It’s May! And my last “to be continued…” post was in October. So it has taken me seven whole months later to continue. But I HAVE to continue. Because.
Because there are things I forgot to write about that are included in this very heinous act of sexually assaulting someone without repercussion. Because these things are within that Cycle of Violence. Because so many years later it haunts me.
In some ways being sexually assaulted is like being an addict. And before you freak out about that statement—hear me out. If you are able to admit and talk about your assault to people you trust, sometimes it can be hard to stop bringing up. And after years you start to think “why can’t I just get over it?” And it turns into guilt, and sometimes bad habits form if not full blown addiction. Addicts face that pressure externally from the people in their lives too. People who say, “why can’t he/she just stop?” Both are victim blaming. Most addicts don’t want to be addicts, (if any at all actually do). But sexual assault victims cannot “stop” what has been done either. And often, the assaulter is someone the victim knows. And society already blames sexual assault victims every way possible so that of course we blame ourselves. So that is why I am continuing all these months later.
Because it’s not okay that I say to myself “why can’t I just get over it?” And it’s not okay to normalize sexual assault.
I’m going to remind you how the Cycle of Violence goes:
Tension building –> Abuse –> Guilt & Fear of Reprisal –> Blame the Victim –> Normalcy –>Fantasy Setup –> Tension building: REPEAT.
So, here I go. Readers beware, this content is too “mature” for some viewers. Discretion is [not] advised because it IS happening everywhere and I think it needs to be talked about more.
The last thing I wrote about grappled with this assaulter’s resentment at my request to get STD-tested. How dare I “adult” at him, right? Well, turns out, he was clean. Which he rubbed in my face. Like literally held against me as if my request were some kind of challenge. “I told you,” he warned. Then things became confusing to me.
We entered a new stage of “normalcy.” Be careful with how you understand that word, “normalcy.” In the Cycle of Violence what is “normal” is very different than what is considered to be “acceptable.” The “normalcy” phase is much more like the definition of the word: “the state of being usual, typical, or expected. Synonyms include ‘business as usual.'”
So what did I come to expect from this person? I expected that I never knew on any given day what I would be encountering when talking to him or seeing him. He was moody and inconsistent. I was tense all of the time because it was impossible to predict how he might be.
But one thing I could count on when we were together was that he would want to go out and spend time with his friends. And my opinion didn’t count.
If I needed to rest (because of law school and life in general) then I “didn’t care about him.” (And you really can only hear that you’re being “horrible” to someone so many times before you give up and at best question if they are correct and at worst actually believe them.) So I stopped trying to convince him to stay in. And we’d go out. With friends I believe I’ve already expressed I didn’t like being around.
I didn’t drink then. I never really had. But this particular boyfriend did. And all of his friends did. And most people do. And that’s okay, unless it isn’t. And what I mean by that is that if you have to drink to feel “okay” around people — bounce the fuck out. I didn’t realize what was slowly and at the same time as fast as an avalanche happening to me: I couldn’t stand being around him without drinking.
And that became “normal.”
We’d drink. He’d strongly encourage me to drink more. My life was getting really hard to understand since I had been dating him and I wanted to be numb, so I did drink more. So much that I didn’t know myself from Adam. Even though I was now in a relationship where I had to drink to withstand being near this person, I did not see the danger. I thought, “this human cares about me and would not hurt me.”
In many ways I already detested him. No matter how many times I try to answer the question “why did I stay when things already felt so wrong?” I cannot.
But alcohol. It makes you someone else.
Ready for the rape scene?
After many nights of hating him and not wanting to be touched but being intoxicated enough so that basically nothing mattered, I had one night that I will never forget as long as I live. The night of my remembered rape.
On this particular night we did not go out. We stayed in. I was so exhausted. Law school was really hell. We were watching some streaming television and yes, drinking. This rapist kept handing me more and more hard liquor without my questioning it because it had become normal. This was a routine. I would go numb and then everything would be okay and make sense.
I had taken a sleeping pill, desperate for rest from constantly defending myself to this person, from classes and studying, from life, and just generally needing sleep. He knew the effect this medication had on me. It was basically alcohol in pill form. If I went to sleep right away after taking it, it would knock me out. And I bet he was banking on that happening.
And no, you’re not supposed to take it when drinking. But you’re also not supposed to rape people. But I took my sleeping pill, and had lain down to fall asleep. Then, the suggestion of sex. I told him “No.” I didn’t want to have sex. I wanted sleep and nothing else.
I was messed up somewhat. But not enough to forget what happened next. I was falling asleep when he undressed me and forced himself upon me. I remember telling him to “get off” and that I was “tired” and “drunk” and “didn’t want to” But I was his girlfriend, so it was really okay, wasn’t it?
I kept arguing with him but he didn’t engage. He kept doing what he was doing. I cannot adequately explain what it is to be a person who no longer has control over his/her body or what is being done to it, but I’ll try. I just felt dead. I wanted everything to be over. In some ways I wanted him to kill me so I would never have this memory. I wanted him to stop hurting me. I wanted to go back in time. I wanted to stop “being” at all.
The next morning I left quickly. He’d said things that he normally said: “I love you so much. Last night was great. Why won’t you stay longer? Just a little longer? I don’t want to be alone. You know how depressed I get. I hope I don’t do something stupid.” Always with the guilt and heavy obligation to him.
I drove home and promptly told him I was done with this relationship. He ignored me. Hard. Refused to hear such assertive language against what he broke and felt he owned. I told him to leave me alone forever. Astonished at my resolve, he moved us both once again into the “Fantasy Setup” phase of the Cycle of Violence.
I was adamant. Done. Petrified of this assailant I once trusted with my body. And my life. And my autonomy. And everything I should have kept from him. I broke up with this Rapist. Pervert. Liar. Thief. Assailant. Creature. Stereotype.
Flash-forward to him “not understanding” and “trying to get me back,” since obviously in his mind he had done absolutely nothing wrong. (I’m trying to be brief; I really am. This is hard.)
Within the week I thought I ended things, I was getting texts from him non-stop. “When can I see you?” “Where are you?” “I need to talk to you.” “I love you.” “Please let me explain how much I love you so we can be together.” Trying every way he could to normalize that abuse.
Unfortunately, he knew where I lived. Unfortunately, he decided that my telling him to stay away was irrelevant.
One day, he texted me 20+ times that he “needed” to see me. I told him not to come over and that I never wanted to see him again. He was coming over anyway. I told him I would not see him and he shouldn’t. Naturally he did not listen.
All of a sudden I got a text that he was 10 minutes away. Thank God, thank whoever is out there, thank anything, that my Brother was home with me at this time. I said to my Brother, “[Rapist] is coming over and I told him not to and I can’t breathe and I don’t want to even hear the sound of his voice I’m so fucking terrified of him. Please please, [Brother], get rid of him?” “Of course,” my Brother said. I said, “I’m going into the shower because I can’t bear to hear his voice. I will die.” I was shaking.
My life-saving Brother got rid of him. My Brother told him that I didn’t want to see him now or ever again and it was a good idea to leave. This asshole asked my Brother to give me something he had gotten me. (I promptly sold it on Amazon.com for a profit.) He tried to “win me back” with a pathetic fucking gift: it was a stuffed animal. Which I rejected. It was an attempt at another “Fantasy Setup” phase. Abusive assholes who think they are good people or that they can just get away with anything will justify fucking anything. At this point, I essentially broke the Cycle of Violence.
I couldn’t bear to be anywhere I might run into him. I wasn’t able to go to the funeral of one of my fraternity brother’s fathers because he was going to be there, even under the protection of another friend who did not understand why I would be physically afraid of this person at that time.
An unexpected happening I need to share with you is this: once you are raped by someone you met within a group of people, you really can’t get back into being with that group of people. I had an entire fraternity of people who I trusted and loved and considered friends “until the end.” Until I was raped.
Once I was raped I separated myself from these people more and more. Now only one person is really a part of my life. I mentioned him in the previous posts. He was also the person who offered to protect me at the funeral, and the one who believed me. You see…once an evil takes something from you like what was taken from me…you cannot stand the thought of being around anything that reminds you of that monstrosity of a memory. You cut them off. You check out. You defend what’s left of you.
Originally, I drank to fit into this life. Finally, I drank to forget this life. Scarred. Beaten. But not fucking broken. I dated this rapist no more than 2-4 months in total. In that time, I left him but continued to drink. I mention this because I believe 100% with my heart and soul that no addict becomes an addict selfishly. Something happens to him/her that literally forces him/her to make “it” go away. You also don’t have to be an addict to abuse substances to try to numb pain or try to help you feel better.
I tried to numb and ignore this for a very long time.
A few other things happened that I feel are worth mentioning although I cannot say how they fit into the Cycle of Violence.
One was that I became so broken after dating this guy — mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually — that I had lost certain parts of myself that I used to feel okay about.
And at some point, most certainly because I had been drinking, I had convinced myself that maybe I made a mistake. Maybe he was the love of my life. Maybe I needed him back. I cannot explain this feeling adequately either. You kind of have to experience it to understand. But it makes sense if you really think about it.
This person strips you of everything, slowly but definitely, until you look to him/her for answers. I felt almost like I could not make decisions for myself and that only he could reinstate who I was.
Try to think about losing yourself that much. It’s uncomfortable to think that someone could take so much away from you to the point that you aren’t even yourself anymore. It’s even scarier to think you need to turn back to that person to help you get it back. The person who ruined you in the first place.
I used to think it made me pathetic. But I’m done with blaming myself for any of what happened to me. And I hope those of you reading this (if anyone is) won’t victim blame anymore either.
Could I have broken up with him sooner? Yes. Could I have stayed sober? Yes. Could I have asked for help? Yes. Did I deserve to be raped? No. And that is the bottom line. No matter what you think of me, or what happened to me, or the decisions I made or didn’t make, the only point that matters is that I did not deserve to be raped. And rapists should be the only ones held accountable for that action. Forever and ever, period.