After it happened, I told no one. When I shared what happened with my friends, I turned it into a joke. “And when I woke up in the morning, he was wanking off!” How my friends laughed. I completely skipped over what had happened the night before. It took me a few more weeks to mention what had actually happened, but when I did try to talk about it, my friends invalidated my experience.
My closest male friend said, “Well, why didn’t you say something?”; my closest female friend said, “Well, he was a weirdo. Why did you go home with him?”. I have to admit, instead of telling them how they made me feel, I avoided them. Even though they were my closest friends and I cared about them deeply, I no longer felt like I could confide in them.
I didn’t know how to explain what happened to me, I didn’t know how to justify it. All I knew is that I felt something very negative, but I didn’t know why. Instead of acknowledging those thoughts and feelings, I ignored them. I focused on work, I focused on friends, I focused on fun.
I was unhappy, but instead of blaming what had happened to me, I blamed my Sammy size flat and moved. I distracted myself. I made sure I was never alone and when I was, I was sleeping.
After it happened, I stopped everything. I stopped drinking as much, I stopped going to as many parties, and I stopped being friendly and trusting. I stopped being myself. Instead, I stayed home and read. I was too afraid to say anything to anyone, too afraid they would judge me and call me a slut. I hid in words. When I didn’t have plans, I would find a launch party or poetry reading to attend and sit quietly in the back. Sometimes I spoke with people who were also alone.
I didn’t even realize that what happened to me was rape until two months later when I met Yada at my friend’s house party. I knew he was interested from the moment he saw me. Whenever short men see me, they are instantly excited. Finally, someone they are taller than! Yada told me “I know someone high up at Penguin,” Yada told me, “I want to make the world a better place,” Yada told me, “You’re beautiful,” but this time I didn’t trust him. This time, when he said, “I want to take you on a date” and kissed me, this time when I felt desire, I said, “I want to go home with you, but from my experience, if I do, you won’t actually take me on a date, so good night.” I didn’t do what I felt like doing, I did what a good girl does, I made him wait.
We went on three more dates, and every time he hinted at coming home, and every time I said that I was “had to be up early”. And then one night, I got a call from him at 1am. He was very drunk at a kebab shop near my house and seemed like he needed my help. As a nice person, I went and collected him. I thought it might be sexual, but I wasn’t sure. I thought he might genuinely need help. Also, it had been two months since I had sex, which was a long time considering my previous track record, so I thought I should probably try again.
The minute we entered my room, all I felt was terror. I didn’t feel sexy, I didn’t feel confident, I felt afraid. And yet I couldn’t tell him. I didn’t get undressed, I just crawled into bed in my matching pink pajamas and let him lie there. I wanted to say something, but I couldn’t. That was the moment I realized I had been raped. That was the word that came to me as a justification for why I felt the way I did.
In my dreams, I told him everything that had happened to me, but when I woke up I realized I hadn’t said a thing. We just laid next to each other the whole night until I felt so guilty that he had come all the way over to my house, and I had not pleased him, and so I gave him a hand job. I recited my penis poem as I did it in order to make myself feel more powerful. He really didn’t like it, but didn’t say anything. After he left, he hit on me a few more times, flirty texts, but I couldn’t do it. Eventually, I told him that I had had a bad sexual experience and didn’t feel comfortable, but that we could be friends. He never messaged me again.
But at least I could finally admit it to myself, I least I could finally write it down, I had been raped. Even if I could only tell people, “I’ve had a bad sexual experience.”
Read the next post in the series, “Was it My Fault?”
Check out the rest of the blog posts from how to value your own thoughts.