part one: the dark

CW: sexual assault and violence, eating disorders, and substance abuse.

At the end of 2017, women across the world shared stories and supported one another with the simple hashtag ‘#metoo.’ I was not one of those women – though it has been more than six years – I was still unable to open myself to the vulnerability of posting #metoo.

While all women, across the world, can relate in some way – whether they have been whistled at by a group of burly men as they walked down the street, grabbed inappropriately by a ‘friend’ whilst dancing at a club, or raped by a stranger in a dark alley – every single woman can relate at some level.  

While I could not bring myself to post #metoo, seeing all the women standing up and sharing their stories left me with raw emotions from January 2012.

When I was seventeen I was raped.

I got off work around 8 o’clock and drove the hour to my friend Kenzie’s house. Her parents were out of town for the weekend, she had invited 30 of our ‘friends’ over for a party. Kenzie’s family lived on a large plot of land at the tip of one of the barrier islands of the coast from my town. When I finally arrived, everyone had already been drinking. I took three or four quick, consecutive shots of Lemon Bacardi I had siphoned off into an empty water bottle from my parents bar before leaving for work that evening. I took the shots with my friend Will, in an attempt to try and catch up to the party’s level. Our other friend Josh approached us, offering me a beer which I accepted. I mingled with friends, but suddenly much of the night was blurry.

To this day I am unsure whether I had drank too much too quickly, or if I had been drugged. I had never before, and never after experienced that loss of control. I remember going outside with my best friend Rachel* and Josh. There was a large staircase that led from the front porch to the lawn. To get down the stairs, I had to use Josh as a crutch.

Josh was the year below me in school. He was one of the school’s star football players and had become and integral element of my friend group. He was very tall and muscular, but he was not very bright. About two months prior at a party he had tried to kiss me whilst he was drunk. I was not, and I pushed him away before his lips even got near my face and we laughed it off.

Rachel, Josh and I were sitting on the lawn when Josh began kissing me. I began kissing him back, he had a girlfriend but I was drunk and it felt nice. He began groping me and I came to my senses and pushed him away. I tried to get up, but couldn’t. The next thing I knew I was thrown over his shoulder and being carried across the lawn to his car. I remember hitting his back, I remember saying no. He didn’t listen. I was in the backseat of his car, I couldn’t move – whether it was fear that had frozen me or something he had put in my beer. Josh ripped my shirt and pulled my pants off. I continues mumbling no – he didn’t listen. I remember him pushing my head into his lap and telling me to suck his cock – he said,

“you did it for Chris, so do it for me.”

In December, only a month prior, I had been casually dating a guy named Chris. He was a friend of a friend, back in town on Christmas break from his first year of University. We had fooled around a bit, and news that I had given him a consensual blow job had spread to Josh. If Chris had gotten one why couldn’t he have his turn?

I remember two of my male ‘friends,’ Will and Nick looking in through the car windows and seeing my naked body – laughing as I was being raped. I remember Josh’s penis being forced inside of me. I remember my blood covering the leather of the backseat – I was a virgin. I was no longer a virgin.

I don’t remember how long everything lasted, I was in a time warp. I do remember stumbling out of the car, I could hardly walk. My blood stuck to my denim jeans as I struggled to pull them up, trying to make my way back to the house. I walked in to the house, all eyes on me.

His girlfriend’s friends were there, looking at me, their eyes calling me a slut. Josh left in a rage, blaming me for what he had done. The next morning I awoke feeling horrible, laying on the floor under a blanket hoping the night had just been a horrible dream. I looked at my phone, I had been bombarded by texts from Josh’s girlfriend Paige, asking for exact details of what had happened. Asking why I had gotten with her boyfriend.

At school I was labelled a slut, for getting too drunk, for not being able to stop the rape, for being raped by someone who had ‘a very nice girlfriend.’ I was told I had chosen to drink. I was told I had previously given someone a blow job, others would expect the same. I was told that it wasn’t rape, it was my fault.

After this, most of the next two years were a blur, a foggy dream – a mixture of many medications. Illicit drugs and an overall suppression of my emotions. I developed anorexia the following weeks. I lost 30 lbs. in two months from my already slim body.

That September I started university, drowning my thoughts with increasingly more drugs, and more and more high risk sex. Strangers, acquaintances, people I despised, I didn’t care. If I said yes to everyone I couldn’t be raped. I took acid, snorted lines of coke, had sex with a crowd of faceless men – names and faces I do not remember. It was all a means to an end – my end.

Somehow I got out. In my blur I met someone who respected my self-worth, who reminded me I had self-worth and helped me reclaim my self worth back. The drugs stopped. The random sex stopped. Now I remember. And while I carry it all with me, I am no longer broken by that night, but stronger and here to fight.

*Name changed for anonymity