Why, Hello There, Old Rapist In My Facebook Newsfeed

by Jennifer Ball
Originally Published: 

Sometimes I complain, loudly and to myself, about the things that pass through the newsfeed on Facebook. I can’t stand the political bickering. Enough with the selfies. And what’s with every single female person posing for photos with one hand on a hip, elbow jutted out, like they’re reciting “I’m a little teapot, short and stout, here is my handle, here is my spout”?

But what really chaps my hide is when someone posts pictures of a party they attended, and as I’m taking a totally non-stalkery look at them to see if I recognize anyone I say to myself, “Huh. There’s the guy who raped me in high school.”

Yeah. The rapist trumps the political yammering.

It was a long time ago. We’re talking decades (I am not as young as I think, you know). Thirty years ago, to be a bit more specific. To borrow from Will Smith, okay…here’s the situation. My friend’s parents went away on a week’s vacation. So she had a kegger. Her parties were insane, y’all. Like, sweaty mob insane. Lots of booze. So, so much booze. And pot. Pineapple Express amounts of pot. We smoked a lot of weed in the 80’s.

Oh, and there was always sex. The established couples who’d make out in corners, hands squeezing Levi-clad butts, the drunken hookups stumbling into dark basements in search of a couch on which to hump the night away, the flirty glances and not so subtle come ons.

I was a virgin. And I was drunk. Tenth or eleventh grade, not sure which, but that doesn’t really matter, does it? It was all so long ago. Little details like that have devolved into meaningless dreck. I was already damaged goods, what with my parent’s nasty divorce and an abusive step parent, but I’d managed to make it that far without surrendering my purity. That’s not typical for girls like the girl I was back then…girls like that tended to be promiscuous party girls, looking for love any way they could, anywhere they could.

Not me. I partied, yes oh my gosh yes, I partied. Partied hard and partied often. And I wasn’t chaste all the way through. I did my fair share of making out, groping, and rubbing and all of that fumbling teenage exploration-phase stuff. But I was well on my way to developing the thick shield of armor, the armor I’d find myself still bearing dozens of years later. “If you don’t let anyone in, there’s no way they can hurt you!” was my motto. Still is, unfortunately.

Let’s get back to the party, shall we? Where was I? Oh yes. The drunk virgin. I remember seeking out my friend, the hostess-with-the-mostest, and telling her that I was feeling crappy. Telling her I needed a place to lie down for a while. She led me down a short hallway, and opened the door to her parent’s bedroom. “Sleep in here.” she said to me. “You can lay in here as long as you want!” were her parting words as she left to get back to the fun.

I don’t remember what grade I was in, but this I do recall: I remember the moonlight shining in through thin curtains. The comforter on the bed was one of those cheap nylon jobs, the kind that would catch the tiniest hangnail. I remember there were several pillows on the bed, one had a rough fabric cover, with ridges on it…like corrugated cardboard. I remember I could hear the muffled noises of a Saturday night keg party through the door: laughter and yelling and Def Leppard.

At some point, I must have slipped into that boozy limbo between passing out and falling asleep. I also must have slipped off the cheap nylon comforter and onto the floor, because when the guys walked into the room that’s where I was. On the floor, wedged between the bed and a wall.

There were two of them. At first I thought they had made a mistake, walked into a room that wasn’t the room they were looking for.

Then they shut the door.

I heard them whispering, and I remember trying to be still and quiet. Something in me went on high alert, my hackles were raised and suddenly I wasn’t quite so drunk. I was scared.

One of them appeared in front of me, standing there by the end of the bed, simultaneously spotting me and blocking my exit.

Here she is!” he whispered.

The other one materialized next to him, and that’s when I saw who they were. I knew them, but we weren’t friends. They were older than me, two best friends with twin reputations of good ol’ boy naughtiness. One of them fair, the other dark, they stood there for a moment. They might have talked to me, this is the point where I think I shut down because from then on all I have are tiny soundbites and seconds-long snippets of film. They play on an endless loop when I let them. When something reminds me.

Like when I saw one of them, older as we all are, smiling at me from the screen of my laptop.

My rapist. One of my rapists.

I wondered, as I looked at his now paunchy face…I wondered if he remembers. Does he remember me struggling to get up from that coffin-like space? Does he remember how shocked I looked when his friend pulled me up and threw me on the bed? Does he remember me trying to escape, and how he and his buddy grabbed an arm and a leg, working together to keep their prey still?

Does he remember me yelling out, “NO!” and “STOP!” and “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?“?

I do. I remember all of that and I also remember when the fair one pulled his pants down and I glimpsed, for the first time in my young damaged life, an erect penis. Funny how, even now with all those years stacked up between that moment and this one, I can still see it bobbing in front of me. It was shiny. I was surprised to see how shiny it was. I’d always imagined them to be more dull, or leathery, like elephant skin.

He pushed his shiny penis at my mouth, parting my lips with that spongy round tip and batting it against my teeth.

What was the other one doing during this unveiling of the member? During what was to become my first experience with fellatio? That’s another memory gone.

I do know that when the fair one realized he and his shiny dick weren’t going to get a satisfying blow job from me, the dark one was there to help him get my jeans off. They were an efficient team, those two, because all of a sudden I felt that awful cheap slippery nylon fabric on my bare legs. My bare ass.

The soundtrack of my rape was that loud thumping music, the cacophony of teenagers partying. The smells of youth: night air, stale beer, bootleg booze, smoke from cigarettes and bongs intermingling with all of it.

One of them climbed on top of me, and began forcing my legs apart. Jabbing with his hard on, trying to force himself into me while his friend stood guard at the door.

Mirror in the bathroom. Mirror in the bathroom. It was The English Beat and they were singing Mirror In The Bathroom while the futile attempts to penetrate me continued.

That is where my memories end. The song, the nylon comforter, the shiny penis…all of it ends there, at least in my head. Someone knocked on the door and that’s when my rapists left me. They left me alone, sans pants, sitting on a bed wondering what in the hell had just happened. I can’t tell you when, or even if, I went back out to the party.

I told a friend about it, sometime later. “Those guys are such assholes!” she said. She also told me that technically, I was still a virgin. I agreed, and that was the last we spoke of it.

A few weeks afterward, I turned a corner at school. And there he was, the dark one. Cowboy boots, jeans, and a leer. The shame that washed over me was hot, searingly so. Burning. I think part of me had decided what went down in that bedroom was my fault. Wasn’t it always my fault? I was drunk, I was alone, I didn’t fight back hard enough, I didn’t scream loud enough. I didn’t just lie there and let it happen. Maybe they liked me? Maybe they both really liked me and I was supposed to enjoy it?

Funny how the teenage brain works, isn’t it? In their minds it was okay to hurt me, and in my mind it was okay for me to take the blame. My teenage brain also figured out a way to bury it, to take that night and all that transpired and tuck it away like an ugly holiday decoration.

I’m writing this down but I don’t know that I’ll publish it. I’m not out to ruin anyone with a dusty allegation, a weak cry from a half-broken girl who drank too much at a kegger a million years ago. Truth be told, I doubt the smiling paunchy guy in the picture even knows who I am, or who I was. I might have been the first of many, the last of a few or maybe the Dynamic Duo only performed one tag-team rape and I was the one who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I certainly can’t message that effer on Facebook, right? Hey! I don’t know if you remember, but you and your friend did a bad thing to me. That wasn’t very nice!

I have a daughter, though. And I have sons. I don’t want to try and imagine this happening to my girl and I cannot imagine this being done by my boys.

But. But we all know this happens. It happened in the past and it happens now and as sorry as it makes me to say this, it’s going to happen in the future. How many of us are out there, carrying around this same shitty filmstrip in our minds? How many of us have felt cheap comforters or expensive sheets or carpeting or dirt beneath us as someone does unspeakably cruel things on top of us? How many times has it happened and nothing, absolutely nothing is done about it?

Too many times. Too many women, too many girls can tell their own versions of this nightmarish tale. Surely I can’t be the only one who has peered at a picture on Facebook and thought, “Huh. There’s the guy who raped me.”

Can I?

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