As I laid naked on my stomach, still on his bed, he brought over a towel so I could clean myself off.
My body was trembling and I had a hard time standing up. I could feel how swollen my eyes were from crying. I pushed my face against his pillow, trying my best to use the fabric to soak up the tears that had run down my face.
I wanted no evidence that I had just been forced to have sex against my will.
He told me he had somewhere that he needed to be and that I needed to hurry up and put my clothes back on. I bent down and picked up my favorite pair of blue jean shorts from off the ground.
In that moment, I recalled how only hours before I was asking my roommate if they looked good with the new top I had bought earlier that afternoon. I was so excited and giddy with nerves. It was a first date. I wanted to leave a lasting impression.
And then I saw him putting his clothes back on, and realized that he had probably spent no more than five minutes getting ready to meet me. And, why would he?
Because in that moment, he sealed the fact of what I had always felt, but never said out loud: I am not good enough.
If you’re wondering if I had anything to drink that night, or if I was under the influence of drugs while on the date, the answer is no. I feel this is something I need to clarify, since it is something police and detectives would ask me repeatedly in the aftermath that followed. In fact, I remember telling one officer that women who get raped when they are drunk are the lucky ones, because, when you’re sober, you have to remember every single detail—nothing is blurred.
I did not got to the cops until the next day. I can’t give you a good reason why I didn’t go that night. I wish that I had. Because then I would not have showered off the pieces of myself that were stained with him and could have been used as evidence in my case.
I’m 27 years old, and definitely not a virgin, but the night of my rape was the true loss of my innocence.
The morning after the assault, I called my gynecologist and casually explained to him that I had been forced to have sex on a date and that he did not wear a condom. I kept my cool about it. I didn’t want to be pitied or looked at differently.
When he spoke to me, he sounded as if he was apologizing on behalf of all men. He then directed me to the nearest hospital where a nurse would be waiting to give me a rape exam. And at that moment, it was the first time since the attack that someone had used the word rape. Something about hearing the actual word said out loud made my whole body feel like it was paralyzed.
My phone was blowing up with text messages and calls from my mom all day. We talk on the phone every morning. She knew when I wasn’t responding that something was wrong. So I texted her and said that something very bad had happened.
And, like most mothers with their innate sense of psychic capabilities when it comes to their children, she asked, “Were you date raped?” I simply responded with a “yes.”
I don’t want to bore you with the finite details of that six-hour exam. But I will tell you that having pictures of your private parts taken up close with your legs spread wide apart really makes you never want to take another picture again.
Weeks went by and I could feel myself fading. My life quickly became a series of pamphlets and support groups. No one in my immediate circle of friends or family could relate to what I had been through.
I quickly alienated myself from everyone. And even after this horrible event, I was still concerned with what guys thought about me. All I could think was how I would forever be alone because no guy would want to date a girl who had been raped. I thought about ex-boyfriends, countless dates that led to nowhere, and I realized that no knight on a white horse was ever coming to save me.
And then, to add gasoline to a house on fire, I cried when my rapist never called me again. He also proceeded to delete me from all forms of social media. He had his way with me and was over it. I sunk even lower.
Before this attack, I would have read the above statement and thought the person saying that was pathetic. I would have thought they needed to toughen up and move on with life. But that’s the thing about rape: Until it happens to you, you’ve got no clue about it.
I started to become obsessed with needing to know everything about my attacker. I would spend hours online trying to find out every detail about him. I know that’s not healthy, but I needed to know him because he had forever changed me. And in doing this, I found out that he had a prior arrest. I was not the first girl he had done this to, and I would not be the last. Something inside me switched and I decided to cooperate with the detectives to bring this son of a b*tch down.
After hearing so many stories from my support groups, it had become evident to me that when women say they’ve been raped no one really believes them. Most of these women are from lower income neighborhoods or have a childhood so tragic that I almost felt guilty about my one-time rape.
I get treated better than these women do (and, by the way, that’s not saying much) because I’m a white female, have long, pretty hair, and I am from an upper middle class family. I’m “believable” to a district attorney, and that part almost makes me feel the worst. I get a voice because I look good to a jury.
And yet, these women don’t hate me for it, even when I have told them that they should. But they have shown me that we are stronger when we stand together. So, for them, I will fight this to the end.
I still have not had my court date set. I’m sure many people would advise against writing this article before I have had a jury hear my story. But screw that. I don’t need a judge to tell me who is guilty and who isn’t. I know what happened that night. I am the judge and jury of my own story.
I know that I have a long road ahead of me. The healing does not come overnight. I am angry most days.
And on the days when I am not mad, I cry for the loss of who I was.
But life keeps on moving, even when you don’t. So, I have two choices: Do nothing or do something.
I choose something.
I did not get to decide what my attacker did with my body, but I can decide where I go from here. And it’s okay if I don’t know exactly where that place is yet. But I know, just like Maya Angelou taught me: Still, I rise.
Author: Kristina Antuna
Editor: Leah Sugerman
Supervising Editor 1: Nicole Cameron