Editor’s note: The following might contain content that might be disturbing to some.
Five years ago, I was 18 years old and attending this tiny liberal arts school in New England. I wasn’t thrilled to be living in New England, but I was excited to try new things. I wanted to make the most of my time at this school. I had plans to get involved on campus and hopefully go on to medical school after graduation.
Sadly, my plans were derailed.
On the night of February 3, 2012, my life came crashing down around me.
There was a party that night, and as was the norm, my friends and I pre-gamed (aka drank A LOT) in my room before the party. By the time we arrived at the dorms, we were all pretty drunk. We got there around 11 and the room was packed. My roommate threw our stuff in one of the back bedrooms and handed each of us new drinks.
I was packing vodka and Gatorade, my drink of choice when I had plans to get White Girl Wasted.
I chugged some of it and started dancing.
An hour later, I felt like I was going to be sick.
I sat down, sipped my drink, and quietly observed what was happening around me. This guy I had never seen before came up to me and started asking a ton of questions. I didn’t think anything of it. I thought he was just making small talk.
I slurred out my answers, and as soon as I finished answering, he disappeared.
As he left, his friend swooped in. I don’t remember much about our conversation, but I know we made small talk and flirted back and forth. This guy cut right to the chase and told me to meet him in the bathroom.
Trying to hide my shock, I told him that wasn’t really my style.
He again asked, and I said I was flattered, but that I wouldn’t feel comfortable hooking up in someone else’s bathroom. To this, he replied, “come on, only five knocks to heaven.”
I again laughed, said no thanks, and got up to walk back to my friends. I told them about this guy and asked their advice on what I should do.
Of course, I did the opposite of what they said.
He was cute, and he wanted me, so naturally, I wanted him. I made eye contact with him, and when he cocked his head to the door, I quietly followed him out. I remember hiding behind my long hair and giggling as he led me down the stairs and out the back exit. We ended up behind the dorm, which was dark and littered with ice patches.
I remember seeing him several steps ahead of me navigating the ice like a pro. At the time, I thought my UGG boots and the alcohol were causing me to slip and slide all over the place. It wasn’t until we started hooking up I realized he was a lot soberer than he originally let on.
What started out as a fun hookup turned into one of the worst tragedies a human being can endure.
I wasn’t interested in having sex with him.
I thought, at most, we would just fool around and maybe hookup later. The first time I said no, I casually told him I was on my period and wasn’t interested.
That wouldn’t be the only time I said no that night. I said no at least eight or nine times during the nightmare that ensued, but he never listened.
He eventually finished and walked away leaving me sitting on my knees, hair a tangled mess, makeup smudged, and a mixture of tears and saliva running down my face.
I never saw him again after that night.
I recently admitted to my therapist that I wanted to die after that night. I felt like I lost everything. I lost myself and I lost the chance to have a normal, enjoyable college experience. I lost the chance to explore…to just be a normal 18-year-old.
The night of my rape, I was forced to grow up.
From then on, everything I did was about surviving and appearing not just normal, but perfect. My room was always obsessively clean, my hair was always perfect; never a hair out of place. I stopped wearing sweatpants and messy buns were never allowed, not even while I was in the gym.
I buried myself in my schoolwork pulling up my freshman Bio grade a whole letter grade.
I appeared to be the perfect student.
I only allowed myself to break when I was alone. And even then it was the bare minimum of emotion. I completely shut down. I looked perfect on the outside, but on the inside the trauma destroyed me.
Eventually, my grades began to slip and my friendships began to suffer.
I wasn’t able to cry about what happened until, I think, last year. I’m still learning how to feel safe and honestly just feel okay with myself.
Although I don’t like talking about my rape and the emotions it brings up, I’m learning to accept them for what they are. I’m coming to terms with the loss and heartbreak, and have even made major plans for my future.
I’m doing well in school, and I’m back on track to graduate.
Though my heart and soul are still a little broken, I’m starting to be okay. I’m still angry at him and I’m still furious at the school for covering up the assault. But I’m moving forward and taking back my power. It’s hard and exhausting, but I now have hope that the future will be bright.
If you or someone you know has been assaulted, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE or go online to online.rainn.org to chat online with a trained staff member.