70% of college students admit to being sexually coerced.
This is her story.
I've never told this story in its entirety. For a long time, it was too hard - the wounds too fresh, the memories too vivid. If I said anything, I felt like I'd fall apart.
Today, though, I've found the courage I lacked to tell the story - MY story. I'll start at the beginning.
He was my first "boyfriend," though we only dated for a couple weeks when I was 16. Like most high school romances (of which I had maybe three), I knew it wasn't going to last. He was my first kiss, but I wanted more out of life and he all but smothered me, so I broke it off. We remained somewhat friendly.
A few years later, we remained in contact. I went to see a show he was working on. He immediately began overstepping the boundaries of friendship. As I stood and waited for my dad to pick me up, I felt two arms hugging my back like a vice grip. I've always been passive so I didn't know what to do - I didn't want it, yet, I couldn't back away.
We didn't speak for a few years after that incident.
I went off to school, studied abroad, and spent the end of my teenage years and the start of my early twenties in turmoil. I'd battled depression and generalized anxiety disorder for years and circumstances had dropped me into a severe depression. I wasn't eating much, wasn't sleeping and, worse of all, I felt hopeless.
While I thought about ending everything, I didn't really want to do it. That was when he came back into my life. I was unsure about it, but we started talking on the internet and the phone. Our talks made me laugh and feel good, if not a bit uncomfortable sometimes.
Mostly he talked about stupid things but he also brought up sex a lot. I wasn't ashamed to admit that I was a virgin; I didn't feel like I needed to have sex before I was ready. Yet, after each conversation, I grew more and more self-conscious about being a virgin. What was I doing - 21 and still a virgin?
He coaxed me into talking about what I liked, what I wanted to do, what he could do to me. It was strange, thrilling, and terrifying all at the same time. Was this what I wanted? Could I do that?
We didn't meet face-to-face for awhile. When we did, it was a nice night; I remember wearing shorts, a casual t-shirt, and a sweater. He greeted me with a hug, which was more than welcome. I wanted to spend time with the person with whom I had shared much about my recent struggles. We went for a walk, crossing down toward a nearby creek.
That's where everything gets hard to explain.
All I wanted was to talk, enjoy the spring evening, and have a good time. He had other plans. It started innocently enough - kissing my neck, arms wrapping almost uncomfortably tight around my hips.
I don't remember how I got on the ground. I was focused on the leaves under me, getting in my hair; his much heavier body on top of mine. He put his hand down my pants, unbuttoning them even though I protested. We were outside, in plain sight, and I was uncomfortable. He kissed me and all I wanted to do was run.
I didn't want this and I didn't know how to say no.
I was sure that, with some coaxing, I could make it stop. I pulled myself away but I was confused and conflicted - wasn't this what I wanted? Didn't I want to do this? Hadn't we spoken of this on the phone without any hesitation?
The thing was, I didn't want it, but it took me a while to realize it.
He moved his hands into places I didn't want them, all but forced my own hand down his pants. I'd never done that before and I was terrified.
It was when he pushed me against the car in the garage that he told me he still loved me, that he wanted me. All I could think was that I had to get out. He was moving too fast. I struggled, moving and trying to get away. I remember smelling cigarette smoke and gasoline.
Eventually, we went inside, his arms pulling me close in some vague attempt at intimacy. I escaped to the bathroom, where I texted a friend telling her that I needed a call - an out.
Thankfully, I got out.
While I know it could have been worse, I can't help feeling violated. I was pressed to do something that I didn't want, and too afraid to say no. I was too afraid to talk about it.
I went home and dosed myself with anti-anxiety medication to calm my fear. I told myself that I was stupid, that I walked into it, that it was my fault. I was the one who lead him on, who let him do this to me. It was my fault because I let it happen. I was the one to blame.
It was my fault. My fault. My fault.
My friends tell me it wasn't my fault, but I still feel guilty. I feel I could've prevented it and that I should've gotten out earlier. He apologized a day later, but I should've been the one to apologize. Didn't I start all of this when I participated in our conversations? When I came over? When I let him pin me to the ground?
I haven't spoken to him in almost a year. A few weeks ago, despite the fact that I thought I had gotten over it, I thought I saw him in the store I worked at. All of a sudden, that fear and anxiety and sobbing came and I had to hide. Just seeing him made me feel so helpless, weak, and out of control of my feelings. He made me feel unsafe and afraid, even though I wasn't sure it was him. I was scared and in hysterics and curled on the floor of the fitting room, nearly sobbing.
I know I shouldn't blame myself, but I still feel like I'm broken. I have scars that don't seem to heal, no matter what I do. No medication or therapy seems to help. Writing it out is probably the bravest thing I have done.12 Comments