I scroll through my Facebook feed and every 3rd post is another brave girl telling her story. Who knew so many females go through this? We did. We know. This is something nearly every woman has gone through. Sexual harassment. Sexual abuse. Sexual assault. Rape.
You name it.
I wanted to share my story like these other brave women. But then I thought of my family. My mother. They would all read it. They would know. And I couldn’t face that.
And so I thought of telling a friend. Another woman who would understand. But I honestly still find it so difficult to vocalize this experience. So now, here I am. Still unable to speak about it, but luckily, writing is often easier than having to say the words aloud.
I never know how to begin. I think that people will immediately think I brought it on myself. Because people did think I brought it on myself. Most of my friends I told immediately responded with “Why didn’t you say something?” “Why didn’t you stop him?” “Why didn’t you DO anything? If it were me, I would’ve __________!”
I was in college. Drinking. At a frat house. Those are enough details to invalidate me being a “victim” in most people’s eyes. I was actually with a guy I had been dating, Josh. We were sleeping in his brother’s room. I was sleeping. Until his best friend came into the room and crept onto the bed.
And this is when everyone would stop me, mid-story, to tell me what they would’ve done. But really, are you sure you would know what to do when you’re half-asleep, still a bit drunk, in the middle of the night? When your man’s military friend is helping himself to your body?
It was a frat house so people would drunkenly stumble down the halls every so often. When he heard someone close, he would stop, hop onto the computer, click on the side lamp and type away at the keyboard. I suppose to justify him being in there if anyone were to come in. When people left the hallway, he clicked off the light and came back onto the bed. Over and over. Not even sure for how long. But I can still hear that click of the light and rapid typing like it happened yesterday. I can still hear him pausing, waiting, listening for people to leave. I can hear that dreaded crack of the light switch again, knowing what would follow.
No, I didn’t say anything as he forced my legs open. I was scared. I kept trying to nudge Josh to wake him up but he was dead asleep. He was asleep, right? Or is this something they do? Military bros that share their girls?
I should have said something. I should’ve done something but I didn’t. And somehow that’s always the focus of my story, and not the Marine who was taking advantage of a young woman.
“At least he didn’t rape you” I heard a few times. I should feel lucky, is what you’re saying? Many would still consider forced oral sex as rape. But then again, many don’t. So I guess I am “lucky”.
I told Josh’s brother, who was a close friend. I can still hear the silence on the other end of the line. “…Are you sure…? I guess maybe I’ll talk to him…” But nothing. I saw him at parties afterwards. I met his new girlfriend a few months later. Nobody said anything. Nobody confronted him (unless you count my friends drunkenly shouting names at him at the next party we saw him at). Nobody shunned him. Nobody cared.
And that’s something I’ll have to carry with me. Nobody cared about a girl being violated. She probably should’ve said something when it was happening. She probably should’ve done more. She probably liked it. She’s probably just trying to get attention. She’s probably lying.
Isn’t that how it goes?
We’ve been silenced and suppressed because it’s uncomfortable for people to talk about. Too uncomfortable to hear about. So we don’t. We don’t speak about it or share our stories. And so maybe we don’t realize how many women around us have gone through similar experiences. Until now, that is.
I was quiet then, but I won’t be silenced now.
Even if I’m anonymous, I’m still a voice that can be heard.
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