What happens when you’re raped by a friend when you’re 15? Do you do the same?
The author of this piece asked that it be kept as anonymous.
Rape is a very powerful, if not contentious, word. I’ve studied it extensively and have seen radical arguments that all penetrative sex is rape, which I think is problematic at best, all the way to the other extreme of arguing that only violent sexual assault should be considered rape. I suppose I was so interested because I was raped in high school, by a girl I could have easily physically resisted. I don’t take the labeling of a sex act as rape lightly. It’s taken me over 15 years and loads of research to finally accept the conclusion that although I could have removed myself by force, I didn’t want to have sex with her and she knew that full well. No means no, after all.
The circumstances were emotionally complex, but I can relive the event like it just happened. It was seared into my long term memory with great detail, as I’m sure the part of my brain that protects me from repeating past mistakes had gone into overdrive. She was beautiful, and in fact I would have loved to have consensual sex with her had the circumstances been any better. However… let’s call her… Beth had fallen in with “the bad crowd,” and I was yet to fully recover from my religious upbringing. I was probably the longest surviving virgin of my high school class, and much of that had to do with waiting for marriage. Beth was a bonafide party girl. When she was sober we had a great time together, I even thought I might love her, but the sobriety was coming less often, and calling her house to notify her parents that she was dumped on my doorstep again and that I’d have her home in the morning became routine.
One night I got fairly serious about sobering her up when she attempted to sex with me. I told her I didn’t want to and she was too messed up to put up a fight so nothing happened. What is now ironic to me is that in the morning, after coffee, toast, and a shower, she was more determined. She came out of the shower very seductively and looked at me as though I were the only man alive. My heart was pounding so furious my entire head was pulsating, and when the towel came off I felt despair, clear as anything. My natural attraction to her was already very high, and to have her throwing herself at me was nearly irresistible, but I still told her directly that I did not want to have sex with her. I’m not the casual screw kind of guy, in all my adult years that has never changed. She knew that I did not want to have sex unless we were dating and exclusive, she knew this as she continued to seduce me beyond my protest that she stop.
I’ll spare you the gory details, but it was the worst sexual experience I could have ever imagined. It was intensely painful, emotionally, even though physically I was clearly accommodating, but I only allowed it because I was afraid that if I didn’t give her what she wanted I would lose here all together. I couldn’t fathom her doing well in her current lifestyle without a safe crash pad, and her friends knew that dropping her at her parents would result in police intervention. And that it was I was thinking about as she raped me. I even made direct eye contact with her to solidify the look disdain and hurt on my face, but she continued unwavering. I still can’t believe it, that a friend of mine could look me in the face while violating me.
To add insult to injury, when it finally ended and we were lying next to each other with our cliche post-coital cigarettes lit, a lightning bolt went off in my brain, and I turned to her said, “That wasn’t my first time, you know.” She was silent for minutes. Now that I understood what had just happened, I asked her if that took the fun out of it, she nodded yes and looked away. What she wanted was my virginity, but I had already volunteered it to someone that really loved me. I don’t know why, but I never told Beth what she had done to me. We drifted apart and hardly speak but for now and then. I still regard her as a friend, and though I’ve forgiven, I’ve never forgotten, but there’s more.
In my family violence class, I learned that an abuser is typically someone who was once abused. I’m loath to admit, after Beth raped me I turned around and repeated the action—marching right past the protest of an ex-girlfriend into full rape territory. And no, “violence” wasn’t used in that situation either, but I already knew first-hand the emotional violence of it. I’m deeply ashamed of this and have since reconciled with this person, but putting it out of my mind just isn’t possible. It’s as though my conscience is forcing me to remember that moment so that I never cross that threshold again. To know the feeling of hurting someone on purpose, someone totally undeserving of that hurt, is a terrible, regretful ordeal.