Massive trigger warning. Rape related details coming. Seriously, mom, turn back now.
It wasn’t really St. Patrick’s Day, but we had a party anyway. My roommate and I came with cupcakes in hand. I will always like the opportunity to wear a costume, so I wore brown pinstripe cropped pants, black combat boots, and an inexplicably soft, lime green tuxedo shirt. I may have worn green and white striped socks. I had spent a portion of the night, as I always did at these parties, talking to a close friend of mine. We tried to catch up on life over the ear-ringing music. He went about his business, and as the night went on I sat in the balcony of the building overlooking the stage, when someone came up to me. Someone I’d not really seen before. He told me he liked what I was wearing, then disappeared. My roommate and I made faces that said “the hell just happened?” I don’t think I really even looked at him.
The next Sunday at service I looked around for him, because I assumed he’d be there, but I never saw him. Clearly, we had imagined him. We were that close. It was possible.
Near the middle of April he appeared again, this time after service. I was talking to several people, and he pulled me aside. A pattern at this particular church is that no one took me aside gingerly. No one took me by the hand or guided me by the small of my back. No one put an arm around me or even took my elbow like an elderly woman would do if you helped her across the street. No, every time someone took me aside at this church they grabbed me just above the wrist. They didn’t nudge. They didn’t coax. They gripped their hand around my forearm and pulled me aside, no matter how engrossed in conversation I was.
This stranger yanked me aside and jumped right to it. “What do you usually do on Sundays?” At the time I reasoned this was because he realized he had just been incredibly rude, so he was going to be brief to allow me to get back to my conversation. (This willy-nilly giving of the benefit of the doubt is still a problem of mine). “Well,” I said, “I come here, and the girls and I will sometimes watch a movie or go to the park or sit on the roof.”
“What are you doing today?”
“I don’t know. I guess I don’t really have plans.”
For me this conversation didn’t happen a whole lot. My heart was pounding. I had no idea what he was getting at. If I said yes, he could turn out to be a monster. If I said no, I’d be excommunicated. He asked if I ever came to the coffee shop at the church.
“Sometimes, I guess.”
“Well, why don’t you meet me here at 4?”
“Sure,” I agreed, not knowing what I was actually agreeing to.
I went home and cleaned my room and lived my life, because if I didn’t then I knew my brain would panic, and I’d never show up.
I wish I’d panicked.
The coffee shop was in the balcony of the church. When I walked in the door to go upstairs, he directed me downstairs to the basement. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with this scenario, because 1) I never saw people go downstairs except for specific events and I hate breaking rules and 2) No one else would be down there. We sat on a couch, me with my bad arm against the back of the couch so I could face him. My head was resting on my hand which was propped up on the couch. (I will later regret this decision and blame him for it. I will be justified).
He again dove right into the scary end of the pool. Not the deep end. The shark infested end. He didn’t really ask questions. He just talked. He told me all about his family, and how they lived well, which is rich kid code for “they’re rich.” “I don’t want to be someone who needs nice stuff to be happy,” he told me. It wasn’t long after this that he proceeded to tell me about his new phone. His mom who got skin cancer from tanning and how reckless women were about their looks. “You’re pretty though. I guess, I even like your nose ring.” After about an hour of this sort of monologue he started to speak to me again, rather than at me.
I’m awful at talking to people, and while I didn’t really understand why he was pouring out his family history to me, I didn’t have to speak. Somewhere toward the last hour he paused.
“No. It’s not really appropriate for this first date situation.”
(Was this a date? Did I miss the part where I agreed to a date? How do I always miss that part?)
“Okay,” if he thinks it’s inappropriate it likely is. I’m not going to push.
“Well,” he starts anyway, “I’m a virgin.”
I didn’t really care. It’s not that I didn’t care, but this wasn’t a topic I was ready to get into. Because I knew what his next question was going to be, and I knew that my answer was not first date appropriate. (I’m not sure on what numbered date it becomes appropriate, but I’m pretty sure it’s never).
“Good job,” I add hoping we can laugh and talk about scars or ghosts or something. “What about you?” I paused. I paused for a long time. I paused for what I believed to be seven to eight minutes, but was probably closer to three or four seconds.
“What about you?” he asked, inappropriately, unnecessarily.
“Well, that’s hard to answer.”
“Seems like it shouldn’t be.”
I breathed. I waited. “It’s hard to answer, because the answer is no.”
He’s making the face I am still afraid everyone will make. The one that says “whore.” The one that says “you’re no one.”
I started again.
“But I didn’t really get a say in that.”
“What does that mean?” (Disgusted? Angry? What is that tone?)
“Well,” I took a breath and tried again, “I was raped a little over a year ago.”
He became one of the first people I ever told. His face changed. It’s a face I will come to understand all too well later in life. At that moment though, when it was the very first time I’d ever seen it, I thought it was compassion. It was not compassion. It was lecherous. It was a wolf spotting a deer.
He put his hand clumsily on my arm. The arm that had been propped up on the back of the couch above my head the entire four hours.
“A friend from high school,” I said. “That’s how I woke up.”
“Awful,” he said, in a tone I will come to know means “opportunity.”
He asked a lot of questions, that a lot of awful people ask. Ones I didn’t know were wrong at the time. I was just relieved to be talking about it. I hadn’t mentioned it since I told the first two people, and they laughed at me for the situational irony of it all. “He finally got what he always wanted,” they had said.
The conversation slowed. There was a party at his house that night, so we hugged and went our separate ways. I went home. My neighbor came over to rub my throbbing shoulder, but it wasn’t long into the shoulder rub that I got a text. He wanted to see me again. That night, ideally.
I’d never felt so wanted. I’d never felt wanted. He wanted to meet up at the park beyond his house instead of at his house, since there was a party going on.
“I don’t want people asking a lot of questions,” he had explained, which in retrospect should have destroyed me inside. It did a little. It took away that feeling of being wanted a little.
He suggested I drive, even though it was less than a half-mile from my house. But we lived on the same street. I’d pass the party. People would see me. People would ask questions.
We met at the park. He had driven too, which seemed strange. That we both had to drive, when he could have easily told a group of people he was going for a walk. It started to rain.
“Why don’t you get in my car?” He shouted across the gap through open windows. “uh…okay.”
I got into his small truck.
We pulled away from the park and started to drive. I don’t know how far. He was talking again, and I was listening. It was after 10, and the rain was making it darker. After some time he pulled over. Right there on the side of the road. By a field. Nothing around. Dark. Darkness that felt like it mattered. Self-important darkness.
He took off his seatbelt and leaned over, his arm around my shoulder, his other hand on my leg. He kissed me. I didn’t stop him. He kissed me, and my mind flashed to Ethan*, to Marcus*, to Smitty*, to moments of care. This was cold. This was other. He moved closer. His weight went into his hand on my thigh. I wasn’t sure he knew what he was doing. He bit my lip, hard.
He took my right hand and put it on his crotch. “You know what to do,” his voice was different. Not impassioned. It was angry. More to the point, I did not know what to do. That became obvious to him within seconds. “The fuck?” he said, as his arm moved from around my shoulder. I said nothing. His hand on my shoulder, he shook me, as his voice grew louder, “do it!” The back of my head hit the window. Not hard, but my teeth still clattered.
Still unsure, I undid his pants. “That’s my dirty girl.” Was I? I stopped. “Say it.” I stared at him in the darkness. His hand left my thigh and came hard across my face. “Say it!” I didn’t know what I was supposed to say.
My head pounding from the window, from my shoulder, from his hand. My head was full of questions I couldn’t ask.
He shoved me away from him. His pants undone he slipped them further down, the most delicate action he’d taken.
“What are you waiting for?”
“I don’t. What?”
“Put my cock in your mouth.”
“I’m not really comfortable with–”
He grabbed the back of my neck. I felt his fingernails in my skin. He said it again as he pushed my head down. I tried to pull back, the seatbelt still across my chest.
“If you don’t do it, I’ll leave you here. In the middle of nowhere.”
One hand holding himself, he used his other to open my mouth. First with his hand under my jaw, then his hand inside my mouth. Finger tips on teeth, pulling down. Led by my jaw he pulled my head down again. Tears rolling down my cheeks. He pulled his finger out of my mouth as he pushed himself into my mouth. His hand now on the back of my head.
I didn’t move. I couldn’t move. He moved. My head hit the bottom of the steering wheel more than once.
He stopped, his hand ensnared in my hair, and wrenched my head off of him. “Say it.” I still didn’t know what I was supposed to say, and now I couldn’t say anything. I had no voice anymore. His hand still in my hair he pulled my head all of the way back and slammed it on the dash.
“Say you’re a dirty girl.”
Still unable to speak, he repeated the sentence and the action. My head slamming into the dashboard four times. Sobbing, barely audible, and fully convinced I said, “I’m dirty.” “Mmhmm, yes, you are. Keep crying, slut. It’s sexy.” I felt dirty.
He did it all again. The second time he had more to say. More things he needed to call me. I stopped crying. I became numb. Life and will left me.
He finished. As he pulled my head away he closed my mouth. He held it shut. He held it shut for a few minutes. I swallowed. Crying. His hand came hard across my face again.
“Clean up your make up.”
He pulled his pants up.
He put his seatbelt.
We drove back to the park.
I got out of his truck and into my car. He left. I left. My roommates were asleep.
I brushed my teeth. I washed my face. I brushed my teeth. I threw away my clothes. I put on pajamas. I went to bed. I woke up the next day. I covered some bruising. I went to work.
I didn’t report it. I didn’t tell anyone. He was more involved in church. Previous experience told me that people would think it was funny. I didn’t think I’d be heard. His family was wealthy, and therefore more powerful.
For his actions after please, visit here.
Until recently, that was the worst of it.