TRIGGER WARNING: s*xual assault+r*pe
Being a woman during a time where literal scum like Harvey Weinstein, Brett Kavanaugh, and Brock Turner have thankfully been exposed for being actual pieces of shit, you would think I would have known how to fight back or do something when situations like this happen. For those most affected by misogyny, we feel prepared until it actually happens to you.
I wanted to date the person who sexually assaulted me. What? Yup, you read that right. After getting sexually assaulted one night, I ended up getting what I *thought* were feelings for this man.
When I was in college I was sexually assaulted by two different men in the same week. And I haven’t really talked about it to anyone, besides a few close friends until now. I didn’t realize for a very long time that I was sexually assaulted. That could never happen to me, right? Was it because he was my brother’s friend? Because I just got out of a relationship and I was lonely? Did I think this was the type of behavior from men that I deserved?
I’m the type of person (and I feel like so many other women I know are like this) who will pretend it didn’t happen, downplay it, or use humor to avoid actually dealing with something. When something like this happens to someone else, I’ll be the first person to start a rally or confront that person (or beat the shit out of them). But for myself, we have victim blaming at its finest. Women never want to be a burden.
It was the summer before my senior year in college, where I not only was a member of the Feminists United club (“eff you,” as we phonetically called it), but also identified as a punk af radical feminist and used the moniker Trash, because I wore being the school slut like a badge of honor. I studied feminist literature and activism in my classes and listened to bands like Bikini Kill and Hole. You get the vibe–I obviously was highly aware of how unfortunately often sexual assault happens and how the patriarchy is so fucked up. I literally had all the tools in my kit (quite literally, I had pepper spray in my safety kit).
I was going through a bad breakup from my first real relationship and I was not doing well at all.
My brother knew I was really going through it so he invited me to hang at his apartment for the night so we could binge Game of Thrones, wine, and boneless barbecue wings (my weakness). I took the train from Worcester to Boston, took the red line from South Station to Davis square, and walked the rest of the way to his Somerville apartment.
As I got there, I met his two roommates who were pregaming before their night out with a friend–let’s call him Rory. He was a pretty average looking white dude from Boston (no shade to Bostonians) with very poor fashion choices. His ill fitted, wrinkly red t-shirt went well with his khaki shorts that had a huge stain on his left side pocket. Sheesh.
They left pretty shortly after I got there so I basically just introduced myself and that was that. My brother, his girlfriend and I proceeded to get exceedingly wine drunk. The amount of wings and waffle fries we consumed should be illegal. I was also on my period so it was just the trick to heal a broken heart and serious period cravings.
Since I’m an absolute monster when I’m eating, naturally, I spilled sauce all over my dress so I snagged one of my brother’s old fraternity t-shirts and a pair of running shorts. I also had on granny panties and a huge ass overnight pad. (this is really to set the scene to show you that it literally doesn’t matter what you wear when you get assaulted).
We all started dozing off on the couch, so my brother and his girlfriend headed to their room and I stayed on the couch. I wrapped myself in a huge blanket that laid on the end of the couch and passed out.
A few hours later I woke up to my brother’s two roommates and Rory coming through the front door. I turned to face the back pillows on the couch and fell back asleep. I’m usually a heavy sleeper, especially when I’m drunk, so I went right back into a deep sleep.
I’m not sure if it were a few minutes after that or a few hours later. In a sleepy haze, I started to feel someone groping my boobs. What the fuck. I started gaining consciousness, realized what was happening, and aggressively pushed the hand away. The mysterious hand was coming from the ground next to the couch. It was Rory.
We battled, going back and forth for a couple of minutes. His hand continuously reached up to attack me as I tried to remain strong to push him out of my space, away from my body, away from my breasts.
Unsure of what to do, I let him win. I let him caress my boobs as he pleased. He reached for my arm, as if to signal me to come down to the floor and I acquiesced. I got on top of him, he pulled my head down to meet his face, and we began making out. I could feel his hard dick press against my vulva, his hands touching me wherever he wanted. I don’t even remember how long this went on for but at some point, I ended up being like fuck this. I remember just saying, “okay, yeah” and made my way back up onto the couch. I turned the other way, put my face into my pillow and cried.
And while I knew I wasn’t raped, I wasn’t sure what to call this. I mean I ended up going down to the floor to let him feel me up? So that’s consent right? I really didn’t think anything was wrong in this situation because I ended up hooking up with him anyway. Nope, that’s coercion, baby.
The next morning I looked over and Rory was gone. I ran into my brother’s girlfriend on the way to the bathroom and exclaimed that Rory and I hooked up. She was stoked and asked if we were gonna hangout again. I remember friending him on Facebook right as I got back to my Worcester apartment. There was a small hope inside me that Rory would message me after he accepted my request. Nope, nothing. Whenever I would hang out with my brother and his friends, I hoped that Rory would be there. Sometimes he was there, and sometimes he wasn’t. Either way, he had no interest in dating me.
A few days prior to this incident, I was out at a bar near my campus with some friends and a guy I was working on a project with. He brought his best friend who was visiting from NYC–let’s call him Steve. We all drank far too much at the bar, as college students do. I ended up dancing with Steve, which turned into making out, and shortly after, turned into going back to my place together.
He wasn’t the hottest guy I’ve ever seen, but I was drunk and sad. I was dumped a week prior at an airport in South Carolina by my long-distance boyfriend. This wasn’t my first relationship, but this was the first time I was in love. So I figured going home with someone would do just the trick to get my mind off of my ex.
As we were hooking up, he asked me to give him a blow job. I told him I don’t give head to people I’m not dating (you know me, your fave safer sex queen). He got pretty upset and used both of his hands to push my head down by his genitals and moved my face to his dick. I could feel myself panic so I just gave him a blow job.
After that we tried to have penetrative sex. He made a huge fuss that the condom didn’t fit him and that he didn’t want to wear one. I refused to let him fuck me without a condom. Again, he got angry but this time, he told me to leave the room, my room, while he put his clothes back on.
My roommates came home just as this was happening. They walked through the living room and into the kitchen and saw me standing fully nude and crying. Y’all know me, I love being nude–I literally post my nudes all over the internet. But this was humiliating.
Steve opened my door, and without even looking at me, walked through the kitchen and living room, and out of my front door.
I ran immediately to my bed and grabbed my phone to text my ex to tell him what happened. Thankfully my friends told me to absolutely not do that. That would have been a huge mistake. I just sat there for a bit, still super shaken up. My roommates suggested we go out and get some drunk food, which is always a good idea. After we left the apartment, I acted like everything was fine and decided it would be best for me to not talk about it, even though I felt sick to my stomach thinking about it.
I didn’t realize the impact of getting sexually assaulted twice in one week would have on me, especially how it impacted my sexuality. For a long time, I engaged in really reckless, casual sex. Y’all know me, I’m a huge advocate for doing whatever the fuck you want and being the biggest slut in town if that’s what you want. But much of the time, I put myself in dangerous and really risky situations–sexual situations I didn’t want to be in and later regretted. It was self objectification (and not in the cute, fun, and powerful, reclaiming my sexuality kind of way that I’m doing now). What was I even looking for in these situations? In dating and relationships, I had a really hard time speaking up for myself and asking for what I needed. This led to many terrible situationships with literal trash can men where I didn’t feel like I had a say in the situation. I jumped at any type of attention or affection from a man, regardless of if they were even deserving of my time.
Throughout the years, Rory remained in my circle of friends. He even helped me move apartments, did group outings together, and played on the same co-ed soccer team. Luckily, I didn’t see Steve again until I awkwardly ran into him at Boston Calling a few years later.
It wasn’t until a friend brought it up to me that Rory had done the same thing to her that I decided to say something as well. It was at that moment where everything just clicked. It was wrong what he did to me nor was it consensual. Maybe my “feelings” for Rory was my own way of dealing (or lack of dealing) with what had happened. It was easier to pretend it was just a hookup, not an assault. I could bury the memory and not have to deal with any of the emotional effects from getting assaulted. This was easier.
After starting to process what happened, I became so angry with myself. Why didn’t I get up and get my brother when Rory was violating me. Why didn’t I just not blow Steve after I already said no–I’m strong af, I could have pushed him away. Why didn’t I say something sooner? How did I not realize how wrong this shit was? I obviously blamed myself. Victim blaming is fucked up, and those feelings have stayed with me for a long time. Even now I sometimes find I have to give myself reminders that none of this was my fault.
I started telling my friends about it, and received so much support from them. This is why speaking up is so important because it allows other victims to step forward. Unfortunately, my then boyfriend, who was his really close friend and roommate at the time, wasn’t super happy that I brought it up (this boyfriend and I also got into an argument once because he said feminism shouldn’t be intersectional and that we should stick to “women’s issues”…yikes). But either way, it was the right thing to do and it felt good to talk about.
Women are conditioned to be so cautious–don’t walk alone at night, don’t drink too much, don’t wear something so revealing, don’t leave your drink unattended. But I think we are also conditioned to not speak up. Whether it’s because we don’t feel safe to call them out, that no one will believe us, we don’t know who to tell, or we think it wasn’t a “big deal.” It’s so disheartening to watch women get berated in the media for trying to come forward, while trash like Brett Kavanuagh go untouched. You would think in 2022, society would have learned to just fucking believe women. With that said, let’s continue to create safe spaces for these conversations to happen so we can allow people to feel safe speaking up and support those who do come forward.