Author: Anonymous Middlebury College Student
I met you at a friend’s party in high school; we didn’t know each other or go to the same school. I had been drinking but wasn’t blackout; I was in control of my faculties.
Later that night I found myself in bed with this guy I had met earlier in the day. How did it get to this point? I wondered. You forced yourself on me and I kept saying, “Stop, please stop, this hurts…”
At first, you pretended not to hear me, but you must have been able to because you did stop once, like maybe you were considering whether or not to take me seriously. Then you continued for a long time, it felt like a few hours but to be honest I have no idea how long it was. I started to cry and pleaded you to stop but my body felt frozen-- it hardly occurred to me to try and push you off me.
I woke up later the next morning and you were sound asleep next to me. I felt so disgusted with you and myself that I pretended to be asleep for the next hour until you got up and left, so that I wouldn’t have to see or speak to you.
When I finally got out of bed, I was so sore from your forcefulness that I couldn’t walk or even sit down. That day was a nightmare. I started bleeding. My fear from the night before manifested itself through feeling nauseous and uncomfortable in my own skin. I felt worthless, dirty, and anxious.
In the days and weeks that followed, my anxiety, which had plagued me for years, worsened significantly and I began experiencing frequent flashbacks to that night. Things I hadn’t even remembered the next morning eventually came back to me, disjointed and confused. My memories from that night exist how I imagine memories in the sieve in Harry Potter exist, swirling around and vaguely accessible, but not particularly cohesive or chronological. They forced their way into my head at the most inopportune moments and re-traumatized me almost every day. The only way I knew how to cope with this was to just stop thinking about it, to switch off my brain when a flashback started.
I blamed myself for the next few months. I kept thinking maybe I wanted it, I shouldn’t have started hooking up with him to begin with, I shouldn’t have allowed him to take my clothes off. And once it started, why didn’t I protest more vehemently, why didn’t I try to push him off of me or call for help? And later on, more guilt. Why didn’t I report him? Is it really rape, or am I just overreacting?
That one was the worst. I simultaneously felt guilt for not reacting with enough anger or struggle, and for reacting with too much emotion, too much victimhood.
I kept telling myself, it wasn’t even that bad. It could have been so much worse. It probably was just bad sex; I’m just being dramatic.
Those little mantras I told myself to deal with it ultimately made me feel unworthy of talking about it, like it would be a huge burden to everyone I knew if I told them. I didn’t actually tell anyone until I came to Middlebury seven months later.
I wish I could say I have come to terms with my rape and been able to move past it. I wish I felt strong enough to tell my friends and I wish I didn’t feel anxious and unsettled every time I think about it and I wish that I could dance in a dark Atwater suite without feeling your hands on my body. What helps me to keep going is knowing that you didn’t break me, and I am still here. Now I will be heard, after having been silent for so long.