I had one condom. It was orange and had a smiley face on the wrapper. I thought it was funny so I hung it on my bulletin board. I saw it every day. It was the summer after 8th grade, almost eight summers ago now. You told me I was pretty and I wanted more than anything to believe you. The summer was hot and we were unsupervised. I slowly let you wear me down. The first time you kissed me was in my room. I kept my eyes open the whole time staring at my bulletin board afraid that if I moved you would come to your senses and stop. You were sweet. You left me voicemails telling me you missed me. You slowly wore me down.
The day it happened we went swimming. After, we came inside you took off your clothes and as I went to leave you grabbed my hand. Somehow it seemed okay when you took the orange condom with the smiley face down from the bulletin board so I didn’t say a word. The second you entered me I knew it wasn’t okay. I told you it hurt and asked you to stop, but you wouldn’t, “couldn’t,” you said. Tears began streaming down my face. I cried the entire time. When it was over my insides burned. I looked over and the orange smiley face was gone. Every time I looked at my bulletin board that summer my insides burned.
You still came around, hung out with my friends. You knew I wouldn’t tell anyone so it was as if it never happened. Once, I mustered the courage to remind you of how you wouldn’t, “couldn’t,” stop and you became enraged. Your hands fumbled for my neck and as your hands tightened around me you shouted, “You wanted it you bitch. Never say that again.” That night was the first time I drank. The Vodka burned my insides just like you did. It’s eight summers later and for the first time I don’t feel the need to burn my insides in order to forget what it felt like when you did. I never saw you again after that summer, but once in awhile you would call to remind me that you were my first. For a while I think I believed you, and for even longer I was unable to call what you did to me what it was. I called it a “mistake”, or “something that would never happen again,” but eight summers later it’s easier to call it what it was, rape.
You took a lot away from me. For years I couldn’t even say the word, and eight summers later it’s still hard. I no longer think of you every time I look at my bulletin board, but I do think of you every time someone touches me for the first time. Sometimes I tell my partner then, and sometimes it comes out after one too many glasses of wine. I’ve learned to look away when I tell my story of you because there is nothing worse than the looks of pity. Eight summers later and I still hate being thought of as weak, because maybe if I hadn’t been weak I would still have what you took from me. I’ve learned the “maybes” and the “what-ifs” will eat you alive if you let them.
Four summers after I found out you were having a baby, and five summers later I heard you were blessed with a beautiful baby girl. For the first time since it happened I let myself cry about you while sober. I wasn’t really crying for you, but for that baby girl. Eight summers later I still pray for your daughter. I pray that even if you still don’t know what rape is that she will never have to learn about it the way I did. I pray that whoever wears her down, like you once did me, knows what rape is, and more importantly knows the importance of consent. This is why I tell my story, for your daughter, for my someday daughter, and for all the other daughters. This is the first time I have ever written about my rape, and it brings back the same feeling of my insides burning. I assume talking about my rape will still be difficult twenty summers from now, but if talking about my experience helps any victim feel less isolated, or makes any boy think twice about not stopping when she asks it’s more than worth the discomfort.