At 21, I was happy and successful. I had a loving family, great friends, a man who loved me, a good job, nice car, and I was living on my own. One of my male friends asked if he could stay with me while his apartment was being prepared for him to move in. I told him yes after talking it over with my roommate.
My boyfriend from Chicago came to visit me one weekend, and my friend didn’t like it. I didn’t understand why he was so angry with me. After my boyfriend left for the evening, my attacker and I got into an argument after which he spent the next few hours raping me.
There was no way I was able to stop him from doing what he wanted to do to me. He had me pinned down on my bed, ignoring my screams, tears, and hits. When he stole my most precious and priceless gift reserved for my future husband, I died. When he penetrated me, he took my virginity.
I only remember bits and pieces of the remainder of that night. After he left my room, I curled into a ball in the middle of my bed and cried. At some point, I got up removed my clothes and bedsheets and washed them. I took boiling hot water with bleach and started cleaning my house. I scrubbed the floors, tables, and vacuumed the couch where he was sleeping. I don’t know at what point he left the house, but I noticed he was gone. While I was cleaning I tried to be quiet, so I wouldn’t wake up my roommate. I didn’t want to have to explain to her what just happened and why I was crying.
I don’t remember how long I stood in the shower scrubbing my skin. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed, angry and frustrated that I still didn’t feel clean. I could still feel his hands on me, and I scrubbed harder. My skin was so raw and tender when I got out of the shower, but I wanted to get back in and scrub some more.
I went to work the next day, speaking to no one, only speaking when I had to. I had no idea of how I was going to tell my parents or my boyfriend. I didn’t want to hear the I told you so’s. I didn’t want to be touched, looked at, or even thought of by anyone because I felt so dirty, ashamed, as if what happened to me was my fault.
For me, the letters of rape stand for removing all possible evidence, because that’s what happened to me. The person I was before the rape, was gone. The letters of survivor stand for strengthening, understanding, respecting victims of incest, violent crimes, or rape. The sexual assault support group through Stepping Stones of the YWCA helps me because I’m strengthened by sharing my experience as well as listening to the experiences of others.