I’ve been thinking a lot of the recent news of the certified Piece of Shit Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, and his lax sentencing, his father’s defence of him, his “bright future” and my own experiences with sexual assault. Brock Turner and his father both think that the rape he committed was just some “action,” a right of passage for any man, because women are for their consumption. I’ve been thinking a lot about the language surrounding the survivor of his attack, how commentators have remarked that Turner has stolen something that can’t be replaced, that Her future is forever marred. And I have been reminded that I was sexually assaulted twice in one year during my time in college.
My story is very different than Her’s. Her’s is much more cut and dry than mine, but mine were still sexual assault. I wasn’t raped behind a dumpster, I was raped on a couch and a bed, both times, so drunk I couldn’t see straight. Both times, I woke up thinking that the assaults wouldn’t have happened if I had been sober. Now, I have had consensual sex while drinking, many times. The difference is there and you know it when it happens. The first time, I was woken up after throwing up multiple times, after trying to walk home and I couldn’t. I was on my best friend’s couch, I fell asleep, surrounded by friends. I woke up with his hand on my breast. He told me to suck his dick three times before I did.
And you can blame me, call me a slut, say that I shouldn’t have drank those shots so quickly, that I should have been chosen better friends, that I should have found a way home from that small gathering, too tiny to be considered a party, that I should have been more careful. I don’t care because I know that the true villain, the real evil, was the “friend” who came to the couch when people had gone to bed, who targeted the 20 year old me who’s only mistake was drinking too much. Who thought that the one time we kissed, months earlier when we were both sober, was all the consent and sobriety he needed. Who later bragged on twitter about all the young souls he was saving for Christ. And young 20 year old me, who had never had sex or given a blow job, or even touched a penis, who was trying to figure out the difference between Catholic abstinence and her own version of sexuality that made sense to her. I didn’t get that chance. That was taken from me. I didn’t get a sweet and innocent first time, surrounded by awkward trust. I got raped. I lost trust, in myself, in my male friends, in my perception of myself.
The second time, I was at a bar with my roommate. Again, I had been drinking. I saw an old classmate and left with him. I was so drunk I couldn’t see, I remember walking through overhanging branches and falling down into the street. That night was the first night a penis entered my vagina. I was too drunk to see, let alone consent to that act. But my story is complicated. I had consensual sex with that classmate in the weeks and months following. It doesn’t change the fact that the first time, wasn’t a first time. It was a second rape.
There is a difference between rape and consensual sex. A few months later, I laid on a different couch, when a boy I cared about asked if it was okay if he went down on me. He asked before every act. And while he later broke my heart, I forgive him because he never raped me. A broken heart heals much easier than a broken spirit. And my spirit was broken. I tried to find solace in alcohol. I was suicidal. I developed an eating disorder. I self harmed. I tried to reclaim my experiences by choosing to have sexual experiences. If I could say that I chose to give a different man oral sex, perhaps I also chose to give my permission to him. Perhaps, if I chose to sleep with him soberly, I also gave consent the first night. But I didn’t. I didn’t give consent those times. And these men took advantage. They were predators.
And I hear the story of Turner, and I am angry. I have fantasized about gunning him down to “Another One Bites the Dust” and not looking back as he gasps for breath. His violence towards a sister of mine deserves retribution and our justice system failed Her, even though she seemed like the “Perfect” rape victim. Our justice system fails women everyday, while telling us to not drink, to wear nail polish that changes color if our drink is roofied, to walk with friends in the daytime, while telling rapists that their future is bright, their careers mean more than our bodies.
I am better now. I only rarely associate my worth with my sexuality now. I used to cry every time I was rejected because my body was used without my consent before so why didn’t someone want it now? What was wrong with it, if it was stolen before and passed up now? I am no longer suicidal and I rarely self harm. I no longer use starvation to mask the hollow emptiness inside me. These feelings pass. They slowly fade, until they are just old scars. I didn’t get a traditional first time and I had to relearn what healthy sexuality means. But I am stronger, and angrier, and vocal about sexual assault now. Not everyone can reclaim their experiences. I am a complicated victim, a problematic survivor. But I am a survivor. And I will not be quiet.