It's hard to decide who to make this letter out to. It's hard to type this letter in the first place. This letter is to anybody who still does not completely understand the world of a rape victim, but that seemed like much too long of a title.
A couple of days ago, my brother and I were driving by a college campus and saw signs along the lines of "A text back does not mean yes," or, "Hanging out and watching Netflix does not mean yes." My brother immediately acted repulsed by these signs, referring to them as 'those tumblr-feminist signs.' My brother is a very intelligent man, and it broke my heart to hear him say these things. It broke my heart to realize he knew nothing about rape culture. I hope this letter is able to move some people to speak out about rape culture, explain to people who don't know, and give rape victims the strength to tell themselves that they are a victim and they are strong.
The day I was raped was February 12, 2015. I will never forget the day, as it still haunts me. I was only 15 years old. You never know how you will react in situations like this. There is the fight or flight reaction, and some are able to physically fight back and somehow save themselves, while others are only able to close their eyes while whispering no. For me personally, I could only say no. I was shocked that somebody I had trusted, somebody I was on a date with would be so aggressive and forceful. All I could say was no. All I could do was say no. I remember finding my way back to my house and my parents asking how everything was, and all I could murmur out was that it was okay before retreating to my room. Later on, my mom came to my room saying she knew something was wrong, and I told her that I had to break up with him because he was a bad kisser. She believed me, and I have never said a word about it to her since the incident. Fortunately, the next day, I was able to cut him off, and I haven't spoken to him since.
I remember going to school and hearing everybody talking about how I had sex. He had told all of his friends and it spread like wildfire. I was embarrassed. I still did not think of myself as a rape victim, just somebody who was pressured into doing something. I blamed myself for allowing things to get so out of hand, and I told myself that I could have been more forceful when I was saying no. The embarrassment was almost too much to bear.
Later in the day, I broke down and cried in my friend's car. I told her what had happened, how I reacted. I told her about how he kept going after I had told him to stop. Her immediate reaction was to hug me and then ask if I acted like I wanted it, even though I said no. She asked if I was turned on or giving him some sort of sign through body language that I had wanted it. I cried some more and said told her that I didn't know. I didn't realize that what had occurred was rape; I didn't realize that I was a victim. I believed still that it was my fault.
I remember about two weeks after the incident, my period was late. That was the scariest week of my life. Admitting this makes me feel incredibly guilty, but I had written out how to explain to my parents what had happened as an option. I considered running away and finding some children's home to take care of me. I considered suicide because I felt so weak and helpless. I researched methods of abortion that you could do within the first month or so of carrying. I looked for every possibly solution that I could think of and I stayed awake for nights crying, trying to imagine what I could have possibly done to deserve this. I always came back to the same conclusion; I could have been stronger when I said no.
Buying my first pregnancy test at 15 was humiliating. I considered everything my fault. I thought I was a terrible excuse for a human being. The woman running the register seemed so sweet when she asked if I had found everything I needed while discretely hiding the test in a bag, but I felt as if she was mocking me. I thought everybody in the line was viewing me for how I saw myself at the time: a weak teenage girl who had made the wrong decisions. It was embarrassing and I hated myself for it.
I ended up not being pregnant, and I thank The Lord for that every day. However, I was so paranoid that I would fall back into the recklessness and something bad would happen. So, blaming it on my period, I convinced my mom to let me get Nexplanon. Nexplanon is the arm insert for birth control, one of the most effective contraceptives. When I was in the office getting it, I vividly remember the doctor giving me the sex talk and explaining every STI and sexual disease I could have while doing the exam. That entire week, I was terrified that I had gotten something from him. I didn't want to think about him, and I did not want him anywhere on my medical records or something that would follow me the rest of my life. Thankfully, I did not have any sort of disease either, but that feeling of vulnerability never went away.
Everywhere I went, I felt weak. I felt vulnerable. I felt small. It is so hard to convey the feeling - it's like you did something bad, and you know it's your fault, but you know at the same time that you did everything you could. It hurt so much. I still didn't consider myself a victim; I considered the incident to be my fault for almost a year.
Here I am, almost three years later. I am 17 now and I have overcome most of the problems I had faced due to being raped. I still carry paranoia with me, and it had caused so many problems within friendships and relationships, but I have overcome almost every other obstacle. I still have not told my parents of what happened, and I don't plan to. I never reported it. I told two friends and those two friends have kept it a secret. I was first able to refer to what had happened as rape about a month ago. Before, I had used phrases such as "pushed into sexual acts unwillingly," or, "unwillingly engaged in intercourse." Rape is a scary word. So many thoughts surround rape.
Rape is not something to laugh at. Rape is not a joke. Rape is devastating and haunts people. Rape is an awful concept and rape jokes are offensive to those who have been raped. People who haven't see rape as something they have heard of, something that doesn't happen very often. That is not true. Rape happens all the time and it makes people feel more weak than they have ever felt in their lives.
It's hard to accuse somebody of rape when they go to your school. It's hard to accuse somebody of rape when your parents and friends loved them. It's hard to accuse somebody of rape when victim shaming is very prominent and victims already shame themselves.
Admitting you have been raped is hard. When people try to tell you that you haven't been, it is even harder. Rape Culture is real and people support it without even knowing it.
Stop supporting rape culture. Stop making rape jokes. I, and everybody else who has experienced the mental and physical torture of rape, beg you to stop.
Somebody Who Has Experienced It