I was 19 years old. I was enjoying the fun and excitement of my first ‘casual sex’ or ‘friends with benefits’ type situation. Something that I believe both men and women have the right to experience as an enjoyable, empowering experience. That being said I was 19 and naive with a life that made me particularly at risk for choosing less than ideal men to be in my life, including ones that only lowered my already very low self-worth. It turns out I also chose to surround myself with friends that only lowered my self-worth as well.
I realize that no 19 year old, or anyone really, knows exactly what to do for another person (or for themselves) after they’ve been assaulted. However, I feel like there are a few things that should be common sense that apparently are not. I never did do a really great job of standing up to these so called friends at the time, and I don’t see the point in standing up to them now after all of these years – they may have changed between then and now but I have a hunch that most of them are the same shitty, low-vibe human beings they were almost 8 years ago. So instead, naturally I’ve turned to my blog to teach other people how to have what should be common sense in these situations, and basically just how not to be a shit friend.
Go to the ER: I was in shock for months after this happened to me, trying to come up with any plausible explanation for the event that would make it not be rape. I did not want to believe that someone whom I had considered a friend, someone who I invited into my home, into my family and friend Christmas gatherings, into my social circle, into my body, could do this to me. I was too busy searching every corner of my mind for a different outcome to even think to go to the ER for a rape kit or even to check me for STD’s or give me plan B or simply make sure that physically I was okay.
Call the police: I waited almost a year to finally report this incident, and partially because of this there was lack of evidence to prosecute. The man who did this to me is now married (with my ex-best friends in his wedding party) and last I heard possibly has or is having a kid. He has never paid any price for what he did to me besides the obvious damage that it would do to his soul. He did apologize to me once, so I know he understands that what he did was wrong, and he has to live with that for the rest of his life. Even though Crown Council did not take this to trial it is on record for anyone who reports him in the future, and I do believe that he has done this before and will do it again. This is why anyone who is assaulted needs to report it even if it won’t make it to court.
You’re not going to be okay for a very long time, but one day you will be: I didn’t think I’d ever be okay again. But I am. I am definitely changed and scarred but I’m also healed and wiser. My chest no longer burns like an open wound and is now a dull ache. A reminder of what once was, and how if I can overcome that then I truly can overcome anything. The validation and honesty that comes with this sentence is huge to a survivor, or at least it would have been to me.
I believe you, and I’m here for you: I needed someone to be outraged for me. Someone who’s emotion validated everything I was experiencing. When I reached out to my friends completely lost and confused, telling them what had happened to me as if I wasn’t even sure I believed it myself, I needed someone to say “Wow! That is so wrong. I am so sorry, I love you, I believe you, I am angry for you, let me help you.” At the time I didn’t have the type of friends who can see outside of themselves for long enough to be outraged for anyone. In fact, some of them told me it was my fault while others tried to convince me and/or trick me into having said man at a surprise party that I was planning! The behavior from 3-4 “friends” in particular is so disgraceful it completely changed my view of who these people were and to this day I still cannot look at them the same way or think of them without feeling sick to my stomach. The way some humans treat other humans is absolutely despicable and I do not understand how a person is even capable of this sort of behavior.
You are not alone: Do you know how many Canadians this happens to? 1 in 4 women in North America alone will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Look around you, how many women are around you? How many women and young girls do you have in your every day life? Think of your mothers, grandmothers, aunts, nieces, sisters, daughters and friends. 1 in 4 of those women and girls have or will be sexually assaulted at some point. 60% of them will have been under the age of 17, and 80% of the assailants will be a friend or family member of the victim.
Rape is rape. It doesn’t matter whether or not you were already involved with the assailant: Instead I was asked by a very important male figure in my life, “Well were you already sleeping with him?”. Even if the assailant and the victim are married, any non-consensual sexual act is assault. Period.
Your assailant is a sad, disgusting, pathetic human being and you will always surpass them because you are a survivor and anyone who feels the need to do that to another person has some serious issues: I thought it was my fault. I thought he had taken my power. I thought he had taken pieces of me that would never re-grow. Looking back on this incident now I actually feel bad for him. How disgusting and pathetic and empty someone must be to feel the need to pin someone down, arm to their throat, and rape them. And for those who followed him, their lives can’t be much better.
People think sexual assault is rare, its not. It is however under-reported and under-prosecuted. That woman you met in the elevator today, the child at the bus stop, the telemarketer who interrupted your dinner, the person delivering your mail, they could all be survivors. Check out these Canadian statistics to understand how common this really is:
- Of every 100 incidents of sexual assault, only 6 are reported to the police
- 1 – 2% of “date rape” sexual assaults are reported to the police
- 1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime
- 11% of women have physical injury resulting for sexual assault
- Only 2 – 4% of all sexual assaults reported are false reports
- 60% of sexual abuse/assault victims are under the age of 17
- over 80% of sex crime victims are women
- 80% of sexual assault incidents occur in the home
- 17% of girls under 16 have experienced some form of incest
- 83% of disabled women will be sexual assaulted during their lifetime
- 15% of sexual assault victims are boys under 16
- half of all sexual offenders are married or in long term relationships
- 57% of aboriginal women have been sexually abused
- 1/5th of all sexual assaults involve a weapon of some sort
- 80% of assailants are friends and family of the victim
If one of your close friends is assaulted, sexually or otherwise, I really do feel that it is your duty as their friend to offer your support, your confidence, and your unwavering love to the survivor because this person will not be able to do it for themselves possibly for a very, very long time. Also, if anyone is reading this who may have made a mistake with how they handled this situation with me, we all screw up. Forgive yourself, on the basis that you learn from this and be better with the next person in your life who’s experiencing something like this, because trust me, there will be more.
And to my own assailant: you didn’t ruin me. You didn’t take away my trust for the human race or male population. I’m still here, spreading love wherever I go. And for you, but mostly for your wife and potential children, I’m sorry that you’re such a pathetic loser that you needed to rape me to feel powerful. You’re not, and never will be, powerful.