#MeToo It’s Time to Speak of Rape
Updated: Sep 19, 2018
TRIGGER WARNING: Rape
For forty years I kept a photo of the boy who raped me. I kept his picture in my photo album, amidst all the happy photos of friends, travels and events. He is sitting on a chair in the apartment I shared with my friend. He doesn’t look relaxed. He has a half smile and probably didn’t want his picture taken. Did he already have a plan?
I had some sort of idea in the back of my mind that I would find him someday, confront him, destroy him, hurt him somehow. Make him pay for his attack. That’s why I kept the photo.
The photo was taken before we left for a party. I don’t remember coming home from the party. I only remember half waking up in my roommate’s bed, as he was raping me.
Larry may have drugged me. It’s hard to know because I was a heavy drinker, an alcoholic, and with that diagnosis, comes the reality of blackouts. He may not have needed to drug me. There are other pictures from the party. I was nineteen, I was pretty, and I looked to be having some fun at the beginning of the night. I wore my huge glasses which I always liked.
I wasn’t attracted to him. Lips too fleshy for a guy, I remember thinking. Sort of cute but…fake. I didn’t like him.
But somehow, we left the party together.
I woke up in my roommate’s bed. He obviously did not know which bedroom was mine. I remember hearing the door of my apartment open, then close.
I can’t imagine that I encouraged anything. What I was guilty of was drinking too much.
I didn’t call it rape for many years though that is what it was.
I have learned much since then.
Now I know that even if we had kissed, even if I had encouraged anything,
I was unable to consent.
I have never forgotten the rape. This past winter, I thought I would try to find people who knew Larry. At least find out his last name. There were two women who I had been friends with at the time. One was the host of the party that night. I found them on Facebook, reached out and they both claimed not to remember a Larry. I didn’t tell them why I was asking. I don’t know why.
So I made a decision that it was time to let it go. I took the photo out of the album and solemnly carried it to the paper shredder. It was rather anticlimactic and it took longer to take it out of the album than it took to destroy it. I can still see him, this boy who raped me who may not even be alive anymore.
Did he rape other women? What kind of a life has he had?
I wasn’t planning on writing about this yet. But as I tweeted #metoo a couple of weeks ago, I thought it was time to stop carrying it all by myself. All of us. It’s time.
It’s time to talk about all of it: the unwanted touching, the forced smiles,
the ignoring, the shame when we shouldn’t feel any…it’s time.
I know too many women who have been raped. I had friends from high school who were raped by boyfriends. It has happened to so many people I personally know, including members of my extended family.
Just because I had a drinking problem doesn’t mean I should carry the shame of my behavior all my life.
That’s what a rape culture does.
It distorts who the victim is and who the predator is.
It puts all the blame on the victim and all I was guilty of was drinking too much. I want to reach out to young women and warn them about drinking and drugs, not just because they mess up the brain cells, but because of the danger of having no control.
Now I know better and I feel so sad for my young self. I take self defense classes, I don’t drink, and I have more knowledge than I did at nineteen. However, the violence and assaults are a part of every woman’s life.
We must constantly be aware of the dangers of being a woman in our world.
That is the saddest thing of all.
With all of our hard fought freedoms, this hateful, awful danger still exists. And it exists for transgender youths, gay people—there are so many vulnerable people. I think of the attackers, the instigators, the assaulters–all of them–how dare you? They dare because they can and because they get away with it.
Perhaps with all these victims coming forward, we can change the system that lets this behavior get a pass.
The system that lets the courts be lenient, that lets people raise their sons in such a way that tells them it’s ok. That says boys will be boys. That lets everyone look the other way as the victim is presumed to be asking for it. I am so tired of the violence. I am so tired of men.
I don’t know if I have forgiven this boy who raped me. I am still angry and I hope he didn’t hurt other women. I wish I knew then what I knew now. I was so damn young.