Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Rape
Everything I remember is a swirl of images and words said unclear in their intention, but played back like a movie on a loop. One moment we were young and in love. Cuddling in the basement of my parent’s old house, binge watching Breaking Bad and sneaking in kisses. Next I was lying partly undressed in numb confusion, trying to process what had happened but also not wanting to open the can of worms that could ultimately make me lose my sanity.
I was in my first real relationship, 19 years old dating a cute, and sweet 24 year old man. He was wise beyond my years it seemed, teaching me what it’s like to be committed. A virgin, I wasn’t ready to commit my body before I was sure I committed my mind. That day taught me that sometimes you are not ready for what life throws in your path. It may not be fair, but it’s real.
I see a flashback in my mind. My skirt and underwear is being moved. “I’m not ready, we only just started dating”. “I’m not going to do anything…i just want to tease you a little bit”. In my head I find this strange, a tiny alarm bell in the distance, but I was still wholly unprepared. “Doesn’t this feel good?” As little sexual experiences I had, I still expected myself to feel comfortable. Not like I wanted to crawl into a ball of my own flesh. “It would be so easy to take your virginity right now”. Why would he say this? Was he trying to be flirtatious? Then why do I feel scared? Why is he even talking about how easy he could take my virginity? Especially when I told him I wanted to keep it? “It’s just right there. I could just-” Then it comes. A slight push and then another pulse within me.
In spite of everything he said, I never thought he’d do it. I gasped a sharp inhale of breath, my eyes wide, my heart rate sky rocketing. Seeing my panic, he is so calculatedly calm. It’s like looking into a mirror of a parallel universe. Without another breath he says “Sorry, I just pushed too hard”. Within the next moment, his pants are back on, belt done up, remote control in hand as he fast forwards through the credits. I pull myself together. Sit down beside him, and breathe. His hands won’t touch me now, his facial expression relaxed but his eyes frustrated.
How was I to consider what had just happened? I was a virgin. How am I supposed to know what is considered sex? Surely I felt what I felt but did it have to last? He said he just pushed too hard. Is that possible? Why did he push at all? I was a virgin, was I still? As soon as these questioned circled my mind I squandered them. Just watch the show. Stare straight ahead. Ignore the way your body is rigid as though your veins are steel. Ignore the way your heart is pounding in your chest, trying to tell you WAKE UP. WAKE UP.
By the end of the afternoon I had no recollection of what had happened, as astronomical as it was. That part of me that was aware of what had happened had switched off like a light switch as a means of protecting myself. I laughed with him. Kissed him. Held his hand as we walked through the park. It was as though we were living a romantic comedy. The only real reminder I had was the way uneasiness slipped through me every time he got too close.
He and I continued to date for the next 6 months. Once he stopped showing his calculated good side, his true colours replaced it and instead those six months were full of hurtful comments and idle threats. When I finally got the courage to dump him (and not take him back again), he knew it was over and with it, his act. He told me the only reason he hadn’t dumped me before I dumped him was because he was using me for sex.
Then came the immediate flashback. His breath on my face. His body exposed. My mind reeling. At this time I knew that going to the hospital for a rape kit was no longer an option as well as I felt was going to the police. Who would believe somebody was raped by someone who they actively chose to date? Someone that they not only dated but took back repeatedly? Someone who chose to have consensual sex with someone who supposedly forced them in the past? The only thing I could do was try and get through it, because there was no chance in going around the pain as I had before.
After I saw him for who he truly was, I still had instances where my rapist would drive past my apartment repeatedly, giving me the sharpest sense of anxiety, but now that I have moved places I know he has no real way of reaching me, and I am able to find calmness in knowing that. It has been two years since the assault and I have received therapy at A Safer Brock and have officially joined a support group at CARSA (Niagara Region’s sexual assault centre). Although I am still a working progress, I have come to understand why my brain reacted the way it did to the trauma and have learned not to blame myself. As time goes on I learn to forgive myself and those around me who simply do not understand. My recovery is not for them.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to go through sexual assault. There is only whatever way you can, by any means you can. *