But we won’t call it Rape

This is a post meant for the Grassroots Blogger Book Marketing Campaign 2008, to generate donations for The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). You can visit the GBBMC page for all the information you need about RAINN and the campaign. More links available at the end of the post. Please donate!

I have put off participating in this Grassroots Blogger Campaign, despite my promises to Kapgar.

Because I knew it would mean writing this post.

Officially, the “rules” for this campaign only dictate that you write about sex. That’s not so hard. Hell, I’ve done that over and over again here (which I’m assuming is why IT Departments across the world hate me), but they’ve always been couched in self deprecating humor. I could have done that again, and slapped a label on the post that it was to “bring awareness to The Rape Abused and Incest National Network”.

But it would have been a lie, and an insult to what this movement is about.

How could I, in good conscience, pretend to support a cause for survivors of sexual violence if I refused to tell my own story?

I couldn’t, so I didn’t… and then Karl told his.

I think it might be time now, after all these years, for me to tell mine. At least, the parts I can stand to tell.

(I’m putting this behind the fold because it’s long. And I can’t quite stomach the idea of it being on the front page.)

I was 17 years old, and out of control. Ever since the painful heartbreak at the hands of my First Love several months back, I had been giving in to rebellion in every way I could imagine. I was drinking until I threw up or passed out nearly every weekend. I was collecting sexual conquests fast enough that I was sure eventually I would no longer regret having given that Cheating Son of A Bitch my virginity. I started smoking cigarettes before and after school and getting high on marijuana whenever the opportunity arose.

If my parents had ever known the details, they wouldn’t have recognized me. Truth be told, I barely recognized myself. I took that as a sign that my efforts were paying off.

My friends and I spent most of our nights hanging out at The House. There is always a House somewhere in small town Iowa when you’re in highschool. It’s where the guys who graduated years ago settle in when they’re not ready to grow up. They buy beer and host parties in exchange for a few more years of their youth.

Our House was occupied by five guys who had about ten false starts at college between them, a counter top cluttered with half full liquor bottles, a ridiculously expensive stereo system, and a pool table. It was the perfect safe haven for a highschool senior looking to play at being Grown Up.

It was no surprise then to find myself with my “best friend” one night at The House, listening to the radio and drinking whatever free booze had been supplied for us. We were prepared for a long night of partying. I’d told my parents I was spending the night at her hours, and her parents didn’t seem to care where she spent her nights. It was perfect.

I was standing in front of the stereo when it started. He was the biggest of The House residents – and the oldest. It was not surprising to anyone who knew him that he had played football during his short stint in college. That seemed to impress a lot of girls, but I’d always been turned off by his cro magnon brow and leering grin. Tonight was no different.

“What are you listening to?” he hissed in my ear. He’d braced himself behind me with one oversized arm on either side of me.

“The same thing you’re listening to,” I quipped, avoiding his suffocating gaze as I tried to casually slip out from under his arms.

“Why don’t you like me Britt? You’ve never like me.” It seemed he was making a great effort to appear pathetic, but it just came off as sleazy and insincere.

“It’s not that I don’t like you. Don’t be stupid.” I laughed, certain he wouldn’t hear the discomfort in my voice.

“You don’t like me as much as you like my friends.” I’m sure he thought he was being witty and suggestive, raising his eyebrows at me and giving a look that suggested we were sharing a dirty secret.

“Fuck off.”

I pushed past him, no longer concerned with appearing casual. I knew what he meant. I’d recently been “seeing” a friend of his, which meant we would leave parties together and have sex in his car before he dropped me off at home. Apparently Cro Magnon Boy assumed that this made me fair game among the rest of the Too Fucking Old To Be Dating Highschool Girls crowd.

I seethed as I pounded back another drink. How fucking dare he? I wasn’t sleeping with Brad because I was some little toy they could pass around at parties. I was sleeping with him because I wanted to. I was in control. I called the shots.

I slammed back a few more shots to reiterate the point I was making to myself.

He had no right to treat me like some kind of slut. I wasn’t doing anything different than what men were expected to do. And that certainly didn’t make them “fair game”. No one called them sluts. Oh, no. That was just “boys being boys”.

I choked back my self righteous indignation with a full on Lick, Slam, Suck tequila shot.

And the world started to spin.

I found my girlfriend and laid my head on her shoulder, willing my stomach to sit still.

“I need to go home,” I pleaded.

I remember her laughing. She never got too drunk. She was always too mature and in control to get The Spins. She told me to quit being a baby.

“No, really, I need to lie down. Like – now.

“We’re not leaving.” I noticed for the first time the other House roommate she’d been cozying up to all night. She turned to him for help with her completely ridiculous friend. “Is there some place she can lay down for a while?”

I remember being shuffled into what was clearly a Guy’s Room. There was a bed in one corner and a pile of clothes in the other. The windows were covered with blankets. All I cared about was that it was dark and quiet. The fact that the bed was low enough to allow me to keep one foot on the floor (which I swear to this day helps with bed spins) was a convenient bonus. I fell asleep quickly.

I have no idea how long I slept. What I remember is the fog I found myself in next. I seemed to be kissing someone. Or maybe someone was kissing me. Someone was touching me. I floated in and out of consciousness for what seemed like an eternity.

And then the world came back to me in a rush. It was the Cro Magnon who had pissed me off earlier. As his breath seemed to work it’s way up and down my body, I realized this must be his room, his bed I’d taken refuge in.

“What the hell are you – stop. What the fuck?”

It was as if he hadn’t heard me. I wondered if I’d spoken the words aloud, or just in my own cotton-stuffed head.

“Stop, please,” I turned my head to avoid the onslaught of his mouth.

“Shhh, you’re OK. I’m not going to hurt you,” his voice came out calm and soothing and my mind reeled.

What the hell was going on? Was I imagining this? What had I done or said before I’d fully woken up?

“No. Stop. I’m sorry, but this isn’t right. I changed my mind.”

I heard him laugh as he continued to reassure me that everything would be fine. He seemed amused that I was nervous. The weight of his body suddenly became magnified on top of my own 120 pound frame.

I thought about screaming. I could scream and he’d know I was serious. I would scream and my friends would come running in here and they would tell him to get the fuck off me and pull me to safety. If I could just scream, this would all be over right now.

But I didn’t. I didn’t scream. I didn’t make another sound. I squeezed my eyes shut and demanded the tears not to come. While he ripped my pants to my knees and did the same with his own, I didn’t say a word. I focused on trying to breath as the weight of his upper body crushed the air from my lungs.

They’ll think I’m being stupid. I’m being stupid. I’m making a big deal out of nothing. This isn’t a big deal.

Over and over the words pounded through my head as I tried to drown out the feeling of him on top of me, and then inside me.

It’s just sex, Britt. It’s just sex. It’s no big deal. You shouldn’t even be here. This is no big deal.

And before I knew it, it was over. I was finally relieved of his weight as he rolled over beside me. I stared at the wall in the silence that now filled the room. My clothes felt too small as I struggled to pull my pants up, while he breathed deeply beside me – obviously falling asleep.

“My clothes… I can’t… they don’t…”

He leaned over the edge of the bed and picked up a t-shirt and sweatpants off the floor. “Here”, he offered as he tossed them behind his back to me.

I got up and changed my clothes. I climbed back into bed, beside him. I pressed myself to the wall and begged sleep to come for me.

I’ve never told this story in its entirety before now. As I write it, I’m reminded why. My stomach churns with the vile of a major violation, but my mind reasons that the rest of me is overreacting. I’m making something out of nothing. I’m looking for an excuse to use the R word because it comes complete with its own membership card.

I am the epitome of the girl who asked for it.

I shouldn’t have been there that night. I shouldn’t have been whoring around in the months beforehand. I should have fought back. I should have screamed. He probably doesn’t remember that night as anything more than another drunken one night stand.

And still, my stomach churns.

I thought that in writing this I would be able to put this dichotomy to rest for myself. I imagined this post ending with a firm declaration on one side of the fence or the other. There have been few issues in my head (and my life) that I haven’t been able to resolve through writing it out.

But I can’t. I can’t use the R word, or the word “victim” or the word “survivor”, because that seems to do an injustice to those who have a rightful, painful claim to those words. But I can’t put the uneasiness and nausea when I think about it to rest either.

I think I’ll go back to not thinking about it.

DONATE TO RAINN HERE. When you donate, please make sure you reference “GBBMC2008,” and go ahead and include Karl’s name (Karl Erikson) and blog name (SecondHand Tryptophan) if you do. He deserves it.

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