It was sophomore year and the cool guy (let’s call him Adam) at my small, private college invited me on a night out – just the two of us.
Adam was the type of guy with a reputation, but also the type of guy that every girl wanted anyway – unfortunately, at the time, I was no exception.
I had been to Adam’s house parties, so I didn’t feel uncomfortable going over to his house that night. It was hot, I was dressed in something short (still doesn’t mean I was “asking for it,” by the way) and he had a bottle of Jaeger. Silly little younger me, I had never had Jaeger before and, when I asked if I’d be able to handle it, he assured me that it “really wouldn’t get me that drunk.” Six shots later, we hit the bars.
We ended up meeting up with one of our mutual friends at our towns dingiest little bar. It was a relatively quiet weeknight and Adam graciously, kindly, innocently kept feeding me drinks.
I felt special. I felt superior because of this. Adam had chosen me, he was buying me vodka sodas (two limes, please).
I realized on the fifth drink that I was too drunk to function, simultaneously realizing that I could absolutely, under no circumstance go home with Adam. I told him this, yet he insisted that he would take care of me, mentioning something about holding my hair back. Drunk me still didn’t like this, so I turned my sleepy eyes to our friend and asked him to take me home – he said I’d be fine, that he didn’t have enough gas, that he didn’t have room in his car, that he had to get up early, that I should “have fun”.
Predictable as ever, the alcohol overtook me and I wound up in the passenger seat of Adam’s shitty Jeep, heading straight toward his house. Upon arrival, I was so drunk I couldn’t even walk up the stairs. He carried me. What a gentleman.
Somewhere in my mind I knew this was headed somewhere I didn’t want it to go, but suddenly my top was off. Suddenly my neck was wet. Suddenly my skirt was off. Suddenly I heard myself say “no” and “stop”, more than once or twice each.
It wasn’t until I started crying that he stopped having sex with me. I felt foolish for a few seconds before I blacked out.
I woke up in his bed without the luxury of memory loss. I put on my clothes and went to the bathroom and confronted my face, mascara everywhere, lipstick smudged. How did this happen? I left the bathroom and followed his clothes back to the room. Did it really happen? He woke up, talkative and friendly, devoid of remorse. We didn’t talk about it.
I guess I decided it was best to push it to the back of my mind, I mean, why confront it, right? These things didn’t happen to me. This was the guy every girl wanted, like, come on.
No one would believe me anyway. I was too drunk.
After buying him McDonalds (yes, seriously.) I drove home in a daze. When my friends asked me where I was that night, I lied. I internalized the situation. I rationalized what had happened. I forgave the friend who let me go home with this guy and somehow I let it go.
I ended up telling one of my best friends later that week. I guess because I didn’t cry during the recap she was able to laugh it off and asked if he was “any good”. I vowed never to tell anyone again.
It’s something I try not to think about, but here I am, four years later – stuck with the memory, somehow not devastated. I can’t even come up with a reason. What about the rage I should be feeling? The sorrow? The crippling emotional damage? I mean, where is it? I see all of these stories about these women getting raped, some of them winning their cases, some of them losing and being called liars, but all of them enduring everlasting, tragic emotional damage.
I wish I could feel that. I wish I could open up. I wish I could confront my reality. The fact is, though, that my skirt was too short, I had too much to drink, I couldn’t fight back and I couldn’t be trusted to accurately recount what took place that night. At least, that’s what the media and justice system tells us matters, right? Right.
After years of silence, I need to speak. I need to tell victims of sexual assault that it is NOT okay. The clothes you wear don’t matter, the amount of alcohol you consume has no correlation to the validity of a declined advance and that you SHOULD tell someone.
I let my rapist walk away, graduate, get a job and a new girlfriend, all without interruption. He doesn’t deserve a clean record, and, I promise you, neither does yours.