Six years later, I'm still looking for validation that what happened to me was rape. I still sometimes find myself questioning whether or not I somehow gave the impression that I was interested, or that I wanted it to happen. I still sometimes question whether or not I was actually drugged. "Maybe I really just did get out of control and drink too much." But I read about other people's stories and they resonate so deeply with my feelings about my own experience that I am starting to trust myself again. I know what happened to me, I know how it made me feel, and I know that it didn't feel right.
I don't remember most of the evening. I remember up until about halfway through my first margarita. The rest is just snippets of images: trying to text my boyfriend in the bathroom that I would be home soon, dancing and laughing with my coworker and her boyfriend, and then nothing but a dark room and the sensation of vomiting.
I woke up naked in a bathtub. My assailant, also naked in the bathtub, had his fingers inside of me. I stood up, not processing what was happening, just feeling like I wanted to lay down. I somehow made it to a bed, wrapped in a towel and all I remember thinking was, "I will sleep for an hour and then I will go home, I just need to sleep."
As I tried to sleep, he climbed on top of me and started to have sex with me. I was very confused. I don't think I even recognized what was happening. After what could have been anywhere from two to twenty minutes, I started to come to and asked him to stop. He did stop, which was also confusing. Did I somehow agree to this? Am I just not remembering? Why would I do that? I didn't know him, I wasn't even attracted to him, why would I tell him it was okay?
Or maybe I really didn't.
As I started to come to more and more, I became panicky. I needed to leave. I don't remember gathering my things or getting dressed. I just remember the overwhelming sense of relief that came over me as his apartment door shut behind me and I was finally alone outside. I instantly began to sob. It was as if I didn't realize I was in danger until I was out of it and then I was scared.
I didn't know what I felt or what to do next. So I got in my car at four in the morning and drove to my boyfriend's house. I called my friend Bryan in Seattle and just simply told him what happened. I just needed to process it, I think, and I remember, in a very hazy, confused state, driving down the freeway to get to someplace that felt safe, asking him, "Was I just raped?"
I got to my boyfriend's house and told him what happened, still foggy and crying, and he was suspicious. He didn't seem to believe me, I guess maybe he thought that I just got drunk and slept with someone. I'm not sure. I still don't know, we never talked about it again.
I fell asleep in his bed and he contacted my mom who then came and took me to the hospital in the morning.
I was lucky to have my mom and my friend Bryan. I sometimes feel like I should just be okay because it could have been worse. I wanted to believe that I was completely okay. That it wasn't that big of a deal. I did what I was supposed to do: I went to the hospital, I told someone. I wanted to believe I was healed from it just because I was a strong person.
I didn't realize I was affected by it until almost four years later. Until depression and anxiety started dictating a lot, if not all, of my life decisions.
I've spent a lot of time feeling overwhelmingly confused about my choices.
After recently starting to consciously seek help through therapy, writing and reading others' stories, I've realized that what I lost that night was the confidence in trusting my intuition. I'm learning to trust myself more and more, but I still notice feelings of embarrassment come up. Even in writing this, I notice feelings of shame and fear of judgement—that somehow I should have handled it differently, or that maybe I am untrustworthy and that's why my boyfriend didn't believe me—things that I know are not the truth. But I am grateful for the process of understanding that healing is a process and I am learning to trust and love myself again little by little.