I Was A Rape Victim, and I Didn't Know It. This Is My Story.
I've been debating writing this post for a while. I think the why of it will become clear as you read on. But a couple of posts that have recently made K&P made me think that maybe my experience could help someone else.
So. I was raped in college.
This is what happened: I had a boyfriend whom I will now refer to as Slink. Slink was a rather shady character: charming, beguiling, but deep-down dangerous. He would manipulate me, control me in ways that rang my WARNING bells from the beginning…but that was part of the excitement. He liked to control me, but I needed the control. I had not yet learned how to differentiate between "good" control and "bad" control. He was a Bad Boy, and I was the girl who liked the danger. As many young women do, I romanticized it. (I stopped doing that shit a long time ago…but I understand why so many women do that. The danger is what's so fucking enticing and addictive.)
Slink and I were already having sex, but we had to be sneaky about it—quick fucks in dark corners and secret rendezvous, like a scandalous game of cloak-and-daggers. He was rough and forceful, always just on the cusp of turning violent. His aggression only added to my captivation. I was a little bit afraid of him, but I needed that fear, and he never went over the edge. He never did, until he did.
He brought up the subject of anal sex. I was too embarrassed to tell him I was already well familiar having fun with that area of my body, but I replied with an enthusiastic yes: I was willing to try it, absolutely.
We met in his dorm room. I stayed after curfew started. This becomes important later. We got naked; did all the foreplay stuff. It was actually sweet for a while, because he didn't usually do all the lovey-dovey things I thought of as foreplay. He kissed me, caressed my body, and I felt good; I felt special that a Bad Boy like him would show me this side of him. Then he flipped me over on my hands and knees and started pushing himself into my ass.
There was no pre-stretching, no lube, no preparation of any kind. It hurt like hell. I wanted him to stop, and I told him so. He didn't stop. I tried to maneuver myself over so I could look him in the face as I told him to stop; then he would have to stop. He grabbed onto me, onto my hips. I started to struggle and yell. He didn't stop. I started to scream and cry; scream because I couldn't believe this was happening, and cry because it hurt so fucking much. He still didn't stop. Finally I was screaming so loudly, I got the attention of some guys outside in the hall. They started knocking on the door, asking why they could hear female-sounding screaming within—curfew was over, didn't he know? The knocking distracted Slink just enough that he loosened his grip on my body, and I quickly wrangled myself away. In the time it took Slink to offer some kind of response to the guys outside, I put on my shirt and skirt—my bra was left behind, I never saw it again—grabbed my shoes, and swung open the door. There was a small group standing there. They paused, and stared down at me in surprise. I bowed my head low, and kept it there as best I could so they wouldn't see my face. I ran out of the building barefoot. I put my shoes on only when I was halfway to my own dorm building, and I could feel the gravel cutting into my feet.
I was afraid to tell anyone what had happened, because I didn't want to get into trouble: I was not supposed to have been in Slink's room after curfew. I was afraid if I told anyone at the school what had happened—what he had done to me—they might punish Slink, but they would punish me, too. My fear was not unwarranted. The next day, I did tell a counselor. In a very kind and motherly way, she told me that I didn't have to worry, that she would take care of things from there on out. She told me she would make sure I would not be punished for being in Slink's room after curfew—a favor she was doing me, she called this—even though that had been very wrong of me. She made sure to remind me that this was why they had rules like curfew...that if I had just followed the rules, I could have prevented all this from happening. Prevented myself from getting hurt. I could not argue with her.
Now, here's where we get back to the subject of this post. For many years, I never thought of myself as a "rape victim." I knew something bad had happened to me, yes; something terrible and wrong. But I never, not once, thought of it as rape. I didn't think of it as rape because—and please, don't roll your eyes at me, okay?—since Slink never actually finished doing the deed, since he didn't get to come inside me, then it wasn't actually a case of rape. It was...something else. Something horrible, yes, but not rape. The word "rape" never entered my mind.
It wasn't until a whole lot of years later, reading some article in a news magazine about another rape case, that I realized what Slink had done to me was rape, that he didn't have to finish inside me for it to still be rape—the fact that he entered my body under those conditions, knowing full well he did not have my consent, made it rape.
Suddenly realizing it was rape did not change anything. Or maybe it did, a little; putting memories in different contexts always changes them to some extent. But it didn't change the effect of what that night had on me. That was done.
You might think I was stupid for thinking if a guy doesn't actually finish, orgasm, inside a woman's body, that it's not really rape. I probably was. But there are a lot of reasons why women might not think what was done to them was rape:
Maybe the guy was really a nice person who would never do that, so it's not really rape.
Maybe they had sex with the guy before, so clearly the guy had carte blanche right to have sex with them again, so it's not really rape.
Maybe they were giving mixed-signals, so it's not really rape.
Maybe the guy was their boyfriend, lover, or spouse, so it's not really rape.
Maybe there was something else they could've done, some way they could have made their objections clearer, so it's not really rape.
•Maybe the rape was partly their fault, so it was not really rape.
So. Hi. I'm Shelby, and I was, once upon a time, a rape victim who didn't know she was raped.
One of the big reasons why I was loathe to post about this is because I don't want this to change the way people think of me. I don't want pity, and I certainly don't want this to be the thing that somehow humanizes me in anyone's eyes. I was not the proverbial Rape Victim; I wasn't then, and I'm not going to become one now. I went through a lot worse than what that rape did to me, believe me; both before that night, and after. Take that as you will.
But I will say this: I did not deserve to be raped. I liked going out with the Bad Boys. That does not mean I deserved to be raped. I was in his room after curfew. That does not mean I deserved to be raped. I made stupid decisions. That does not mean I deserved to be raped.
I learned from my bad decisions. I learned the hard way. Maybe some people out there who read this post will learn from my mistakes, and save themselves from making a few of their own. "A smart person learns from their mistakes; a wise person learns from other people's mistakes." I can hope so.