You Just Wanted to Get Laid, but Here’s What it Did to Me

Exactly 367 days ago, I traveled to the cool, green farmlands of Wisconsin to participate in a wedding for my best friend who moved there several years ago. The wedding took place out on this secluded lake and golf course which was so far out that we didn’t even have cell phone service, and the entire wedding party stayed in this cabin right near the water. It was beautiful and peaceful, and I was looking forward to not only seeing my friend again for the first time in years, but getting to relax and enjoy the laid-back simple life for a while.

At the rehearsal, you, one of the groomsmen, started flirting with me, but everyone in the wedding party warned me that not only were you married, but a recovering alcoholic who was drinking that weekend. I immediately rejected your advances, but you continued to pursue me and harass me more and more aggressively throughout the night, and even at the rehearsal dinner back at the cabin.

Exhausted from having taken a very turbulent red-eye flight the night before, and then jumping right into wedding festivities, I fell asleep on the couch in the middle of the living room. While I could have searched for a quieter place to sleep, I felt I would be “safe” from you out in the open, since everyone else was still awake and partying. A few hours later, I’m not quite certain of the time, I woke up with you wedged behind me on the couch, with one hand down my pants and one hand up my shirt, aggressively molesting me with both hands. When I woke up, I couldn’t figure out where I was. It was very dark, and I was clearly in a strange place. When I groggily asked you who you were, you groaned into my ear and said, “You know who it is.”

I immediately jumped up off of the couch and slapped you as hard as I could, even though in the dark I missed your face. After a slight pause, which felt like hours, I told you that if you ever touched me again I would chop your fingers off. I was screaming as loud as I could, but everyone in the house was dead asleep, including some guy who was passed out in the arm chair across the room. I ran upstairs and curled up into a ball in the floor in front of the bride’s door, hoping that if you tried again, my screams would wake her up, as she was the only person I knew at this wedding.

The next morning, when asked why I was laying on the floor in a ball, smashed up against the bedroom door, I told everyone what happened. While everyone was sympathetic, saying things like, “I can’t believe he would do that,” no one took action. No one said anything to you (that I know of), and no one defended me at all. After all, nothing *actually* happened, right?

While the lack of response was extremely painful to me, I gave everyone a pass. After all, some of them didn’t know you, and none of them (except the bride) knew me. I accepted the fact that I was left to my own devices to handle the situation. While all of the ladies primped for the ceremony, I stewed in my silent anger, chugging champagne to help me relax. I thought about my options: calling the police from a landline at the clubhouse, screaming at everyone to confront him, or confronting you myself, but every option would have disrupted my friend’s special day. So I kept silent.

At the ceremony, I was appointed to pin the boutonnieres on all of the groomsmen. I purposely avoided you, and assigned the task to someone else. While standing in line to walk down the aisle, the bridesmaid behind me gently touched my shoulder, and I turned around ready to hit her. She looked shocked, but then softened her gaze and said, “Oh. I forgot.” I mumbled, “I didn’t,” and turned back around.

After silently stewing in my anger throughout the entire ceremony and most of the reception, I announced that I was going to find you, with all intentions of taking you down. I was angry and had quite a bit of liquor in me at this point, and was prepared to walk straight up to you and punch you as hard as I could in your balls. I had made it through the festivities without disruption, and I was ready to take things into my own hands. I was no longer afraid of jail, or upsetting the bride, or any other consequence. Apparently someone warned you that I was looking for you, though, and you left. I spent the rest of that entire night in the lobby of the hotel, drinking and talking to the people waiting to check in, just in case you came back. At around 10am, the bride came into the lobby, packed and ready to leave, and was shocked to see me, still in my bridesmaid’s dress, awake and sitting in the lobby.

When I got home, I got a lot of advice, and a lot of unintentional blame. I should have been sleeping behind a locked door. I shouldn’t have had any drinks, so I would have woken up sooner when you assaulted me. I should have called the police. I should contact your wife and tell her.

I did not do any of those things. I dealt with my anger the best way that I knew how, the way that I always have: by numbing it with alcohol. I started to become very secluded, and stopped dating completely. I was struggling with what you did, but I felt that I had it under control.

Except that I didn’t. I tossed and turned at night, my head shooting a million thoughts through it all at the same time. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t calm down. I felt nauseas and angry and sad and hopeless. How had this happened to me? Here I was, the girl who posts about women’s rights constantly on my social media, yet when faced with sexual assault, I froze? I didn’t call the cops. I didn’t fight back as hard as I should have. I didn’t stand up for myself when no one helped me. Why? What was wrong with me? How could I be so strong and unbreakable, yet turn into a timid, helpless woman when the shit hit the fan?

Because I was scared.

Admitting that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Thinking about what would have happened if there had not been other people in the house makes me sick to my stomach. The fear from this situation and the constant thoughts about what could have happened to me race through my head non-stop. In January, I finally sought help. I went to my doctor and asked for my anxiety meds, and a stronger dose this time. This was something that exercise could not fix. I needed something to stop my brain. I needed peace.

The meds helped but they didn’t magically cure my pain. I stopped doing the things that I loved. I stopped exercising. I stopped writing. I stopped socializing with my friends. My drinking escalated to a daily occurrence. I started hating my body, and the more weight I put on, the more I secretly thought that maybe no one would want to have sex with me again, and I feel oddly comforted by that. I stopped any interaction with men that wasn’t strictly professional.

I started therapy in May of 2016, 9 full months after the assault. It’s helping, but I still have questions. I still can’t figure out why this instance has affected me so deeply. When I was 15, my first boyfriend consistently abused me sexually. I never really felt like it affected me, but I attribute that to not really understanding what was happening to me since I was very naive at that age. I was raped in August of 2010 (what is it with the month of August?), but it took months for that to truly affect me, mostly because my rapist was someone that I was dating, and I didn’t remember much of it because I was under the influence. When the bits and pieces came back to me over time, as they usually do with those situations, all I could remember was crying the entire time. Yes, I felt anger and sadness, but by that time he was out of my life, and it didn’t affect me nearly as drastically as this last one did. Why? I still can’t figure it out. I suspect that it’s because this time I knew exactly what was happening, when it was happening, and I froze. That terrifies me.

It’s been 367 days since you assaulted me in my sleep, and I am still damaged from it. The bride, my friend, who I love dearly, tagged me in a photo album on Facebook yesterday full of pictures from that event. Every notification I get on that photo album feels like the tiny sting of the multiple needles I have taken in my arms to prepare for a volunteer position as a rape victim’s advocate. This storm inside of me will be put to good use, because I refuse to have suffered this last year in vain.

Here I am, a year later, writing this, which is the first thing I will have written and published other than Facebook rants in 8 months. I have therapy this afternoon, and you will be my only topic of discussion.

To you, it may have seemed like a harmless (although aggressive) way to try to get laid. But for me, your victim, the woman you assaulted in her sleep, it damaged me deeply.

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