I can’t remember what month it was. I could probably only tell you a vague description of the pajamas I was wearing. I haven’t a clue which jacket I eventually threw on as I ran out of the front door. I can’t remember if my hair was haphazardly thrown up or if it was down. I wouldn’t be able to give a clear description of the events that led up to it or any of the details during it. I do know I had on socks because I walked home with only them on my feet. I can clearly remember which cd was on and which song was playing. I do know it happened. I also finally understand it wasn’t due to anything I did.
I always knew I was a lame kid. I didn’t drink (had my first one at 18; much older than most I know) and I can’t stand the smell of smoke. I preferred staying in, listening to music and watching movies. I’m not saying I was an angel, but I didn’t really ever give my parents any reason to worry.
But if I had done any of that, it wouldn’t have mattered. What occurred that night should have never happened. My story is not uncommon though. In fact, almost every single woman/girl I know has a similar one.
Dear readers, I’m going to assume you know that I was attacked by someone.
Did I report it? No.
Did I tell anyone? I told less than 5 people and only 2 of those knew right away. I’ve since, in the past year, been able to speak about this a little more.
Was it long ago? It happened about 24 years ago.
Why am I talking it about now? Because I’m now getting comfortable enough to admit it even though I still feel ashamed that it happened at all.
I was in 10th grade; sleeping over a friend’s house while her parents were gone. There were a few of us including an older member of the opposite sex. Some may say it was stupid of me to sleep over a house with no parents in mixed company and, at the time, I did blame myself for that very reason. As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve learned that this still does not put the blame on me. It’s on him; all of it.
Back to my story, I changed for bed; I think I remember flannel like pajama pants and a baggy T shirt, but I don’t know if I remember those particular pajamas because that’s what I always slept in at that age or if I’m completely wrong. Again, not that any of that matters. It never matters. I don’t care if I was naked. If I don’t give you permission to put your hands on me then don’t. I don’t go around randomly touching people! It’s not that difficult.
I was going to sleep on the pull-out couch. Back in the day, I needed to have music on to sleep. It was a requirement for me or my brain would go all night. That night, I chose a cd by Jodeci and put it on repeat. Two friends, 1 male and 1 female crawled into that bed with me. I don’t remember feeling like we were crowded in so it must have been pretty spacious.
However, I remember being uncomfortable that a boy was sleeping in the middle of us, but I let it go. I knew him. We had been hanging out for a year, at least, and he was my friend’s boyfriend. I figured I was being my usual anxious self so I ignored what I now know were my natural instincts. I didn’t want to make a big deal about it and look like an idiot to my friends. No one wants to be the difficult, dorky friend in high school. This, right here my friends, would go under things you later regret in life. I’ve learned to not care if I look like a geek now. If I’m uncomfortable, you’re going to know, loud and clear!
I turned away from him, onto my side, so I was facing the wall and went to sleep. I can’t recall what time I was woken up. I do know “Come and Talk to me” by Jodeci was playing softly on the stereo; it was all I could focus on. I was frozen with fear. The boy next to me was all over me. His whole body was pushed up against me, a leg over my hips. His arms around me, holding me so I couldn’t move, yet they still managed to be everywhere. Shortly after I woke up, he turned me onto my back and moved on top of me; grinding his whole body on mine. I felt trapped. I was trapped. Pressure from his hands, limbs, whole body were bearing down on me. I’m getting nauseous just writing this; reliving being violated by someone brings it all right back to the surface. When I felt my clothes being moved, something in me kicked into gear. I started to fight more. I started to cry. I told him to stop.
I don’t want to go into details on this part and honestly, everything about this incident is foggy. I don’t know if it’s because I was woken from a dead sleep or if I just blocked it out, but it happened. I was petrified. I will tell you all I could truly focus on was that damn Jodeci song and the noises he was making. I can still hear his grunts and those fucking slurping noises from him trying to kiss me.
I somehow got up and ran to the front door. I grabbed my coat, house keys and left. I walked home as the morning was dawning. I was never a fan of that walk especially when I was alone, but alone in the street was safer than where I had just been.
When I got home, I walked by my mother’s room, only opening her door slightly so I could hide behind it. I let her know I had decided to come home. She asked if everything was ok and I lied to her. I told her I just wanted to come home because I wasn’t feeling well. She didn’t ask anymore questions because that was my deal with my parents. They trusted me. I was always the kid who did the right thing. She told me I should have called her. Even though she didn’t drive, she would have woken up my brother. I apologized for walking home alone and said I just wanted some sleep. She let it go.
I remember my feet were freezing. It wasn’t overly cold out, but I walked for a mile with only socks on my feet. My shoes were not near the front door and I was so overwhelmed with fear that I could only focus on getting out. Once I got past my mother at home, I went straight to my room and shut the door. I changed into new pajamas, warmer socks and crawled into my bed. I didn’t cry right away. I think that came a few hours later. My comfort that morning came from Rocky, a stuffed Ewok my parents bought me when I was 6 (for any “Star Wars” fans out there, yes, I changed the name of said Ewok). I knew he couldn’t tell a soul so he got to hang onto all my sadness.
My mom questioned me one more time the next day. I’m almost positive I told her someone made me uncomfortable, but I didn’t give her details. Uncomfortable? Really? I felt horrid. I felt so dirty and used. Would I be considered a slut now? Would I lose my friends? What would they say about me if they knew? I was scared. I was taking all the blame onto myself. I knew better than to sleep next to a boy; I was a smart girl and I was totally aware of what could happen. I was a worried about everything at that age, so I didn’t take many risks; I felt foolish for taking this one. I was disappointed in myself. I hated myself in that moment.
If only I could go back and tell my teenage self to not hold onto that guilt.
I don’t know what would have happened that night had I not been able to get out. I don’t know if it would have been just this or if I would have been raped. I don’t know if my friend would have woken up and stopped it. I don’t know if she was aware of what was going on and was just as frozen in fear as me. I don’t know if she ignored it because it was her boyfriend.
There are so many unanswered questions and honestly, I don’t even care about those anymore. He’s the only one who should feel any shame in this situation.
I said no. I fought. I got away. Simple story, yet, here I am cringing while writing this.
I still don’t truly know how to put this night or my feelings about it into words. I’m embarrassed that it happened. It makes me feel like there must be something wrong with me which is the stupidest reaction ever. If a woman came to me to tell me her story, I would flat out tell her she’s not at fault. There is no blame on her. Why is it so difficult for me to accept this about myself? I can be my own worst enemy. I guess, I still have some things to come term with, like forgiving myself for feeling any guilt.
I don’t have to shoulder that burden any longer.
This story will be a shock to some who know me. I expect some may attack me and tell me I’m jumping on the #MeToo band wagon. All I can say, is that it takes courage to live through this and even more to talk about it. My courage came from, not only being angry that I stayed silent for so long, but also in the power I felt watching others come forward with their own stories. At this point in my life, I don’t really care anymore if you have something negative to say about me. Those words will never be worse than what I’ve already survived.
Say whatever you want about me, but please, don’t make me listen to Jodeci ever again. I’m strong, but I’ll never be that strong.