An anonymous Survivor Story
I think it was winter but might have been fall when a friend of mine called me to say there was a party. I think it was some kind of holiday. Halloween. New Year’s Eve. I call this person a friend because I convinced myself that’s what he was. In reality, we had a complicated relationship history. I’ll call him Dave.
Dave and I had dated in High School for about six months when I cheated on him after spending senior week in Ocean City, Maryland. Dave came down to see me a few days after myself and ten of my closest girlfriends made the six-hour trip from our hometown. After promising our parents no drugs, no alcohol, and no boys for a week, we imbibed in all three within twenty-four hours.
Dave and a few of his buddies took us up on the invitation and stayed in the condo with us for a weekend. After they all left we meet a whole new group of guys, one of which was my aesthetic ideal. Curly haired and model-gorgeous. I’ll call him Phil. I decided to break up with Dave and date Phil.
It turned out that Phil was from the same county I was. So, we went on one date. He didn’t know I broke up with my serious boyfriend to date him. Phil turned out to be dumb as sand and a complete asshole. On our first date we got busted by the cops with a warning for drinking beer in a church parking lot. I decided Phil was not for me and I wanted to get back together with Dave.
I loved Dave but half the time he was the sweetest guy and the other half, he was a jack ass. I would get together with him expecting to have a good time and he would bring up some obscure event or thing I said two weeks earlier and our great night out turned into a great big fight. It was exhausting being with Dave, but like I said, I loved him.
Dave and I met at a party after the Phil drinking debacle and I told him I wanted him back. It took the entire night to convince him I was sincere, but I think he loved me too so we got back together. The fact that I cheated on him made the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde behavior worse. Now he had a really nasty memory to draw upon whenever he wanted a fight and we fought a lot. He was a year younger than me so this was going on during his senior year. He finally broke up with me in the winter claiming he wanted to ‘enjoy his last year of high school.’
I agreed that we were better off without each other and dated other people. He ended up going to college around Baltimore and I went to a different college in the same area. I decided to call him and get together when we were both back home for a holiday. We had a good time. And although, it was never said out loud between us, I saw us as friends. Somehow, just being friends kept all the fighting at bay and we could concentrate on the best part of our relationship – the perceived friendship.
We hung out all through college. I knew there was something eating at him. I knew that beneath the surface of our interactions, he was angry. At the end of every evening we spent together he wanted to sleep over and implied that we’d sleep together. I told him he had to sleep on the couch or spare bedroom or anywhere else except with me. I told myself that this was okay. That the pressure he placed on my to have sex with him was all right.
Then we went to the party. When he told me about it I was expecting something totally different than what it was. I was expecting a lot of people. Food. Drinks. Music. When we got there, it turned out to be five guys staring into space. Each of them drinking a personal alcoholic beverage out of a bag.
I sat next to Dave and shot him dirty looks. Where had he brought me? What the hell was this? I remember drinking something and the next thing I knew I was in a bedroom with my pants around my ankles and Dave laying partially on top of me and partially next to me. Dave and I fallen asleep together a lot during our relationship but never had sex. He was like an old blanket. But this was different. This was wrong.
Guys were pounding on the door. I’m not sure if they were trying to get in or they wanted Dave to come out. I didn’t know any of them. I didn’t know where I was. I knew I was in a dark smelly boy’s bedroom that wasn’t Dave’s on a twin bed with Dave on top of me. He was completely naked and drunk. My pants were down around my ankles and I was angry.
I yelled at him, “What the Hell is going on?” I was too drunk or drugged or both to make sense of any of it. “Take me home. Now.” He drove me back to my place which was a good half an hour away. I don’t remember the drive home.
What did I do with this incident? I shoved it under a rug. I had other things going on. If someone had come up to me and said. “Were you ever so drunk you blacked out and you woke up next to your ex naked?”
I would have said, “Sure, that happened to me.” Nobody said that.
Instead, many young women around me said things like, “Yea, I woke up naked in some guy’s bed. Actually, lots of times.”
Maybe I was hanging with the wrong crowd. Maybe it was the era. This took place over thirty years ago. It was the 1980s. How did I figure this out? How did this come to my attention? One of the reasons was my pelvic region. In the past thirty years, I have had three bouts of sciatica, a spastic colon, six uterine biopsies, a miscarriage, periods that were so heavy, I would be incapacitated for days, and a hysterectomy with complications that landed me back in the hospital. When I woke up in the middle of the night, I would do a meditation activity. I surrounded certain parts of my body with light and love. After meditating on my pelvic region one night I remembered the incident. Not only that incident but another one that happened about a year later.
The second incident involved a guy I met at a concert. I don’t remember his name. I remember he had brown hair and had just broken up with a woman he was engaged to for what seemed like a long time. We were both into Grateful Dead style music and followed a band called New Potato Caboose. The fiancé did not approve. I’ll call this guy Al. Al and I went out maybe twice. One time was to shove me into the face of the former fiancé who shot me dirty looks across the room for an hour. Anyway, like the time with Dave. I remember drinking publicly and then being in bed with Al. This time I was completely naked and raped.
It’s hard to write that word. Rape. A part of me wants to take responsibility. That it was consensual. It wasn’t. That’s a fact. At no point in the evening did I want to have sex with this guy. At that point in our relationship I was just getting to know him. And I didn’t know him well enough to WANT to have sex with him. Instead, this guy drugged me or at least got me so drunk that I was pliable. What I wasn’t was an active participant. He forced himself upon me without my consent. So, it was rape. Pure and simple.
At that time, I didn’t see it that way. Date rape was not a part of our cultural lexicon at the time. Instead, I told no one. I was embarrassed. I dated Al for such a short time that none of my friends even knew about him. It was in the middle of summer and most of my friends had gone home from college. I stayed at school to work. I knew Al for about two weeks total. After the rape, I never heard from him again.
I consider myself a successful woman. I have had two successful careers and reached the top of both. I have three advanced degrees. I have two amazing children of which, I am very proud. However, for the past thirty years, I have struggled in relationships with men. I have been married and divorced twice. Between both husbands, I have suffered every type of abuse imaginable, including physical, mental, verbal, emotional, and financial. If a man shows any kind of sexual interest in me early in the relationship, I immediately cut it off.
I said earlier that one of the reasons these incidents came to mind was a meditation activity I was doing. The other reason was Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. When Dr. Ford appeared before the judiciary committee to testify against Judge Kavanaugh, I couldn’t watch the hearings. All around me young women were watching and commenting. Even my fifteen-year-old daughter watched at least part of nearly ten-hour long testimony. Dr. Ford was assaulted in the 1980s and as images of her and Judge Kavanaugh as teenagers flashed on the screen from every news outlet in the nation, I saw haircuts and clothing styles that brought me back to the time of my own sexual assaults.
Around New Year’s Day, I decided to finally watch Dr. Ford’s statement during which she describes the details of the assault. I cried the entire time. It then became clear to me that I had to talk about by own history with someone. I immediately called my best friend and told him everything. Afterwards he asked if I thought these incidents affected my life, I said yes but wasn’t sure how. I have a feeling I will find out.
Thank you for having this site so I could share my story. Because of your efforts, women and men everywhere can tell their stories and these incidents won’t stay shrouded in darkness for decades.
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