Sensitive material is contained in this essay. Mention of rape/sexual assault.
The first time I was raped was in the backseat of a car. I was 16.
In those days the legal age to drink was 18 and underage drinking mostly went unnoticed. It was pretty typical for all of us kids to first hit the Connecticut bars, then, once they closed, head to either Port Chester or Purchase — state line border-towns in New York where the bars stayed open past midnight.
The guy I liked was already there when my friends and I showed up at the bar that night — he was easy to spot, head up close to the low ceiling. It was a weekend night and the narrow rooms of the house-turned-drinking-hole were crowded.
Not long after he invited me out to his car.
A blue car parked in the back lot. He asked me there because he said it was somewhere we could talk. A place where the sound of music and the noise of the crowd wouldn’t reach. We would be able to hear each other and not have to shout. It would be quiet. He wanted time with me alone.
He wanted to talk with me.
When we reached the car, he suggested the back seat. Did I want to split a smoke? Sure. That all sounded great.
Truth is — I wanted him to kiss me.
He had a habit of constantly flipping his too long bangs from his eyes. Sandy brown hair that some would have described as pin straight and not very thick. In the daylight he had a smile that was slow to spread, but once it did, it reached his eyes. There were also freckles enough to give the impression of a small constellation scattered across the bridge of his nose — other than that — his looks were indistinguishable.
It was cold outside. Cold enough, that when you sat in the car and talked, the windows fogged up.
We swapped stories and the cigarette between us until the glow of it reached the filter, then, he flicked it — along with his words — from the briefly rolled open window.
Without invitation he kissed me. I remember his tongue hungrily, if not greedily, exploring my mouth.
He likes me too…
Then he was on me. Shoved deep into the seat of the car, jacket off my shoulders yet still attached, one arm wedged between my side and the seat while the other pushed him back. Shoes on, pants yanked down, legs split apart and the weight of that guy — a guy I thought I liked — thrust into me.
Then, faster than a shooting star in the sky could fall, it was over.
He righted himself to his knees, zipped his pants, raked the back of his hand across his mouth and without as much as a word, climbed out into the night and left me alone in the backseat of that blue car parked in the back lot.
There was a light mounted just under the eaves of the building — the hilltop bar that was once a home — and it was bright enough that I felt exposed. I don’t recall pulling my jeans back up from around my calves, nor do I know how long I stayed in the backseat of that car.
What I do remember is walking back inside the bar and searching for a sign that what had just happened meant he liked me. And when our eyes met, he turned his back on my gaze and with his hand cupped to his friend’s ear — the same hand he’d raked over my body and his mouth — he said something then left.
Once home, I showered: A long. Hot. Shower.
It was a tub-shower that — if you could have seen me, you’d know — supported my hunched-in-a-ball-body at the bottom of it, all while the constant stream of water worked to rinse the night down the drain.
We never spoke again. I saw him at school. We had mutual friends. He pretty much acted as if I didn’t exist.
I never said a word.
Every so often I see his name appear on Facebook — People You May Know — he has a wife now, daughters too.
thank you for writing this – crying as i read it – you are a survivor ! i am too – we MUST share our truth. people must hear our stories. thank you for your courage.
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment here, Hope. You are so right…stories do need to be told and shared. When we are strong with our voice it often inspires another person to find the strength and courage they need to be strong with their voice too…which of course creates a ripple effect that reminds us we are not alone.
Wow! I am stunned. Thank you for telling your story. It is so important that we NOT remain silent about sexual assault and rape. I hope that over the years you have been able to heal from what this boy took from you. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Thank you, Tamerie. I appreciate your healing thoughts and prayers.
I think that sort of thing has happened to all of us in some way or another even when it isn’t violent. Thanks for sharing.
Oh I so agree, Rebecca. This, from my perspective, is one of the largest problems with rape culture. Rape culture reinforces the notion that rapists are limited to strangers hiding in dark corners, not helpful at all.
It is wonderful that you are sharing this horrific experience via your blog. When we share -we help others who have had similar experiences understand that they are not feel alone. It sent chills down my spine that this man is now a father of daughters. Thank you again for sharing your story.
Thank you Ellen. It is is difficult the juxtaposition of his role today and who he was then. I agree that it is in the sharing that we find our way toward helping one another.
I was raped by a long term boyfriend…I never called it rape until about 15 years ago. I was sickened…I broke up with him within the week…but it has remained with me, always. I wish I could say we were beyond that now…but we are far from it. I have long been an advocate of gender equality and education about what constitutes rape. I taught at a university for several years about gender and crime, and I always stressed the definition of rape. Hopefully it penetrated a few heads?
Such a horrible thing to go through! It is important you are getting your story out to others, via your blog. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you, Mary.
Thank you for sharing your personal experience here, Tam. Anne Sexton wrote, “Pain engraves a deeper memory.” How right she was.
I have no doubt that you reached more than a few people with your advocacy.
I was assaulted in an eerily similar attack, twice. When it started happening at home I told. It took a long time to heal from that horror.
Thank you for sharing your personal experience here too, Doreen.
Sharing our stories. . . It’s hard, but we have to. So beautifully done, and sadly something so many of us understand too painfully well. And you nailed the ending. Well done.
I appreciate your taking the time to both read and comment, Powell. It is staggering to think how universal these stories are. Thank you for your kind words too.
I have a similar story. I just haven’t written it and probably never will … well, not for a long time.
And therein lies one of the most powerful aspects of having agency, you get to choose if and or when. Thank you for reading and commenting, Carol.
I am really touched that you wrote this and decided to share it with us all. Thank you.
I appreciate your saying so. Thank you.
Thank you for sharing your story. By speaking up and owning the narrative you are helping other women to speak up and deal with the pain
Thank you Ines.
This story breaks my heart – and I’m sure hits home for more women than we will ever know. Thank you for sharing this. I can’t imagine how painful it is, and how horrifying it must be to see his name come up. I wonder how he feels when your name comes up on his screen. I hope he’s haunted by his actions.
Thank you, Lois. I agree…sadly my story is not an anomaly…I do feel there is power and strength derived from the collective sharing.
The more women who post stories like this, the more awareness we’ll all have and the less likely that this will continue to happen. I’m so sorry that this happened to you.
Thank you, Roz.
Heartbreaking. I could almost feel your horror as I was reading. And to see his name on FB – I don’t think I could sit quietly and say nothing to him. Thanks for sharing your story.
Thanks for sharing this story. I’m so sorry this happened to you. Perhaps your story will prevent it from happening to someone else