Sometimes, rape isn’t kicking and screaming, a stranger in the bushes on a dark street.
Sometimes instead it’s a silent activity in a familiar room.
Sometimes the worst part of rape isn’t the violent force, but instead is everything that comes after.
It’s the nauseous feeling you get when you realize you need to leave right away. It’s the disgust you feel in yourself as you stand in line to get coffee right after, just to feel normal and give yourself a chance to figure out where to go. It’s the urgent need to take a shower, to get every single trace of him off of you.
It’s looking down and seeing bruises in the shape of handprints down your arm, across your stomach. It’s not knowing what happened, except that you know you said no over and over, turned your head, cried silently to yourself as he laid on top of you. It’s taking the longest walk of your life, down the hall, into your best friend’s room to see if she notices anything different. It’s sitting on her bed, asking a question, finally accepting what happened when she looks at you with concern.
It’s the tears that eventually come despite your best efforts to hold them in. It’s the inability to make any decisions because look at where that got you. It’s sitting in your friend’s room and listening as they make the decision to take you to the hospital, because you won’t really choose to go on your own. It’s crawling into bed and being in such shock you can’t stop shivering.
It’s driving around the city to find a hospital that will take you so late at night. It’s a friend who sits with you and distracts you and makes you laugh as you wait for the nurse, even though in the back of your mind you still know why you are there. It’s the paperwork and the questions and the insurance you shouldn’t have to deal with, don’t know how to deal with at 18 years old.
It’s the cold sterile room in the hospital where you wait and wait and wait. It’s the medication and emergency contraception you have to take that makes you so sick you feel like you might die. It’s the sleepless nights where you sit in the hallway and sob without an end in sight. It’s the helpless look you get from those around you when you want to talk and they don’t know what to say.
It’s visiting home and sitting in a kitchen, telling your friends what happened and not even remembering their reaction because it took everything in you to hold it together. It’s the need to make sure everyone knows what happened to you, and then a week later make sure no one else ever finds out.
It’s hiding it from your parents until you are so close to failing out of school you have no choice but to tell them. It’s hiding under your covers reading stories about other’s experiences, just to know you aren’t the only one who has ever felt this way. It’s being too scared to go outside, too afraid to even step out of your room. It’s the counseling you have to put yourself through, the depression and anxiety that you didn’t ask for. It’s seeing him on the street and having to run as if your life depended on it, because the fight or flight reaction is stronger than rational thought.
It’s having to tell your school and fight to keep the information from getting out. It’s pushy and rude reactions from those in charge. It’s the questions that are supposedly well meaning but cut so deeply, like were you drinking, were you dressed appropriately, why were you hanging out in that room in the first place? It’s having to change schools because you just can’t survive with all those memories anymore.
It’s forcing yourself to get up and move on because you can’t stay broken forever.
Sometimes the worst part of rape isn’t one physical moment, but so many emotional moments that come after.