I can’t describe the numbness I felt. And I’m pretty good at describing things.
I felt hollowed out. All I can really remember is the shock of how empty I was.
This is not what you wanted for your life. Things will never be the same.
This voice in my head, dim as an echo. Like the me that had been. The me that was fading away. The me that was gone.
How? How, then, did I not run to the police? I can’t tell you what I was thinking in the moment, per se, because — for starters, the numbness — but also because I think I was thinking a thousand things at once. Kind of like life flashing before your eyes right before you die.
Why didn’t you scream?
He was saying he loved me. He was already in me. I was already ruined. How much worse could it get? If he thought I was angry, would he get angry? If I screamed, would he panic? Would he cover my mouth? Would he choke me? I’d already said “no” so many times, I’d lost count. He didn’t care.
Why didn’t you kick him?
I was limp. So limp. Once, when I was a little girl, I’d thought I was alone in the house, and I walked to my room and saw a shadow at the end of the hallway. A man’s shadow. I didn’t scream. I didn’t run. I stood rooted to the spot, ready for that shadow to envelop me. But it was only my dad. He’d woken up from a nap. He walked out of the darkness and I could feel my legs again. Being raped was like being alone with the shadow of a stranger in a place where you knew, where you expected you should feel safe.
My roommates came back, too. At some point. Not at first. But during. And I became fixated on them not knowing what was going on. I was in a sorority with them. They knew this relationship was “new.” That I hadn’t been with [HIM] that long. What would they think if I called them into a room where I was naked with him naked on top of me? What would they tell the rest of the sorority? There was so much shame clouding my thoughts. I felt stupid. Like it was my fault.
Stupid, stupid girl. What did you expect? Textbook date rape. Stupid girl.
I couldn’t be that girl. No. This wasn’t happening. This wasn’t rape. He loved me. He was just drunk and confused and not hearing. Everything would be better. As soon as he stopped.
He stayed in my bed. I let him stay in my bed. He left in the morning. I let him kiss me in the morning. Numb through all of it. Barely speaking. If I spoke at all.
I curled up in my sheets — now filthied — and cried silent tears. It hurt so much between my legs, I couldn’t stand. I was bleeding. I tried to sleep. I slept.
My mother called my cell phone. Over and over. I’d left it on the coffee table the night before. My roommate knocked on my door. It was afternoon. I could barely speak, words thick and catching in my throat. I got on the Internet to send my mother an email. But she was online. We chatted instead.
And, yes, I have an unnaturally open relationship with my mother. Got the sex talk when I was seven.
[ The following is abridged. ]
me: so i went to a party with [HIM] last night
we went to [FRIEND B’s] apartment, and did shots of skyy and bacardi
we didn’t have shot glasses, so everyone was pouring into the bottoms of red party cups
[HE] was pouring big amounts, i guess
plus, i faked taking three shots — just tipped the cup back and closed my lips.
so i was buzzed, you know?
[HE] was to the point where he couldn’t pronounce certain words
and then we went to a theatre party, where he couldn’t keep his hands off me
and it was getting out of control so i said i wanted to go home
mom: now you know how he is when he is drunk
me: it gets so much worse
anyway, so we go back and we end up making out and it was wonderful —
he was being forceful and just acting like he wanted to eat my alive, you know?
and he starts kissing me all the way down my torso, down to my inner thighs
soft kisses, but just a cascade of them
and running his hands all over me
and he says to me, “I need you to know something. i’m obsessed with you. i think about you constantly.”
and i’m silent as hell — i don’t know what to say, what not to say
me: it was awful
what do you say to that?
mom: i don’t know. i am speechless myself.
me: THEN he says, “i think i’m in love with you. i think i love you.”
mom: oh jesus
he is addicted to you
he doesn’t know the difference
it isn’t love three weeks into the relationship, you know?
me: that’s right
but he’s like, “no — you’re beautiful and we can write stories together and i can tell you anything
— and your legs, oh God, they’re so soft! —
— and i think you might be The One.”
mom: well, you might be the one.
but he has to give it some time.
you say to him —
me: no, i did
i said, “look, you don’t know what you’re saying, you like me, i like you — i like you a lot, i do — but — “
and i’m naked and he’s naked and he wants to HAVE SEX WITH ME
mom: oh lord
me: and i’m like, “no, no, it’s too soon, it’s too early, i can’t”
”it will ruin everything, it will. no, stop.” and he’s saying, “no, i’m here, i can’t even tell you — i want you so bad.”
and i’m pushing him away, and he’s pushing himself at me, and he’s on top of me
and short of screaming my head off, i don’t know what to do
mom: don’t tell me this kid raped you
me: he didn’t rape me, i guess. i just went limp.
mom: you mean he fucked you?
it was so painful and it just went on and on
mom: well, hon, that is pretty much rape
me: i guess
so that was my night
and i just woke up
mom: okay, was he wearing a condom?
me: no, of course not
mom: so what are you going to do?
me: i don’t know
i feel like dumping him
i was so annoyed
me: he didn’t rape me, but he didn’t take “no” for an answer
i don’t know how to put it
i mean, i didn’t — i don’t know
mom: i do
me: i didn’t fight
mom: he fucking raped you
you said no
and he did it anyway
you did not participate
me: over and over
mom: he was a fucking drunk asshole
who date raped you
me: i said no over and over and, “we don’t have a condom, i could get pregnant”
”it’s too soon”
”i’m not wet, we’d need lube”
”i don’t want to”
mom: why didn’t you scream?
me: i don’t know, mom
afterwards, i was like, “why didn’t i scream?”
”why didn’t i throw him off me?”
mom: because you were buzzed and naked and embarrassed
and i thought it would be quick and it would be over
but it just went on and on, and i was like praying to god, just one our father after another, almost crying
mom: have him arrested and ruin his life
me: i don’t want to
mom: then dump him
do you want to do that?
me: i don’t know
i feel dirty as fuck right now
i blame myself
me: i let it happen, and i didn’t stop him
and he slept the night, and kissed me in the morning
mom: oh lord
he thinks he’s got a brand new fuck buddy
me: yes, that’s all i am
mom: that’s all you are?
me: i don’t know
mom: to yourself?
me: i’m so disgusted
it was awful
mom: it was a shitty first time
mom: i am very sorry child
me: he was great, and fun, and now this happens, and i’m just like, “wow, what a mistake”
there’s no trusting people
i was tempted to not tell you about it, because your input clouds my judgment
he SEEMS like a good person
he was drunk, he wanted me
mom: no, he doesn’t
me: you don’t know him
who knows what it’s like to be male, and to have me lying there, perfumed and moisturized
mom: that’s just such fucking bullshit
me: i guess
”she deserves it, she was asking for it”
mom: you did not deserve it
you did not deserve it
you did not deserve to be treated this way
he thinks he loves you? and treats you like that?
this guy is sitting in his room pleased as punch because he successfully “seduced” you in his view
when what he did was disregard you
me: i will sit him down and say: ”[NAME], i want you to understand, i didn’t want to do that last night.
”i wasn’t ready and i felt like it was a mistake”
mom: that’s a little mild
me: i suppose
But I was convinced he’d been so blacked out that he hadn’t been in control. I couldn’t face the alternative. I wanted to believe that he was, at core, a good person.
And what would that make me, if I turned him over to the police? A bad person, right?
He came over again that evening. I’d sent him some cryptic text, and he was all trepidation as I led him to the couch. I sat on the coffee table in front of him. I started off by saying that I wasn’t going to call what he’d done “rape,” but that it was unwanted intercourse.
I watched tension ease out of his face, like air from a balloon. He was still nervous, though. Fidgety. Frightened. I felt bad for him.
I asked him why he’d had sex with me after I’d told him I didn’t want to. He was the picture of earnest confusion. He claimed he didn’t remember me saying that. Swore he didn’t remember me saying that. It seemed like he was going to cry.
I believed him. It was so easy to believe him. It was so easy to not be a “rape victim.”