I had done everything right that night: came with a group of friends, didn’t take a drink that wasn’t mine, made sure we didn’t have too many. I did everything in my power to protect myself. But my power faltered when he whispered compliments in my ear and got me another drink. My power failed me when I was so drunk up that I was following him upstairs. How did I not realize what he wanted, or what was going to happen? My power was broken when the weight of the desires in his pants were stronger than the weight of my no’s and the beating of my fists on his chest.
I knew it was a bad situation, but I didn’t realize the magnitude of it.
I woke up the next morning with my head spinning. I had a fat lip, I remember him biting it. My eyes were puffy from crying — I vaguely remember being too sick to eat at the Pie later that night; a regular feast after going out. Still fuzzy, I went on with my day, trying to remember.
That night, I found myself so drunk I didn’t even know how to get home. The night after that, I was so gone that I didn’t know my own name. This continued for over a semester — nights full of tears, booze and one night stands. I found myself hating the world, and worse, myself I wanted everyone else to feel just a piece of the pain I was feeling.
My roommate told me she was worried about me. I told her to get the hell out.
I thought it was a phase. I willed myself to think it was a phase.
One day, I was sitting in one of my classes and we were talking about Rape Myths and Rape Culture. I was having a visceral reaction to the conversation and I wasn’t sure why. My heart was pounding, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, tears were welling up. I got up and left. I called my sister, trying to calm down. She asked me what was going on. His face and that night kept flashing across my vision as I told her I didn’t know.
I didn’t realize what had happened to me even happened, let alone what “it” was.
In the United States, the term ‘rape’ is defined by the Department of Justice as, “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
As much as I second guessed myself that night, I knew I did not give my consent. I told him ‘no’. I beat my fists on his chest, I tried to get him off of me, his tongue out of my mouth. I doubted the weight of my word — after all, I did go with him willingly. Battling through the fog and guilt, it took me a while to understand the magnitude of his actions and how they affected me. I realized that it wasn’t me just hitting rock bottom and drinking every night for the hell of it. I realized that it wasn’t my fault — and that victim-blaming myself isn’t going to solve any problems. Instead of asking myself why I went with him or what I expected to happen upon going with him, I now ask how does a human being do that to another? Drunk or sober, why does someone think they are entitled to you or your body even when you tell them no?
To save myself, my mind repressed my assault.
Now, almost a year later, I still think back to that night, in vivid detail, and wonder what else I could have done. But, I no longer blame myself. Instead of drinking to numb the pain, I am taking a stand to relieve the pain.
I am no longer a victim, I am now actively becoming a survivor.