enjoyed the “college life” – please know that I am not claiming to be a saint. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a “party girl.”
Over the course of the night, A.T. was being extremely nice and attentive. It only took a little bit of charm and attention to win me back over and make me forget about him not insisting to walk me home. I’m not proud of that fact, but that’s all it took at that stage in my life. I liked the attention and would have loved to call him my boyfriend – ugh.
When my drink got empty, A.T. would hop up and refill it, never even asking me if I wanted him to do it. I know it sounds like by accepting those drinks I was setting myself up for what was to come only hours later, but in my 19-year-old drunken mind, I viewed A.T.’s behavior as a sign of his respect for me and a genuine interest in pursuing a relationship with me. I had been taught to “stay firm in your boundaries, and the guys will come around; they’ll end up respecting you more in the end.” To me, he had come around and was being a gentleman (I know, I know…).
When someone had taken my seat next to A.T., he motioned for me to sit on his lap. Looking back, this whole encounter I’m about to describe screams, “why didn’t you sense what was coming?!?!” I have to remember that hindsight is 20/20. But, uhhh, this part of my story really trips me up. I have been typing away non-stop up until this point, but now I feel myself come to a halt.
This next part makes me feel a hundred different things all at once. Seeing how I didn’t see all the warning signs makes me feel like an idiot. I forget just how naïve I used to be, and it’s really shocking for me to realize the extent of my former naivety. I genuinely trusted people. Trusted myself. My judgment. Even though I had typical insecurities, I still had a strong sense of self. Who was that person?!
The girl I am about to describe seems like a little kid to me. So much so that it’s embarrassing. I don’t recognize her. She was so nice and pure and honest, and I kind of hate her for being so good on the inside. Whole. Giving people the benefit of the doubt was easy for her. Seeing the good in people wasn’t something she had to consciously work on – it came naturally.
I kind of feel hatred towards this girl because perhaps had she not been so trusting, none of this would have happened. Or, had it happened anyway, maybe if she had been stronger, she wouldn’t have completely crumbled and lost herself. I say this, but even the current me can’t handle the emotions from that night. The stream of tears rolling down my face right now lets me know that even this version of myself cannot handle that night. In some ways, I’m just as stumped by what happened and how I felt afterwards, as I was when I was 19 years old.
I know that I am digressing, but it’s weird to think back to memories about yourself without even recognizing one ounce of yourself in the person you are describing. It no longer feels like I am writing a story about myself. It makes me feel really sad, confused, and vulnerable. It feels very disconcerting to be able to pinpoint a single point in my life – just a matter of a few moments, really – where I changed into a different person.
I don’t want to paint this girl as this perfect little angel who never had a bad day or did anything bad in her life, but I do want to make it clear that this girl had control of her life and she had a lot going for her. For example, just a few months prior, she was deciding between transferring to her current school or to Brown University. She had an excellent GPA and felt confident in the direction her life was heading.
However, the naïve little girl I speak of had no idea that she would wake up in the morning and have no idea who she was. Little did she know her life was going to start to fall apart. That she would be checking into the psychiatric ward in just three days. And then taking a semester off from college in just a little over a month, leaving her to contemplate how she ever attended school to begin with and whether she could ever return to college.
I sometimes think that I experienced that night in two parts – I have my rational experience and my emotional experience of that night. It’s like the two versions of my experience can’t merge. I still can’t make sense of the emotional upheaval that resulted in me as a result of that night. Rationally, it seems like I should have gotten over it ages ago. Why isn’t my “heart” capable of catching up with my mind?
Ugh, okay, I’m going to continue with my story…
So, I sat down on A.T.’s lap. Tipsy, drunken, giggling me sat down on A.T.’s lap. Googly-eyed over him, soaking up whatever non-sense he threw my way.
As I was sitting there, he told me in a hushed voice that he’d wait until we got back from Christmas break to do anything physical. I asked him to elaborate, smiling from ear to ear. This was music to my ears – my mom had been right all those years: “Stand your ground, and they’ll eventually come around. You’ll see, you’ll win them over. Just stand your ground, and they will respect you more in the end.”
I’m not exactly sure why maintaining his interest in me meant so much at that time. I had been treated very nicely by plenty of guys in the past. I knew that there were plenty of guys that would still date me despite my strict adherence to waiting until marriage, but I was still captivated by this illusion that this charming, handsome (ugh), kind of mysterious (UGH) guy, the same guy who had previously lost interest in me because of my boundaries, had started falling for me to the point that he would put up with my sexual boundaries to continue dating me.
Anyway, A.T. replied, looking me directly in the eyes, “because you are worth waiting for.” He even remarked that he would wait to kiss me. I kind of playfully rolled my eyes at that last bit of nonsense, but I was elated.
When A.T. walked me to my dorm room that night, it never crossed my mind that I had reason to worry. I was drunk, stumbling, but I still remember being happy that he was walking me to my dorm since he didn’t do it earlier in the week following the movie. I cringe thinking about this now, but I think I even teased him about previously letting me walk home by myself. His attentiveness towards me and his bullshit waiting-for-me message had me feeling pretty good about myself. Yes, my guard was down, but it wasn’t just because of that damn alcohol. I felt like he really liked me, and I actually thought he would respect my sexual boundaries.
After all, we had discussed my boundaries on several occasions (and very in depth just the week prior). Not to mention, we had talked that very night about how he wanted to prove to me that I was “worth waiting for.” He had spent the night in my dorm on several occasions so him coming back with me was no big red flag. Although I’ve read this victim-blaming argument a hundred times in relation to acquaintance rape scenarios, my allowing him into my room did not provide grounds for a potential “misunderstanding” – he had been there before, so he could never claim that by allowing him into my room, I was making some stupid gesture to lead him to believe that I had suddenly decided to throw the whole waiting-until-marriage thing out the window because of this “special” drunken opportunity to lose virginity. Why the heck would I wait as long as I had, and then decide on some drunken whim that I wanted to lose my virginity? Although I still have self-blame that runs rampant sometimes, when it comes down to it – no matter what he’s told other people or justified to himself – there is no denying that he acted selfishly that night and knowingly took what he knew had not been offered to him.
Yes, I can finally say what I felt to be true - he raped me that night. I was raped.
It didn’t matter that I had known him for years. That we had graduation pictures of the two of us together. That somewhere in my room stuffed in a drawer was a Swiss Army knife he had given me as a graduation present. It didn’t matter that on the surface, he was the kind of guy “you bring home to your parents.” None of this mattered. That night he became my rapist. The person who stole my virginity and sense of self.