What I Felt After Getting Raped

Two summers ago, when I was in China teaching English, I went out one unremarkable Friday night to meet a friend at this bar we always went to. I was considerably early, so I sat down and ordered a vodka tonic. I came to five hours later with a raging migraine, pushed against a stale scratchy quilt in the pitch dark and feeling nothing but the huffing and straining of a stranger on top of me. The digital clock on the nightstand read 5:26. A drip of slick sweat fell off of him into my open eye, blurring the red numbers.
The first thing I thought of was this bear attack video we watched in middle school, what you should do when you’re about to be eaten. It was a dumb impulse but it was all I had to work with so I slowed my breathing and played dead. Curiously, it worked. He got up to use the bathroom and I stumbled out into the morning light to hail a cab, dizzy and half-clothed, trying to explain where I lived in my awful Chinese. Later, slumped in the back of the cab in my dirty t-shirt watching the tangerine rose of the sunrise spread over the city, I felt so fragile and so lucky.

And furious. What had given this asshole the right to touch me? To drug me and then touch me? It seemed like the most insulting thing, that he didn’t even try. Didn’t ask me, didn’t even force me, just put something in my cocktail like NBD. Obviously rape isn’t a sex thing, it’s a power thing, but still. He had to knock me out to make it easier like having to tranquilize a tiger before reaching out to pet it. Like he knew my body wasn’t an object he should be touching but reached for it anyway.

And I was exhausted, more tired than I’d ever been. Sapped of energy, spread thin like translucent wax paper. Tired like I’d never smile again, like I’d never be able to move again, just crumpled there, pasted limply to the sticky backseat. Tired and sick, dry heaving with a blinding headache, a metallic tightness in my chest and stomach, an insistent squeeze compressing my temples and my heart.

And incredibly annoyed. Annoyed that my top priority upon returning home was now to get tested. Annoyed that I had been clean and now there was a chance I wasn’t because this guy decided to stick his penis where it didn’t belong, that I had to repeatedly recount what happened to nurses with clipboards, that I had to drop a bunch of money I didn’t have on finding out whether he had given me something else besides humiliation. Terrified that the HIV test might come back positive. Thanks, guy. Thanks a lot.

But above all else, I felt unbelievably lucky. Lucky that I was still alive, that I had a body left to feel pain with. So many women can’t say as much. Women who are more careful than me, more deserving of peaceful lives don’t always get to walk away like I did. Back at my apartment, I pulled my hair back in the mirror and examined my reflection. I am still myself. It was a line I pulled from Suicide Blonde because I didn’t have the words. I got in the shower and methodically scrubbed off the layer of tainted skin.

I knew exactly what was going to happen next, and I was ready for it. What were you wearing? How much did you have to drink? All the inevitable questions of rape culture, the things we ask the victims because our first instinct is to examine their actions instead of the rapists’. We want to make sure she wasn’t “asking for it” before we give her our empathy. How short was her skirt? Were her tits hanging out? What gave him the right? I’ll give you one guess as to which statement doesn’t belong.

And even though I wanted to not exist, collapse into the floor and decay, I knew I had to be strong because no one was going to be strong for me. I wasn’t about to get on Skype and broadcast what happened, open up the wound and rehash the details. I knew what my parents would say, what the police would say. There wasn’t anything to do except sit there and breathe, sit there and pump blood through my body, cradle every limb and feel thankful for the fact that some part of me, at least, was not damaged, the rest would heal itself.

After all, what could anyone say? At best, I’m here for you, at worst, I told you so. The words would pass through but they wouldn’t resonate. No one who hasn’t been there can understand the horrible nothingness of it, the extent to which there’s nothing to do besides just live through it because you don’t have a choice, reduce it to its bare bones and digest it like everything else. Chew it and wash it down like every other thing that happens because going to pieces over it won’t make it clearer, won’t make it easier, won’t make it anything. TC mark

image – Vox Efx


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  • http://twitter.com/LulabelleBoom ||gabrielle druzy||

    This was extremely powerful and unexpected. Thank you for not turning it into a sob-fest and being real about it.

    • snabulsi

      I’m sorry….not turning it into a “sob fest?” Have we really become so cynical and desensitized that even rape doesn’t warrant out and out anguish? 

      I love how this article conveys the strength of the author, and I wish every woman who has been violated in this way could manage the same way, but those who can’t don’t deserve to be criticized or degraded for expressing how horrific rape is, to each of them, uniquely, “sob fest” or otherwise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    holy fuck. so glad you are okay

  • Anonymous

    This piece of writing is strong and brave and amazing. I am sorry that happened to you but I am very glad to have read this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hallntx Nick Hall


  • http://twitter.com/ShannonPMarti Shannon Marti

    Thank you for being willing to share this. 

  • Deirdre

    You’re so strong… many woman wouldn’t be able to handle that as bravely.

  • http://twitter.com/mrwildflowers Jesse S.

    Thank you so much.

  • Anonymous

    I’m so sorry this happened to you. Beautiful piece.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Diego-Sánchez-Mata/100000172988892 Diego Sánchez Mata

    This was maybe, the first piece of truly important writing I´ve found on this site. it is important for us to exam our attitude towards abuse.

  • coco

    you are so so brave

  • Snowpop-

    How did you tell your friends? Did you even tell them? I just wonder how you would even bring that up in conversation and how they would react.

    I don’t really know what to offer as condolence but than you for sharing this.

  • http://twitter.com/tannnyaya Tanya Salyers

    I am so so so sorry this happened to you.  You are a strong and beautiful woman.  I, and I think the greater majority of your fans here at TC, am proud of you.

  • Sdlkfj

    I’ve never commented on anything from TC before… but a similar thing happened to me a little under 2 months ago. I went to the hospital as well, but there hasn’t been a day that has gone by that I don’t regret not reporting him to the police, and I admire you so so much for having that courage. Thank you so much for writing this– I believe everything happens for a reason, and maybe eventually we’ll be able to find the silver lining in all of this soon.

  • Lily

    I’ve never been raped but I’m so proud to see some kind of destigmatisation happening because of fucking brave people like you. I refuse to accept this illogical and bizarre constant blaming of the victim rather than the rapist, and the next time I hear a snide comment that even borderlines that I will think of this article and be the awkward argumentative person we should all be sometimes.  Weird internet stranger shit but I seriously hope you are OK. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1243740114 Kristen Bergman

    I haven’t come across anything that came anywhere close to describing it as clearly and beautifully as you have here.
    Thank you.

  • Guest

    Your strength is unbelievable, I don’t know you had the resolve to write this but thank you for sharing it. 

  • http://twitter.com/ZhaoJanelle Janelle Zhao

    Wow. As I was reading this, all of a sudden, I burst into tears. Although many of us have not experienced rape in the extreme sense that you have, I just felt I could relate because of this:

    “I knew exactly what was going to happen next, and I was ready for it. What were you wearing? How much did you have to drink? All the inevitable questions of rape culture, the things we ask the victims because our first instinct is to examine their actions instead of the rapists’.”

    In a sense I think every woman could relate to this because we have been raised on shame. We are to feel shame when we please others. We are to feel shame when we please ourselves. Whatever it is, someone will always have something negative to say.

    You are courageous and wonderful. Thank you for this article. Thank you for speaking up and not giving a fuck. 



  • Aimee

    This is so great. Thanks for being honest and open about something that needs to be discussed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cheezegris Griselda Bravo

    Very brave of you to speak up about this, I hope your piece also provides a sense of empowerment in other women. I admire your courage! Many Blessings to you.

  • http://twitter.com/hannahchloe_ hannah chloe.

    this is so spot on, like you were in my head but managed to form coherent dialogue. really beautiful, thanks.

  • Meera Shah

    wow. you are so incredibly brave, and i just wanted to thank you for sharing this with us. that’s honestly all i can say right now. 

  • Taylor Hatmaker


  • Twinkle

    Sorry about what you went through. You are a very brave lady.. 

  • Rachel

    Thank you for your honesty and your clarity and your truth.  You wrote that so succinctly–just the way we live it.  You’re style so completely captured the waterfall of emotions, and at the same time the pure resolve that it takes, that simply MUST BE to keep going.

    My experience was also abroad, and not nearly as vicious.  I don’t know how close to this you still are, but please don’t forget to give yourself room and time and space upon your return to breathe.  Please know that there are so many of us who are with you supporting you and wishing you the best.  Take care of yourself.

  • Cait

    Thank you, so much, for writing this. I understand these feelings all too well.

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