***This post contains details of sexual assault. Please approach with caution***
This post is not an easy one. This is a subject I stay away from because I fully support people’s rights to remain silent about sexual assault. The opinions of a woman or man can change so drastically once they share their story. Suddenly their every life decision is questioned by “Did/Do they act this way because of their assault?” “Is this why he/she does or doesn’t do this?”, “What parts of their personality are just results of their assault?” and worst of all “Are they telling the truth?”. Opening up about assault is hard and personal. Nobody owes anyone their story.
I have sat on my own experiences for over a decade. Today I saw a video on Facebook that stated since the #whyididntreport movement on Twitter, the National Sexual Assault hotline has seen a 42% increase in reports. That tells me that this movement has an impact. This tells me that women and men alike are finding their voice and perhaps over time we can break the taboo associated with being a survivor of sexual assault or abuse.
The first time.
I didn’t report for numerous reason, the number one reason being I did not know what had happened to me was rape. I was 16 and in my mind rape was what you saw on tv in crime dramas and horrid news stories. Rape was violent, screaming, fighting, kicking, clawing, fighting for life. Rape in my mind could not look like what happened to me.
I at the time was sexually active. I had only ever had one partner and I loved him. He was my first love. Sex still held a sense of sacredness to me then. We had broken up that day in one of those dramatic teens in love way, the kind where you know you’ll be back together in a couple days. I was upset and hurt so my friends had taken me out for the night to hang out and just have fun. One friend’s adult cousin tagged along. I knew him. I had been around him on many occasions and never worried once.
As the night progressed said cousin kissed me. I felt like his was the perfect revenge for my boyfriend who had broken up with me earlier that day. So I let him. I immediately felt tremendous guilt so at the first sign of the gathering dying down I bailed out to go to bed and sleep the guilt off. He followed me. He continued to kiss me at which point I knew where he was trying to go with it. I clearly, soberly, and audibly said “No intercourse.” I remember this vividly because as soon as the words left my mouth, my 16-year-old mind said “Oh my God, intercourse? who says that? Why would you use that word?”. He didn’t stop. I said “No” and swatted at his hands as he continued to remove my pants. He didn’t stop. I froze. I did not scream, I did not fight, I just laid there.
I thought of yelling for someone or dropping something loud to get someones attention in the next room but didn’t. One of my boyfriend’s close friends was sitting in the next room. Where one side of my mind was yelling “Get somebody’s attention!” the other side of me was panicking “What if my boyfriend’s friend came in instead? He’d see me under this guy and assume I wanted this. He’d tell my boyfriend and we’d never get back together.”
When it was over, he just left the room. I laid in bed and cried silently just hoping he’d never tell anyone about this. I never wanted anyone to ever think I would willingly sleep with this piece of trash. Though in my mind, at the time, I had. To me, I hadn’t been raped. To me, I had just had a bad careless sexual experience.
When his on-again-off-again girlfriend called me nearly a full year later to ask if I had slept with her boyfriend/baby daddy during one of their off-again phases, I shamefully and embarrassingly told her “yes”. There was nothing else I could say. Though he was a piece of shit human, I loved his family and was so afraid of damaging the relationship I had with them by openly saying out loud “No, he had sex with me. I just laid there.” because at that time I still couldn’t wrap my head around rape not being violent.
#WhyIDidntReport -Because society had already programmed me to believe it was my fault.
The second time was very different. I knew I was being raped. I knew I needed to get out. I knew I needed help.
I had gone to a party with friends at 17. I was a pretty responsible teen in terms of alcohol. I felt a compulsion to take care of my friends. I would nurse a fruity cocktail or take a swig of liquor, but sober was so important to me. I never knew if my mom randomly called and tell me to get home because she felt a disturbance in the mom-force. I couldn’t risk it. I can count on one hand the times I’ve been truly drunk. I would drink when I went out with my brother because he was my brother and nobody could hurt me if he was present. On this night, I was not with him.
Three guys show up to our party. One of the guys actually knows one of my best friends. She and he have an existing relationship and obviously, want to expand on it. I play the good friend and wing-woman and entertain his two friends with small talk and let her spend time with her love interest. They continually offer me whiskey to which I turn down multiple times. As the night is dwindling down and I feel we’ll be leaving soon I agree to do a shot. Everything went downhill from there. I felt fine, I felt sober. My friend and her love interest wanted to go to a bar. He says he can get me in despite being only 17. I can see she wants to go and I’m not keen on her going without me as she essentially lives with me at this point and if I lose her, my mom will come down on both of us.
On the ride to the bar, things get odd. I start to feel myself becoming loopy. My last sober thought was when we reached a 4-way in the road and I asked the driver where we were going because this was not the way to the bar they mentioned. He tells me he decided we’d just go hang out at his house instead. I, to this day, do not know where this house was. All I can recall is a trailer situated on a busy road, possibly a highway. I remember arriving. I remember running to the bathroom to throw up immediately after getting there. I remember my friend and her male friend suddenly being gone. They disappeared to another part of the house as I did not see her again until it was over.
**If you are triggered by stories of sexual assault I suggest skipping to #whyididntreport**
In the bathroom, I recall having a penis shoved in my mouth repeatedly as I tried to force myself to throw up. I remember being hit in the face as I couldn’t stop myself from throwing up on this person and it was making him angry. After this, I will admit that I became fully compliant to the best of my abilities in an attempt to make it all go faster and without further injury. I was stripped naked while still kneeling over the toilet as someone tried to penetrate me from behind. I was pushed into a bathroom sink counter and penetrated again by one of two guys. I was taken to the living room where these two boys continued to poke and prod at me. I at one point ran out of the house entirely naked to vomit off the porch. I remember rain and cars going by at high speeds. I was carried back into the house. When the more aggressive of the two was finally finished, I was stuck in a dark room with no furniture. There were only boxes in this room. I was angry and beyond sick. I began to throw up in the floor where I was laying. At this point, the second boy entered the room and continued to penetrate me from behind as I continued to dry heave into the floor.
I suddenly heard the familiar voice of one of my male friend in the hallway. I wanted to run to him. I wanted to yell to him but I could only gag and heave. When the second boy was done he left and I ran out of the room behind him, still naked, into the arms of my male friend. He must have thought I was just drunk and sloppy, but he gathered my clothes and dressed me with the help of my now present female friend who had apparently called him for a ride home.
I was angry for a long time wondering how my friend could have been just down the hall and not been aware of what was happening. Why didn’t she stop it? Why did my male friend not come in the room? Did he not hear me gagging? Did he mistake my heaves for sounds of sexual pleasure? To this day I still question my own memories. Was I actually drinking that night and don’t remember? Was I drugged? Do people in small towns like mine even get drugged? Am I missing pieces of that night? Do I even know what all happened to me?
I was dropped off alone at my brother’s house. He was out of town and I knew it would be unlocked. I found a towel, threw it on the floor beside his bed in case I needed to throw up even more, and crawled into bed sick, dirty, and still in shock of what had happened.
#WhyIDidntReport- I didn’t report this assault for a number of reasons.
- Who would believe me? I was in an obvious drunk state to both my male and female friends upon leaving.
- I didn’t want my best friend to feel guilty because she had taken me there and I still do not think she truly knew what was happening in that house.
- I was afraid of getting in trouble with my parents for being at a party or getting into a vehicle with guys.
- I did not even know their names, only a nickname of one they referred to as “Bubba”.
- I was the grand-daughter of a local pastor and I couldn’t afford to be labeled as a liar or a slut while having my reputation dragged across this small town.
- It was so graphic, straight from a movie, absolutely no one would ever have believed me. If somebody told me this story I can’t say I myself wouldn’t doubt the details.
I have only shared this experience with maybe 2 people ever and never in this great of detail, people I trust and love. One of those people, upon hearing my less detailed account, their exact reaction was, “I’m sorry, but it sounds like something a drunk girl would do and feel bad about in the morning so claim it was rape.”
I never again talked about it with them. If this is how someone who knows me, loves me, trusts me views this then I could only imagine how others would.
There are so many reasons women don’t report. There are literally more reasons not to report than to report. I could sit here and give you statistic after statistic that proves to report it can often time lead to only more trauma.
I don’t know why I felt the need to lay this all out like this. I could simply have just told you why I didn’t report, but I needed to get it out there. I know people will have doubts, and I’m fine with that, but I also know women out there, who have been in my shoes will believe me. They will understand why I didn’t report. They will hopefully feel a sense of familiarity with my story and know they aren’t stupid or wrong for not reporting it.
A police report does not make your experience any less real. A police report does not make your claim any less valid.