Trigger warning: Sexual assault.
At 13 years old, I was the silliest, chubbiest tomboy. I excelled at sports, friendship, and having a unibrow. I was awkward, but to be fair, it helped me to develop my kind, fun-loving personality.
Boys weren’t lining up at my locker. Okay, actually, they were. They lined up to ask me to be a good friend and give this note to my little blonde best friend.
Eventually as I entered high school, I discovered I was, in fact, a girl. I lost some weight, but never got any boobs. Still, some maturing was definitely taking place on my journey around the sun as I began to feel the urge of wanting to be desired by the opposite sex.
After some truly pitiful attempts at flirting, finally, someone took notice. This doesn’t mean it was the best person. Just someone who paid some attention was enough for me.
He became my boyfriend. I was 15 years old. There were long phone chats. There was kissing. It was all so new and exciting.
Over late-night phone calls under my blankets on the cordless phone, he made comments about sex. I giggled, but deflected. I didn’t want to do that, but I didn’t want him to go away either.
After a month of dating, New Year’s Eve was upon us. My boyfriend’s parents were out for the evening, and he invited some friends over to hang out at his house.
That night, I walked down into his basement where he held out a bottle of Bacardi O.
I had never drunk alcohol before, but I was intrigued by anything my parents forbid me from doing, as most high-schoolers are. The only problem with this rebellious opportunity is that my boyfriend either didn’t know how much alcohol is a lot of alcohol, or he didn’t care.
He handed me a Solo cup filled with 3/4 Bacardi O and 1/4 orange soda.
It tasted like poison to me. It burned as it went down my throat.
How awful? Why do adults drink this? Why is this fun?
Be cool.. Be cool..
I proceeded to drink it.
How sucky is being a teenager who thinks fitting in is important? I wish I could say I was above it. That I was wise beyond my years.
I wish I could tell you I didn’t have a second cup of orange death.
No, I did.
I remember I began making a lot of Keenan & Kel references having to do with orange soda.
Then I remember he took my hand and led me upstairs to his room.
I sat down on his bed. I told him I felt sick.
He told me to just relax and starting kissing me.
I asked him for some water.
He just laughed and climbed on top of me. Starting to unbutton my pants.
The room starting spinning.
I tried to roll off the bed.
He placed his hands on my shoulders and pinned me down. He said this is what people who love each other do.
I told him I was going to throw up.
He stuck his hand over my mouth and told me to just relax.
I started to shove him.
He grabbed me by my hair and pushed me down onto the bed.
That’s the last thing I remember.
When I came back to, I remember him on top of me.
I just lay there still and cried.
Finally, I turned my head and started throwing up all over his floor.
After throwing up, I came to, and I was alone in his basement.
My face was smushed against a black garbage can that I had been throwing up into. My makeup was running down my face and there was vomit in my hair.
This is my first memory of hating myself.
I could hear everyone else upstairs partying.
There I was, alone in a basement; him nowhere to be found.
I don’t know who called my older sister.
But eventually I made it to the backseat of her car.
I sat in there quietly as she and her friends blasted NSYNC. Tears flowed silently from my eyes. I stared up at the moon and watched the houses whiz past me.
This boy and I never spoke again. He even went to a different high school the next year. And so I buried it. I put it away somewhere so deep, that I even believed my own lie for a long time.
He was my boyfriend.
Your boyfriend can’t rape you…right?
For 15 years, out loud, I started my sexual history at 17 years old. I did not share this with anyone.
In my mind, I told myself that 1) he was my boyfriend, and 2) I chose to drink alcohol. Therefore, I never classified it as rape. Not even to myself.
Now here I am in my 30s, a completely different person. I look back, and I’m like, oh shit…that’s the textbook definition of rape.
Since then, I’ve addressed what happened to me and continue to work through my feelings surrounding my rape. I’ve seen a counselor. I do yoga. I watch far too many TED talks about emotional intelligence. I’m really okay now.
But I wanted to tell you this story because I want to make other women feel comfortable admitting the fucked-up shit that happened to them out loud. We all have tragic, dramatic, abusive life experiences along the way. It’s a truly fucked-up part of being a woman.
What I strive to do is make people feel comfortable talking about their experiences so that they can let it go. It’s not easy. It can be just as traumatic as the actual abuse. But there are many women like myself and professionals who will believe you and support you.
I shudder to wonder how many other women out there have stories that they shoved down inside of them. Whether they didn’t understand what happened, like me, or just because people didn’t want to hear it, didn’t want to believe them. If I couldn’t speak aloud what had happened to me for 15 years, there have to be many out there who are silent.
To those people, I want to say, don’t bury your story deep inside you. It will rot you from the inside out. Even if it isn’t something you think about regularly. Just don’t let you bad stuff live inside you. You deserve to heal.
Set it free.
Get a notebook. Write down everything that hurts and everything you want. Show it to someone you love and trust. Burn it in a camp fire. Read it out loud to the moon. Whatever you have to do, let it out of you.
Acknowledge it. Then begin to let it go.