When you’re being raped time doesn’t stop.
Time doesn’t speed up and jump ahead like
it does when you are with friends.
Instead, time becomes your nemesis. It slows
to such an excruciating pace that every second
becomes an hour, every minute a year, and the r
ape becomes a lifetime.
Recently, I was raped by an acquaintance. I’d always
seen myself a strong, no-nonsense woman, whose intense
independence was cultivated by seventeen harrowing
years of emotional abuse in my backwoods home.
The rape shattered that self-image and
left me feeling like the broken victim
that I had never wanted to be.
Everything I had believed myself to be was gone in 30 minutes.
I didn’t report the rape after it occurred. Almost immediately after the rape I flew off to California, got lost in the beauty of the redwoods, the phenomenal art, and meeting the most unique people I’d ever beheld.
I blocked the rape from my mind and tried to convince myself that it hadn’t happened; that it couldn’t have happened. But there was no denying the facts.
One week before I was supposed to fly back East, everything rushed over and consumed me. My memory had been restored and I wasn’t sure how I would be able to hold myself together for that year, let alone for the upcoming three years.
When I returned to Amherst for my sophomore year, I designed a simple plan of attack for surviving: Business as usual combined with a new mantra I will NOT cry.
First semester passed relatively well, there were rocky times, but I kept it together. I masked fear with smiles. I mastered the art of avoiding prying questions. I drowned myself in work and extracurricular activities in order to hide my personal pain. I was unnervingly good at playing the role of well-adjusted sophomore.
It was inevitable though that this masquerade would become too overwhelming and that my façade would shatter.
In February twisted fate decided that I had to work with him on a fundraiser. E-mails. Stopping me in the gym and at the dining hall. Smirks. Winks. Pats on my back. It was all too much.
My masquerade was over. He had won. I was an emotional wreck. I broke down and for the next several months, he won.
I spent most of my spring semester an emotional wreck. I saw his face everywhere I went. I heard his voice mocking me in my own head. I imagined new rapists hiding behind every shower curtain and potted plant.
I bandaged the situation by throwing myself into more work and by resolutely refusing to acknowledge that I was anything but well adjusted.
Eventually I reached a dangerously low point, and, in my despondency, began going to the campus’ sexual assault counselor. In short I was told: No you can’t change dorms, there are too many students right now.
Pressing charges would be useless, he’s about to graduate, there’s not much we can do. Are you SURE it was rape? It might have just been a bad hookup…You should forgive and forget.
How are you supposed to forget the worst night of your life?
I didn’t know what to do any more. For four months I continued wandering around campus, distancing from my friends, and going to counseling center. I was continuously told that I had to forgive him, that I was crazy for being scared on campus, and that there was nothing that could be done.
They told me: We can report your rape as a statistic, you know for records, but I don’t recommend that you go through a disciplinary hearing.
It would be you, a faculty advisor of your choice, him, and a faculty advisor of his choice in a room where you would be trying to prove that he raped you. You have no physical evidence, it wouldn’t get you very far to do this.
Hours locked in a room with him and being called a liar about being raped? No thank you, I could barely handle seeing him from the opposite end of campus; I knew I couldn’t handle that level of negativity.