It was July 3, 2004, just another day that should have been full of nothing but fun and excitement. I was seventeen years old and wanting to do something fun with my friends. Jay’s birthday was that day, so we went to our friend Kyle’s house to hang out. Kyle was living with two roommates at the time, Rick and Aaron, and they were all drinking and smoking by the time we got there. We all hung out, listening to music, having a good time and just sitting around having some drinks. I decided, since it was the first time I ever drank, that I was going to share with my friend Kara. Between Kara and I, we shared three small glasses of lemonade and vodka…and maybe something else. Within half an hour, I could barely walk or talk. I let Kyle know that I wasn’t feeling well and that I felt like I was going to pass out, so he said I could sleep it off.
Kyle had been a friend of my family for as long as I could remember; I looked at him like my big brother. So when he brought me to the bedroom to lie down, I trusted him. He promised me that he would stay with me while I slept. I trusted him. He promised he would not to let anything happen to me and that he would take care of me, as he always had. I trusted him. I trusted each and every one of my friends in that house. I trusted them to keep me safe while I was at my most vulnerable. What I received, instead, was complete betrayal from the people I would have taken a bullet for.
After some time, I suddenly jerked awake, to find Aaron on top of me. At that moment, I couldn’t fully comprehend what was happening. I screamed Kyle’s name seconds before I got sick, and in the next instant Kyle was in the room and ripping Aaron off of me. As I curled into a ball, sobbing and moaning, I heard Kyle screaming at Aaron, “She’s unconscious!!! Why are you having sex with her when she’s unconscious?” and Aaron curled into a ball on the ground and kept repeating “I’m sorry” over and over and over again. “I’m sorry” is all he had to say at the worst moment of my life.
I woke up the next morning, still groggy, and was immediately flooded with the memories of the night before. Some things were still fuzzy, so I called Kyle. In that phone call to Kyle, it became painfully clear that I had been raped. A million questions flashed through my brain: What do I do? Who do I call? What do I say? Why did it happen to me? Why did I drink? Why? Why? Why? Instead of addressing any of those questions, I threw myself into the shower and scrubbed until I was raw. I had to work that day, and in my shocked brain I didn’t know what else to do other than follow my usual routine. It wasn’t long into my shift, however, before my manager pulled me to the side. She had noticed how withdrawn and pale I was, and as much as I tried to brush it off as being sick, she knew I was lying. How could I tell my manager that I was raped when I hadn’t even said the words out loud to myself? I ended up telling my manager the truth, and at her insistence I called my mom and told her I was raped the night before.
I did what most victims don’t do: I reported the rape and I wanted to press charges. What followed was a whirlwind of chaos: going to the police station, answering all of the questions from the officers, going to the emergency room, being poked and prodded and tested, and being interrogated by detectives. Through all of the questions and comments from the detectives, it became clear that they didn’t believe me. They questioned, over and over again, whether I had “actually said ‘no’ at any point.” “Did it actually happen the exact way” as I was explaining? They, at one point, stated that “Since you had been drinking, how can you be sure that you didn’t give consent?” I didn’t know how else I could explain, and have them understand, that I had been unconscious, therefore I was completely incapable of giving consent.
The following days, weeks, and months were spent calling and following up with the detectives, only to find out that they weren’t going to go ahead with the charges. They had called all of the people who had been there, and no one was willing to give a statement. I grew up with these people, I trusted these people, and not one of them was willing to make a statement. I later found out that my friend Kara had heard Aaron say he was going to “nail her” right before watching him enter the room that I was in. I found out that it had been Kara who had gotten Kyle to leave the room where I was, after he had promised to stay with me.
Over the next several years, I blamed myself for the rape. I used sex as a punishment against myself, hooking up with guys who I had no business being with. I got into drugs and drinking, and I refused to take care of myself. I hit rock bottom when I almost slept with my friend’s boyfriend, after a night of clubbing and heavy drinking; the only thing that stopped me was my head being buried in the toilet after enjoying the night too much. I hadn’t realized it, but I had started to unconsciously destroy anything that got too close. Once I realized what was happening, I promised myself I would get help.
Twelve years later, even after years of therapy, I still struggle on a daily basis. I suffer from acute anxiety and depression, which has caused me to lose out on some fantastic opportunities and great experiences. I don’t trust people, therefore I have only a select few friends, and I have gone through a seemingly endless list of disastrous relationships. I wake up in the middle of the night covered in sweat and sobbing hysterically, desperately praying that the nightmares will end. This is now something that I will live with for the rest of my life. There is no escape from this horror, as it can rear its ugly head around any corner.
I continue to work on my current relationship, with an amazing man who knows all about my history. I continue to work on regaining my confidence and my self-respect. I continue to look forward instead of over my shoulder. I have finally chosen to speak up, to tell my story, to address my pain. I only hope this might help someone else to tell their story.
Editor’s Note: The names in this story have been changed for privacy purposes.
[Photo credit to Kevin Dooley]
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