The story of my survival

Photo by Anne-Sophie Henrich; Photo of a model

It happened on a Friday evening more than 4 years ago in my student dormitory. Actually, I had planned to go home that night, but a friend of mine invited me for dinner and then another friend to a party in his room. As I am really bad at disappointing people I said yes, even though I had to work the next day near my parents’ house. The party was in my friend’s room which was diagonally in front of mine. There were about 10 people there, three girls, all the rest were boys. Most of the boys were my friends, there was only one I did not know and one of whom I thought was in a relationship. I was playing drinking games with the guys, as I did not really like the two other girls present. We had Vodka I imported from Ukraine and later Tequila. The last thing I remember is the guy whom I thought had a girlfriend, making me drink one last Tequila. I knew and told him that this would be too much for me, but as I am really bad at disappointing people, I finally accepted. After that, my memory completely erased. There was just this weird feeling left that something was wrong, and I was not wearing underwear. Then, comes the unbelievable pain and I can picture and remember the second when it all happened really sharply. I was sitting on my desk with my legs on the shoulders of the guy, whom I thought had a girlfriend, penetrating me. The three things I thought were: “What’s happening here? I do not want this! Does he not have a girlfriend?” Then everything is gone again. Next day when I woke up I was afraid of opening my eyes. I remembered the second of sharp pain and felt that I was naked. I just did not want to face the truth, but to wake up and see that the reality of the situation in front of my eyes was just a horrible nightmare. It was not a nightmare and it had happened to me. I was naked, the guy was lying next to me and the table and floor of my room were full of blood — my blood. I was completely in shock and just felt really dirty. Mechanically, I grabbed my towel and went to have a shower to cleanse myself from the whole thing. The horrible feeling stayed. This was not how I imagined my first time to be like. When I came back from the shower, he was still there. I took my phone, went to the learning room which I knew would be empty early in the morning, and called my best friend. I was in too much shock to really realize what had happened to me and I was afraid to go back to my room. On my way back, I met another friend of mine and talked to her for a long time. Both of the friends I had just talked to persuaded me that I had to go back and clean my dorm room . So, I went back. And he was still there… I would have hoped him to be gone by that time. He wasn’t, so I had to deal with that situation and confront him. I decided just not to care about it. Anyway, my whole behavior was still very mechanic, I was still in shock. I started cleaning the room, whipping away the blood from my desk, the floor and my washbasin and threw the two used condoms into the bin. One of it was full of blood. At one point he just woke up. He wished me a good morning. My answer simply was “I woke up and my whole room was full of blood.” So, he left.

Later, I told a close friend what happened, but because his girlfriend had just broke up with him the evening before — the reason why all of my friends were gone at one point — he did not even really realize what I was telling him. Then I had to go to work. I was working as a waitress and cook in a Creperie near my hometown. Fortunately, that day was really busy, and my boss asked me to stay longer. This way I had an excuse not to go home that weekend. I did not want to see my mom. I knew that she would immediately be able to tell that something was wrong. And I did not want her to know. Actually, she still does not know until today even though we are really close. I was so ashamed. And unbelievably sad. This was absolutely not how I had imagined my first time. I had always something really romantic in mind, thinking that it would happen with the love of my life. I spent almost one week blaming myself. Apparently, I looked unbelievably sad, as one guy living on my floor asked me if my mother died (confusing me with another girl whose mother was really sick). The next weekend I did not go home either. I visited a friend as I was still afraid to face my family and I needed to talk as much as possible about the terrible event which had happened to me — about me having been raped.

After a while, I started to see things more clearly. I realized that me getting drunk does not give anybody the right over me and my body, the right to do such a thing! Especially as the guy knew that I was still a virgin. But probably that night he did not use his brain and more likely was thinking with other parts of his body.

One month after it happened I decided to face the problem and talk to him. I asked a girl who was his friend to tell him that I wanted to see him. This is how I ended up in his room telling him how I felt about the issue. It was fascinating the kind of stupid arguments people can come up with in order not to feel guilty. He really tried and said everything that came to his mind. Each new thing he came up with was more absurd than the other.

He told me that his mom always said that girls wearing short skirts were more likely to get in such situations. An argument that is bullshit already as it is, but especially as I most of the time wear short and tight clothes, but not that day. That day, I wore jeans and a loose t-shirt.

He also told me that I should think about it like two people getting drunk, having fun. Well I did not have fun is what I reasserted to him. Instead I told him how it felt for me: I felt hurt, abused, taken over and deprived of the power above my body — a power that should be granted to anyone but that was not granted to me. And that this was surely not the way I imagined losing my virginity.

So, he changed his argument. Now he was saying that I should not even regard it as my first time as it hurt me so much that actually “nothing really happened”.

I’d say “nothing really happened” is a matter of definition. I have never heard such a stupid argument before! I mean if I should not count it as sex because it hurt me so much, why did he not just stop? Why did I find two condoms? I had the feeling that by saying that “nothing really happened because it hurt you so much”, he was literally saying that he had less fun because of that! And he was implicitly saying that he did not care at all that I got hurt. This anger reflected here came only after our conversation, but I think his very last point made me realize that it was rape, however I was trying to frame it.

This conversation was a really hard step for me, but it was the right one. It was important for me at least to tell him how his behavior had affected me. And talking to him made me feel better. At the same time, even though not intended, it made him feel worse. He was not able to look at me anymore after that conversation.

One might ask why I never reported him. Actually I never even considered to do so. Somehow it is really easy to say “if something like that would happen to me, I would immediately go to the police”. I always said that, but I didn’t. I didn’t because I was ashamed, because I blamed myself, because reporting it would have made it more real, because I did not want my parents to know, and because I was afraid that people would not believe me. That they would say it is my fault because I was drunk. With my friends it was different, it felt good to discuss the issue with them, because I knew they would not blame me as they would also get drunk sometimes just like me.

What I realized since then, is that there are two different ways of telling the story. One is the story I told now, the one I tell my friends, when I actually want to discuss the issue and feel that it is me to whom it happened. This is the hardest kind of storytelling. The other is the story I can tell girls when they are drunk, and I have the feeling that telling them the story might protect them. Then I tell only the short version of the story, not including any feelings. I tell it in a complete disconnected way, as if I would tell something I read in a newspaper. Telling this disconnected story does not affect me psychologically. The other does.

I would like to tell you that more than 4 years after it happened I now know how to deal with it, to consider it as something that once happened to me, but does not affect me anymore, that I stopped blaming myself completely. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Until now, I always tried not to think about it. A psychologist once told me that this is kind of my problem, that I take a problem, put it into a box and stand on top of it, pretending it does not exist. The problem with avoiding to think about my story is that this way the memory can be triggered at any time and it can hit me just as strongly as when it happened. This is one of the reasons why I decided to write and share my story. Another way it is affecting me is with my relationship with my fiancée. I have serious problems looking at him while kissing and it is only now, after more than 3,5 years in our relationship that he realized a change and shared this fact with me. I have problems dancing with him when I am drunk. It is affecting my sex-life. I am unable to have an orgasm because anytime I am starting to really enjoy, I get scared and just push him away. I completely panic. I am probably afraid of losing control. There was also one time when the whole memory just came back to me while having sex with him. He is dealing with this very well, as he knows the situation. He is always very understanding and willing to help me. Still, it is making him sad that I cannot let go completely and just feel. He hopes that I will somehow reach a point where I can overcome my fear. So do I.

I hope dealing with it actively now will help me in the long-run. Right now, it is really hard. I think about the issue any time I am alone, I even had one point when the memory and feeling of that day came back to me completely. I could not do anything but cry. Fortunately, my friends were there and just hugged me without asking any questions. I really appreciated that. Even though it is really hard to deal with it psychologically, I feel that writing it down is helping me. And I think that telling the story can raise awareness and also help other women to whom it happened to deal with it more easily.

My message to other women is to never give up and don’t let anyone tell you how much you are worth. Know your own worth. You’re not victims, you are survivors and you can turn the negative energy into positive energy by raising awareness, change the mentalities in order to change the world. Use the bad experience or what happened to you not to break you but to make you stronger. And don’t forget, when it gets too hard, you are not alone!

NOTALONE

The concept of the “Not Alone” page is for survivors of sexual assault to tell their stories ANONYMOUSLY. Share your story on this safe platform as part of the healing process and as a way to express your feelings & show others that they are NOT ALONE.

Nonviolence International NY

Written by

NonvioleceNY works to build a nonviolent and peaceful world.

NOTALONE

NOTALONE

The concept of the “Not Alone” page is for survivors of sexual assault to tell their stories ANONYMOUSLY. Share your story on this safe platform as part of the healing process and as a way to express your feelings & show others that they are NOT ALONE.

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