Trigger warning for rape and sexual assault
I am your sister, cousin, classmate, teammate, friend, mother, and daughter. I am the person you pass in the hall. The one you chat with, drink with, say hi to. You see me everywhere. I am a rape survivor.
I don’t remember the exact date, because I didn’t even realize I was raped when it happened. It was February. I was drunk. I had flirted. Then three men took turns raping me. Taking away my right to my body. Taking away my control.
It took two years for me to realize I was raped. It wasn’t until I heard stories of other rape survivors that I realized what had happened. I remember reading the stories of women who had been raped. They all described similar situations to what happened to me. They had been drinking heavily, and their rapists were people they had known. It was not a stranger who pulled them off the street. It was a man or men they had been talking to and with whom they had been flirting. Every single story about a woman who had been raped when she was drinking resonated with me. I had been carrying around a terrible hollow feeling since the attack and I finally understood why.
I was a victim of rape culture. Not only did this culture enable my rape, it also convinced me that my rapists did nothing wrong. Even as I write this and prepare for its publication, I worry that people say I’m lying about being raped. That they will say I am just another person who is crying rape because they regret bad sex.
This was not bad sex. I know bad sex. Bad sex is embarrassing, but it is consensual. I know what it is like to regret bad sexual decisions because I have made plenty of those in my short life. Neither of these things compare to what it feels like to be raped and assaulted.
It has been three years since I was raped. It’s been two years since I figured out why that night felt so wrong. I will never be the person I was before that night. I have become paranoid of walking alone in the dark. I get scared when I am drunk. There are nights when the mere state of being drunk will trigger me. It takes me back to that night when I was drunk and my body was stolen from me. I’ve come a long way, though, and I’m definitely becoming stronger.
I am not alone in my struggles. My friends and my boyfriend have been there for me. My sorority sisters understand comfort me when I’m triggered. But I still don’t have the courage to tell my mother. I still don’t have the courage to go public with my story and my face.
But my face and my name don’t even really matter. I am not alone because I have a huge community of other survivors. Women and men who are just like me and have been through exactly what I have been through. Who know exactly what I am going through. That is both lucky and unlucky.
I now know that my rape was not my fault. That it was rape. I know that my actions did not lead to my rape and I was not asking for it. But no matter what, I am a rape survivor.