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.

“I have boyfriend. I have to go now,” I said quickly and almost robotically, as if I had just read a cue card. I pushed him off of me as he gave me a puppy dog sort of look that was followed with a plea to stay and “do one more piece.” I told him I was running late, that I had a deadline, that I had to feed my neighbor’s cat.

“Well, which one is it?” he asked. I did respond and he pointed toward the bathroom.

I wasn’t in the shower for more than a few minutes, when he opened the door, that conveniently didn’t lock, and offered to help scrub me. I thought for sure I was going to be sick.

I asked for a towel, got out of the shower still partially covered in paint, dressed and left.

On the way home, I called the friend in common and told her what had happened. Neither one of us used the word “rape.” It was just “sex I didn’t want,” and, as she explained, I probably just thought I didn’t want it because I was in love with Swede and the thought of being with someone else was upsetting to me. She did, however, say that he never acted like that with her before, and she was surprised that I wasn’t flattered that he was “into me.”

When we got off the phone, I cried the entire walk home in that shitty weather the artist and I had discussed earlier in the night. Outside of Swede, whom I told the next day, I never told anyone else what happened that night. In my mind, I had had sex against my will, because I was dumb enough to be naked in a stranger’s apartment. Not only did the thought of calling it rape, date or otherwise, disgust me, but it made me feel weak. It made me feel like I was wrong in how I interpreted the entire evening. I never said “no,” but I sure as hell never said, “yes,” so who did I have to blame for that night’s events? No one, but myself.

I have never shied away from sharing imitate details of my life in my writing. And as I’ve stated easily a 100 times, and probably will a 100 times more, I share the shit that happens, because someone out there is going to relate and feel less alone. I’m not doing it for some over-sharing attention, as some would suggest us bloggers do, but because I genuinely care. Chatel cares, you guys.

Since meeting Olivier, I’ve been overwhelmed by this bizarre feeling of bliss, and although it’s wonderful, it’s also forcing me to look at my past, question how things happened and accept what can’t be changed. One of things from my past that I’ve been thinking a lot about is that night in the artist’s loft; that night of unwanted sex.

Last week I told my mother about it, and it was during that conversation that the word “rape” was officially attached to what happened. It was unwanted, he didn’t have consent, and based on the position in which he had me against that wall it was forced – all of which are the very definitions of rape. She was the first person whom I had told since the weekend it happened.

The second person I told was Ashley. She expressed her concerns as to whether or not I was ready, and I assured her that I was. I told her I wanted to write about it because I love you, our awesome readers of TheGloss, so much. If just one of you can release your own denial of a similar situation, or at least feel solace in knowing you’re not alone, then good will have come of this essay.

Over the last couple days, I’ve had to inform others about the incident so they wouldn’t be shocked to read it without prior knowledge. I’ve struggled, too, with whether or not I wanted to go forward with this piece. I’m well aware that any essay like this, although likely to bring out much support, can also lead to the “she deserved it” mentality from those who have yet to clearly understand the meaning of rape. Hell, even I was that person for my own experience for a long time, but I’ve finally swallowed that pill of denial.

It doesn’t matter that I was naked; that I had had a couple of whiskies, or that he, too, was naked – these components do not mean sex is inevitable. I am not to blame for what happened, nor am I disgusting because of it either. What happened to me that night was wrong, unforgivable, and I just wish it didn’t take me so many years to understand the realities of it all.

There is no such thing as “maybe it was rape.” And while rape culture would like us to believe that lines can be fuzzy when it comes to the topic, the truth is there is nothing fuzzy about it. No consent? It’s rape. It’s that easy, and not up for debate.

Photo: PanoramaAM