When I was in college – at 19, I was attacked and raped at a fraternity party. I am now 48.
A lot of things happened and I was told by those that should have protected me, that it was my fault and that it was in my best interest to keep quiet – so I did.
Because I kept it quiet – I developed a lot of issues. I had an eating disorder and was in and out of therapist offices for most of my life. I was not able to maintain a healthy relationship with any man – and I was/am too overprotective with my children. When I finally decided to get help with my eating disorder the root of my problem came up. Before I could resolve the eating issue, I had to confront the attack.
I started going to therapy at the Rape Crisis Center. Once I started to talk about it, it all came back like it had just happened. It is very hard to come to terms with how I feel about everything -I feel like my life has been on hold and I don’t know which way to go anymore.
Today, while watching a show about Bill Cosby and all the women that are now coming out about their attack, someone asked me why I waited so long to say anything. It had never occurred to me that other people wouldn’t understand.
What is hard for people to understand, I think, is the shame and humiliation I felt. I believed it was my fault and never thought to question that I didn’t deserve it. I was afraid – terrified really, to say anything. Who would believe me anyway? And if I told someone my story and they didn’t believe me – I would feel even more shame and hurt. I think I believed that if I didn’t say anything that it never really happened – like it had all been a bad dream.
The funny thing is – when I started the therapy, and really faced what had happened, it felt like it was a dream. Like I had imagined the whole thing and that I was just making a big deal out of nothing. I never thought to confront it before and now, I was scared shitless.
I was in group therapy with a group of girls that actually felt the same way. Some had waited even longer than I had to come forward and deal with it – and for some it was very recent. BUT – for the first time, I actually felt like someone understood what I was feeling and what I had been dealing with for most of my life. I still feel shame and humiliation – I still feel like I am alone at times and that no one understands what happened and how I feel.
It was interesting that I came to understand that I was hanging around people that made me feel safe. Most of my friends were gay – you see, they were safe. I knew that they wouldn’t take advantage of me. I have a very hard time making friends as I have huge trust issues, so for me to tell you my story, is kind of a big deal.
I tended to not date much – as I ALWAYS ended up with people who were bad for me. People who took advantage of me and treated me like I felt like I should be treated – without respect or love.
One of the hardest things I have to deal with – is someone telling me that I shouldn’t feel the way I do, that I am being ridiculous or that I need to ‘just get over it’.
Unless you have been brutally beaten and raped – you have no idea how I feel or what I have gone through. You have no right to tell me how I should feel or act. It is none of your business. If I choose to share this information with someone, it means that I am comfortable enough with you to share my story.
With all the stories in the news lately, it is hard to not think about it. I really try not to read the stories – but sometimes, it slaps me in the face. With the Rolling Stone article coming out and all the inconsistencies that were in it, it makes it even harder for people to believe my story. Then, with all the people that are so convinced that all these girls are lying – it’s no wonder that people don’t believe a woman when she comes forward to say that she was raped.
It is very hard to come forward – it’s embarrassing, who wants to admit this happened? You feel shame and humiliation and extremely vulnerable. Why go though all of that when people are going to say that I am the problem? Apparently, the way we dress and what we were doing at the time is all anyone can think about.
When I was raped, I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. And trust me, it wasn’t sexy or provocative in any way, shape or form. I had been drinking, but not enough to make me drunk or to forget what was going on. And lord knows I wish I had had more to drink – it is something that I want to forget.
Regardless of how long it took me to come forward with my story – I have to convince myself that I was not at fault, that I didn’t do anything wrong for this to happen. That is the hard part – I still feel like I did something wrong, like I deserved for bad things to happen to me and that I shouldn’t be happy.
I’m not sure if I will always feel this way – I do know that I am working on it, and at this point, that’s the best I can do.