There are certain questions in life that force your heart to drop deep into your stomach. And if you’re really unfortunate, those questions will be asked more than once. By multiple people. And because of the agony you feel over answering those particular questions, you’ll start to question yourself, too.
When I was sixteen, my (sort of, kind of) boyfriend sexually assaulted me, and at first, I hadn’t even realized it. And yes, I know how that sounds to the multiple people reading this.
You think I’m lying, or that maybe I overdramatized the events of that night after the fact.
But hear me out.
Or don’t, I guess.
It doesn’t really matter to me at this point anyway. I’m no longer the sixteen year old girl I was when the sexual assault happened. I’m no longer aching for the validation to be believed, or even heard, really.
But I’ll tell you my story anyway. Like I said, I was sixteen. I was invited to a party at my (sort of, kind of) boyfriend’s brothers apartment on a Friday night. I was beyond excited. Since this guy was only my (sort of, kind of) boyfriend, it was never a guarantee that I would be invited to this type of thing. Like many girls in high school, I had a low self-esteem, and this guy was popular, in the bad boy kind of way. He told me he liked me, and I obviously liked him, but you know he was a high school bad boy, so he didn’t commit.High school me thought no boy worth having was easy. I needed to work for it. I needed to be the girl to change him.
He didn’t have to be less of an asshole.
I needed to be more special.
Fuck, are you cringing right now? Yeah me too.
Anyway, I showed up to that party that night overjoyed I was the one he chose tonight. Except when I showed up, I realized it wasn’t much of a party at all. It was just him, his older brother, and four other boys I considered to be my friends. Maybe I should have been disappointed by that but I wasn’t. It actually relaxed me. I hadn’t drank much before and a low key night was much more appealing to me than a raging party.
The low key night with the boy I liked and a few friends started out slow. The music hummed through the apartment and I was handed a couple drinks that consisted of the cheapest vodka you could buy and an orange juice mixer. I sipped on those for about an hour before my face numbed and my laughs grew louder. I’d loosened up at that point and I was having fun.
Then a game of checkers was suggested. My buzzed and loosened up self, immediately stood up and asked to play. The boy I liked wrapped his arm around my lower back and guided me over to a table with a checker board made of glass, but it wasn’t checkers that sat on top of it, it was shot glasses.
Needless to say, by the time our game had finished, I was completely annihilated. A sixteen year old girl who weighs 140 pounds and has drank maybe two other times in her entire life should NEVER play checkers with shot glasses, and I mean never. I look back on that game and wonder how I didn’t just start throwing up right there at the table.
After that, everything that happened that night is a bit of a blur. There are still bits and pieces of that night I don’t remember at all. However, at one point there is something I do remember quite vividly, and that is that one of the boys I considered a friend took me into a bedroom, and put me to bed. I think it was clear to him my night was over once my words became so slurred, they were hardly understandable, even to my own ears.
He helped me into bed, pulled the blankets over my limp body, and shut off the lights before closing the door. That is where the night should have ended. But as you have probably guessed by now, it wasn’t.
I was awoken by the sound of chuckling boys bursting through the door. Four of them. My (sort of, kind of) boyfriend, and three of the boys I considered friends. The only boy who wasn’t there was the boy who had tucked me in.
I stumbled into a sitting position wiping at my eyes before my gaze met his. I had liked him for so long now. He was smiling at me and for a split second I remember feeling special, but as he knelt on the bed, that feeling quickly dissipated, and it was replaced with confusion, and a smidge of anxiety.
A thousand questions swirled in my mind.
What was he doing in here? Do I need to puke? What were they just laughing about? Shouldn’t I be sleeping? What are the other boys doing in here? Is this room spinning? Am I spinning? How long had I been sleeping?
My face fell into the palms of my hands then, and everything went dark.
Over the next few minutes, I drifted in and out of consciousness.
I remember more laughs. I remember being told to lift up my shirt. I remember trying to lift up my shirt. And I remember being helped to lift up my shirt. Then it went black again.
I came to once again but I was no longer on the bed. I was on the floor now, with no memory of how I got there. I was on my knees. The boy I liked was standing above me. He gazed down at me with a smile on his face as he unzipped his pants. It went black again.
Again I came back to life. And it was this time I wished I hadn’t. Because it was this time I was being used. It was this time I had a cock being slammed into the back of my throat. I’d never done this before. The most I’d ever done with a boy was kiss. It was this time I heard someone mutter the words, “Oh shit, someone grab a camera.”
Hot, fat, tears rolled down my cheeks. I pushed at his pasty harry thighs and he fell away from my mouth, roughly. His fingers lied tangled in my hair and he tried to pull me back to him. Again, I shoved him away, falling backwards.
Then after a moment, I mustered up the courage to tare my tear filled gaze off of the floor and look up at him.
In hind sight, I realize I probably expected to see a lot of different emotions in those dark eyes of his. Maybe sadness, matching my own. Hopefully some regret. Possibly some confusion. Or maybe even shock.
I saw none of those.
Instead I saw fury. I saw frustration. I saw disdain. I saw hatred.
I cried harder.
And he stormed from the room.
I was left on my knees crying my eyes out as I heard a large crashing sound downstairs. I didn’t find out until later that he had been punching the garage. He used me. He assaulted me. He humiliated me. He ripped away my innocence. And yet, he was the one who was pissed off.
When the tears flowing down my face finally managed to stop, I noticed I was alone again. The room was empty.
I should have been filled with rage, but I wasn’t. I just felt humiliated.
The door burst open again. It was the boy who tucked me in.
“What happened?” he asked.
I learned later he had stepped outside the apartment for fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes. This all happened in fifteen minutes.
I’ve told this story a few times. And I always get the question: “Why would he leave you alone with them?” It’s always asked in accusation. As if the boy who tucked me in is just as guilty as the rest of them.
But I don’t believe that.
The only thing that boy was guilty of that night is trusting his friends, just as I had. We’d both been so naive, as many 16 year olds are. That isn’t a crime.
I never pictured my first time engaging in sex going this way. I expected it to be gentle. Maybe a little awkward, but still special. I expected it to be consensual. And the only person to blame for it not going how I planned, is him. The boy I liked. The popular bad boy. My (sort of, kind of) boyfriend.
I began crying again.
The boy who tucked me in slowly walked towards me, his eyes softening. He wrapped his arms around me and held me close. He hugged me until I managed to catch my breath. “I embarrassed him,” I said hoarsely.
Have you ever heard words that leave you haunted long after they’ve floated through the air? Those words did that to me for a long time. My own words. Sometimes they still do. I actually said, “I embarrassed him.”
Not, “He embarrassed me.”
Not, “He assaulted me.”
Not, “He used me.”
But I said, “I embarrassed him.”
Things went a little blurry again, but I eventually told the boy who tucked me in what happened. I remember begging him not to do anything. I was so scared and any toxic masculinity of a fight breaking out, would only have upset me further. I remember him reluctantly agreeing, and staying with me until I felt safe again. He was all I had that night.
I vaguely remember defending my (sort of, kind of) boyfriend all night.
And I remember apologizing to him once I sobered up enough.
He didn’t forgive me at first, but eventually he did.
The next few days were rough. Rumors flew around the school that I got drunk and gave a guy a blow job in front of three people. I remember boys yelling at me down the hallway. “Deep throat,” they all called me.
The only boy who didn’t was the boy who tucked me in. He told me he was always there for me and he would always have my back with this.
He even apologized to me.
He told me I was taken advantage of that night and it wasn’t right.
I told him to “please, just stop.”
I laughed all the deep throat jokes off.
And those laughs haunt me just as much as the words, “I embarrassed him.” do. But still, I never let anyone see me cry after that night.
I laughed it off at school and cried it out at home.
I never thought about it for too long. It was too confusing.
Honestly, it wasn’t until about a year later that I started saying I was sexually assaulted. And that was only after someone said it for me. I recounted the details of that night to a girl I knew from school, and she was the first person to ever validate my feelings of that night.
“He sexually assaulted you,” she said.
The most I’d been told before that day was, “He took advantage of you.”
Those are words are still said sometimes today. “He was wrong, but he didn’t rape you. He just took advantage of you.”
Definition of rape: : unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against a person’s will or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent because of mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness, or deception.
Anyway, that’s pretty much where my story ends, because I never reported.
And because of that, I’m always asked that same damned question.
Do you regret not reporting the boy who sexually assaulted you?
But that’s kind of a loaded question.
Do I regret it for myself? Nope. Not one bit.
There were a couple girls in my hometown recently who were raped. I followed their stories closely. The first girl was same age I was when her rape happened. She was drunk, and her rapist had put something in her drink. Her case took over a year before she saw a trial. She delivered a powerful essay in court about how her rape affected her and how she had to attend school with her rapist the past year. She had to walk the halls with him daily.
He was found guilty, which should be a win, right?
It’s not a win when you take into account that the judge only sentenced him tothree months in jail, that could be served on the weekends. He drugged her. He raped her. But this judge didn’t want to ruin his future. The rapist was in college now. So he figured jail time on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays were enough. That girl went to school with her rapist for a year, delivered an amazingly powerful essay in court, but he thought jail on weekends was enough. It wasn’t. Not even close.
The second girl was raped by a close friend of hers.
She asked him to drive her home after having a drink at the bar, and instead he took her back to his house, because he didn’t feel like driving all the way to her house. He wanted to go home now. She trusted him.
Later that night, he held her down and raped her. She got a rape kit done and the DNA was on her side. He denied ever touching her.
She reported him, but she didn’t see a court room until three years later.
He was found not guilty.
So the answer to your question?
I would love to regret it. I would love to feel guilt that I didn’t report it. Guilt and regret would be so much better to feel than the emotion I feel when I heard the outcomes of those girls trials, because all I felt was relief.
I was relieved I never came forward, just to sit in court for several years, unable to move on with my life, just to hear a judge mutter the words he doesn’t feel right ruining my rapists life, even though that’s exactly what he did to mine. I was relieved I never had to see my rapist smile as the jury let him off. I was relieved I never had to read the articles my hometown would write about my rapist being found innocent. I was relieved I didn’t have to read any of the comments left on those articles stating that, “This story feels weird.” or, “This is why girls shouldn’t drink.” or, “Why didn’t this girl ask her boyfriend to take her home?”
“Aly, Didn’t you admit you tried lifting up your own shirt?”
“Aly, wasn’t this guy your boyfriend?”
“Aly, didn’t you apologize to him that night?”
“Aly, how much did you drink that night?”
“Aly, what were you wearing?”
So no, the answer to your question is no, or kind of anyway.
I don’t regret it for myself.
But do I regret for the other girls it could have helped? Yes. I do.
Because while my rapist probably would have been let off because of the gray category my sexual assault meshes into, I still believe reporting could have helped someone else. Maybe not me, but it could have possibly helped every girl who was sexually assaulted after me.
At the very least it could have made someone else feel less alone than I felt.
And I wish that at 16 years old, I would have been stronger. I wish I would have been more educated on what sexual assault is. And I wish I would have spoke out, because I honestly believe that the more these horrific stories get told, the closer we are to real change.
And every day, I hope for real change.
I hope that maybe, one day, a woman will never have to regret not reporting her sexual assault, because one day, every woman will always report her sexual assault.
I hope that one day sexual assault become less common than it has always been.
I hope that one day coming forwards feels empowering instead of shameful.
And as for my hometown, I hope that just maybe, one day, a rapist will serve more than three months in jail, on the weekends.