So many of us have hashtagged that.
Too many of us.
I feel that I have to share my personal story of sexual assault for a couple of reasons:
For one, although it happened a long time ago and I assumed I had gotten over it, the pain and anger surrounding that experience hasn’t fully gone THROUGH me. There are energetic scars I still hold in my body. I know this because I can feel them throb as I bring these memories to the surface. I am still frustrated with that man, his friends, the legal system, myself. I need to tell my story in order to more fully release it.
And two, I know that my healing will be a domino effect for other women to soothe their sexual trauma scars as well. All of our stories are different, and many are much more traumatic than mine, but they all hold something in common: that horrible underlying fear that we are ultimately not in control of what happens to our bodies. That feeling that as women we will always have to step back and relinquish our power… Which lets us justify our self-destructive acts that purposefully turn down the pilot light in our bellies, and let us walk away from the Force we hold within ourselves, giving it up for lost.
Repeatedly drinking myself into oblivion was one of the ways I gave up my power.
Not surprisingly I was blacked-out drunk when a man I barely knew tried to rape me. But that doesn’t make it excusable.
Although that’s not quite true in the eyes of the law: I was unable to formally press charges because my (female) prosecuting attorney said that since I was intoxicated my case would likely get thrown out before it made it to court. (According to Wikipedia, only about 2% of reported rapes or attempted rapes end up with a felony conviction.)
So I had to settle for his brief arrest and smug release as my justice for his crime. Although I did play Sublime’s Date Rape song loudly on repeat out my back window for 3 solid weeks… because, you see, he was my next-door neighbor. Oh, and once I put a dead crow on his car.
It happened when I was 27, the night I was throwing a party to celebrate the finalization of my divorce and welcome in my personal freedom. It was a warm spring night in May, and I had about a dozen friends over to my house to tap a pony keg of beer. My single male neighbor (with whom my ex-husband and I had always been cordial) had just gotten a new roommate, so I invited them both to stop by the party.
The new roommate (let’s call him Scott*) was kind of weird from the get-go. They sauntered over to my backyard and had a few beers, but left after an hour or so to go to the bars. I remember several people joking about what a slimeball he was. He had been blatantly hitting on a couple of my girlfriends, staring too long and tossing out raunchy pickup lines. I didn’t really talk to him much other than to offer him a beer and welcome him to the neighborhood.
The party raged on into the night, as they always did, and I got wasted. My memory started getting hazy somewhere after midnight with plenty of people still in my house. I sort of remember telling some people I was going to the bathroom and then sneaking off to my bedroom to pass out in my clothes.
I was jostled awake by my foggy brain sending out faint alarm signals… there was movement and wetness between my legs. As I slowly pulled my conscious back from the abyss, I heard a muffled male voice, as if from far away, saying things like “oh yeah, you like that.” I began to pull fragments of reality out of the blur of sleep, and the pulses of alarm got louder in my subconscious. I did not bring anyone into bed with me, I thought as I began to realize what was happening. There should not be a man in here, my brain warned as it fought away the languor of alcohol and sleep… there should not be a man with his face between my legs; this is WRONG.
Clarity finally broke through and I sat up, pushing his head away with my hands. It was dark and I couldn’t see much beyond the silhouette of a man’s head lifting up from beneath the covers. I quickly jumped up and ran across the hall to my bathroom. I turned on the light, looked in the mirror, and shook myself fully awake. I looked down and noticed I had no pants on. My head was heavy and pounding, but I remembered enough – I knew I went to bed and passed out alone. Who in the hell was in there with me? And what did he think he was doing?
Fear and rage swelled up inside me and lodged firm like a cork in my throat. After a few deep breaths, I cautiously stepped to the doorway of my bedroom and turned on the light. There, fully nude and laying across my bed in arrogant repose, was my neighbor’s new roommate Scott. He leered at me and purred, “Hey, Sexy, you coming back to bed?”
I screamed, or roared perhaps, because I think anger was the dominant emotion at this point: “What the fuck are you doing here?! Get out of my house!”
I suppose I was still bare-assed when I charged, snarling, through the living room, past my friends Brandon and Jeff who had crashed on my couch, to get the butcher knife from my kitchen. I’m not sure what exactly I was planning to do with that knife, but probably removing his tongue or dick was my top priority. By the time I was racing back towards the bedroom, Scott had pulled his pants back on and was hobbling out the door with his shirt and shoes in hand. Brandon caught me as I lunged wildly at his shirtless back and Jeff cautiously took away the knife.
I put some sweatpants on at some point and called 911. I found Scott’s wallet, phone, and keys sitting neatly on top of the mantel above my fireplace in the living room. Brandon and Jeff affirmed that I had told them they were welcome to sleep on the couch, and then I had gone into my room alone the night before. They were the last ones awake at the party, and no one else stayed in the house.
Unfortunately, my front door had been left unlocked. After Scott returned from the bars with my neighbor, probably around 2am, he apparently decided to let himself back in to my house. The party was over and the house was dark, but he wanted something else. He must have quietly set his stuff down on the mantel so as not to wake my sleeping friends, then found me passed out fully clothed on my bed. Why he felt that my body was his for the taking is a sick mystery.
The kind female police officer wrapped me in a blanket and handed me Kleenex while her male partner took notes. My friend Brandon offered to go with me to the hospital to get the Rape Kit. No semen with identifying DNA was found in or on me, so I must have woken up in time to avoid a full dick-raping. Thanks, Guardian Angels. (Yet another reason why my case would never stick, my attorney said. ‘Attempted rape’ charges are very hard to convict because there is no DNA evidence to back up your he-said-she-said story.)
It was mid-morning by the time I returned home, hungover, starving, and broken.
Sexual assault fucking sucks.
This wasn’t the first time that alcohol had reduced me to a silent unresisting body that lay open to the pillaging of man. There were several times in college when guys did things to me because I was too drunk to care. I knew that this was one of the dangers of drinking until I was blackout drunk, but I didn’t love myself enough to consider it worth worrying about.
God, I wish I could go back in time and wrap that struggling young woman in an embrace. I wish I could breathe strength into her soul and show her how precious and beautiful she really was.
Our power is ours to keep, Ladies. It lives in your belly like a burning flame and it is YOURS. Don’t sabotage yourselves or hand it over without a fight. And definitely don’t let society or the legal system or judgmental friends tell you that because you were drunk or sad or reckless or hurting that someone had the right to take it from you.
Nobody can take your power from you. No matter what.
©Vixen Lea 2020
*names have NOT been changed because all sleazy wanna-be rapists should be named publicly. If I remembered his last name I would share it here as well.