April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)…Thought I would share this…
It was a good semester…I was 18, it was my second semester away from home…
I was one of the few chosen for an awesome internship at a very big company down in Orlando. Not only would I get to live in Orlando, but I wouldn’t have to find a place to live, a ride to work, and I was getting college credit (all provided by the company). I was going to live it up in Orlando. New places, new experiences!
I even got sent to the internship with an older classmate of mine, so I wouldn’t be entirely alone. THIS was going to be awesome.
One day after class, my classmate (we’ll call her Ashley) had the brilliant idea of hitting up Daytona Beach with her cousin and sister who were visiting Florida for the week. I was so excited to be venturing outside of Orlando with some really cool people.
We had so much fun! We walked the beach, rode ATVs, splashed around in the water; pretty run of the mill day at the beach. Suddenly four (admittedly decent looking) guys approached us wanting to know where we were from & what we were doing tonight. They told us they went to Bethune-Cookman & they all lived together in this spot down the street. They wanted to know if we’d like to stop by.
Ashley REALLY wanted to go kick it with these four guys. Myself, her sister, and cousin had said “Nay”, but unfortunately the person WITH the car makes the rules. Soon, we were on our way to the mystery boys’ apartment. As soon as we stepped in, I realized something wasn’t right. No furniture in the living room, just a TV, empty bottles of alcohol, an XBox, and a bottle of lotion.
“Eh, they are a buncha college dudes, what do you expect?”
They gave us the grand tour, showing us each of their rooms and extensive shoe collections. I guess to try and impress us. As we went back to the living room, they offered us drinks and said we should play a board game. I was 18, they were offering me alcohol…and so I took it. I had two shots of Grey Goose during the course of our game of “Alcoholic Taboo”. At that point, they decided it was time to go to the store and get more alcohol, and Ashley went with them. Upon their return, they offered more drinks; this time Malibu and Kool -Aid. When they offered me a cup, I obliged. I wasn’t a quarter way into my cup when everyone seemed to disappear. Ashley was in the kitchen making out with one guy. Her sister and cousin had gone into the other rooms with the three other guys. I chose to sit in their furniture-less living room against the wall. I knew I had a boyfriend and I didn’t want any of the guys bothering me. I didn’t want to put myself in a situation to cheat.
I sat there unbothered for a while…or so I thought. I blinked my eyes once and I was in one of the guy’s rooms, on the floor in a blanket. When I blinked again I was in the living room again. At that point one of the guys came into the living room and started touching me. I couldn’t move my arms, but with what little ability I still had to move my mouth. I said, “I have a boyfriend, leave me alone.” He wouldn’t leave me alone though. I looked over in the kitchen and Ashley was in there still making out. She saw me laying there and simply laughed at how “gone” I was. He laughed, and I even laughed too because I didn’t believe this was happening. He touched me in different places, he begged me to just let him in. I couldn’t move and for some reason I couldn’t get the words out anymore…so I gave up.
“I shouldn’t have drunk so much…damnit…I just want him to leave me alone.”
SO many thoughts, but I couldn’t translate them into actual words…
I saw him unzipping his pants and he moved to put himself in my mouth. So I puked on him and his wretched carpet in his furniture-less living room and he scurried off after his exclamation of disgust. Next thing I remember was waking up on the floor outside of the elevators of the apartment building with Ashley asking me why was I laying on the floor and telling me to get my drunk ass up.
The ride home was quiet and awkward. Suddenly Ashley’s cousin begins WAILING. She said two of the guys had raped her. I was so concerned for her and all Ashley could do was say, “SHUT UP B**** YOU JUST DRANK TOO MUCH!!!”
It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized that I had my debit and ID cards stolen (with $600 spent by 10 AM). It wasn’t until after that when I realized the gravity of everything that had been done to the other girls in my group. It wasn’t until years later that I had realized what had been done to ME. I told myself we had all had too much to drink. I told myself that if I REALLY didn’t want him to touch me, I would have fought him off. I told myself I deserved it for putting myself in that position. I told myself that I was ok because he didn’t “rape” me.
I called the police, BUT they basically told me “tough luck” in regards to me being violated (being that I had been drinking). They were, however gracious enough to issue me a police report on my stolen ID and debit card. I guess my money was more important than the well being of my person.
Here we are, over five years later, and I am just now realizing that NOBODY has the right to make that type of decision for you. Even if I laid there and did not said a peep, he had no right to assume I wanted him inside of me. I didn’t realize or even entertain the thought that I had been drugged, let alone sexually assaulted. I didn’t know someone could rape you without it being violent. I am just now realizing that I DIDN’T deserve that.
You see, when I was younger, I was always told that if I dressed appropriately, stayed with people I knew, watched my drink and didn’t give men the “wrong impression”, this kind of thing wouldn’t happen to me. But it still did. I wore a baggy T-Shirt, long cargo shorts, and I got sexually assaulted. I was with fellow classmates and I still got sexually assaulted. I stayed away from the men so they would know I was not available and I still got sexually assaulted. I saw them make my drink, and still got sexually assaulted.
See now I have learned…You truly cannot control other people’s actions. Only they can.
Something tells me we should spend less time on telling women how to avoid rape and more energy on emphasizing NOT RAPING people. Wishful thinking though I suppose. How can people heal when they blame themselves for something they cannot control? How can we stop people from violating other people when they messages we send out are not targeted towards them in the first place?
Something to consider for SAAM…..