A few days ago, my friend put up a story on FaceBook about her sexual assault experience. It was pretty harrowing, but also quite familiar. Stories about rape are both extremely personal while at the same time universal. She posted hers because one of her friends did the same thing, and she was hoping her story might encourage others to come out with their stories, because, as she put it, “the more people read about this kind of thing happening to real people, the more they will recognize the unnerving commonness of it, and the more inclined they will be to pay attention if/when someone close to them drops hints about a similar experience.”
I’m not sure if I’m ready to post my story on FaceBook. So I’m posting it here.
Like my friend, I am not doing this for sympathy. I am not doing this for shock value. In fact, my story isn’t that exciting and my experience was not that bad, but I think the more stories out in the world, about the variety of rape experiences may open people’s eyes to how rape isn’t a simple clear cut thing every time. Furthermore, I do not feel like a victim, and I don’t have any real triggers anymore. I realise that other people might, and so if you do, please note:
**TRIGGER WARNING: This story contains details of sexual assault, alcohol abuse and general shenanigans.**
So here’s my story:
Well, most of it. There are some nights I remember up to certain point and then…waking up.
You see, I’m a blackout drunk. When I get past a certain level of alcohol in my system, my brain stops processing short term memories into long term storage. Sometimes I remember things later, when people remind me, sometimes I have absolutely no recollection of events past a certain point. I am usually able to carry on as normal, and people have even said I didn’t seem that drunk at the time.
Sometimes I do stupid things.
Sometimes I wake up in strange places.
Sometimes, I’ve been the chorus from a stupid Katy Perry song. (You know which one.)
Most of the time, I keep drinking, and often, I get to a point where I either throw up, pass out or both.
This is not something that happens frequently. It’s something I’d like to say never happens anymore, but I’m not perfect.
One particular night, during the Spring quarter of my first year at UCSB, I went to a party. I was a Theatre major, so it was probably a cast party of some sort. What I remember about the night was that it was shortly after I had been rejected by a lover. He was a senior, and we had slept together twice. I was very attracted to him, and he seemed really into me. I had discussed wanting to have an ongoing casual relationship with him before the second time we slept together, and afterward I left his place pretty confident. The following day, he pulled me aside on campus and explained that he really wasn’t comfortable with an ongoing fling. Just once would have been fine, but it was too intense to continue as something casual. I think I found out that he was already pursuing a relationship with a dancer, but he didn’t tell me that.
I felt embarrassed and ashamed, and I was quite bitter about the whole thing.
So later, at this party, he was there. I decided to show him I wasn’t bothered by his rejection.
I started hitting the Bacardi pretty hard.
I remember flirting with a very cute butch dyke, who warned me to be careful about flirting with her, but it didn’t go anywhere.
The next thing I remember, literally, was having sex.
Or rather, someone was having sex with me.
He was attractive, he was on top of me, kissing me. He was already inside me.
He had a shaved chest, which was kind of not my thing.
I was disoriented, groggy, but hey, I was having sex. I like sex.
I looked down at what was happening, there was no condom.
I stopped…um….I didn’t know this guy’s name. No matter, I’d probably forgotten it. Anyway, I stopped Mr. Shaved Chest, went over to my bag, I think, or maybe I asked the guy if he had a condom, but anyway, one was found.
I went down on him, then put the condom on him. I sat up, on top of him, he said, “Now put it on me.”
I assumed “it” meant my vagina, since I’d already put the condom on him, so I put “it” on him.
We had sex, it was fine.
Then, I remember asking why he didn’t want to sleep in the bed next to me. This had never been a problem before and I remember thinking it was odd. He was also kind of rude about it.
The next morning, I woke up at the hostess’s house. Mr. Shaved Chest was her roommate’s cousin. From Philadelphia.
After a while, chatting, hydrating, breakfasting, Mr. Shaved Chest Von Philadelphia emerged from the room we had shared with the two beds. He was silent, distant and made no eye contact with me. The hostess invited us to some picnic or something on the beach and I said maybe, and Mr. Von Philadelphia furtively looked at me, then silently shook his head. I went and sat next to him and he got up quickly, said he needed to go for a walk and left. It was all really, really, weird. It wasn’t like I was being obvious. Actually, I was being really cool about the whole thing.
Over the next couple of days, I tried piecing my night together. What had I done to offend Mr. SCVP? We had sex, so he must have been interested the night before. I was pretty easy going about sex, so it didn’t bother me to have a one-night stand. It was college. We used protection (even if not at first). But still, I was pretty drunk. How did I meet this guy? I didn’t remember meeting him. I didn’t remember any of the lead up to the sex. And I had been vaguely blacked out before and usually remembered some things from the night before. I remembered throwing up, I vaguely remembered being placed in a bed…and then nothing. I asked a male friend of mine if he thought it was gentlemanly to have sex with someone who was that drunk. He said, it wasn’t really a cool thing to do, no. Well fine, I thought, Mr. Shaved Chest Von Philadelphia was just a jerk. I felt a bit taken advantage of, but oh well. It’s not like I wanted to be Mrs. Von Philadelphia, so it weren’t no thang.
Then, backstage of the show I was in, we were talking about the party. I told the other girls there what happened. They exchanged very concerned looks with each other.
“What?” I asked.
“Liz, when we left the party, we checked on you. You were completely passed out. Do you remember throwing up?”
“Yeah. A little. It was in a wastebasket, right?”
“Yeah. I held your hair back. Then Sarah and I put you in a bed and after a couple of hours, we came in and checked on you before we went home. You were completely unconscious.”
“Well, I remember having sex. I even took charge of the situation, but I don’t remember how it started…”
“Oh my god.”
“Liz, it sounds like he started while you were passed out.”
“Oh my god. OH MY GOD!”
A kind of sick dual realisation crept up on me, that I had been raped, then proceeded to have consensual sex with my rapist. Not only had I been raped, but I had sex with a rapist. Suddenly this fellow’s odd behaviour the following morning made sense. He was fleeing the scene of the crime, after an unsuccessful rape.
The fact that I would have consented if I had been conscious somehow made it worse. Like he had stolen something that would have been given freely.
After this realisation, I cried on and off for two days. I had not physically been scarred, but it was an emotionally scarring experience. Fortunately I don’t remember being raped. If I hadn’t woken during it, it’s possible I wouldn’t have even known it happen. I never reported it, and the fact that I engaged in consensual sex halfway through my rape kind of takes the oomph out of my story. A lot of people might not even call it rape because of how I reacted to the situation. I was such a slut, I did what police, judges and juries all over the US do all the time: even I assumed I had asked for it and acted accordingly. Between alcohol and my internalisation of rape culture, I didn’t even realise I’d been violated until days later and by then, Mr. Shaved Chest Von DOUCHEBAG was long gone.
Mine isn’t an exciting tale of assault, or even as clear cut as some cases of date rape. It was almost backwards date rape. In most cases, the girl wants to go only so far, then feels she removed her right to say no past a certain point “It was too late to back out now…” But mine went the other direction, I was already being violated, I was mid rape when I woke up and my brain’s defence mechanism was to say, “Well, since I’m already here, I might as well take charge of the situation.” I place so much value on my own sexual agency, on my ability to say “YES!” enthusiastically and often, that it hadn’t even occurred to me that anyone would take me against my consent.
So the lessons learned?
Well for one thing, the scare about “Date Rape Drugs” is bullshit; all it takes is enough regular drinks and a guy with no conscience.
Also, there are guys out there who actually get off on sticking their dick in girls who are passed out, and at least one of these guys lives in Philadelphia.
So that’s you’ll never find me in Philly. I don’t care how good the cheesesteak is.