Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Here is my story....

A little over a month ago I went out for a fun night with my girlfriends.
I went out for a fun night with my girlfriends and I ended up being pulled into a dark room behind a bar where I was violently sexually assaulted.
There's another word for it.


I was raped.

My friends and I got dressed up in sparkles and frills and went party-hopping. We gossiped. We laughed. We had a great time. We ended up at a local bar where we stayed for hours. We didn't notice the time passing; we were having too much fun.
Eventually we were the only people left in the bar. Eventually my friends went to the bathroom. Eventually it was just me and the bartender.
Eventually he kissed me.

And then he grabbed at me and I gasped in surprise and pain. He pulled me into that back room and violated me.

It all happened so fast, I don't even remember thinking. I do remember the blood.

It happened so fast that my friends didn't even know anything was wrong. I was gone for less than 15 minutes and came back bloody, disoriented, and hysterical. I called out for Jenny and Briya and they came to me, wide-eyed and horrified and asking what had happened. I shook my head and grabbed a wad of napkins and ran up the stairs to the street. We ended up at the deli, because that's where we had been planning to go, and because apparently when my brain shuts off one of my coping mechanisms is sticking to the original plan? I don't know. Anyhow. We sat in the deli and I intermittently cried and apologized for being so dramatic.

I actually have a photo of what I looked like after it happened. I made Jenny take it because I was in such disbelief that I needed something tangible to look at that correlated with how I felt.
We left the deli. I screamed and cried on the street corner. My friends held me. They asked me if I wanted to go to the police or the hospital. No, I shrieked, I just wanted to take a shower and catch our flight home.

Yes. I know you're not supposed to take a shower.

But it was the only thing I could possibly do. I felt dirty and angry and guilty and crying crying all the while crying. Plus, I think my friends realized that the only way I would go to the police or to the hospital or anything at all besides GETTING IN THE SHOWER would be if they forced me, and I'm pretty sure no one was in the mood to force me to do anything at that point.

We got back to the hotel room. I peeled off what was left of my clothes. Briya stayed in the bathroom while I showered. Jenny woke up Lora, Molly, and Amber, and rearranged the beds so that I had a space snuggled in the middle. I put on my jammies, got into bed, and announced to the room that I was sorry, but no one could go to sleep "You guys can't leave me. PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME." And then I proceeded to have a meltdown. I was crying and shaking and wringing my hands and yanking my hair.

I couldn't calm down or sit still. I was beyond hysterical. I remember feeling so upset but also so horribly guilty. "You guys have to believe me, I'm not making this up!" I remember crying out over and over. None of them thought I was making it up. None of them accused me of lying or embellishing the truth. They held me and comforted me. But I still felt so ashamed. Like I had somehow gotten myself into that situation. Or, even worse, that it hadn't actually happened at all and I was just being dramatic or making things up in my imagination. I clutched my head and pulled my hair and tried to shake loose some internal THING that would make sense of all this.

Somehow I managed to get on a flight home. Somehow I drove back to my house. My friends convinced me to go to the hospital and figured out where I had to go. Jessica came with me. We waited for hours and hours. Both of our phones died. We played endless games of "I'm thinking of something" and flew my rape pamphlet around like a bird. We may have become a bit delirious at around hour four.
They finally took me upstairs where I had to tell my story and be examined.
I was given painkillers and antianxiety medications.
I was given STD prophylactic antibiotics.
I was also given antiretrovirals because there was so much blood they said there was no way to know if it was all mine. I had lots of blood tests. They're all fine, so far.

I spent the week curled up on my couch and snuggled in bed and eating whenever somebody brought me food.
I stopped sleeping.
I cried. Oh, how I cried.

I kept asking myself how this had happened, what I had done wrong.

I became irritable and angry and sad and had an incredibly short fuse. I had mean outbursts at my family members and friends. I collapsed into inconsolable tears because I dropped my new camera in the dirt. I lay on the floor crying crying incapable of getting up. I became angry at myself because why couldn't I fixate my feelings onto the THING that happened to me, why did I have to get upset about everything else? It felt like I was perpetually operating at maximum capacity and if there was A SINGLE THING MORE I would fall to pieces.

I went to therapy.

I started taking medication. To lengthen my fuse, so to speak.

I wrote vague tweets about how upset I was and sent tons of middle of the night texts.

I received care packages and notes and cards and texts and love love so much love.

Gradually, so gradually that I don't even know that I noticed it at the time, I started to heal.
I worked. I hung out with friends. I therapized and processed. I spent a lot of time in various hospitals.

I had my police interview a few days ago. It was horrible.
They asked me what I wore that night from my earrings down to my shoes. They asked my friends if I'm a risk taker and if I "do this often." They asked what substances I had been on. They asked when the last time I had had sex before the incident. They made me tell the story from the moment I decided to go on my trip until I stepped off the plane back home. Then tell it again. Then write a statement. They asked doubtful questions about how much blood I was describing.
I had to hand over my dress and bra from that night as evidence. My underwear was gone.
They asked details about the night. What time was this, what time was that, where were you this, did he do that, what were you thinking at the time, what were you thinking afterward, why didn't you scream for help?
I don't remember. I don't remember. I don't remember. I don't remember. I don't remember. I don't remember.
I don't. Remember.

I had NOT wanted to go to the police. I absolutely did not. My sister had to sit down and convince me to call them and afterwards I cried and yelled at her. "You can be mad at me," she had told me. "But you have to call the police." Oh, I was mad at her.
I told the police my story over the phone. And then I told them in person. It took every ounce of courage I could muster to sit in that windowless room and describe to two men what had happened to me. I cried. But I did it. I answered all of their questions as completely and openly and honestly as I could.
They told me that these cases are difficult; that they don't usually go anywhere. But they keep the reports on file because the more women who come forward, the stronger the evidence becomes. Then asked me about my menstrual cycle.

It was humiliating. This has all been humiliating. I feel so exposed (says the girl telling her story on the internet).

The thing is, I know I had probably the best of circumstances.
I had a supportive group of friends and witnesses who were willing to put their lives on hold and travel to testify. I had an advocate who agreed to work on a Saturday in order to be with me during the proceedings. I had a detective who was actually pretty nice and said things like "I'm on your side," and "You did the right thing coming forward."
Bigger than that, I have a life full of kind people. A loving, unwavering family. Kind, loyal, generous friends. The outpouring of love and support I have received these past few weeks has left me breathless at times.
And I STILL barely survived this. I barely AM surviving this.

I have had my share of people saying terrible things.
Was he cute? Were you flirting?
What were you wearing? Were you drunk?
How did you get into that situation? It couldn't have been in full view of the bar.
How did it happen? You must have liked him at some point.

As if any of that matters. As if something that I did made this happen.

In case any of you thought that victim-shaming was a thing of the past, I am here to tell you that it is alive and well!
Oh, I went out that night in a short skirt and got far too inebriated. I laughed and smiled and twirled my hair and flirted.
And after it happened I felt tremendously guilty. How had I let this happen? What had I done? Why didn't I push him away harder? Why didn't I fight more? What would people think of me? WHAT had even happened in that little room?

It has taken the unyielding support of my friends, the unwavering love and consistency of my family, therapy, medications, and meetings with advocates and counselors to help me realize:

I was raped. And it was not my fault.

I told my story to my therapist; she suggested that I do that so that I could have and emotional release and fixate my feelings onto the actual event and not on everything else.
I told my story to an advocate from a local organization; she helped me pick apart the things I was obsessing over and realize they didn't make the incident my fault.
I told my story to my friends, the ones who asked. And some who didn't.
I told parts of the story to my family, too much of it would be too painful for them.
I told my story to the police, as much as it took out of me.

And now I'm telling you.

I'm telling you because I think I might be strong enough to share it now.
And I'm telling you because how many women go through this? It breaks my heart to think of the ones who are alone, who don't have supportive friends or families, who are doubted and flat-out accused of lying when they tell their stories, who are shamed by police or medical professionals or even their friends.
I am telling you my story for me, because I want you to know me. And, not to get all cliche on you, but I'm also telling it for all women.
Because for all of us to take a step in this world, one of us has to leap.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Deep Breath

Here is where I take a deep breath and put some space between my last post and my next. Because what I am about to tell you will take a lot out of me.

I haven't signed on here in over a month. A lot has happened, though things look pretty much the same around here. I look pretty much the same. But I feel completely different.

I hope you will read with an open mind and a kind heart. I want to have the strength to tell you my story.

Because I'm going to. Soon.