I don’t know what brought me to finally write this. I don’t even know if I’ll ever have the guts to share it but there are so many people around the world experiencing sexual assault and not coming forward because of a multitude of reasons. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be the person who doesn’t use what happened to me to help someone else who might be feeling like there’s no more life to live. So here’s my story.
It was the summer of 2015, I was newly 21 and back from Thailand where I traveled to see my dad who was working there at the time. I was on Tinder for no reason other than curiosity from hearing everyone talk about it and was about to delete my account when I saw an old friend. It had been three years since we hung out and had a falling out. I swiped right and we matched. So we exchanged a conversation where he apologized for being a shitty friend and I told him it had been years and it was okay and then we decided to grab sushi downtown and catch up. I got downtown and saw him and it was kind of weird but kind of like old times. Some backstory, I was that typical only girl in the group 3 years prior and we were all inseparable for 6 months. He and the rest of my guy friends at the time always had my back and protected me. There were countless sleepovers, I was never touched and always respected. I trusted all of them. Fast forward back to meeting my old friend, the sushi place was closed. I had mentioned to him I wasn’t going to drink but we ended up at a bar downtown and of course began to drink. We laughed and talked about how life had been, how dating was going for the both of us, I asked him how my old friends were, what happened to him and his ex-girlfriend and then things started to get blurry. I lost count of how many drinks I had and I didn’t realize how drunk I was because I’d been sitting the whole time. Then he asked me if I’d ever had a pickle back shot. I said no. He ordered two. We downed them and I couldn’t even taste the shot anymore. We had five pickle back shots in 15 minutes. I messed up. He drank as much as I did but he was well over 6 ft 200 pounds and accustomed to drinking where I was a tiny 5 ft 4, 129 pounds, newly 21-year-old. When I stood up, I had tunnel vision, couldn’t really move my feet and I couldn’t get words together. So he held me up and I remember telling him the best I could that I was really drunk and could I please sober up at his apartment. He told me of course and that he actually moved in the sky rise across from the bar. I suddenly was so exhausted and I only remember glimpses of this night. Suddenly I was halfway there, then there was a security guard shaking his head, then an elevator, a dog, his bed, tv, then I blacked out.
Weirdly enough, the day after, everything was still blurry. But as time passed, I started remembering more and more. I would close my eyes and just relive a nightmare in flashes.
That night I remember trying to wake up. I remember a lot of movement. I remember being told not to fall asleep while laying on my stomach and he was behind me. I remember a lot of pain and stinging. I remember being touched and more than touched in places I didn’t like to be touched. It all stopped when I was able to sit up and he said “are you okay” and I couldn’t respond and just threw up in my hands. I don’t remember ever saying no. I don’t think I even comprehended what was happening in the moment.
I woke up when it was still dark out, submerged in cold bathtub water with towels and the shower curtain broken in the tub with me. I got out and tried to assess what happened but I was still so drunk. I looked in the mirror and saw I had pink eye probably from sleeping in water and was naked and freezing. I saw him naked on his bed and tried to be as quiet as I could as I started sobbing, I couldn’t find a towel so I grabbed my dress and purse because that’s all I could find and left soaking wet. Down the elevator, I asked the security guard at the front desk where I was and he laughed at me and I walked outside in the middle of downtown afraid and crying. I called my dad in Thailand and told him I think something happened but I wasn’t sure and my dad being uncomfortable with the situation told me I shouldn’t get drunk like that. I shouldn’t have and he was right but it happened. He told me to call a cab home but I got behind my wheel. I called my best guy friend who was sleeping and didn’t answer. Then I called my mom. I couldn’t say much. Just cry. I got home, my mom was waiting up for me with a look of horror. I’ll never forget that look. I took a shower to wash off the night but I could never scrub deep enough. I was sore, I was stinging and I was bleeding from everywhere.
The next morning he texted me and said: “are u okay?” I said, “I’m home but I don’t remember what happened” And he said, “lol I don’t remember, we had like 5 pickle back shots in 15 minutes.” And I said “should I get checked?” And he said “WOW. If we did have sex I would’ve used a condom.” But if he was so drunk and didn’t remember what happened between us, how would he have remembered to do that? After this went down, I didn’t know what to do. He was my friend in the past. Did I pursue him while I was drunk? Was he as drunk as I was? Was it sexual assault? Why didn’t he let me sleep? Why didn’t he protect me? We had never been intimate or even kissed before, I had never given him permission sober, so why did he take advantage of me when I was drunk? I didn’t see a doctor until way later, I was in complete denial. I had heard so many stories about girls being taken advantage of when drunk. I was the girl that used to say “they probably just felt regret and called it rape.” I was the girl that said, “there’s no such thing as being so blackout that you don’t know what you’re doing.” Now here I was, eating my words. I was terrified and confused and mad at myself. So I decided to settle with self-blame. I told my mom, my dad and my close friends that I made a stupid drunk decision. The truth is he was popular, rich, well-liked and I was submissive. I didn’t want to confront him and he denies everything. I started keeping my head low and didn’t heal for months, I never really did, I just lived with it. I ran into him a few times awkwardly and acted like I was fine because I didn’t know what else to do. It’s the craziest thing, how your mind makes excuses out of fear and you end up doing absolutely nothing.
Almost a year later, I was at a bar with people I love dearly. He was there too and I hadn’t seen him in a long time. He called me over and my heart dropped. He smiled real big while holding a beer, almost testing the waters of where we stood. He introduced me to his girlfriend and in a daze, I went with it. I was powerless. Someone I love very much as we were leaving put two and two together and darted back to where “he” was surrounded by probably 15 of his friends and his girlfriend. I was petrified. I figured he would make me look like a liar, deny the accusations or worse say that I wanted him. I ran back to join them and this person close to me told “him,” “I don’t want you to look at her, talk to her or think about her ever again. I know what you did to her.” And he said in response “what does it have to do with you?”
I got more in that moment than many sexual assault victims will get their entire lives. I got verbal confirmation that he knows what he did. For me, that was enough. I consider myself very lucky. I told myself many things to heal from this- like at least he wasn’t a stranger. At least, I wasn’t dragged down an alleyway and raped and left for dead. At least it happened when I was older and not younger. At least I was strong enough to move forward. I looked at the experience as a blessing because most girls are not as lucky as me. I know your stories are more painful than I can imagine. I also know that someone else’s assault shouldn’t discredit yours. Violation is violation. It leaves us all broken. I am aware that this wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t drink but at the same time, I also understand that I didn’t deserve this to happen to me. He was supposed to be my friend.
Any men reading this, if she’s not sober and continuously checks in while you’re being intimate with her saying that this is okay and she’s comfortable, it’s assault. It should not be a thought to have sex with a girl who can barely walk or speak. It’s never worth it. Please protect our girls because it could be your daughter one day that is writing this story.
For my rape and assault victims male and female, I want you to know that you’re not alone. I want you to know that you should speak out if this happens to you without fear of what your assailant or his peers might say. Bring in the people you trust and open a conversation so they can assist you in finding the help you need. It doesn’t mean you need to dart to court if you’re not ready for that but you should arm yourself with a medical examination if there ever is a day you’re ready to fight. I want you to know there’s life beyond the shame you feel and there are people who need you to be their voice. I want you to know that the court of law might not deem your assault “rape,” they might just say that there are simply too many factors to call it that but that doesn’t discredit what your heart feels and what you know. So, anyone who reads this or anyone’s story, I hope you spread love and save your politics for an appropriate moment.
I promise to spend my life making this world a safer place for women and girls and to empower men to hold their male counterparts accountable. We can not create change if we don’t all change together.
Remember, you are strong, you are loved and you are alive. God has a plan for you, you have a purpose and that alone is the greatest reason you’ll ever need to move forward.