It was sixth period of my junior year. A group of us sat on the bleachers overlooking the JV football field. Skipping this class period had become my ritual to fit in with my boyfriend’s clique. My nickname was “church lady”. I desperately wanted to shed my good girl image.
I was talking with Ray. Ray had always been nice to me. He was one of the few who complimented me from time to time and treated me like I belonged. Mid-sentence, Ray sprung up and grabbed my purse and begun teasing me to come get it. I didn’t want to chase him but my Fast Pass for the bus was in my purse and I wanted to get home after school.
I began chasing him through the school halls and he ran up the least used stairway in the school to midway on the third floor. He puts my purse behind his back and and says, “Come get it.”
I thrust myself at him to get my purse back. Eventually, my arms are wrapped around him as he switches my purse from hand to hand. He tells me how cute I am. I thank him, but I remember he has a girlfriend. In fact, an awesome girlfriend whom I respected very much. So when he tries to kiss me again, I turned my face.
I can’t remember how it happened clearly, but soon, he had me pressed against the stairs, holding me down. He used one hand to hold me down and the other to pull off my pants and underwear. His kept kissing me as he invaded my body with his.
I’m sure I said no at least one, but my “no” didn’t stop him. I would have screamed. I wanted to, but I could see the door to a classroom wide open just up the stairs. I didn’t make a sound. In fact, I held my breath and attempted to count the specks of dirt on the ceiling above me. I wanted it to be over without anyone seeing or hearing a thing.
When it was over, he smile and kissed me; as if we’d made love or had consensual sex. I was trembling and fearful. He mumbles, “Don’t tell anyone.”
Who would I tell? After all, his girlfriend was my current boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. If I tell her, then Jay would surely know. But what if he told someone that he’d just had sex with me? What if my boyfriend got angry and left me or worse tried to retaliate for what he’d done?
My other friend,*Wes, found me trembling in another stairwell at school after the bell rang for the next period. He asks what’s wrong, but I awash in shame. He just holds me until I finally confess. He wants to run and tell my boyfriend right away. He didn’t want Jay to find out some other way because he knew Ray would be a dead man.
But I never tell Jay. I really couldn’t. My boyfriend wasn’t violent in my presence, but I knew that his lifestyle came with a code and in that code, he would have attempted to hurt or kill Ray. For some reason, I wanted to protect Ray more that I wanted protect myself.
This wasn’t the first time. The first occurred when I was 13. My friend had a male cousin in town on summer. I tried to leave after the first time he had sex with me. I half-willingly consented to the first time. His cousins egged him on as he raped me for what seemed like hours. They watched as though I was a star in some horrible porno. I didn’t cry or scream since there was no one to save me.
And again by someone I met in a bar and taken home. I didn’t intend to sleep with him. I was just being nice because he was a GI who needed a ride since his friends left the bar without him.
Being repeatedly raped changed how I view men, but also how I viewed myself.I stopped trusting men. All men were enemies. Sex was a weapon. If I wanted to have control, I had to control men sexually. I begun to believe that I should have sex with me but make sure that I had control of sex. I didn’t really think about sex and love in the same sentence. Sex was a physical act. You could either give it willingly or have it taken away from you.
As an adult, it manifested itself me being promiscuous at times and not believing that anyone could love me. I was filthy. I was an object for sex. Love was for good girls and I was not one of them. I work daily to deprogram my way of thinking, but there is still the scared girl trembling on the stairs attempting to control her world.
*Names have been changed as a courtesy to all involved.