THE AMPLIFY PROJECT
January 11, 2017
Trigger Warning: Explicit descriptions of sexual assault and/or rape.
I died in the hours between midnight and morning on Nov. 2, 2013. It was the last day of “Halloweek” and even though he came off a little aggressive, I wasn’t scared that he would hurt me because he was my friend.
I was just coming out of a bad breakup with my high school boyfriend, the only guy I ever had an intimate relationship with, and I wanted to prove to myself I could get over him. That I could do what I wanted, that people would respect my decisions, that I could express my sexuality on my own terms with people that I trusted to respect me.
So when my friend met up with me that night, I wasn’t scared that he would do anything bad to me, because I always thought that I could control how the night would play out. Until then.
After repeatedly asking me whether or not I wanted to have sex with him and repeatedly being denied, he attempted to pry my legs open with his own.
When it proved too much of a struggle for him to continue thrusting into my tightly clenched legs, he pulled me on top of him and pushed my shoulders down, forcing me to perform oral sex on him. I complied, seeing this as a way to get him to stop.
Once I started gagging to the point of almost throwing up, it didn’t seem like much of a way out. I left his room shaken, feeling like a used sack of bones, but I didn’t believe I had been assaulted.
He wasn’t a stranger cornering me in an alleyway with a knife to my throat—he was my friend who I willingly went back with.
In my mind, because I had prevented him from vaginally penetrating me, it wasn’t assault. I was also afraid of the stigma, of what people would say.
But most importantly, I was afraid to confirm the little voice in the back of my head that said, this was not okay.
When I saw him at a party two weeks later, I walked back with him because I wanted to prove to myself that hooking up with him could be normal this time.
I wanted to get the last experience that had left such a bad taste in my mouth out of my mind.
As we walked back to his dorm room, I thought, well at least I can control the situation, he’ll stop when I say to this time.
I was wrong, so wrong.
When I refused to perform oral sex on him, he pushed himself on top of me, crushing me under the full force of his weight, and violently jammed his fingers inside me. I responded with audible sounds of pain, telling him to stop. But he didn’t.
This time he succeeded in prying my legs open, but I never stopped struggling. I pushed my hands against his shoulders trying to get him off me and I kept saying no until my voice grew hoarse.
I slapped my hands against his shoulders, but he never stopped. My body went limp, defeated from the lack of progress I was making in the fight.
I forced my mind to disconnect from what was happening to me. I stared at the pattern of the dorm room ceiling, thinking that maybe if I stayed as still as possible he’d get bored and stop.
It felt like hours passed in that room, enough time for me to memorize that ceiling pattern before he finished. I turned away from him so that he wouldn’t see me cry, so that he wouldn’t get on top of me and begin the whole ordeal all over again.
He asked me when he would see me next and I said I didn’t know; I would later find some way to cut off contact with him.
I knew that no one would believe me if I said that what happened between us was nonconsensual—not my friends, not my parents, not the administration, so I didn’t bother reporting what I only much later realized was rape.
After the assault, I retreated into myself, spending all my time in my room, staring at the walls, paralyzed.
I avoided sleep, reliving what had happened to me in my nightmares.
I would get flashbacks during class and midway through lunch. Walking to class became an ordeal because I was terrified of running into him.
Alone, I’d break down into full on shakes, tears and hyperventilation. My appetite disappeared and I contemplated walking into moving traffic because everywhere I turned, I found memories of those nights spent in his room.
After a stint in the psychiatric ER, I was diagnosed with PTSD along with severe major depression and generalized anxiety disorder. I was also put on medication and sent to a therapy program.
My friendships with the other guys in his fraternity and with my high school ex were completely destroyed. I had to find support from friends I met in the months that followed.
My parents told me that I shouldn’t let it happen again, but I kept holding on to what I knew to be true: It wasn’t my fault.
This story was submitted anonymously by a survivor of sexual assault at Santa Clara through The Amplify Project.