WARNING: MEMOIR AND PHOTOS MAY BE TRIGGERING FOR THOSE WITH RAPE IN THEIR PAST
Joshua was seventeen and rich and drove an Escalade his parents bought him when he landed a scholarship to M.I.T.. He always seemed to be everywhere and always with different people and he had this feeling of mystery to him that would make you cock your head after he waved to you. He had curly blond hair and always wore tank tops under open button-up shirts and I thought he was amazing.
We met at a New Year's Eve party at a local park that my best friend dragged me to. My best friend's boyfriend introduced me to him ("...most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows.") and when he actually seemed to want to talk to me, I was exhilarated. At this point in my life I never really cared about boys because I was very concentrated on school, my family, and my burgeoning depression; every doctor I saw about it wanted to chuck as many pills at me as possible. Suffice it to say that I was not at all in the mind set to set myself up with even more drama if it was at all possible to keep it low.
I saw guys and listened to my friends go on and on about them and even listened when my two best friends told me (when we were all eleven years old) all about how they lost their virginity to so-and-so and who they were planning to screw next now that their virginities were "out of their way".
I prayed for my friends and even would go lend an ear when they lay prostrate with grief on their beds listening to N'Sync and crying to me about how all men were assholes. We were twelve and we already had this sex-centered view of relationships and I tried so hard to stay away from it all.
As Joshua and I sat on the bleachers watching people drink and jump around and make out all around us, we just talked about music and school and colleges and when midnight struck we wrapped his arms around me and kissed my forehead saying,
"Happy New Year, beautiful."
It was the first time a guy had said that to me and I was sent flying.
I had my first kiss only two months previous in November when I was dared to kiss a senior at a friend's birthday party and afterward I thought I was in love. After he sent back a letter I had written him (my first and only love letter as a teen) with a note scrawled on the outside of the envelope that said "You're thirteen, you're in love with everybody. Leave me alone."
I was totally crushed and fervently resumed my campaign to remain aloof of guys and focus on my life. So when Joshua only kissed my forehead so sweetly that night, I was so touched I softened to him, not knowing how he actually was inside.
In the following weeks, Joshua and I constantly IMed, emailed can called each other. When I sent him a photo of my friend and I in our bathing suits during summer vacation he typed back,
You're so pretty, def more pretty than that girl.
I was flattered beyond reality when he told me that because I had always felt physically inferior to that particular friend who was super-sexed and wore tank tops with spaghetti straps and short-shorts whereas I wore polos and skirts or jeans almost everyday. Suffice to say, Joshua was very smooth and soon had me missing him and thinking about him in ways I hadn't with any other person.
Two weeks later, a neighbor had asked me to stay at her house overnight while she away on business so I could look after her aging dog. My parents let me go since it was only about eight houses down from our own and it wasn't a school night. I felt very mature and cool walking down the street with her house keys in my hand and my backpack slung over my shoulder.
Initially, I was jazzed to be able to hang out all alone and do whatever I wanted but by eleven I was bored and slightly spooked by the giant, empty house all around me.
I decided to call Joshua to see if he could cheer me up and when his voice came down the line I was instantly cured of my fright. We talked for about half an hour before I told him about the real reason I was calling so late and after I told him, he laughed,
"You're so cute, its only a dark house. Nothing to worry about. If you're really freaked out I could always drive over and keep you company."
Instantly, my stomach dropped as I knew this would not be a good idea. I realized I was spacing out when I heard him calling my name over the phone and snapped out of it,
"I don't know, that's not really respectful of my neighbor because she's gone and everything." He replied,
"Well ok, if you don't want to see me..." Immediately, I recanted,
"No of course I want to see you, I just didn't want to get in trouble. You could always come over and we can just hang out on the front porch."
As I hung up the phone, my sense of foreboding left me and was replaced my excitement; A boy is coming here! To see me!
When the doorbell rang half an hour later, I answered it with a smile and when I come outside Joshua gave me a huge hug before we settled on the top step of the landing. We talked for a while about everything we always did, music, our parents, school until something changed; he put his hand on mine. I blushed and thanked God it was mostly dark so he wouldn't see. When I turned my face away from him he questioned me,
"Are you ok?"
I nodded and looked back at him. He bumped my shoulder with his and when our eyes met again and he lent in to kiss me, I knew what I was supposed to do, so I closed my eyes let him kiss me. Soon enough the kissing became more fervent and when he tried to touch my breasts I pushed his hand away. Five minutes later he tried again and once I again I pushed it away. He sighed in frustration and pulled away from me,
"God, Petite, don't you like me?" I nodded "Well why won't you let me cop a feel then? Its just your boobs."
I sat back with my arms stretched out behind me,
"Well I don't let people touch them, even if they are just boobs." I spat back at him edgily.
"Fine, Ok. Let's just kiss, I won't try it again."
This time his kisses were harder and actually started to hurt my lips and after trying several times to pull away from him, he had already backed me up against the farthest edge of the step. Then, even though he had promised not to (Gee, boys do that?), he tried snaking his hand up the front of my shirt to fondle me but this time when I tried to pull away, he didn't just relent, he pushed me down against the steps, his hand still venturing on,
"Ok Joshua, stop, this is stupid. You need to go home."
All I got was a "No" half shouted right in my face. I knew then that it wasn't funny anymore.
I struggled to get up as he ripped at my bra finally tearing one strap and pushing my shirt up over my breasts, leaving my right one exposed. Tears came to my eyes when I realized that this was not fun.
"Please Joshua, stop! Quit it!"
He bit my lip as he kissed me so hard that I could taste blood and my tears renewed themselves ten fold. All the time I shouted at him and smacked him, saying his name. It worked to no avail and as he glared at me through the partial darkness of the night, I shrank back in fear.
When he grabbed the hem of my ankle-length skirt and started to pull it up, I started shaking, helpless to do anything but crying and try not move to avoid him hitting me. I heard ripping and when he pulled down so hard on my panties that I cried out, he only seemed to become more turned on.
"Please Joshua, don't do this. I'm a virgin! You know this is wrong, please."
He ignored me and even when I kicked him in the stomach in my struggle to get away from him he never relented, one hand holding me down the whole time. When I heard the zing of zipper as he undid his fly, all I could do was sob and pray. I kicked and screamed for help and even though it was only 11:30 on a Saturday night and we were in idyllic suburbia, no one heard my cries, no one called out to help me.
No one knew a young girl was being brutalized not even 100 feet away.
When he slammed himself down in front of me between my legs I slapped at him when I got one hand free and started tearing at his face. I watched his dick swing in front of me as he grabbed the hand back and mashed it back under his own against the cement, the tears streamed down my face and I thought,
So this is it. This is what is going to happen to me right now.
With all the kicking and struggling, he must have been really excited because by the time he had barely forced an inch of himself inside of me, he came, his body spasmed on top of me as sobs shook me. I finally stopped struggling and instead just laid there, still crying, still scared.
Eventually he got up, and zipping his pants as he walked the ten steps to his car and when he he spoke his voice was still somewhat breathless,
"Go take a shower or something and stop crying. Don't call or text me, ever."
I covered my face with my hands and curled up in a ball, my ripped clothes barely covering me in the half-light of the porch. The worst moment was when I laid down over the top step and when I felt the hot wetness of his semen slosh out of me I started hyperventilating and had to cover my own mouth with both hands to calm my breathing in between the sobs.
I laid for hours on those steps until my body was numb and my throat was so sore I couldn't cry anymore.
Photo courtesy of lovebitesandbruises at Flickr
Finally I dragged myself inside, slamming and locking the door behind me. I trudged up the stairs, and to the bathroom where I locked the door, turned the hot water on and slowly started to undress. As I pulled off the remains of my skirt, I noticed the thin trickle of blood that was running down the inside of both of my legs, leading from big smudges of red all over the top of both thighs and all over my vaginal lips, leaving little spots of red on the perfectly white bathroom rug. I put my back against the wall and let myself slide down, grasping my skirt in my hands as I started to cry yet again. I had no tears left so my body only shook.
I stayed in the shower, my long hair over my face as I sat on the floor of the stall until the water began to run cold. After I got out and dressed in pajamas, I crept downstairs with my ripped clothes wrapped in a bundle with the rug around it. I ran to the neighbor's house through the bushes and gingerly opened their garbage can, moving aside a bag to hide the ripped, bloody evidence underneath.
Later as I laid in the big white bed, I felt nothing and thought nothing aside from "What do I say to my mom if I get pregnant even though I didn't do anything wrong, even though I didn't choose this?"
I only fell asleep after the morning light began to creep through the windows, my body finally succumbing to its exhaustion and pain.
As the weeks went by, I couldn't be in the room with my mom without having to look away from her. She and I are about as close as mother and daughter can be and my love for her is bigger than anything in my life so naturally, this was the most difficult time for me and it broke my heart. What would break my heart more than the silence and secret would have been if I told her about what happened then she too would feel my pain, she would mourn for me and suffer for me and I didn't want to add to her already overloaded life.
I felt that just because I was hurting, didn't mean my mom had to hurt too and if she had anger, I couldn't deal with that most of all.
After the third week after the incident, I was looking in my planner trying to organize my project deadlines for school when I realized that my period was almost two weeks late.
Two weeks late.
I threw my planner across the room as if it would make a difference, as if it could alter time or space or matter. I couldn't even cry I was so out of it. My hand immediately went to my lower abdomen and I almost wretched at the thought of it.
Photo courtesy of lovebitesandbruises at Flickr
When my mother was seventeen, she was date-raped by a guy her friend set her up after he threw her in the back of his 70's panel van onto a bare mattress and slammed the doors behind them. A month later she found out she was pregnant and scheduled an a-b-o-r-t-i-o-n.
On the day that the procedure was scheduled she woke up and realized she was miscarrying. On the day the procedure was scheduled, a huge portion of Los Angeles burned down and she held her own mother's hand as they watched the smoke plume over the city.
My grandmother went to her gave never knowing her daughter had been brutalized and lost a child so young and sometimes I wonder how my mother feels about that. Was she glad to shield my grandmother from having to live her pain? Was she regretful that she had to live it alone?
That night as I lay in bed for hours with my guts churning, tears burning into my cheeks as I thought of how life would be after having an abortion, or after having a baby who was the product of my rape and the theft of my virginity. Around 2 am, something strange happened; my door opened, light pouring in around the silhouette of my mother,
"Are you still awake honey? Are you ok?"
"Mom? Why are you awake? Why did you come in here?" I was totally shocked.
"Oh you know, sometimes I get a feeling and I have to get up and look in on you guys. I do this sometimes but you're always asleep. Its the mommy-magic thing, you know?"
I nodded and pulled the blankets up to my chin knowing that this was the time,
"Hey mom? I have to tell you something."
She stood in the doorway as I told her the short version of what happened. I was crying and half-hiding under my blankets, the light pouring in over me.
"...and now I don't know if I might be pregnant or not. I'm really scared."
Then my mom did something very uncharacteristic, she said,
"Well, we'll deal with it if it becomes an issue but you're ok right? You're not hurt?"
I nodded and then she said goodnight, closed the door and went back to her bedroom that she shared with my father.
This was a huge deal because my mother is the sort of touchy-feely mom who hugs and kisses you and gives you so much praise and affection you feel like you'll pop. It scared me like nothing else had that she didn't cry, she didn't come over to me but remained calm and aloof and just went back to bed. I knew she had to be angry with me.
The next morning I found out I had been wrong when I came down for breakfast before school. Her face was red and puffy and her eyes were bloodshot and swollen, she hadn't slept at all last night and had probably spent the better part of it crying her eyes out over me. I felt better and worse at the same time. On one hand, my mother wasn't angry and detached but on the other, my unexpected news broadcast had kept her up all night crying and worrying for me. I was even more conflicted.
As I walked to the bus stop I hiccuped back the tears in the brisk morning air, worried as I had never been in my life. My mind traveled to a world where I was thirteen and had a baby and my whole life came to an end, all because of the sick brutality of one boy and a momentary lapse of judgment of one girl.
I turned the corner at the end of my street and got my period; I had never been so happy to ruin a pair of white pants in my life.
After nine years has passed, the pain has settled from my initial trauma and I can even say the word "rape" out loud without feeling the twinges of terror sparking down my back.
I had a friend who I told about this ask me a few weeks ago, "Well if you were raped when you were a young girl, why are you so sexual now? Why aren't you like asexual and repressed?"
My answer is that after what had happened to me (something that was out of my control and was not on my own terms) I decided that my sexual life would be in my own hands and be under my control. I took my over my desires and tried to rise above the pain and reclaim my body and my sexuality as my own.
I had been raised with a very conscious view of sex and its place in my life and knew it could be something wonderful, something passionate that I could enjoy and love and I wasn't going to let the sickness of one boy kill a whole part of my life and force me to become a victim in my every moment.
I felt then and feel now that when something in your life happens that's scarring that you need to give yourself time enough to grieve but then pull yourself up out of the miasma of mourning for your own destiny. If you get stuck in the past, your whole future will become stunted and sheltered and then the person who hurt you will have won, will have taken the piece from you that they wanted. You can't let them win you can't be the victim they wanted you to become.
Pain is momentary and passion is fleeting but you only get one life to live and pain can't be the thing to rule it; Take it from a a girl who knows.
If you or someone you know has been raped, molested or is a victim of domestic abuse, please follow this link to the resource directory at AfterSilence.org for support, help and information. You're not alone.