A blog article by bonniejean alford (Educator, Rape Survivor*, and World Citizen)
Let’s just jump right in to the realness of rape culture. It is a plague that exists because humans fail to respect the rights of others to say no. It is that simple. Those who make the choice to rape are exerting their power over others because they think they have a right do so.
But they don’t.
I educate about this reality because it is through talking about rape that we as a society can work toward ending rape, or at least help a survivor through the impact of the trauma. But it first comes down to recognizing that the 1 in 4 women and the 1 in 6 men that face this loss of choice likely could not have prevented the assault, even if they altered their choices, especially when it comes to date rape. For you see, someone who chooses to rape the person they are on a date with will just find someone else to satisfy their hunger for power. It is a sad reality in which some people don’t even know what rape is. They think that only a forced assault by a stranger is really a rape.
But rape is so much more than the actual act of forcing sex on another person – in fact, sex has nothing to do with it. It is stealing another person’s right to say no or yes or not sure. Even coercing someone who isn’t certain is dangerously close to becoming rape – if not actually rape. Don’t get me wrong, sex is a beautiful thing between two people who BOTH want to engage. But if one doesn’t then the other shouldn’t just take what they want.
It is my contention that the only way to prevent rape and its impact on society is to talk about it openly and honestly, while also respecting a survivor’s right to choose NOT to talk about it as well. That is what I have elected to do – to share my story and own my identity as a rape survivor. I know no shame in sharing it, as I did nothing wrong. In fact, I was a child when the act was perpetrated against me by someone I should have been able to trust. But even though the reality of that trauma remains as a part of my history, I don’t let it define my character. I use it as a catalyst to try and make the world a better place, to help others face their traumas and get through it to live healthy and happy lives.
Recently, someone I care about came to me for guidance after having been raped while on a date. I hurt for her, as I know the suffering she faces. When she asked if I would share her story anonymously so it could help others, I decided to create this blog, to educate and tell her story. What follows are HER words, left purposely raw, about how her choice was stolen:
There are so many words in which I could use to describe what just happened to me on the evening of Friday, August 19, 2016. So. Many. Damn. Words. My feelings about what happened are very messy and confused, and as a result, so are my thoughts and words. The faint-hearted are highly discouraged from reading the sentiments that are about to be discussed in this writing.
It all started out on a Tuesday evening, when I went out with a guy named Rian. Together, we enjoyed some drinks and good food while conversing about our own lives. His smile was friendly, his looks even more deceiving. After dinner, we drove around the mall until things got a little more heated and we started making out in his car. The make-out session was fun, although Rian kept pushing for more. While my hormones were raging, I knew having sex with this guy was NOT in my best interest, and I had an appointment later that evening with a friend of mine that I was not about to cancel on for this guy. As I am driving to my friend’s house, I glance down at my phone and read some lewd text messages Rian had sent me. In these texts, he relayed to me that he was “horny,” and wanted to “fuck me and choke me.” Somehow… Some fucking how… I brushed off these text messages and continued talking to this despicable creature.
Fast forward to the following Friday, I had texted Rian to see how he was doing despite not hearing much from him following that Tuesday night. I texted him in the morning, and he responded to me that evening. Small talk about our days perspired temporarily. Later on, after I had finished my shift at my job, I texted him stating that I wanted to see him, why don’t we meet up for a drink? He responded by stating that he would think about it. A few minutes later, he asks me through text message if I could come over, as he was trying to save up to buy a car. For some crazy reason, I obliged, as he “promised” me that he “would not push sex on me.” I took his word on that and headed to his place soon thereafter.
Around 9:45pm, I arrived at Rian’s place. He offered me an IPA, which I drank over time. We cuddled, watched an episode of South Park, and fumbled through movies on TV before we decided that his bed would be more comfortable. Again, I emphasized to him that I did not want sex. A few minutes later, we started kissing, and things got more sexually heated. I had removed my work pants as I felt like I was suffocating in them, and emphasized to him again not to think anything of it, as it did NOT mean I wanted to have sex with him. After making out for a bit, Rian started to finger me, which, admittedly, felt good. Really good, until I felt something much larger than his fingers inside of my body. Something that I had largely told him I did NOT want in MY body: his penis. Without even asking for my consent, Rian slipped his disgusting penis through my underwear and into MY body. MY body, of which I had made perfectly clear that I did not want him inside of. A few seconds after he had inserted himself in my body without my consent, I pushed him off of me and said that I did NOT want sex, and was not ready to have it until we were at least a few dates in, as I have endured the heartbreaking experience of having sex with guys just to never hear from them again. He responded to me by saying “but what if you do wait after a few dates to have sex with me and I don’t call you after? You never know.” And this is where I get really angry at myself, because, even after he violated my body and spoke to me like that, I stayed and hung out with him, despite the “what the fuck, dude” thoughts that were pacing through my head. I stayed for a little while longer, only to be violated a whole lot more.
A little while later, we started making out again. At this point, I was really fucking confused. He then again forced himself on me, started fingering me, and, without my consent AGAIN, entered his male anatomy inside my body. He said to me “oh come on, XXXX, I know you want it.” I responded to him by saying that NO, I did not want it at all!!! I forced him off of me a few seconds later, and was at a complete loss for words. Very anxiously, I asked him if he had came inside of me, and he said he did not. Despite not feeling his load come release itself inside of me, my nerves and anxiety were racing through the roof. A few minutes later, I said that I had to get going. I went to the restroom and put my pants back on, and as I was in the restroom, I felt in such shock regarding what had just happened to me. I was (and still am) beyond confused and not sure what to feel. I left soon after that, and told Rian that I would text him when I got home. I never texted him, and I have yet to hear anything from him.
When I got home, I went to see how my mother was doing, made small talk with her about my new job and about our days, and my feelings of anxiety, confusion, and need to tell her about this continued to increase. I also felt a pang of guilt as I had lied to her saying that I was meeting Rian out in public, and did not tell her that I was going to his place instead. As a result of this guilt and the fear I felt, I divulged to her and my father in detail everything that had happened. I cried, cried some more, and my anxiety scaled through the roof as thoughts of pregnancy and potential STDs came through my head. And I continued to cry as those thoughts came into my mind. Thoughts and extreme fears of which Rian caused but was not being affected by in any way, shape, or form.
After talking with an incredibly close family member and my best friend, I gave the rape hotline RAINN a call, and spoke with a lady named Marie, whom advised me to take the 72-hour contraceptive pill immediately and make an appointment with one of their nurses to look me over and also to join their free counseling service. Still feeling fear, shock, and confusion, I thanked Marie for her advice and hung up. I finally showered, changed, and started listening to my musical hero/rock God Bruce Springsteen. In an attempt to feel my feelings to the fullest, I listened to his music and cried more. It was really settling in to me what had just happened to me and my body. I finally took some Valium and shot into sleepy daze around 5am and slept most of the morning, getting sleep that my tired, violated body needed ever so desperately. When I woke up, I took the 72-hour pill that I never ever thought I would have to take in a MILLION years, and was questioning to myself if I was really up to going to work that Saturday evening. Realizing that I needed to get my mind off of things as well as learn my new job, I went, and did my best to leave my feelings behind. When I left, I felt both relieved as well as incredibly proud of myself for working hard for what I wanted and needed despite what had happened.
Now, I am here typing these feelings that I am still very much feeling at 2:35am on this Sunday, August 21, 2016. I am still very unsure if I want to press charges against Rian for what he did to me, as I do not want this to haunt me any more than it already has. Then again, I also do not want him to violate any other woman like he violated me. What if, God forbid, he gave me an STD, or even worse, got me pregnant?! I am 21 years young and am about to graduate college with an amazingly bright future ahead of me, and am not ready for a baby at this point in my life. The psychological warfare of having to have an abortion would haunt me for the rest of my life, and I am not sure if I would ever be emotionally okay after that. As for Rian? Again, he caused it, but is not having to deal with these thoughts and fears haunting him like they are me. I want ever so badly to be the last woman he does something like this to, but unless I press criminal charges, I know that I likely will not be his last victim that he scars.
Guys: moral of my story here is, when a girl says no… THE ANSWER IS NO!!!! Regardless of whether a girl appears to be “asking for it” or not, if she does not want you touching her in a way that makes her feel uncomfortable or does not want your dick in HER vagina, it is YOUR role as a MAN to respect her wishes and not push her or question her any further. Girls: same goes for you. While women face a far greater chance of getting raped, abused, or sexually assaulted, men have also become victims of rape and sexual violence. It is our job as a collective society to unify and express genuine support for and help victims of rape and sexual violence, so that we can prevent both men and women from feeling what I am right now.
The RAINN hotline number is 800.656.HOPE (4673). It is available 24/7 and you will be connected with someone local to your area to better assist you in finding services. For more information visit www.rainn.org.
*I say survivor because it takes back control from the perpetrator, empowering the survivor to move forward.