Several more readers open up:
To echo the sentiments of those before me, thank you so much for continuing this discussion. It has been one year since my rape. I have made a conscious decision not to report the incident and I don’t regret that decision for a minute.
I was 100% sober and many years removed from university. It was about three weeks into a new romance with someone in the same professional field. Earlier in the evening we had engaged in consensual sex. This time, though, he stood up and said “my turn” before forcing me to perform oral sex. I violently tried to pull back but he yanked my hair so hard that each time I tried to fight him he grabbed even harder to the point where there were clumps on my sheets. Paralyzed with fear, my body went limp as he eventually finished.
I rushed to my bathroom, sat on the floor and choked down sobs in my for what felt like hours.
I got dressed and went to the movies. (A couple of days later he acknowledged and referred to it as “a lesson in understanding each other sexually.”) Despite the sexual assault – and subsequent emotional abuse and manipulation – I dated this individual for another two months while suppressing the night’s events for about six months.
After finally acknowledging the rape and emotional abuse that followed and then slowly telling my parents and my circle of friends, they kept asking the same question: “Why didn’t you press charges?”
While I know that my ordeal is not uncommon, justice doesn’t reward gray areas. I knew that if I pressed charges, it wouldn’t be my attacker on trial. It would be me: my sexual past, my relationship, my life. There are days where the anger is palpable. There’s anger at him for his attempt to strip me of my self, my strength. There’s anger at myself for feeling responsible for what happened. There’s also anger at the idea that he could do this again … rape again under the guise of a relationship.
I’ve confronted my attacker. And every day I’m regaining more of the my self-worth he stripped from me. The one thing I don’t regret is not reporting it. In not doing so, I’ve spared myself further self-doubt and humiliation that is heaped upon survivors.
I attended a party on my dorm hall and was accosted by the drunken roommate of a friend. I barely knew the guy. He grabbed me and forced his tongue in my mouth while there were a dozen or more people standing around watching. I had only just arrived at the party. I had almost zero interaction with anyone I knew and none with this guy.
I pushed him off. He grabbed me again and tried to kiss me. I pushed him away and he then tried to drag me into a nearby room. All while people – my friends some of them – were watching.
It wasn’t until I was able to push him hard enough that he fell down, and I then went to kick him, that my BFF’s boyfriend and his roommate intervened. They pulled the guy up and away from me. But only, in my opinion, because I was about to hurt the guy, not because they thought he was doing anything wrong.
He was hustled off to his room (to sleep it off as he was quite drunk) and my friends attempted to get me to laugh it off but I simply went back to my own room. Furious.
It took a while mend some of the damage done to my friendships with a few people (who to their credit did apologize later, though the males involved never did understand why I’d been angry). Granted, both incidents were years ago, but the stories that I read that are much more recent lead me to believe that not all that much has changed.
I wanted to report the guy to the Head RA of the dorm in the days that followed, but I was eventually talked out of it. My BFF pointed out – correctly – that I would be the one moved to another dorm not the guy who attacked me and where was the justice in that?
I have never been raped, but I was once lured by a stranger into a semi-private place where the man then groped me. It was awful and creepy. I blamed myself for being stupid enough to follow him. For a while after it happened, I did not want to be touched by anyone, including my husband. I know it is not as horrible as rape, but just typing about it now gives me anxiety.
One reason I was lured by this man was that I thought I could trust him because he had gotten out of a car with a current-year parking sticker for the law school I was attending. The school was quiet and small, and you could seemingly trust everyone because you seemingly knew everyone. I have to believe a big reason campus rape gets all the headlines is that campuses can seem so safe.
I was able to get away from this man before anything worse happened. Before I left I took note of the make and model of the man’s car and the number on his parking sticker. I went straight to campus police because I figured they would have the parking records to look up the man. I gave them the car description and the parking number. They showed me an array of photos, and I identified the man. They said he did not work or attend the school, but that his wife worked at the school and that other female students had complained about similar incidents from him. They immediately set to work to get a restraining order banning him from university property.
I wanted to write in to share a story of someone whose immediate reaction to an assault was to report the guy. Maybe that was the lawyer part of me at work, knowing that my memory might fade, but I have to say I am happy to have done it. Of course, I didn’t have to go through any high-profile slut-shaming, and I wasn’t raped. I realize it is different. But having the brains to collect enough information on the guy to report him is about the only thing I am proud of from that day.
Update from a reader:
Like the woman who shared her molestation story, I too was once lured to a semiprivate place by a man who groped me. I was 15 at the time, on a cruise with my family, and the man was our room steward. He pressed his tongue into my mouth, something I had never experienced before, which was terrifying and gross. I managed to get away, and told my parents, who reported the incident to the captain. My molester spent the rest of the voyage in the brig.
When we returned home, an attorney for the cruise line called to ask my father if we intended to press charges, and he said that another crew member had come forward as an alibi witness for the steward. My father answered that I had been traumatized enough, and the matter was dropped.
What we didn’t know until years later was that my younger sister – only 10 – was raped on that cruise, perhaps by the same man, perhaps by his friend and alibi witness. She and I shared a stateroom. When I found her bloody underwear, we assumed she had begun her menses and gave her sanitary supplies! (I was 11 when I had my first period, so it didn’t seem unreasonable.) What a horror show.
Happy ending: my sister and I both ended up with loving husbands and channeled our early experience into work with abused women.