The truth is, I never wanted it, no matter what he says. I remember the day it happened. But only because it was a holiday. Thanksgiving. I stopped by his house in the morning to say hi. We started making out, and it just happened.
But the interesting thing is that it didn’t just happen. He was building towards it for the first few months of our relationship. Every time we were together, he was always trying to get me to try something new. I held my ground for a while and kept saying no, but eventually he started whispering into my ear:
“Shh, just let it happen. Don’t be scared. You don’t know until you try.”
He started doing things without my permission, and I became submissive. He was twice my size, and I was scared of him. Eventually I thought it would be better to just keep my mouth shut and let him do what he wanted in order to keep our relationship going, and in order to keep me safe.
I was 17. I knew nothing of love. I knew nothing of rape. I couldn’t have told you the difference at that age. Because even though I didn’t want any of it, I thought what he was doing to me was out of love.
It was never about love. It was about control, and I had given it to him.
Rape isn’t what they always make it out to be in the media. It doesn’t always involve a kidnapping, duct tape, screaming, hands being placed over mouths to keep it quiet. It isn’t always a stranger, or a serial rapist.
Sometimes rape is a quiet Thanksgiving morning with your boyfriend, too scared to say no, with a single silent tear running out of the corner of your eye, down your cheek, and forever getting lost in the mess of hair on the pillow.
The sad thing is, that’s all I remember of the actual incident. That tear. I remember the rest of the day much better. I asked my mother questions about pregnancy, scared of what might happen. I didn’t eat my Thanksgiving dinner with my family. I pushed my food around my plate, and threw it away when everyone else seemed to be done. I went back and celebrated Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s family, and ended up in the bathroom the whole night, throwing up out of pure stress. And then I eventually ended up in the emergency room that night, due to my mother’s worry of some sort of illness. I couldn’t tell her why I was really throwing up. I couldn’t tell her that her eldest daughter was no longer a virgin. Not after all of the lectures from her and my church leaders telling me that sex was a sin before marriage.
It took me a few years until I realized it was rape. I was 20 when it started to dawn on me what had happened that morning. And when I was 22, it finally clicked and hit me like a ton of bricks.
I was seeing somebody at the age of 22. Not necessarily dating, but definitely seeing each other on a near exclusive level. It was then, when I figured out that I wanted to be with him on a more intimate level, that this was a decision I never made with my boyfriend when I was a teenager.
Rape has always seemed to be a taboo subject. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) 1 in every 6 women in the United States has been a victim of rape. 68% of sexual assaults are never reported, and 98% of rapists never spend a day in jail. No one, not even victims, wants to talk about it. And this must change. Individuals should know that talking about rape helps bring awareness to this ever-growing problem, and also helps with the healing process.
Rape victims, from the moment it happens, feel like they have lost all control. Control in their relationships, in schooling, in life. It’s damaging, and the only way to help them is to help them gain that control back. But the first thing to do, like any other problem, is to admit that it happened so you can reconcile with the past and begin to learn from it and move on.
This is something I’m still working on. Because every day, I’m starting to realize that that one incident has affected every relationship with any male I have ever had. I’m still working on gaining control back. I’ve given control up to every man I’ve ever dated. We are creatures of habit, and until we see what’s become of our lives, we will never be able to change it for the better.
Mary Jane xx