Rape doesn’t always look the way you think it does. It doesn’t always play out in a dark alley while some frat bag disgustingly and willfully turns another human into a sex toy without their knowledge or consent. It’s not always violent. It’s not always the result of alcohol or strange and demented monsters or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes it happens at the hands of the people whom you trust the most. Sometimes it happens at the hands of the people who have protected you in the past. Sometimes it’s at the hands of your best fucking friend.
How do I know this? Just take a guess.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was a new mom who hadn’t seen the outside of her house in months, hadn’t tasted the sweet elixir of a cocktail in over a year, hadn’t seen and laughed and hugged and danced with her friends in far too long. My husband told me to take a night out, that he would handle our baby’s bedtime and bath so that I could escape the drudgery that is cleaning up multiple explosive poops and irrational toddler outbursts. So I did. I went out with some of my best guys and gals, and we all pretended like we were living the frivolous life of college kids again.
We drank. We danced. We laughed. And we talked about how much we all had missed each other and how we couldn’t allow ourselves to go that long without hanging out ever again. At the end of the night, I wasn’t in the position to get behind a wheel, so my best guy friend offered to drive my car to my best girlfriend’s house. This particular person was someone who had been one of my closest friends since I was a teenager. We had shared some of the best times of our lives together and had been there for one another during the worst. He had protected me, consoled me, and supported me for over half of my life. Sounds like a trustworthy person, right? Yeah, I thought so too.
When my longtime boyfriend and I decided to get married, we had a party. It was a wonderful night filled with champagne and dancing and best friends and beloved family. My guy friend was, of course, present. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Even though he was physically present, his face looked as though he had checked out. I assumed his new girlfriend had pissed him off and sent him into a whiskey bender, and thought nothing more of the matter.
Fast-forward to several years later, when I woke up in a room that I had never seen, in a house that I had never been to (which wasn’t my girlfriend’s house), without any of my clothes on. Lying next to one of the people whom I trusted the most, I realized that my friend’s emotional absence at my wedding wasn’t about his fling, it was about me.
This guy didn’t see me as his friend. He saw me as his property, and when I got married, I was no longer his. When he had the opportunity to mark his territory and regain control over “the one who got away,” he did, and I will be scarred for the rest of my life because of it.
I could smell the vomit in my hair. I could taste whiskey on my lips. I could feel the pain in my groin. Upon waking up, I frantically searched for my clothes and my keys. My “best friend” was just lying there naked, passed out after what I was beginning to realize was a long night of sexually assaulting my lifeless body. I should have shoved a candle up his ass.
I went home that day mortified. I felt so dirty. So ashamed. So betrayed. So terrified. How was I going to return home to my husband and pretend like nothing had happened? How was I going to go about my life with any sense of normalcy or security or dignity? I couldn’t tell anyone. I was too embarrassed, too afraid. I had become that girl. You know the one. The one they talk about on the news when some grade-A asshole rapes someone and a judge or a cop justifies it by saying that a girl was “asking for it” or that she “put herself in that position” or that she was “giving mixed signals.” I didn’t want to be that girl. I didn’t want to seem like I was weak or irresponsible or promiscuous or vulnerable.
I knew what people would say if they found out. They’d call me a cheater, a slut, a whore. They’d say that I asked for it. They’d say that I wanted it. They’d say that I was making it out to be something that it wasn’t.
It took me a long time to even speak the words, but now it’s time. My best friend raped me. That’s what it’s called when someone takes it upon themselves to stick their dick in you without your knowledge or consent. That’s not me making it out to be something that it wasn’t. That’s me calling rape exactly what it is.
I didn’t ask for it, or put myself in harm’s way, or send any mixed signals. How does a person who is passed out in a car send mixed signals? How does she ask for it? How does she put herself in harm’s way by getting a ride from her best fucking friend?
Rape isn’t an accident. It’s not a slip-up or a mishap, and “20 minutes of action,” though regrettable, is willful and voluntary.
I’ll tell you what rape is. It’s disgusting. It’s mortifying. It’s life-ruining. It’s a sad excuse for a guy to use because he got too drunk and too lazy to use his own damn hand.
Next time you want to blame someone on being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or for being too drunk, or for fucking asking for it, think about all the people you know who have gotten drunk; think about all the times that you have gotten drunk; think about all the times that your daughter might get drunk. Did they deserve to be stripped of their dignity? Did you? Does she?
Our justice system might be failing us, but we don’t have to fail each other. Let’s call rape what it is: disgusting, inexcusable, unforgivable, malicious. Let’s stop blaming victims. Let’s stop telling people like me, someone who is too afraid to write about their assault under their own name, that getting raped was my fault.
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