I was raped three years ago today.
I used to be an unfuckwithable badass. Then, I was brought to my proverbial knees.
Please consider this a trigger warning, as well as an uncomfortable but important story I will forever continue to share.
During the wee hours of January 29, 2016 in an affluent neighborhood of Nashville, I woke up to my best friend’s boyfriend of five weeks raping me while I slept on her couch. Sleeping on this bestie’s sofa is something I’d done 4,209 times without a second thought before. I’d arrived around 9pm in mismatched pajamas, distraught with eyes so puffy from bawling over a friend’s death a few days prior that I looked as if I’d been fighting Rocky Balboa. I went to her for company, solace and what friends do best for each other – support.
Her young son was asleep, her large, lovable pit bull mix jumped on my lap and her boyfriend of 35 days poured us generous glasses of wine while we watched Pretty in Pink. After more tears, lots of laughs and three glasses of vino later, I watched the two of them go to her bedroom, as I snuggled in after taking a sleeping pill, putting my glasses across the room on the coffee table, along with my phone.
A few hours later, in darkness so deep it rivaled a haunted house, I groggily awoke on my back to something very heavy on my chest, with my arms down by my sides, my pajama pants at my knees. There was hot breath and a human head in the right crease of my neck. There was an unwanted, unwelcomed and disgusting rape taking place. The rape of me.
Upon gaining my bearings and piecing together what the hell was happening to me, I silently freaked out, put my hands up on his chest and hissed, “what the fuck are you doing?” Without uttering one word, he retreated from my body, stood up and walked back into the bedroom where his girlfriend was sleeping. Through the fucking door that had been wide open the entire time – if my friend had woken up, she would have seen the rape occurring, due to the closeness of her quarters.
Scared shitless at what could happen during a confrontation with a man I barely knew, my first thought was of the sleeping four-year old in the next room. I was frozen. I didn’t know if Shane the Rapist was awake, passed out or going to come back out to finish what he started…or worse. My glasses and phone were across the room. I barely was able to muster the courage to pull my pajama pants up for fear of making noise. I remained a statue on that couch for at least two hours – until the sun came up.
Looking back as I hustled out of that apartment, I now know that I was in shock. Deep shock. And, I didn’t know what the fuck to do. Did that really just happen? What do I do? Did that just really happen? Where do I go? Did that just really happen? Who should I call? Did that really just happen? I was desperate to tell my girlfriend but wanted to do it while she was away from her boyfriend out of fear of what he may do to her.
When she was at work a few hours later, I called and told her to sit down as I had something life changing to tell her that would have a great impact on the both of us. Then I went on to say that I awoke in the night with her boyfriend of five weeks, having sex with me. Her initial response was, “did you finish?” Did we finish?
She immediately went home to him and called me back saying that she believed him when he told her it was consensual.
This was my first encounter with victim blaming. From my best friend.
My second encounter with victim blaming came from Shane the Rapist himself via a text to me after that phone call.
WISH I WOULD HAVE TOLD HIM NO?
I WAS FUCKING DEAD ASLEEP.
After taking a sleeping pill with three glasses of wine and being unbearably sad the entire day with endless tears coming from my eye holes, I was out cold. He had sex with what was basically a corpse instead of turning to his girlfriend he was next to in bed and tapping her on the shoulder for a piece of ass. He got up out of the bed and came to the couch. He knew exactly what he was doing. Oh and a side note, as soon as I was conscious enough I did say no. I said fuck no as I pushed him off.
My third encounter of victim blaming came from, once again, someone I held close to my heart. I couldn’t believe my best friend’s stance.
I ruined her life because her boyfriend raped me.
My life was shattered in a matter of mere minutes.
My joy was robbed without my consent in seconds.
My trust in almost everyone gone in a few fleeting moments.
A rape counselor at the hospital said, “there is going to be a before rape in your life and an after rape in your life.”
And she sure the fuck was right.
As the days, weeks, and life in general went on around me, I couldn’t help but feel like I was responsible for “letting” myself be raped (how fucked up is that?). I was ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed and disgusted with myself. Insecurities formed I’d never experienced along with adjustment disorder, PTSD, chronic fatigue and severe stress.
In an instant, Shane the Rapist turned me into a girl who could no longer withstand being in my own mind.
He stole my stone cold solid pride. My life long unwavering sense of confidence. My will. All in one act.
The weight of profound grief is and can be all consuming. I was a stranger to myself and struggled to fight the will to get up out of the bed on a daily basis. I never wanted to die per se but you bet your motherfucking ass I wished my eyes wouldn’t open most mornings because the pain seared into my soul was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I didn’t really care about much of what I once did – a clean Mini Manse, washed hair, painted nails, working out, decorating for holidays, celebrating anything, taking a shower and so fucking on. Thousands of hours of sleepless nights. Panic attacks out of nowhere. And luckily and not so luckily, I was unemployed and looking for a job when Rapegate began.
The most mundane tasks feel like climbing Mt. Everest.
Trauma happens in various of forms in this life, as we are all too aware. Loved ones die but it’s inevitable that we all have expiration dates. People desperate to be parents sometimes cannot conceive. Illnesses and disease that have no cures plague us. Auto accidents occur resulting in life altering injuries and changes. Children are molested. The endless cycle of domestic violence. Life is cruel. Trauma is brutal.
I’ve been in therapy for most of the last three years. It is hard as fuck. It is hard as FUCK. It is hard as FUCK. If you find yourself in a state after any kind of trauma where you can feel comfortable reaching out to anyone that you can trust, it will be for your benefit. I promise.
I started therapy with my Rapegate hero, Sheila every Thursday afternoon. We began with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and then later, EMDR. I’ve done countless hours of reflecting and homework and revising my thinking that I wanted to give the fuck up and just pretend Rapegate never happened. But for me, that was not an option. Once I started, I had to keep trudging ahead because trauma isn’t truly stored in your brain. It’s stored in your body. It’s why I’m unconsciously bouncing my knee to the ceiling right now. It’s why I stuttered for a solid 15 seconds until my boss finally finished my sentence yesterday. It’s why I have been inexplicably tearing up every few hours the last week.
One thing for people to understand whether or not you or someone you love has been raped, recovery will be a long struggle. Being a survivor isn’t something you do once. Being a survivor is waking up every day and doing your best to carry on. It’s a journey, not a destination. I mean fuck, I’m sitting here awake three years to the day later because my body won’t let me sleep on my Rapeversary at 4:00 am. The body remembers. The body stores trauma.
I was raped before the #MeToo movement began and when I first shared my story, I could not believe the droves of people who reached out to say they, too, had been victims. And not just women. Some I’d never met in person, only virtually but they felt comfortable enough to reveal their truth and I was honored to listen. Speaking your truth is an unbelievable weight lifted. Speaking your truth also makes it very real and that is scary as fuck.
Then you live with triggers that fellow survivors and I deal with on now, a daily basis. I can’t know and don’t know when it will hit. Not sure if being woken up in a startling manner will make me punch someone in the face. Not sure if a news story will make ice run through my veins. Not sure how provoked of a poked bear I will become over injustices occurring on a daily basis in our judicial system. Not sure if my ears will start bleeding when I hear a person defending a sexual assaulter. Because believe you me, they do it once, they do it again. And why wouldn’t they if society doesn’t think the punishment should fit the fucking crime?
But then again, America also voted a self-described pussy grabber into the White House and that’s just the fucking norm these days. AND. IT. SHOULDN’T. BE. If you think that’s OK, you are part of the gigantic problem of rape culture that this country has, so fucking stop it. Your children are watching.
And yet, we question over and over and over and over why victims don’t come forward at the time of their sexual assaults.
The thing is, it takes a fucking village to overcome any type of trauma – and my village is as strong as an army. In instances such as the one I survived, it’s an experience I can hopefully convey to others and create awareness. Over 70% of all rapes occur between acquaintances (it’s an even higher percentage if you add in rape by family members). I never once thought I was putting myself in danger by going to my ex-best friend’s house to grieve a loss of life, only to start the unraveling of my own grief of life as I once knew it.
Instead of gaining comfort by reporting, I became a statistic that is all too familiar. My treatment as a rape victim by the Metro Nashville Sex Crimes division is and was no less than abhorrent. I was re-victimized by the very people supposed to help, support and guide me. Hundreds of hours were spent by yours truly following up with my detective and some of her peers, chasing information and answers that should have simply been provided. It exhausted me to my core. My rapist walks free because it was a “classic” scenario as my detective brought to my attention – a he said/she said. And still, we question why victims don’t report.
The cost of being a rape victim has a tremendous impact for those who do (and even those that don’t) report it to authorities. Missed work, therapy visits (if you can afford it), police follow-up, doctor visits (that are required every six months for two years, just to be sure you didn’t contract HIV) prescriptions (for mental problems or STD medications contracted during rape), etc… is at an estimated $122,461 per victim according to a 2017 National Sexual Violence Resource Center . Pocket change.
I’m currently in surthrival mode – that space in between surviving and thriving and I owe it to my support systems of thousands. You guys rock my world. Truly. You are my lifesavers from one to a million. With your help the last three years, I’ve become one hell of a survivor through your letters, texts, phone calls, cards, gifts, flowers, financial assistance, sharing of your own stories – I know I’m not alone. This is a horribly isolating trauma that reduces you to a solo existence. You feel like an endless burden. But I know I’m not alone. I think of the many who haven’t had the ability, freedom or support to breakthrough to the other side of rape.
You are not alone. You are never, ever alone. My once again unfuckwithable badass has your back and mine.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You will never know what it means.