No one tells you about the near misses. About the was that? or the that could have been, or the holy shit, I dodged a bullet. I’d be willing to put money on most women my age having experienced these. We all have stories that start out with, “This one night” and end with “that could have gotten really bad, really fast.” We never name it for what it is. The almost rapes or the rape near miss.
My most memorable near miss was my first semester of college. I was an inexperienced drinker who was underweight and on anti-depressants. I had the misfortune of getting severely drunk at a rapid rate. One night I was with some friends and at a party. A guy comes up to me and starts talking. I’m new, he’s older, he seems to know a lot of people. He’s not very attractive, but what do I care, I’m in a relationship and have no interest in hooking up. We chat and he offers to show me something in his dorm room, for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. We aren’t far away and clearly I’m not thinking straight so I go with him. We get there and he starts putting his hands on me, on my shoulders, I think he’s trying to give me a massage. At this point my brain starts functioning again, and alarm bells are going off in my head left and right. No no no! What are you doing, get out of here, get away from this creep! I looked down at my phone and by some miracle I had gotten a text message from a friend, “Where are you? Come meet us, I’m worried about you.” An out, thank God, I take ahold of it and don’t let go, telling him I need to call my friend. He releases me from his clutches, but follows me as I call her, as I meet up with her, even as we arrive at our new destination. Just as I start to freak out again, will he ever leave me alone? Is he going to follow me back to my dorm? my friend pulls him aside and tells him to leave me the hell alone, that I don’t want him. And like that he’s gone. In a blink of an eye it’s over. I can breathe.
At least I thought it was over. Unfortunately for me, quite a few people saw me leave with him, causing rumors to fly. Some were nice, people thought I was a Norwegian model, and some were awful, that I had fucked him. I can only imagine that he told his friends awful stories about me. Stuff I heard later on when I made more friends of my own. I could go without hearing another, “Holy shit that was you?” I grew terrified of it, that night, my near miss, but mostly I was scared of him. What if he was in one of my classes? What would he say to me? What if he acted like I was somehow his? The whole ordeal was, well, traumatizing. If I’ve gained anything from my experience is empathy for those who have suffered actual rape on college campuses, I truly can’t imagine more of a nightmare.
Part of me feels silly for even writing about this. I mean in the grand scheme of sexual violence this just seems so…mundane. But no one seems to want to talk about it, not really anyways. I think it scares us, exposes us for our vulnerability. It proves that we can be that girl. I mean, we were only minutes, maybe even seconds away from becoming her. If I didn’t get that text message, if I didn’t realize I was in a scary situation… I could have been raped. Just seeing that in writing is a terrifying fact that’s hard to accept. I could have been raped, and maybe next time I won’t be so lucky.