April 3, 2014

My Rapist Doesn’t Know He’s A Rapist (Because My Culture Hasn’t Taught Him He Is One)

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Bhumika Bhatia
Bhumika Bhatia

And for that reason, four years later, I’m trying to get myself to stop hating him.

I was a college freshman, naive, perpetually high on my newfound freedom and ready to take on whatever opportunity fell in my lap that day — provided I was nice and wasted off 10 shots of vodka from a plastic handle. I was making new friends, trying new things, and making out with LOTS of boys. I didn’t have much sexual experience, I’d only had sex with one boy back in high school, so college parties full of attractive drunk boys I’d likely never see again were like a gold mine. It was harmless, and fun as hell.

On the night I was raped by a friend of a friend, I made the first move.

I was the one who gave him “the look” for a solid twenty minutes while he danced with another girl, until he ditched her and came over to me. I was the one who kissed him. Despite that, I never once invited him back to my room, gave him my phone number, or gave him any outright implication that this was going any farther than those two hours on the dance floor. When he knocked on the door of my dorm room later that night, he admitted he’d asked his friend where I lived; he wanted to get my number. I thought that was sweet. I invited him in.

I wasn’t left with any bruises. He never held me down. He didn’t use physical force at all.

But it was 3 am, I was drunk beyond comprehension, and I never said yes.

I remember laying on my back while he and his whiskey dick had sex with my unresponsive, near-asleep body, all the while praying for it to be over. When he finished (on my chest, I might add), I shoved him off of me. I asked him to leave, and immediately threw up in my trash can. I stood in the shower for an hour and still couldn’t get the dirty feeling off. I cried for hours. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me, and attributed it to “being drunk and emotional”. I didn’t tell my friends.

My rapist doesn’t know he’s a rapist.

I know this because I didn’t even realize I had been raped myself until three years later, when I sat myself down and asked why I was still having nightmares about that night. I started reading accounts from other girls who had been raped or sexually assaulted, and realized many of them had gone through the same denial period. Just because you don’t say no doesn’t mean you said yes.

I convinced myself that if it was rape, I would have been injured. If it was rape, I would have been aware of that in the moment, and fought him off. If it was rape, I would have told on him. If it was rape, no one would take me seriously me anyways because I was drunk as shit and after all, I had invited him in, hadn’t I?

Drunkenness is not an excuse for rape; it’s an alibi.

My rapist doesn’t know he’s a rapist because in his mind, he was drunk too, so we were on the same page, right?

He doesn’t know he’s a rapist because society has taught him that drunk girls like me who come on to you are asking for it; they’re probably sluts who throw themselves at dudes all the time; they deserve it.

He doesn’t know he’s a rapist because, like I did at first, he believes that if he doesn’t physically hurt someone, it’s not considered rape.

He believes that since he “knew me” for one night and didn’t attack me on the street, it’s not considered rape. He doesn’t think he’s a rapist because of the similar stories his buddies tell him about the “hot drunk chick they banged last night”.

At the time I’m writing this, I still hate him. I hate him for the shame he caused me to feel, for the confusion, for the feelings of worthlessness. I hate him for the panic attacks and for the sleepless nights. I hate him for the year of therapy my parents had to pay for when I came to terms with the fact that I was, in fact, a “rape victim”. I hate him for making me feel like I’m crazy or that I’m overreacting when I still occasionally break down and cry, even though I think I’m “over it”. I hate him for the fact that I know deep down I will never truly be “over it”. I hate him for all the times I see him on campus and realize he probably hasn’t thought about that night since the week after it happened, and if he does think about it, it’s never with guilt.

It’s for that last reason, however, that I’m trying to find a way to forgive him. In his mind, I’m just another girl he’s slept with in college, another notch on the bedpost. He has no idea how much he has effected me — he couldn’t know, I haven’t spoken a word to him since that night. How can he possibly feel guilty for something he’s been told is perfectly okay his entire life?

My rapist doesn’t know he’s a rapist, because my culture has taught him he isn’t one. TC mark

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