When I was 17, I was raped.
I’m hesitant to even use that word because that word is culturally loaded and it brings up such specific attachments for each of us; but, if I’m going to use a word to define a particular event in my life, I would say that word is accurate.
I’m not here to throw myself a pity party; I’m not here to engage in anger about how much the world sucks and what it inflicts on all of us; and I’m not really here to make anyone believe in my perspective on the issue.
I’m here to express—there is no other agenda.
Often, when I engage people in this conversation, there are one of two responses:
1) “You were asking for it.”
2) “You most certainly were not asking for it, and don’t let anyone let you believe you were (you warrior queen, you!). “
What I’m finding is that there is a place in-between those two talking points.
(Oh, buddy, I’ve just said some stuff.)
Rape is not something that I would wish upon any living thing.
And what rape really means to me is a lack of personal autonomy: something else is making a decision for me, without my consent.
Everyone has been raped.
And I am here to say that I have definitely had a hand in what went down that night.
In the way the phrase is meant, no, I was not asking for it. I did not look someone in the face and tell them, “please violate me now in a sexual manner, that would be awesome.”
But I did throw a party at an abandoned house without the consent of adults. I did get frustrated trying to figure out which people were invited and which people were definitely not supposed to come. I did get almost immediately overwhelmed and pour myself a wine glass full of green apple vodka and down the sucker without any second thought.
And this whole time, I remember thinking how utterly cool I was—this party-throwing, rule-breaking, hot-shot badass of a high school senior.
And I don’t think any of this was wrong of me to do.
But I also don’t think that the ensuing 15 minutes spent in a walk-in closet with someone I barely knew was necessarily the wrong thing to have happened, either.
This is all simply the way it unfolded that night.
And I can have no bad thoughts about that night because that night has gotten me to this night—the night I get to write about how all of this has played out inside of me.
I’m transitioning my thoughts (not just on this issue, but on a lot of issues), so that my thinking isn’t, “what is right and what is wrong?”
Rather, my thinking is, “does this contribute to happiness in the world?”
Because let me tell you: the person who showed up to that party that night—dressed in my skin and my voice and my hair-do—was not a happy person. That person was riddled with self-esteem issues so huge and so vast they could consume the volume of three of the world’s oceans.
I was so completely disconnected from myself during that time in my life that sexual violation felt almost…appropriate. It felt like, “well, this makes sense that this would happen.”
So, I’m not here to look at the mechanics of what happens when one person says “no” and the other says “yes.” I’m here to look at the mechanics of the feelings of the people underlying those words.
Because, ultimately, my issue isn’t that I was raped. My issue is that I led a life that was disempowered to the point of me even deciding—against my better judgment—to host a party that night.
My disempowerment didn’t start when I said “no.” My disempowerment started years before, when I decided to believe that the quality of my life was not important.
The belief that I was not valuable created situations in my life that re-enforced that way of thinking.
I have absolutely no idea what belief system created a situation for someone to disregard the word “no.” And I think that’s an equally valid thing to talk about.
This is what I think: two people suffered in that closet. And I’m not talking about momentary suffering—I’m talking about two souls who had suffered and were in the middle of their suffering who happened to be in a closet together.
Life will continue to happen.
These are only my circumstances. These are only the ways I view my circumstances. And you are more than entitled to view mine, or anyone else’s circumstances, exactly the way you want to.
The way I view it is that if I’m lucky, I get to look at all of life’s shit and get excited about it and ask, “how did that get created and how am I continuing to create life in this moment?”
For me, that means getting out of the mindset that there are certain things that are wrong and certain things that are right in life.
All Life is doing is unfolding itself adjacent moment to adjacent moment. And sometimes that means shitty fucking things happen. But we get to decide how we look at all of that.
My life would not be my life without that closet.
And if that closet has contributed to the life I have now, then: yes, I was most definitely asking for it.
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Ed: Sara Crolick
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