Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My second rape

I was raped. This is not news. I was raped by a stranger in broad daylight very near to my parents house, where I was living at the time as a 20 yr old. But I want to talk about what happened after I was raped. A.) because I finally feel ready to. and B.) because in someways, I think it's more important.

The days after I was raped are not very clear to me, I spent a lot of time sleeping and crying and sedating myself with xanax. But not even a week later, I chose to go back to work. This is where the first bit of bizarre behavior really began (if you don't count not eating...). I wanted to smoke. Aside from some experimenting, this was not a thing I did. I was working at a restaurant at the time and I knew the dishwasher smoked. I asked to bum a cigarette from him and went out back before service began. I did not know how to light a cigaretter. This is how often I had not smoked. The bit about having the inhale whilst lighting the thing totally escaped me. So I spent 10 minutes furiously trying to light it. I ended up curled up on the pavement out back with a cigarette in one hand and a lighter in the other crying when my boss came out looking for me. Awesome.

The next few weeks I pretended to be doing better than I really was, and although my mom was keeping close tabs on me, she allowed me my freedom (as all the rape survivor specialists were urging her to). It was important that I made my own choices about my body in particular. This was a hard time for my mom, I know. Watching me leave the house everyday must have killed her. Mostly I did fairly harmless things. I stopped eating and drinking water and started drinking wine, and trying to smoke, and trying to drink coffee. These things were so new to my system and without regular food and sleep and exercise, I was becoming pretty frenetic.

I began spending time with my co-workers. Being 20 and not very confident with the fake ID I'd acquired a year before for a concert or something equally innocuous, I began spending time with the only people I knew who would give me alcohol. Looking back, I can't believe anyone having known what I just went through and seeing how unstable I was would give me alcohol, but these guys did. They lived upstairs from the restaurant we all worked at. One of them was my boss and two of them were "friends". After a particularly rough day I decided to go to a concert with this group. I had several glasses of wine before leaving and drank two pretty strong cocktails while at the concert. This may or may not sound like a lot to you, but I was new to this and had not eaten or drank anything really in days. I was a mess. I ended up making out with one of the guys and then going back and having sex with the other. This was not the first time we'd had sex. In fact, we'd been sleeping together for about three weeks. This is not uncommon for survivors of sexual violence, to want to assert the capability to rule your own sexual life, and sometimes over-sexualization occurs from that.

I don't really know whether to call some of those experiences rape. Many of them are hazy to me for various reasons. One was absolutely coercion as I had tried to assert I wasn't up for it and he had challenged me saying I had already done it before, what did it matter now. This specific night felt most like rape to me for whatever reason. After it was done and he'd fallen asleep without a word to me I began crying. This was the first time in weeks when I really felt the depth of what had happened to me and what was happening as a result. I felt completely out of control. I had spent the entire day trying to exert that control that I craved so much and then there I was, at 3 AM in my own personal hell. I drunkenly stumbled out to the balcony where I thought I would jump off. We were on the third floor. Had I jumped I probably would have badly injured myself but not died. It would be funny, me sitting on this low ledge crying, if it wasn't so damn sad. Anyway, I crossed the railing and stood on the other side (thank god for how deep that ledge was, for I was not in any condition to balance).

I had promised my mom and my therapist that if I ever found myself in a position of genuinely wanting to hurt myself, I would call the rape crisis hotline. I did. That wonderful volunteer talked me into sitting down while we talked and then called the police for me. She saved me life, or at least saved me from some very serious injuries. ( This is why when I participated in the Vagina Monologues a year and a half later, our money went to this organization). My brother later volunteered for them a few hours each week, he knew they saved me.

This is where it really became a shit show. I will save the details of the rest of this experience for another post. Because what happened next, with the cops and the psyche ward, deserve their own post. Today I mostly wanted to be really frank about that month initially after my rape and the person(s) whom I now feel, took major avantage of me.

When I got out of the psyche ward I began apologizing profusely to the group of guys whose house I had been at that night, one of whom has become one of my perpetrators. Looking at it now it's hard for me to understand why I would apologize to them and not the other way around, but I was very confused and hurting at the time. This experience was a turning point for me and after another month of intense talk therapy I was able to point my anger for that night in the right directions. I remember one night kneeling on my bedroom floor screaming about how the fuck could someone rape someone who had just been raped, while my mom listened. My brother overheard and I think it took everything in him not to go right to that person's house and hurt them right then. My initial attacker was still anonymous, this one was not.

But here's the real point of even talking about any of this: this experience with this person, who I'll refer to as Jake, helped bring me to the big picture, which in turn helped me to understand Mr. Anonymous better too. Neither of them is or will ever be excused for what they've done in my mind, but because I knew Jake, I knew his background and about some of his pain, I was able to think about all of it less as an isolated and awful incidence and more as a societal sickness and problem that we really need to deal with.

I quit that job a month later and even went out with a bang by telling this person just how wrong he had been in his behavior towards me. He probably got a little more of my fire than he deserved since I never did get to have that kind of one on one with my first perpetrator, but I don't feel bad about that. My therapist calls this time period the moment when I began to fight back. It was crucial because it meant I cared about myself and my life enough to fight for it. And I had to fight hard. Every. Single. Day. Just to get out of bed, but you've heard about that.

Looking back I realize my "friends" who gave me alcohol and took advantage of me were in a similar place as me. They were experiencing a lack of control, depression and in both cases, healing from severe childhood physical and sexual trauma. Let me be clear: this does not excuse my or their behavior at all. But it can begin to explain it, and give it perspective and give us a starting point on how to deal with it.

I've spent the last two years pretty intrenched in information on the topic. At first I thought it was pretty complicated and there was so much to read and know before you can begin to really get it, but lately I've been thinking that maybe it's not, maybe it's very simple. The way we talk about it as a society (it being the inequality between the sexes that I believe leads to things like rape) really had me confused. So confused that I was literally apologizing to someone who had violated me mere days afterwards. I am no longer confused. I did not ask to be violated by going for a jog by myself. I did not ask to be violated by drinking in the company of a male. And I will not apologize.

This type of post is really exhausting for me, so that will all for tonight. But more soon. It is so important to me that I think critically about all of this.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for saying all of this. You are remarkable. And your honesty and bravery are inspiring. Continue being who you are, and continue telling your story. You have something to say that is important and people definitely should hear it.


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