6. How did that make you feel then and how do you feel now?
- Then: During the immediate aftermath, I felt mainly confused, out of place, dissociated, and hyper. After it had sunk in a bit, I felt a hundred things at once. I felt betrayed, and I continued to feel confused. I felt really vulnerable and exposed, unsafe and nervous. I felt like a bad person and an idiot. I felt dirty, tainted, and embarrassed/ashamed. I felt nervous energy like I had never experienced. I felt like the rug had been snatched from beneath me, and I was holding myself by a string and that I could float away at any second and there would be nothing left of me. I felt like I no longer knew who I was. I felt like I couldn’t trust others, not even myself. I felt very empty. I felt like a failure and that my thoughts and feelings no longer mattered, and it became really hard to establish separation between others and myself. I felt like a means to an end – a doormat.
- I felt inferior to others sometimes just for being a woman. Almost like being a woman was a curse. Sometimes I despised being a woman and sexuality in general. It made me want to like girls because I was repulsed by testosterone. For a while, whenever I felt sexually attracted to a guy, I felt disgusted and repulsed by myself, which in turn, made me more repulsed by testosterone. In the matter of just a few minutes, I went from perceiving sex as something meaningful and special to a way for men to exert control over women. I tried to hold on to my previous view of sex as a sacred connection between two people, but it was hard to view sex in a positive light. All of the meaning that was once attached to it had been stripped away, and it was difficult to view it as anything more than a physical act. Because I never consented to sex with A.T., I tried to convince myself that I was still a virgin; however, I no longer felt like a virgin (honestly, I felt like more like a whore).
- Something that I felt almost immediately following that night was sense of being out of control (which added to my feelings of nervousness). When I returned to school following my leave of absence, I continued to drink heavily. Even if I had no intention of drinking, I would wind up drinking a lot. I was never drunk to the extent that I didn’t know what was happening like the night my assault occurred; however, I continued to put myself in similar unsafe situations. I’m not sure why I did this because it made me really unhappy and anxious. It felt kind of like I was trying to prove something to myself, but I’m not sure what. If a guy appeared like he anticipated we were going to have sex (or in some cases, just randomly), I would burst into tears and start shaking. These weren’t guys who were necessarily trying to take advantage of me, but in a matter of seconds, I would feel extremely scared and vulnerable. I even had one guy ask me if I had been raped. I was crying and shaking, saying I have to get out of here. The guy was alarmed and tried to give me money for a cab. For whatever reason, his gesture intensified my feelings of being weak and vulnerable. I almost felt as though he were treating me like a prostitute, but looking back, his gesture was one of concern. Luckily, despite my irresponsible behavior and changed perspective on sex, the only other penis besides that of #$@^*&@ A.T. to have ever entered my body is that of my husband.
- Now: In some ways, the answer to this question changes on a daily (or even hourly) basis. Mainly, I now feel ridiculous for still being upset by what happened. In some ways, I regret postponing sex because waiting turned out to a waste. I had turned down the opportunity to have meaningful sex in a previous serious relationship, and waiting seemed pointless after the assault occurred. I still feel confused because I don’t know how to label my experience. I also have so many questions. A question I ask myself frequently is, so the whole waiting-until-marriage thing didn’t work out, so what’s the big deal? I feel so consumed by the past, and I don’t really understand why.
- I still feel violated and dirty, inferior (particularly in relation to men) and anxious. I also sometimes feel like I need to escape myself. I feel so uncomfortable in my skin. Almost like it doesn’t belong to me. I get waves of such extreme self-hatred that I literally can’t stand to be alone with myself (but also during these times being around people is extremely difficult). I continuously feel like a bad person, but I can rationally see that I am not. Though you would think that rationalizing would be a good thing, sometimes it amplifies my tendency towards self-criticism for not having gotten over this and feelings of weakness.
- I guess it depends on whether “painful” refers to physical or emotional pain. Physically speaking, the most painful thing he did to me that I can remember is he inserted multiple fingers into my vagina and rectum. His hands and that area must have been really dry because it was very uncomfortable. I can’t say with certainty, but I think he was twisting his fingers while inserting and removing them. The pain (and/or my level of intoxication) made it difficult to figure out exactly where the pain was originating, causing me to lift my head to decipher what he was doing. The speed and roughness of his hand movement was noticeable to me even in my drunken state.
- Emotionally speaking, the most painful thing he did to me was to exchange my desire to wait until marriage for a few moments of his pleasure, causing me years of emotional pain.
8. How did that make you feel then, and how do you feel now?
- Then: I was very drunk, but I remember feeling agitated and confused by what he was doing with his hands. I couldn’t localize the pain so I also felt somewhat curious, which is why I lifted my head to look. When he inserted his penis into me, I could not see what was happening. Because I did not know what had happened at that moment, my feelings were not specific to that particular experience. I remember thinking that it seemed like he had finally taken a clue (and by “clue,” I mean finally listening to my desire for him to stop being so rough and my complaints that what he was doing didn’t feel good) because for whatever reason, this act did not cause me as much physical pain as what he was doing with his hands.
- Now: Simply stated, the two acts I mentioned in No. 7 mainly make me feel dirty and used. Part of me feels like what he was doing with his hands was a way to determine how drunk I was (or to fulfill another unidentified ulterior motive). Whatever his reason for doing so, it did not appear that it was for my gratification as he appeared in his own little world. During everything that took place in my bed, he stared intently at what he was doing and not at me. In addition, though he was also on my bed, his body position more closely resembled someone changing a baby’s diaper than someone “making love” [vomit] with another for their first time. He never made eye contact with me, and he did not listen to me. I also feel regret for not asking him to leave earlier and for not making sure I could see everything that he was doing.
9. If there was one thing you could change about what he did to you, what would it be, and why?
- I would have had him not walk me home. Had he not walked me home that night, it wouldn’t have happened. Not to mention, it would have been the second time that he hadn’t walked me home, which I hope would have been enough for me to see through his gentleman façade. If you walk someone home because you are concerned for their safety due to their level of intoxication, wouldn’t you also recognize that the person should be put to bed? That they are unable to consent to sex?
10. If you could ask your assailant only one question and he had to answer that question truthfully, what would your question be?
- I have a lot of questions. The following are my top two at the moment:
- “When did you decide to ignore that I didn’t want to have sex?”
- “What were you thinking when you decided to ignore that I wanted to wait until marriage?”