It was just over a year ago.
I was anxious to get back to college and see all my friends I missed during summer break. At the time I still considered my soon-to-be rapist a close friend. Many times I replay the events of that night and think about how I could’ve avoided being raped. The sad reality is that if he didn’t rape me that night, he would’ve raped me another night. He was patient, waiting for me to be in my most vulnerable state. He knew what he wanted and wasn’t going to let anything stop him from getting what he wanted.
I had intentions to see my friend that night. Unfortunately, when challenging my rapist through my university many believe that meant that I had every intention of being raped. I went out with friends and woke up naked, bloody and being screamed at with texts on my phone from my rapist’s roommate asking if I was okay. I grabbed my clothes and ran out of the dorm room. I wasn’t sure entirely what had happened, I could only remember flashes from the night; the flashes I do remember where scenes from horror movies.
On my walk home I opened the camera on my phone to see my face and lips since they hurt. I saw how beat up I look and felt sick. My lip was double the size it usually is and there was dried blood around my face. I could feel that someone had been inside me and did not care to be gentle. When I got home I knew I needed to shower to get every bit of what was left of him off of me. It was when I got undressed and saw my body that I felt paralyzed and truly understood what he had done to me.
The marks on my body showed where he restrained me when I tried to fight. What I would give to go back in time and not have gone out that night. For a long time I chose to protect him. No one tells you how you are supposed to feel after being raped. I was confused and shocked that this could happen to me by someone I had introduced to my parents. Nothing was safe anymore, or so it felt.
I tried to talk to my rapist about what happened, but he was not receptive. I figured maybe this was one big mistake or misunderstanding. Rape isn’t a misunderstanding. As I can to terms to what he did to my body I gradually became more angry at him. I watched a TED talk that explained that 90% rapes were done by repeat offenders. I knew I had to do something. I was terrified to call my friend a rapist. It took my months to report him for raping me. I actually protected him when people questioned my bruising and swelling. The doctors were forced to document the damage he had done to the cartilage in my chest. But when it was the time for me to report, I did.
Reporting my rape and standing up for myself may have been harder than enduring my rape itself. It lead to months of ridicule and blame. People want to assume that rapists are innocent because if they believe victims, they are believing a very sad truth about mankind. It is sad to be forced to understand how evil the acts, even for the individuals closest to us, can commit. People assume they know more about your rape than you do, even though you were the one that lived it and relive it everyday.
I learned a lot about my rape through my rapist testimony. It wasn’t until months after reporting that I read his statement. I learned then that I had been raped multiple times. He described where he came each time like he had been bragging to the investigator. He talked about my body and I could almost hear how he would’ve spoken his testimony out loud. I felt revictimized.
I contemplate whether I am thankful or not that I can’t remember my rape in its entirety. Throughout the Title IX process (the process my university follows when a student alleges another of sexual assault or rape) I had to relive my rape over and over as I told my story to investigators and a board of faculty. It’s embarrassing to tell adults about your sex life. They asked questions about your sex life before and after your rape like that changes the fact you were raped.
My rapists was expelled from the university and asked to never step foot on campus property again. Because my Title IX case resulted in the proper disciplinary actions, people congratulated me on “winning” my case. I did not win my case. There is no winning for me in rape. I can simply tried to live with this as my past.
This event was horrific. This is not something I can simply get over. This event is part of me now. My rape has shaped the individual I have become. I have learned how resilient and badass of a woman I can be. I will continue to fight against rape culture and victim shaming. No one deserves to be violated in this way and no one asks for it. I think it’s very difficult for people to understand if they haven’t gone through it and its okay to not always know exactly how to respond to hearing about these horrific events, but always showing support to victims is vital. I had a few people who supported me and reminded me that, contrary to campus culture and belief, what happened to me is not my fault and I am #NotGuilty.