I'm not good with keeping things bottled up inside me. But there is one thing I have a hard time sharing about my past - my experience with rape. In fact, up until last week, I could count on one hand the number of people who knew. I've been able to keep it in my past for quite a while, but with there being so much news coverage on rape, it's hard to keep it out of my mind. I toy with the idea of deleting my Facebook account solely because of all the articles people post on rape. I don't even have to read them to be reminded.
Half way through my first semester as a freshman in college, my roommate and I started hanging out with one of her guy friends, who happened to live in at a fraternity house. I wasn't crazy about going over there, but we would occasionally go over and play a few games of beer pong and then go home. There was one guy there I started enjoying hanging out with, but one night he started ignoring me and it made me mad to the point that I decided to walk home early because my roommate wasn't ready to go. He saw me leave and convinced me to come back. In the emotionally, partially drunk state I was in, I agreed and he led me to the attic at the fraternity. It was at that point when he tried to rape me. I had told him I didn't want to have sex with him but in his drunken state, he forced me down on him while yelling, "Is that all you got?!" Eventually he gave up and tried to ram his limp self into me. After a while my roommate found me, as she had been looking for me since I didn't answer my phone. I cried the whole way home. When we arrived back to the dorms, I just wanted to go to bed and sleep it off but as I started to strip down, I found bruises on my wrists and arms from where he held me down. I looked down at my chest as I took my shirt off and discovered I was covered in hickeys. My breasts were covered in them and they remained there for several days.
I sat naked in the communal dorm shower and cried and cried. Of the five classes I was taking during the semester, he was in three of them so I couldn't even avoid him... I didn't know what to do, who to tell, how to move forward. What would happen if I did tell someone? Would he go to jail? Would it be his story against mine? How would my parents react to all of it? How would my home community react to it? Would I even dare go back? What would people think of me? I simply didn't know what to do so I did nothing. Clearly other people at the party heard what was going on because it became a running joke when one of his "brothers" would run into me to say, "Is that all you got?" But I did nothing. I played it off like I didn't care and like it didn't hurt. They don't teach you this stuff in school.
That was eight years ago. For the most part I've been dealing just fine with keeping my story in the past until all the rape articles started popping up in the news. I followed the Jordan Johnson case for a while and still don't know how I feel about the verdict. I read the article this past October or Novemeber that the Rolling Stones magazine published about the girl who was gang raped at UVA at a fraternity and it really got me thinking about my past. It was the story coupled with a "bedtime rendezvous" with my husband where he left a hickey on my chest, something he had never done before, that sent me over the edge.
For a while after that being intimate with my husband was hard. He had known about my attempted rape, but not the details. How was he to know that an innocent hickey would do that to me? There were plenty of nights where I cried myself to sleep over it but I was too ashamed to tell him what was really going on in my mind. As I said before, I'm not good with bottling my feeling up inside me, so eventually with the help of a bottle of my favorite wine, I broke down in tears and told him why I would cry after being intimate. I cannot tell you how much better I felt to just get it off my chest.
Everyone handles trauma in different ways. For me I'm left with regret and self blame. What if I just stayed with my roommate until she was ready to leave? What if I never went at all? Why didn't I fight back? I go through rough phases where I get really depressed about it too. It's usually then that I start using other things to make me feel better. In college I smoked weed and consumed alcohol on a regular basis. I even have struggled with anorexia as a means to be able to control something in my life.
I've wanted to share this part of my story for a while. I don't want people to feel bad or have pity for me. Maybe this is God's way of making good out of evil. Perhaps some day I will be able to comfort some one who has gone through the same thing.
"Every time you remember, every time you struggle, every time you feel that your heart is breaking under the weight of what happened to you, ask Him to help you." - David Powlison