• Fri, May 31 2013

I Didn’t Understand Date Rape Until It Happened To Me

date rapeIt was for art. A friend of a friend was working on an art project that involved nudity, paint and fabric. I wasn’t completely clear on exactly what the intention of the project was, but my friend had sent a couple other people his way and they enjoyed it. I also leapt at the opportunity to be covered in paint.

I walked into his studio and was immediately handed a Jameson which, on my empty stomach as I had been too busy to have a proper lunch that day, instantly went to my head. I felt warm and cozy, and knew that I was well on my way to being relaxed enough to drop my clothes.

We made small talk as he poured himself another: the shitty the weather, the politics of art school, and how he hated Mayor Bloomberg. After two sips of his second drink he said, “OK. Let’s get naked. I feel it helps if we’re both naked.” He then proceeded to strip down to nothing, as I stood there hesitant and shy. “Come on,” he said, “those clothes aren’t going to remove themselves.” I realized then that there wasn’t enough Jameson in the world to make me stand there stark naked with this man I had known for less than 30 minutes, but did it anyway. I did it in the name of art.

Then things got creepy.

He walked toward me and dribbled a bit of his whisky on my bare shoulder and bit it. When he noticed my reaction, he justified it as “being playful” and “loosening me up.” I wanted to go home; I didn’t sign up for some Terry Richardson type behavior. I couldn’t figure out if he was hitting on me or if this was his shtick: horny art guy who tries to nail ladies in his studio. I laughed it off. My stomach had already decided that something was not right, but my brain told me I was probably being paranoid; maybe even conceited to think that he was hitting on me, or that, perhaps, I was misreading everything.

He went to turn on some music, but “accidentally” turned on the television instead. Before the image came into focus, I could hear surround sound moaning. It was a homemade sex tape of he and a woman whom he called his “sometime fuck buddy.” His “apology” for the mix-ups was instantly followed by an inquiry of if I wanted to watch it. My facial expression must have read, “Are you fucking kidding me?”, but my voice just barely peeped out, “No, thanks.”

And so he painted the entire front of my body, and I assumed that the bizarre part of the evening had ended. He painted like a professional, or more accurately, without incident, and again, I convinced myself I was being paranoid.

Covered in paint he walked me to the fabric that hung from a roll suspended from the ceiling and explained that when I pressed my body against it, I should turn my head to the side, not move once I made contact, and he would apply a bit of pressure to my shoulders so the impression was even. I did as he said, but he did not.

Yes, he pressed my shoulders flush against the fabric, but not just with his hands; with his whole body. I was trapped with his naked body against my naked body, and could feel his erection against my back. Because my face was turned to the side he kissed my cheek and asked me how it felt. I want to cry.

“Are we almost done?” I asked.

“Yes. I just need to hold you here a little longer to make sure the paint is absorbed.”

He breathed heavily in my ear as he situated the lower part of his body so that awful erection of his was no longer just against my back, but between my legs. Just as I was about to tell him that I had a boyfriend, he inserted his penis inside me and started to thrust. I no longer wanted to cry; I wanted to die.

I zoned out. I started softly humming “Rhapsody in Blue,” as I do whenever I’m stressed, while I realized for the first time in my life I was having sex against my will. There are no words for the disgust I felt about myself in those moments. Yes, I was disgusted by him, but I was disgusted with myself more.

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  • Nancy Reid

    How aweful!

  • Keliza

    A friend of mine sent me this site many months ago and since then I have read it daily. I have been sad, happy, depressed and uplifted by many of the things covered here. This piece inspires solidarity. I’ve made so many break throughs in my therapy in the last few months that I am also finally able to say: it wasn’t my fault. So simple and yet, unreasonably difficult.

  • kaimcn

    Thanks so much for sharing such a horrible experience. It was so brave to share it. I couldn’t define the assaults against me as “rape” rape for years and years. They were “bad relationships” or “that time I had shitty sex after a friend told me he’d get me home safe”. Even after being open about it I still doubt my experience sometime.
    We’re constantly told that rape is a thing a stranger does in a dark
    alley and when we go to the police they’ll be understanding and the Bad
    Man will be caught and he’ll go away and we’ll move on. A more truthful
    version of reality would be that sexual assault has many forms and many
    perpetrators and many reactions (sometimes delayed) in survivors.
    Thanks for sharing your truth. You’re a rock star!!

  • JennyWren

    Thank you for writing this. I think the thing that came through most clearly for me reading this is how you didn’t feel able to trust or act upon your instincts or your reluctance to keep going with the “art” in question; I think this is definitely something I and many other women have felt- that we have to be “polite,” or “cool,” or that we just have to shut up and put up, and whatever we’re unhappy with will resolve itself. That “making a fuss” is infinitely worse than whatever abuse, harassment or ill treatment we’re going through. And that even your supposed friend felt perfectly comfortable undermining your reaction (what the hell does “probably just thought” you didn’t want it mean? If you think you didn’t want it, you didn’t want it) so as to make the situation just go away.
    I think this is something a lot of rapists/harassers rely on- that women have been socialized to stay quiet and that when they do speak up they’ll be painted as hysterical or vengeful or attention-seeking (because apparently drawing attention to herself is the worst thing a woman can do). I think it’s so important to hear about stories like yours, because this is the very stuff of rape culture.

    • Nicole Zillmer

      I think what also happens is that once the situation starts feeling wrong, one becomes aware that they’re with a potentially dangerous person. To start putting up a fight escalates the situation, making it even more frightening and making damage feel more inevitable.

  • anna

    god that is awful, and wrong, and sick. I am so sorry that happened to you.
    I am preemptively stressed for you because of the barrage of the “but you were naked! you were a naked woman! that means you have to have sex with me, always!” which always seems attached to these things.
    But you are strong, this touched me, and this is helping to fight rape culture. 1 story at a time, these men will begin to get that this is not ok. I have to believe that. This may not stop them, but this will stop their excuses.

    • gemma_sanji

      exactly. I am already so defensive of all the rapists who are going to be “but she didn’t say no!”
      She didn’t say YES!
      This is so similar to Jamie Peck’s story about Terry Richardson it’s eerie, and those comments made me irate.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sameurysm Samantha Escobar

      Honestly, I was nervous because there’s been a whole lot of angry victim-blaming type of comments lately, but then I saw all these awesome ones and was reminded that our readers are truly awesome.

      Also, I know I said this before, but this story is so well-written and articulate.

    • anna

      Exactly. I just cringe because I’m so afraid I’ll see how many rape excusers are out there and it scares me.

  • Jeschk

    How about teaching men not to rape? I am sick to death of people saying well you should have screamed louder or some other bs.. It’s the 21st century, men can’t get away with being piles of dung now.

  • http://SommelierinSneakers.blogspot.com/ SomminSneakers

    Amazing. Proud of you.

    • Amanda Chatel

      <3

  • kj

    Oh God, this story made my skin crawl. What a shitbag. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Jeanette

    I’m so sorry this happened to you. My words are inadequate. I want to give you hug and then go deal with this asshole. You didn’t deserve this, and I pray you find peace and healing.

  • ash

    Thank you for writing this. It sounds like such an awful situation, and it’s a comfort for me that it can take other people a long time to recognize what happened to them, too. I was in similar situations several times when I was younger, and it was the shamelessness of the perpetrator, the reactions from friends, and my general shame that kept me quiet and made me bury what I was feeling. After the 3rd time it happened, I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t even try to tell anyone. I still haven’t, really.

    These are all things I have worked through on my own and I can admit now that I was raped, but the thing that still makes me feel so sick to my stomach to this day is how I reacted when my best friend was raped. I hadn’t dealt with what happened to me yet, and I never really told her. I was still so fucked up that when she needed me I just couldn’t talk to her about it properly. I tried, but I still wanted to avoid it and I sabotaged one of the best friendships I’ve ever had. She cut me off, as she should have. It’s been 3 years and it still hurts to think about it. I think that break in myself, in how I treat people, is my biggest scar.

    Sorry to ramble, but the TL:DR version is that it’s been comforting to read a reaction to rape that was similar to mine. It makes me feel a little less crazy, so thank you.

  • Becky

    Thank you for writing and sharing this– I know it must have been so hard for you. What’s sad (and a part of why I thank you) is that there can never be enough of these essays that tell us that rape does not have fuzzy lines, that the victim should not ever be blamed– and yet we find our culture STILL doing it. The first first and foremost example that come to my mind in the Steubenville trial.

    • Beth

      I was thinking of EXACTLY the same thing. The Steubenville trial spotlighted an issue that is not a prevalent as it was say twenty years ago, but the fact that it exists at all is still horrifying.

      “She was so drunk that she couldn’t even walk under her own power, but she didn’t say ‘no’, so that means consent.”

      Ugh!

  • Nicole

    As others have already said, thank you so much for being so, so brave and sharing this. Truly, you are an amazing writer and human being.

  • jane

    thank you so much for your story. it really touched me. i had a date rape experience when I was 15 and even to this day I feel confused as if I did something wrong. it feels really good that I am not alone.

  • Patrícia Camelo

    I am so sorry this happened to you and thank you so much for writing about it.

  • Ash

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Talking about being raped is a very difficult subject as it elicits such strong reactions. When I was 21 I was nearly raped by a family member. We were hanging out after I had been out drinking with a group of my girlfriends. He offered to drive me home to save my girlfriends from having to drive in the opposite direction of their homes. I remember he started coming onto me and I felt like I was being paranoid and narcissistic for thinking my cousin (of all people) would make the moves on me. Then he became aggressive. The things he did to me and the things he said were disgusting. I managed to call for help and I was lucky enough to receive it.

    As I was going to college out of state I was fortunate enough not to have to see him unless I went home for the holidays, but I skipped every family function for nearly two years. My family started to really dislike me because I went off the grid. My female cousins decided I was elitist and that I thought I was “too good” to be around them. Really, I was just trying to heal and I didn’t know how to be around anyone linked to him. He was like my boogieman and I was terrified of him. In my mind he held all the power – the power to hurt me and the power to hurt the people I cared about.

    I started seeing a therapist who strongly urged me to tell my parents. After some time I made the difficult phone call and told them. Eventually my mom asked if she could discuss what happened with my aunt. My aunt was concerned with my behavior, but I still didn’t know how to talk about it. When my mom told me my aunt’s reaction, I wanted to vomit. She said I must have had a bad dream because her son would never do something like that. Then my mom talked to the cousin. He called me every name in the book and said I was not only lying but that I must have been hallucinating while I was drunk (because drunk girls hallucinate, right?).

    At some point I felt the need to talk to someone else about it. I told a female cousin of mine what happened. It turns out he tried to rape her too. She came forward and told my aunt. Afterwards, two more girls came forward.

    At the end of the day I spent a long time feeling dirty and disgusted with myself. For a while I was a recluse. I had night terrors and would wake up screaming for help (sorry for that college roommates!). Even after my cousin was confronted with four girls coming forward he continued to rationalize his behavior – we were drunk and “drunk girls practically ask for it”.

    Four years later I have learned a great deal. I did nothing wrong and he had no right what-so-ever to lay a finger on me. I have the power and I had it the entire time. I decided I was a survivor and not a victim and that no amount of justification from him would ever make me feel ashamed about that night again.

    To everyone who has survived sexual assault – you are not alone and you are not to blame. Do not let rape culture shame you into feeling like it was your fault. Women are conditioned to keep their emotions at bay. If you cry during a movie, you’re labeled a drama queen. If you call an ex, you’re a psycho. If you come forward after being raped, you want attention or did something to deserve it. We’re supposed to be the freest generation of women that has ever existed, yet victim blaming is paraded. Rapists rarely receive hard convictions if their cases make it to trial ( three to six months in county jail seems to be an average). Yet someone embezzles a million dollars and receives up to ten years in federal prison. The message is clear: money matters and our bodies do not.

  • Brickamee

    You are very brave for writting this. Two years ago I was sexualy abused by my boyfriend of 4 and a half years and I took me a long time to understand that it wasnt my fault. It took me lots of therapy and a lot of time to feel ok in my skin again. Reading articles like this helped me a lot and im sure you are helping a lot of people that have been through similar situations. Good luck and thank you.

  • OracleZero

    Just a clarification dear, it was not a date rape but a trap rape.. I hope you are not still friend to the one who sent you there.

    • Looby

      So glad you have come to realise that this was rape and that the dirtbag who perpetrated this crime is fully to blame. At 18 I was raped at a party (losing my virginity) and believed that it was my own fault as I chose to lie on top of a bed with a guy I fancied. I have never told anyone. I am now 51 and have had problems my whole life with sex, I find it difficult to see it as anything but my partner controlling/taking what he wants.