when you say no.’ I stopped saying no, because I thought it was encouraging him.
In high school, a friend of mine said if she were ever raped she wouldn’t report it. I asked why. ‘It would be embarrassing. I don’t think anyone would believe it anyway.’ I never understood why or what she meant by that. Now I do. I, along with most of the population, believe a rapist is someone who jumps out of the bushes and grabs you on the way to your car or walking back to campus at night. I never imagined my life would turn into a gauntlet of dodging men that I knew – a guy I saw every day at work, drove me home, and almost started a fight with the other guy who tried to do the same. What was there to report in my case? ‘Yes Officer. I was drinking underage. I got too drunk and slept in his bed. I said no, but I was too weak to physically fight him off or tell anyone.’ Instead of telling someone, I went back again. If I saw him again, maybe I could convince myself that we were dating, and I might have slept with him at some point anyway. Over the course of a few weeks, I went to his house, stayed overnight, and he even gave me a key to get in. I hadn’t been raped. That is not how someone who was raped acts. I see the world much more differently now. Women will do a lot of things to avoid public shaming. To convince themselves that it didn’t really happen that way so they won’t have a nervous breakdown. I have a cousin who was raped by our mutual cousin, and they still attend the same family functions with no one being the wiser.Did I want to have sex that night? No, I did not. Did it even cross my mind? No, it did not. I was asleep on the bed fully clothed. Was I scared and coerced? Yes, yes I was. At the end of the day, it was rape. I doubt I was the first or last time he did this.
It took me years to acknowledge that I had been raped. I just chalked it up to sending the wrong signals by being in his bed, my fault for getting too drunk, and no one was held at gunpoint. Now I know there is a wide range of complex emotions that happens during a crisis and a wide range of ways people cope. I worked with other victims of abuse through the Rape Crisis Hotline. I used my experience as a way to have more empathy for those who had a harder time accepting what had happened to them.
What can I do with this? How can I serve? I want others to know, it is never their fault, but remember, to take care of yourself. Watch out for yourself. Watch out for situations that might make you vulnerable. Teach our sons to keep themselves out of vulnerable situations as well. Do not engage with someone while they are intoxicated. They are not able to make a decision for themselves.”
I realize this story didn’t fully apply to my ex. He had been at home alone in his own bed when it happened to him, but I wanted him to know that I understood what had happened to him. I never told him my secret. Before we got that far, things took another turn.
As I felt cold steel pressing against my neck, I had no idea the darkness that would blow into my life in week three. The physical pain of nine more swords in my back would be preferable to dying of a broken heart.