The year was 2005. I was 15 and wasn’t really even aware of what rape was. Rape wasn’t talked about in my community, we didn’t have social media like we do now, (well, other than Myspace) so if it happened around me, I had no clue. Back then I thought of rape as a stranger attacking you, assaulting you, and then most likely killing you. It was something “criminals” did. Something serial killers did. Something pedophiles did. Not something a friend did. Not something a classmate did.
So, when it happened to me, I didn’t even realize that’s what it was until someone else put it in perspective for me. I said no. Multiple times I said no, I gave reasons, “I’m a virgin”, “But I’m on my period”, “I want to wait until marriage, I’m a Christian” I even begged to just go to sleep. I was stuck at a classmates house after being at a party that ended up getting busted by the cops, without my cell phone, and no way to communicate to anyone other than my rapist.
I had no idea what victim blaming was back then. I didn’t realize that everyone who made me feel at fault for what happened to me were the ones in the WRONG. “But you were drinking?,” “Maybe he thought you were playing hard to get,” “Well he didn’t know any better if he was drunk or high”…were all things I heard out of people I considered friends.
Like most rape victims, I was confused and in shock over what happened. I told a friend the next day after my rapist dropped me off at her house about what happened. “Trevor made me have sex with him last night.” “Brie, you mean he raped you? That’s what it is, rape.” I knew what happened was bad, but I hadn’t thought of it like that until a friend really broke it down for me.
I kept the situation pretty quiet, I didn’t want my parents to find out, or really anyone at school for that matter. Trevor was one of the more popular guys and I didn’t want to deal with that. I just wanted to forget. I ended up telling two of my cousins, and two of my best friends at the time. Somehow, as you can imagine, word spread around school like a wild fire. I’m not sure where it started whether Trevor was “bragging about his conquest” or whether someone I had trusted wasn’t actually trustworthy, but pretty soon everyone knew.
As you can imagine, everyone had an opinion. Some of my classmates and friends seemed genuinely concerned and upset over hearing about it. Others had offered support until they found out WHO my rapist was. And then there were those who claimed I was making this all up and I must just be a slut. With news of this all over my high school, it was obvious that the teachers heard about it. Guess how many reached out to ask if I was okay? Not a single one. It was a hard burden to bear and I pretty much dealt with it alone.
My church group ended up finding out about it, and you would think as Christians they would be kind and empathetic. Not at all. Some were actually relieved that I was raped and didn’t willingly have sex with someone, because you know pre-marital sex is evil and rape is just a little bit better.
A lot of people didn’t believe that you could get raped by an acquaintance, some people thought I must have just regretted it the next morning. To those people I say, I hope you never end up getting raped, or anyone you really care about for that matter. You put me through 3 years of hell and as much as I’d like to still hate you all for treating me with such disrespect, I actually feel sorry for you. I would never wish what I went through on my worst enemy. As you can imagine this deeply impacted my feelings toward Christianity and the church. 11 years later and I won’t get into my religious beliefs or non beliefs, but I definitely haven’t stepped foot back in THAT church. That was church, where I expected to feel more safe and secure. I was just as tormented and alone as in school.
Rape culture was alive in 2005, we just didn’t know what it was. If a girl is drinking, that doesn’t mean she is looking to have sex. If a girl is wearing a short skirt, that doesn’t mean she is looking to have sex. A friend of mine once said, “If you get drunk and drive a car, no one would argue with you getting arrested for a DWI. So, if you get drunk and rape someone, you should be held just as accountable as if you were drunk doing anything else illegal.”
No means no. Silence does not mean yes. Only an enthusiastic yes, means yes. If you have to break someone’s spirit down in order to get them to have sex with I’m sorry to tell you, but you are a rapist.