Alcohol, Horror and Hindsight: An Interview With a Rape Survivor
I don’t care how much you drank. I don’t care what you were wearing. I don’t care if you were horny and in the wrong place at the wrong time, nothing you did or wore or said or even felt (ANY OF YOU) was worthy of rape.
Perhaps the sickest act known to humanity, rape is something we still find it difficult to discuss, though it has existed since the inception of humanity. So right now, before anything, know that and believe that. Rape summons guilt which leads to a slew of other issues that one does not deserve to be burdened with. It is a sick act of power done by weaklings, pussies who hide in shadows in packs, with pacts.
While I have written a few pieces that may have come across as ‘anti-female’ that is not me and not a title I am comfortable to wear, I thought “fuck that noise” this month and didn’t want to convey an inaccurate image of myself or how I feel about the stronger gender so I thought maybe I could help the female gender slightly this month instead of hurling accusations and venom. In the end, I sat down with a close female friend and I interviewed her about an instance of sexual assault.
Perhaps pulling all this hindsight and knowledge together and figuring out some of the warning signs and places and people to avoid, maybe she can help others. Me? This has little to do with me other than I am just lucky enough to be a voice for her right now.
Obviously no names will be given here out of respect for the privacy of the parties involved. I would also like to extend a genuine thank you to women who helped me with this piece and especially, the one who did the interview. A very strong women her whole life, she will make a great mouthpiece many will relate to. Also, thank you to other survivors of such horrors. I thank them for being so brave and sharing these insights in hopes to help others avoid similar circumstances.
Parts of this will be hard to read, as it should be, for such a damning subject.
Rem: I am sorry to make you talk about this, but to inform is to keep others from befalling something similar so thank you for your bravery
So to start, tell me about the context for the assault. How old were you, what environment you were in that led to it?
I was 19 or 20, so 1989-1990. I was living in Southern California, going to Jr. College, and working retail. My best friend and I shared a rental room in some lady’s house. (I think she was a friend of my best friends parents)
Her boyfriend and his friend had rented a motel room and bought some soda and a gallon of grocery store brand rum. It was a long time ago, but I think the plan was just to hang out and get drunk, because we weren’t allowed to drink at the lady’s house.
Rem: Did you know your attacker, and if so, how was that handled afterwards.
I had never met him before. I think his name was Tim, or Ted…something like that. I know that I wasn’t flirting with him at all; I didn’t know him and I didn’t find him attractive.
The next morning, I was hungover like crazy and had to haul my butt to work. I snorted some No-Doz, brushed my teeth with my finger, told my friend I’d see her later, and jetted. I think later the guy had asked his friend if we could all hang out again and I was like, “not interested”.
Rem: At what moment did you realize that IT happened?
At some point I went into the bathroom to vomit. Everything was spinning and askew and I knew something was off. It was quite terrifying, actually. Then I sort of passed out on the tile. I remember my friend’s boyfriend laughing that he had to pee in the closet because I wouldn’t leave the bathroom. Eventually, the guy came in and turned on the shower. He undressed me, got me in the shower, and started doing his thing.
I knew we were having sex. I don’t remember if I said no, but I know that if I had been sober (or even less drunk) I would have told him to get the fuck off me. I didn’t say “yes”, because I was too drunk to talk.
(Author’s note, that IS rape. No one is to ever take advantage of someone who has lost control or is under the influence that deeply.)
However, I didn’t realized it was RAPE, until maybe three or four years ago. I’d been reading articles at Jezebel.com as well as the comments (and wow, some of the commenters are out there, but most seem nice). I don’t remember the specific article/comment, but something clicked inside my brain. I realized that hey, that night I had dismissed as bad sex with a guy I didn’t like, was actually me being raped by some asshole who waited until I was too drunk to talk or move before putting a move on me.
Rem: That makes me sick to my stomach to hear, but I know enough to know me saying sorry will do little to ease that pain, but I am sorry, genuinely.
Now tell me a bit about the stage most men won’t understand. What were the thoughts after, and be honest!? Was there any part of you mad at yourself (nothing you did deserved this but I have heard guilt factors in quite heavily)?
Honestly, I didn’t feel mad or guilty (although I still can’t even smell rum without wanting to puke). My friend was so mad at her boyfriend for not stopping his friend that she broke up with him. For the longest time I just considered it a night of bad unwanted sex. When he asked about seeing me again, I told his friend “never”, and that was it. I went on with my life.
Once I finally realized it was rape, I was pissed at the guy all over again (Seriously, Tim/Ted/whatever, go die) but mostly because he was back taking up space in my brain.
Rem: Not an uncommon story at all, sad to say. Predators dressed like humans have existed since the dawn of time. Sorry to keep digging, but at any point after, did you seek either counseling or revenge, and if so, to what extent? You are anonymous and I am a journalist who doesn’t have to give up sources, so be as honest as you like.
I didn’t, because by the time I realized I had been raped, it was 20 years later on the other side of the country. I had some brief fantasies about that being the last intercourse he ever had in his life, but mostly, that jackoff is back in a damp moldy box in the sub-cellar of my mind.
Rem: Very strong visual and very nicely put. I know you well enough to know you are a parent now. Has your own assault affected the way you raise your children any differently?
My son is only 8, so we haven’t had any direct conversations about sex. What we have discussed is the concept of consent. That you don’t put your hands on people without asking, you don’t hug people without first asking if it’s okay. Eventually that conversation will turn to more intimate interactions and the absolute imperative of enthusiastic consent. There is a great video that has been on the internet for a bit called “Tea and Consent”. I want my son to grow up to be the same respectful, courteous young man that he is as a child. I want him to understand that sex isn’t some dirty, secretive thing that you have to trick or coerce people into doing. To understand that sex is fun, and funny, and best with someone with whom you share a mutual respect and enthusiasm.
Rem: As the truest definition of a survivor, what do you think is the biggest contributor to rape in this country (if there can be such a thing)?
I think one of the biggest contributors to rape is the frequency with which it is dismissed. It seems as if a lot of people only view rape as a stranger attacking you and beating you into submission before the act. And even then, the victim/survivor is questioned…what were you wearing? why were you there? were you drunk/on drugs? did you lead the rapist on? I feel like a lot of people don’t think date rape is even a thing.
There seems to be a pervasive attitude that women (and I know that men are raped and date raped as well, but this is my story from my life) are conniving whores out to ruin the lives of men. That we aren’t to be trusted or believed because we will fling out accusations of rape because of boredom, or jealousy, or spite.
And because of this dismissiveness and lack of trust, it is all too easy for men to say oh, I didn’t rape her, it was just ___________________. And that is what I think is the biggest contributor to rape.
Rem: I have always stated that we not only need to teach women about sex positivity, but young men clearly NEED to be educated and re-educated so as to know what is right or wrong. I know rape is not gender specific, but teaching young men to do right would also nip this problem in the bud. Glad you have a child you can imbue with that. I can only assume an encounter like that alters how you interact with the opposite sex quite a bit. Is that fair to say?
I stayed in larger groups if I was going to be drinking. I also picked up a boyfriend so it would be known that I was “off-limits”. I think part of the reason it didn’t overtly affect my interactions was because even though this was date rape, the guy was a stranger to me. I was still able to think that my male friends wouldn’t do anything like that to me.
Rem: Good, I am grateful it did not sully all of mankind for you. Pardon if this question is too forward, and sorry if it is tough , but how do you face intimacy and see it as a healthy thing after something like that? In other words, as direct as this may be, how long was the gap between your assault and the next time you had consensual sex?
I don’t recall an exact length of time, but it was most likely within a month. I started a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship with this boy I liked so that people would know I was with someone and not try to set me up with strangers.
Rem: Smart move. They say you never fully heal, but you (and many others I know who have endured the same thing) seem to be some of the strongest people I know, so the question here is, HOW did you heal?
I’m not sure how I would have healed if this guy had actually been someone I knew and liked. I have so much love and respect for those who have moved past such a tremendous betrayal. I dismissed the guy as an asshole and pushed him out of my thoughts.
I figure everything that has happened in my life has led me to where I am right now; even though I suffer from depression, overall I’m happy with my son and my life.
Rem: Well that takes true bravery to share, as does all of this, so know as we round the final turn, you will save some souls with this, and a preemptive thank you needs to be said on their behalf now.
And on one final note, what advice would you give to young woman now that we have Trump as president and he thinks grabbing women “by the pussy” is okay? How do you protect a whole gender when the world seems to be getting more and more sexually aggressive, angry, and perverse?
I would advise them to stay strong. Don’t allow your voices to be silenced. Don’t allow his behavior to be normalized. Only 25% of America voted that cretin into office. I know that 25% is so loud and aggressive that they seem overwhelming, but stand up for yourselves and others. Resist the enemy (don’t forget, Trump, Bannon, and their neo-fascist followers are indeed the enemy), and speak against injustices not only to yourselves, but to others this regime is attempting to oppress. Remember that over 3 million people across 7 continents marched for women on January 21st, and that is a step in the right direction, finally.
Rem: Amen to that and thank you. A great many of us have your backs, believe it or not. We are not all monsters, and maybe when we meet halfway we can crush this epidemic.
Amen to THAT, actually.
Featured image by William J Serson via Flickr.
Editor’s note: Reminder that the woman in this interview is anonymous, and is not the woman in the photo.