“Rape isn’t really an issue for us. Thanks for calling.” Click.
Excuse me? Did I just hear you right? You, an Editor for one of the most left wing newspapers in the city just said that “rape isn’t really an issue” in your city? Pardon me while I vomit a little in my mouth. The reality is that every two and a half minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted. Take off your blinders people. These statistics are based solely on victims of assault that actually come forward and report. I was raped, I never did. I am not alone.
I knew my assailant. We worked together and socialized together frequently outside of work. At the time, I was already in a monogamous relationship, but liked this person and was open to a friendship. One night, after an evening of drinking, we headed back to my place. Exhausted and intoxicated, I fell asleep shortly after crawling into bed. My next memory is of him, on top of me and of me in and out of consciousness, unable to piece together what was happening. I don’t remember much from that night but WHAT I do remember to this day seems very surreal to me. The feelings of confusion and disbelief. Like most, I blamed myself for what had happened. If I hadn’t drank maybe it wouldn’t have happened. If I had said “no” maybe he would have stopped.
The next morning, I remember picking up the phone and calling my best friend. I needed to tell someone to try and make sense of it all. Had I just been raped? I refused to use the word “rape.” I realized it was, but I couldn’t admit it or the impact that it would have on my life. Did I perhaps consent without remembering that I did? I was not beaten, there were no bruises and yet, what was done to me was a violation. As hard as I tried, there were no excuses for what had happened. I knew in my heart that I had been raped and there was no reasoning in the world that would make what happened to me okay. I did not consent. I. Did. Not. Consent.
The popular belief amongst many people is that rapists are either hiding in the bushes or in the dark corners in parking garages and though the types of attacks do exist, they are not in the highest percentile. The National Crime Victimization Survey, 2005 estimates that almost two-thirds of all rapes were committed by someone who is known to the victim. Seventy-three percent of sexual assaults were perpetrated by non-strangers, 38 percent of perpetrators were friends or acquaintances, 28 percent were intimates and 7 percent were relatives. Males are the least likely to report a sexual assault, though it is estimated they make up 10 percent of all victims. The numbers are staggering.
I will tell you what I tell all women, men, and children who have been raped: You are not to blame. It was not your fault.
Like many survivors of rape, I spent a long time reliving the event in my mind. I have shared my story with hundreds of people over the years, many of whom were skeptical of the “acquaintance” factor while the large majority were supportive of my choice to speak out. To this day, there are only three people that know who my assailant was. I have no desire to move forward with charges and the reality is that now, it would be far too difficult to prove in my favor. This is my choice and I answer to no one for my decision.
It has been five years since I was raped. To this day, I see what happened as almost a dream, another story added to the thousands I have read over the years while working in the field. But no matter how I deal with what happened to me, one thing is for certain, I am not alone.
Today I am an Assaulted Women’s and Children Advocate. I am also a certified Rape Prevention Instructor, teaching women how to arm themselves both mentally and physically to protect themselves against rape. I believe that awareness is empowerment and that the first way to combat rape is to start talking about it and we have only just begun …