Author: Anonymous Middlebury College Student
Two years ago in the Spring of 2012 someone raped me.
I was a first year. At the time I was consistently hooking up with a junior that treated me right, who at the time wanted commitment, but settled for my offer of monogamy while I figured out my life. He invited me to a semi-formal event that his house threw every semester and I showed up in my cutest, shortest, little black dress in my best lipstick, hair done to perfection, full of excitement for the night. We drank lots of alcohol. We smoked plenty of weed. And we had plenty of sex both before and after this heavy consumption. I was totally okay with all of these things because this was much our routine on the weekends and I knew that we were capable of and enjoyed sober sex with each other as well. I was fine with all of this. It was no big deal.
At one moment, while we left his room for a breath of fresh air, we found the house still in full swing of the events. We wandered the hallways still drunk and very, very high, socializing, meeting other people’s dates and telling stories. I finally let the drugs and alcohol tempt me into sleep. I tried to guide E to bed as well and he said he’d follow once he peed.
I made my way into his room and in my drunken haze, decided it would be a brilliant idea to scare him out of the corner of his roommate’s bed as he entered. I passed out instead.
The rest of the night becomes fragmented because I was essentially passed out. It was like I was falling in and out of a stupor. Like dozing during class where you’re vaguely aware that you’re in the classroom, but sleep still keeps you from focusing completely. At times you jolt awake and scribble down some notes in a vain attempt to stay awake. Now imagine that even within those bursts of clarity, weed and alcohol have slowed down your thinking, they have made you sluggish, and are straining your ability to make connections, to follow a train of thought to completion. That is was I recall the night being like.
I remember being awoken by someone’s rough lips on mine. I wasn’t able to talk over their pressure and my body, tired as it was, lay there, trying to ignore what was going on. In that moment, I didn’t consider myself in danger. I assumed that E just wanted to have sex and if I ignored him long enough he would realize this and go to sleep.
I began to feel the person’s hands aggressive on my body as if they were searching for something.
I remember trying to turn over because ignoring them wasn’t clear enough of a message. Besides, what was going on felt very foreign to me. It wasn’t like E at all to be aggressive. Especially not when he was under the influence. I remember acknowledging this before falling back into my stupor. I was conscientious of my body, but was too tired to open my eyes.
In a particularly bright moment of clarity, I remember sliding off the bed and crawling over to a bean bag sitting on the floor of the room. I was already naked, not remembering how I became naked.
My next memory (or maybe it came later?) was of lying on my back even though I had crawled over to the bean bag on my hands and knees.
I could have been lying on the bean bag, or even the floor. I don’t remember, but I do remember hearing bangs on the door as I stared up at the ceiling, trying to make sense of the feelings in my body. Wondering who locked the door, wondering how I ended up naked and on my back, wondering why people were yelling and the bangs on the door became louder. I kept thinking I should open the door, but the stupor kept over whelming me, forcing my eyes closed. I just wanted to sleep.
More lost memories. But then I opened my eyes and made eye contact with him. Eye contact with E’s roommate as he was spreading my legs apart.
I think that’s when I started to cry.
Or maybe it was after I felt his penis on my face.
Or maybe it was after I realized I was nowhere near the side of the room I had begun at. I had somehow, at some point, ended up in E’s bed, naked. Wondering why the door banging wouldn’t stop. Why people were yelling. Why E was not in the room with me. Why my body hurt as I crawled to the corner of the bed and brought my knees to my chest, pulling the sheets over me. I ached. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to go back to sleep. My eyes were so heavy, but so were my thoughts.
I woke up again, in the same corner, when the light from the hallway streamed into the room because his roommate had finally opened the door. I wanted to reach for my clothes but I sat there, still under the influence, vainly attempting to make sense of everything that had happened in the past few seconds or minutes, or hours, or days. Over the sheet, I watched E step into the room and approach me. He sat at the end of his bed, looked at me with all the disappointment in the world, and pointed his finger at the door. I released a sob and I began to look for my clothes.
He sat there, watching me, as I frantically picked up random articles of clothing that didn’t belong to me. The entire time, I kept apologizing. I kept saying sorry. I kept choking on my sobs. It was a mistake. It was a bad mistake. E thought I wanted this. But I hadn’t wanted this. But I did it. I passed out in the wrong bed. I made myself available. We socialized all night. I must have said something at some point to make his roommate think I wanted him. I must have done something to trigger the reaction. I made a mistake. At some point there was a miscommunication. I slept with the wrong person. I didn’t get up and walk out. I probably could have if I wanted to, right? I chose to stay. I didn’t get up or unlocked the door.
When I finally found and pulled on my dress, I made my way out the door and crashed right into my rapist. He saw me sobbing and told me he was sorry. And you know what I said?
I said “I’m sorry if I led you on, but that’s not what I meant. I only came here for E. You should apologize to E.” And I stormed out. While I ran home sobbing, I wondered if he used a condom, I wondered when he locked the door.
After what seemed like hours of walking home barefoot and underwearless, I finally reached my dorm room and was greeted by a swarm of girls pre-gaming in my room. It must have been 10 pm. When I got there and my close friends saw me crying, there was a rush to get everyone out of the room and myself into bed. I kept sobbing. Trying to relay what happened. Trying to make sense of everything.
I remember saying specifically, “I slept with his roommate. But I didn’t want to. But I did it. But I only went to the event for E. For no one else. I went because I wanted E, not because I wanted so-and-so. But I slept with him anyways and now it’s all ruined. This thing with E is ruined.”
And I kept thinking about my ruined relationship. Because I ruined my relationship. It was easier to think of it as a mistake that led to a ruined relationship, over a rape that produced a ruined body, a ruined sense of security, a ruined experience. I remember thinking that if maybe I had taken the extra few steps to walk over to E’s bed and pass out there, it might have been avoided. That maybe in my drunken haze, I had said some flirtatious comment to his roommate. Maybe drunken actions are sober hopes. Excuses and explanations ran through my head and I kept telling myself that somehow I had asked for it. That somehow I was the one who fucked up.
I wanted to reject the interaction for what it was in an attempt to assure myself that I had not lost control. That I, in fact, had instigated it somehow and therefore I was not a victim, but a large part of the problem.
For months after the event had happened, I refused to consider it rape. I preferred to think that I had done something to provoke the incident. By feeding myself the lie that somehow, I caused the chain of events, I would retain this faux idea of control over the situation. I must have subconsciously wanted the interaction and initiated it even though at the time I was in a quazi-relationship with someone who cared about me. I could deal with slut shaming that came with “cheating” because it seemed so much easier to create this lie than to admit that someone succeeded in breaking something inside of me. Than to admit that someone was able to crumble the strength I worked so hard to uphold.
Nobody told me flat out I wasn’t raped. But nobody confirmed it either. I feel like we all knew the truth but because nobody really understood the details of what happened (myself-included) nobody could confirm that I hadn’t participated.
That any part about the experience could be interpreted incorrectly, but because I only remembered broken pieces it was impossible to be sure. Then there are the details I did remember. Of his penis near my face, of him spreading my legs, they all sounded like there was a possibility for consent even though I knew deep in my heart that E was the only reason I had gone in the first place. He was the only person I ever wanted to impress. But I never got up and walked away. I didn’t scream for help, or unlock the door. How was I able to end up in different parts of the room, but was not able to unlock the door? I heard the banging. How could I not register what was happening? I didn’t do anything to end it and that was my fault. So I convinced myself that subconsciously maybe I wanted it to continue. That I was drunk enough to tap into my inner self and do what was forbidden even though I previously had no interest in him.
Being raped was more than a stab at my sense of security, at my soul, at my perception of life. Being raped destroyed my pride. It tore apart at one of the few things you can have coming out of a community like mine. When you have no money, no social capital or influence, when both your ethnicity and gender are underrepresented everywhere, your accomplishments and your pride is the only thing you can count on. This idea that maybe I had lost control of the situation was not acceptable nor in my nature.
Then other cases of sexual assault began to appear here and there, involving the same person. I put the blank pieces together and day by day, the realization began to crush me. Everything I had pushed and refused to believe came crashing down in cruel reality. It hurt. I had lost control. It was not my decision. My pride was shattered but also, how could I trust my boyfriend when he himself could not piece together that I had been raped? I could not trust myself and I could not trust him, or anyone else to make sense of what had really happened.
It drove me into depression. A year after the event, my victimization hit home and it hit hard. But being a victim also freed me. I no longer held this believe that I was an awful person. That somehow I wanted to cheat on someone I truly cared about. That I had somehow asked for everything to take place. I freed myself from these assumptions, and even though admitting all of this made me a victim, it proved I lost control, and it even drove me back into self-harming for a short period, I realized that I had survived it. I survived it because I was a strong woman. And I am still a strong woman. And that’s plenty to be still be proud about.