This is a letter to the world.
It’s been four years in August. I still remember it like it happened yesterday. I didn’t know then what I know now.. about any of this. I’m hoping this will help to create awareness and, as well, that it will be therapeutic to me. There are a total of six people who know the full details outside of myself and the rapist himself – five of them are therapists or medical professionals. Here goes.
On August 21, 2012, I was feeling young. I was feeling some pride in myself for the first time in well over a decade. I felt beautiful and self-confident. I had decided that I was going to have a good day. As the day progressed, I became aware of the fact that having a good day was not in the cards. There was too much death.
I lived with my father as his caretaker. The community we lived in wasn’t exactly tight-knit, but everyone knew everyone else. There was a woman who was old, but sweeter than homemade apple pie. She died that day. Her puppy, who was one of the sweetest, loving animals I’d ever met, was left without a home. I don’t know to this day what happened to him.
I then heard about a double homicide in our area. While no murder is ever a good thing, this one was different. I knew one of the victims. I’d served with her in a local charity organization. She was kind, rowdy, outspoken, humane, compassionate and absolutely beautiful. Her and her nephew were gunned down inside of her home by her former boyfriend. It hurt so bad. She was a fire in a world of darkness. Upon learning of this, I decided to go to the local dive bar. I needed a drink. I knew there would be other friends of hers there and that we could support and be there for one another.
I hopped on the bus to the bar and, upon arrival, looked around and saw my fellow mourners. People were in corners, clutching their beers and drinks, tears freely flowing from their faces. We were all destroyed. I went to the counter and proceeded to procure myself a few drinks.
As the night wore on, I knew that I was going to be absolutely hammered if I had anything to say about it. At some point, the man who would later become my husband arrived. He held me and he held the others, trying to offer any comfort that he could. At some point around midnight, we decided to go back to his house. I hoped that the drinking would continue. I didn’t want to feel.
Sure enough, we arrived and his two roommates, both friends of ours, were there with alcohol in hand. They offered comfort and kindness along with the bottles. I felt safe and that I could trust all three men. One (who I’ll call Jake) was my future husband. One was his first roommate (who I’ll call Mark) and a gentleman. The third was Jake’s second roommate (who I’ll call Carl). All three were dear to me. I trusted all of them. I feel foolish for having done so in hindsight.
As the night wore on, Mark, Carl and myself decided to hop into the household hot tub. We were all naked but there was no sexual intent. The two men knew that my heart, even then, belonged to Jake. He was my best friend and we were very much in love. Jake, unfortunately, had had too much to drink and sat outside of the hot tub trying to reel himself in from “the spins”.
Mark and Carl sat and talked with me in the hot tub. We spoke about our friendships and we spoke about body types. I laughed at the thought that my body type was once considered to be the ideal. Curvy girls get a lot of flak now. I could feel my confidence and smiled in spite of the grief for just a moment. At some point, Mark decided to get out and go to sleep. He bid us a good night and went in. Carl and I sat in the hot tub, Jake still sitting near the hot tub and trying to recover.
I knew that I was more drunk than I’d ever been. I could feel the alcohol continuing to pump through my body and my inhibitions quickly disappearing. Quite suddenly, Carl pulled me towards him and tried to kiss me. I pushed away from him and fell backward, hitting my head hard on the opposite side of the hot tub. The alcohol seemed to jump up in intensity right then. I floated near the surface, my head resting on the side of the hot tub. I looked over at Jake, knowing that something wasn’t right. I didn’t realize then that I’d suffered a concussion.
Suddenly, I felt hands on my legs. I turned my eyes downward and saw Carl, pulling my legs apart and moving between them. At first, I felt a kind of shock. This couldn’t have been the same man who I was laughing with earlier. Then, I suddenly felt a pain rip through me. He was violently shoving his penis into my vagina. I winced, my eyes slamming shut. I looked toward Jake with panic in my eyes. As Carl repeatedly slammed into me, causing my body to be knocked into the hot tub walls, I tried to say Jake’s name. It came out so quietly. It was barely above a whisper. Jake didn’t look up initially. I later discovered that he had assumed that I was moaning. I was, in fact, crying and terrified. I whispered, “No.. no.. Jake.. Jake..” trying to get his attention.
I felt my head going under the water. My legs weren’t responding and my arms were little more than flotation devices. My fingers opened and tried to scratch at the side of the hot tub. I knew that if my head went under far enough, I would drown.
I got water in my nose and my mouth. I sputtered and coughed. Jake suddenly looked up in time to see Carl back away from me. He jumped up and, hoping that he hadn’t seen what he had seen, shoved Carl back. Carl laughed and said, “Dude, I think she wants a threesome!” Jake scowled at Carl and said, “No. She’s not that girl.”
He pulled me up and demanded that Carl help remove me from the hot tub.
As they pulled me inside, I couldn’t walk. My legs wouldn’t work and I didn’t know where I was for a moment. Jake helped me to the bathroom and told me that I needed to throw up. He didn’t know that I’d hit my head and thought that if I got the alcohol out of my system, I’d feel better. I obliged and threw up several times, expelling most of the water.
Jake walked me into his room afterwords. He told Carl to go to bed. I whined and whimpered before I went to sleep.
The next morning, I woke up next to Jake. I was initially okay with this. I sat up, having no memory of the night before, and realized that I was covered in blood. My legs were coated and there was a large puddle underneath me. I knew I wasn’t having a period. I felt a sudden sick feeling in my stomach and asked Jake what had happened. Jake, being in denial at that time, said that he didn’t know, but that I should be okay.
As we all woke and made our rounds of food and showers, Carl came into the living room and asked for help. He needed help filing for divorce from his wife, who he had repeatedly cheated on. I offered to help, still unaware of what had happened the night before. The next several hours were spent going to the local courthouse, helping him get his paperwork filed and trying to calm him down. He’d made a comment about how lucky Jake was that I loved him and had even said that he would never hurt me if he and I were to get together. I laughed at that, telling him that I was flattered but that my heart was Jake’s.
At day’s end, I decided to go back to our local bar. There weren’t more than ten people there. Jake was with me as was another of our friends (I’ll call him Ben). Ben had introduced Jake and I. I trusted him explicitly. About two hours after we’d arrived, someone got up and began to sing The Mars Volta’s “The Widow”. Out of nowhere, I began to feel this intense sense of dread and nausea. It was almost a full 24 hours after the rape and my memories were suddenly flooding back to me.
I went up to Ben and said, “I need to talk to you. I think I was raped.”
Ben put his hands on my shoulders and asked, “By who?!” I winced, not realizing that my shoulders and back were as deeply bruised as they were. I looked him in the eyes and said, “Carl.”
Ben took me outside and sat me down, telling me to talk to him. I told him that I’d hit my head the night before and was beginning to remember details. I told him what I’ve written here. I began to shake and cry as I spoke to him, beginning to feel the disgust for myself. I felt guilt. I felt stupid. I felt like I had put myself in that situation. I felt, like most of us do, as though I’d asked for it. It didn’t matter that the words “I want to have sex with you” never came out of my mouth. It didn’t matter that I’d said “no” so quietly. I felt solely responsible and disgusted.
Ben called Jake outside and began asking for his account. As Jake spoke, he began to shake his head. The realization of what had happened began to solidify with him. Finally, Ben asked him straight, “Did Carl rape her?” Ben stopped and looked at the ground before forcing out the word, “Yes.”
Ben immediately stood up and said, “You’re coming with me. I’m going to take you somewhere safe.” He could see that I was terrified. Carl, right then, showed up and, smiling and laughing, said, “Hey guys!” He couldn’t understand why I was crying and why Ben was helping me to his car.
I stayed at Ben’s house that night. I curled up in his bed in a ball and he held me. I found out later that he’d known so many women in his family to have been raped. He wouldn’t have held me except that I asked him to. I wanted to go away. I wanted to disappear. No where felt safe. Not even my own body. He served to hold me inside my own skin that night. He never laid a finger on any other part of my body. He just wrapped his arms around me and slept.
The next morning, Ben handed me $50 and told me to go to the local pharmacy and get a Plan B in case. I initially refused. He said, “I don’t want you having to deal with a pregnancy from this man. Just do it. For me.” I nodded and went to get Plan B. That was just the start.
Over the next two weeks, I was unable to look at myself in the mirror. My appearance went to hell. My closet doors were mirror doors, so being in my room was hard, but the only place I felt like I could hide. I began getting violently ill. One day, my father passed me in our hallway and gently put his hand on my arm. He asked me about the bruises. I didn’t realize how bad they were. My right shoulder, neck, back and ribs were covered in one giant bruise. I flushed with shame and told him that I’d fallen down some stairs. Being clumsy, he could understand. He didn’t completely believe me, but agreed not to push it.
I ended up going to the urgent care about two days after his questions. I wore long jeans and a hoodie. I kept my head covered and thought that everyone was staring at me and my bruises, even though they weren’t. I went in and told the doctor that I needed to get a pelvic exam and an STD test. I told them about the fevers, nausea and problems urinating. A female doctor came in finally and I just broke wide open. I told her I’d been raped and that I didn’t want to report it. I was defensive and almost hostile. She brought in a nurse and they both very gently talked to me about RAINN. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but it saved my life.
Two weeks after that, I had spoken with RAINN counselors, my own therapist and another therapist. It turned out that, while I hadn’t become pregnant and hadn’t contracted any STD’s, the internal damage was severe. I had multiple tears and small hemorrhages. I’d also managed to pick up a VERY nasty bladder infection. They treated me with antibiotics initially and informed me that I would likely develop endometriosis. They couldn’t do much for my concussion, but marked my chart with having sustained a moderate one.
Here we are, four years later. My husband is Jake. We don’t talk about that night often because it triggers me. As well, he feels responsible. He feels as though he would have been able to prevent it had he not been drunk. We both feel that way.
For a while after the rape, I did what so many rape victims do when their rapists were people they knew: I tried to normalize the situation. I tried to pretend it never happened. I pretended that we were all friends and everything was fine. It took almost nine months before I finally refused to speak to Carl. He was enraged by this.
He has since stalked me via social media. He has threatened death to my husband and I. Only once did he admit what he did in a mass letter to several people via Facebook. I still have that letter. I still have pictures of my injuries. I have discovered as well that he has raped, over the past 10 years, at least 7 men and women. None of them felt safe enough to report him. None before and none after. There was one girl who reported him for stalking and harassment, but the case was dismissed because his father’s lawyer had intimidated the witnesses. The judge who dismissed that case was a new mother of a little girl.
I haven’t heard from him since 2014 except that, every few months, he creates new social media accounts. He’ll use Facebook and create new accounts. He’ll follow me on Twitter and Instagram. I’ve decided that he is terrified of and angry with me because I never reported it and he thinks that I will. The truth of the matter is that I just want to pretend it never happened. I know that’s impossible, though. I know that he lives here still. I know that he’ll come after me for the rest of my life. I know that, until he is caught red-handed, he will continue to rape men and women because he feels entitled to do so.
I wrote this letter because it needs to be written. This story needs to be told. Over the past four years, I have learned that rape is NEVER okay. It is NEVER the victim’s fault. I didn’t ask him or give him permission to take from me what he took. It doesn’t matter if you’re drunk. The law is clear (except in Oklahoma) that a person who is inebriated cannot give consent.
I have learned that I didn’t ask for it. He took it.
I implore everyone to please be safe. Most rapes occur with someone the victim knows and trusts. Encourage sex education. Encourage safety. Encourage an end to rape culture. Don’t pressure victims into reporting their rapists. Don’t shame them for not reporting their rapes. The physical, spiritual, mental and emotional toll rape takes is indescribable. A person can go years without a trigger and, one day, they may see one thing that brings it all back. Rape ruins lives. It nearly ruined mine. I am a survivor.
A rape survivor