Seven Years Ago Tonight I Was Raped For the Last Time
Sitting in my favorite spot in my favorite coffee shop in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood, I’m working on a listicle for tomorrow. Lacking in motivation and inspiration, I’m lackadaisically mocking up something mildly interesting, but decide to procrastinate by scrolling through Facebook to see just what I was up to on this day over the years. My eye catches on a specific yet vague post that only means something to me, and I’m reminded that seven years ago, a few hours from now, I will be raped for the last time.
I’m not sure if I want to write about the rape or if I want to write about the role social media plays in recovery, trauma, triggers, and moving on. Probably not either. I’m not actually ready to dive into the feelings of that rape. I don’t feel moved to write on social media either. Both are important, so I should pick one. Or trash this altogether and pretend I’m not crying in a coffee shop because of course my period is deciding to show up and be an emotional one. Then again, I might just be crying in a coffee shop because I was raped seven years ago and it is one of the harder stories I have to write. Partially because it’s the only one I don’t really remember. It is also the most stereotypical and statistically probable rape stories I have. Mostly it is still so fucking painful. Part of me wants to protect him and his family because I deeply care for them still. Even as I write this, I’m censoring every feeling and desire to talk about it because I do not want to give away any identifying information, but at the same time…. He fucking raped me. Then again, the role social media plays in this precise moment is something I have talked about and found fascinating every time a depressing memory pops up in my “On This Day” page or Timehop.
I’m heading out to dinner with one of my good friends, so I can press pause on writing this and figure out what I want to do while pretending I’m completely fine with my friend. Write this? Don’t write this? Stop here, press publish, and call it good. Or continue on by diving into the trauma or the social media. Or find a whole other angle and write on that.
Okay, I’m back. I decided to write…. I hate me. This job is terrible sometimes. Can someone please sponsor me or hire me to write a column so I can get paid for the pain I’m dredging up to create a little bit of good out of the craphole I call my past.
I’m choosing to kind of go in the rape direction but with a different angle because I literally threw up thinking about diving into that and I can’t stop shaking. I’m going to pretend the shakes are from the americano even though it very much is the anxiety.
Being the rape survivor I am, the kind of rape that was cyclical and repetitive. So many rapes. Too many to count. So many rapists. I think I know how many, but I’m not completely certain how many were involved in the gang rape, so it’s an estimate. At some point it all blurs together in a sweeping memory of the fact these things happened and were a daily part of my existence. Only the extraordinary instances stand apart from the others.
I was drunk seven years ago, which for most people would not be unusual. I rarely drank and refused to get drunk with anyone but my partner. That night, I was with my best friend, a friend I’d had for a very long time, a friend I trusted completely. We drank. I drank a lot. I don’t remember what happened. I remember what came after. I remember being willing to look past it. To forgive. To move on. Chalk it up to a drunken night between friends. An oops we could laugh about later. But the truth is… I was way too far gone to give consent. I truly don’t remember anything, to this day, but I do know what happened. All I asked was to keep that night between us until I figured out how I felt. Instead, he told all our friends I was a bad lay. No shit. I was incompacitated. It also wasn’t sex. It was rape.
Seven years ago was hard in an unexpected way. Being raped and recovering from that was not new and had become a routine part of my life. As shitty as it sounds, I know how to recover from rape, get my head on straight, pick myself back up, claim it, and keep trudging along. The act of getting over being raped seven years ago tonight wasn’t really that hard. I’d done it many times before; I half expected to do it again-most days I still do. What was hard was knowing my best friend did it to me. My best friend who knew everything did it to me. What was hard about that night and the aftermath wasn’t getting raped; though it was awful. It is always awful. It was and is the grief.
Grief is a bitch. I have lost people in so many ways. Some from death, some from growing apart, some because they were cruel. Yes, I had lost people I was close to because they raped me. This was different. I grieved in a way I never had before. I recovered from being raped, but seven years later I still miss my best friend. He was family. He was a pillar in my life. He knew everything about me, and I lost him. I lost one of three people I thought I would be able to count on forever. The only person who had never made my faith in him and us waiver. He rocked the foundation of my soul because I lost faith in my own ability to trust people. I had let him into the darkest recesses of my soul for well over a decade. He knew things about me not a single other human knew. I let myself lean on him and depend on him in a way I haven’t been able to before or since. We went through so many things. We grew up together. We loved each other. We were as inseparable as two people could be while living in neighboring states. I legitimately thought of marrying him because the idea of spending my life with my best friend seemed awesome.
He raped me, and I lost him. I lost his family who made me their family. I can’t scroll through my life from 13 to 23 without him playing some role in each memory. Even if he wasn’t physically present, he was always on the other end of a text conversation or phone call.
As I write this, the grief is overwhelming. I remember him so starkly as the man I could count on. Not being able to remember the actual raping makes all of this harder. If I could remember, I could hate him. But I can’t. I don’t get to hold on to the terror or how unsafe I felt or my confusion or the moment I knew what was happening and accepted my fate or the stomach curdling touch of his hands on my body or any of the other things I know happened. The moments that would turn all of those happy memories sour so I could stop missing him, stop loving him. The one time I decided to drink with him, he raped me. Alcohol took the memories of those horrific moments away from me. Some have called it a blessing, but I don’t. I’m left grappling with the knowledge of what he did and the aftermath juxtaposed against ten years of trust, joy, laughter, history, and intimacy only people who experienced adolescence together have. There are two competing versions of this fundamental human in my mind and neither sit well. I grieve because I don’t have the man who was once so important in my life’s story, who knew me so well. I grieve because I don’t have the closure of being able to hate him so I can let go of that hate and move on.
Whether I’ve thought about it or not, that moment rocked my trust in male friendship. I have always been a guys’ girl. I’ve always felt more comfortable with men than women. There’s an easy camaraderie between us. My dude friendships always outnumbered my lady friendships significantly. Sure dude friends had raped me before. Sure it was awful. None of them had been all that close. None of them really even came as much of a surprise when I put clothes on and climbed out of whatever spot they chose to rape me. I had never been hurt in that way by someone so close to me, someone I considered to be my person. I slowly let every dude friend in my life fade away. It took me five years to let another man come close to being my friend. I’m still working on allowing myself to trust the men I have in my life.
This is not a cautionary tale telling women and girls to not drink or they’ll be raped. Hell, I have hundreds of stories where I was stone cold sober getting raped. Rape is never the raped’s fault. Fault lies completely in the hands of the rapist. Don’t fucking rape people. If there is too much alcohol, don’t fucking touch them. Even if they beg. Err on the side of let’s enthusiastically and soberly consent to this. Like fucking adults.
This is the story of life after. For those who say it gets easier. If it gets easier for you, I’m super duper happy for you, but that’s your story. Mine does not get easier. Fourteen years after the first time I was raped, I’m still broken. It’s livably difficult. There are new waves and new obstacles and new grievances. I am always processing and growing and figuring out how to deal with the consequences of men’s violence. Social media is full of reminders and triggers. Am I fine? Yes. I sure am. I’m sitting in a coffee shop, getting this out. Yes, there are tears. Yes, I went to the bathroom, locked the door, and doubled over hyperventilating. Yes, I will post this, then get up and walk to my car like nothing happened. I am a survivor, and it fucking sucks. I’m finally getting to the point where good things and bad things happen and I don’t instinctively want to call my rapist of a best friend. I have learned to live without him, but I miss him every day, which makes me sad because now I’m the person who misses her rapist. But I don’t miss the rapist, I miss the man he was before. So here I am. Pissed off, on my period, emotional, hyped up on caffeine, in public, and in desperate need of a hug.
Happy Sunday. I was raped seven years ago tonight for the most recent time. I don’t know if I’m going to sleep tonight.
Originally published at https://onthebl.org on January 16, 2022.