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Violence

I’m not sure if acquaintance rape has been covered in your column or not. If it hasn’t I’d like to share my story with you to maybe help other women who have gone through this. About 9 months ago, I was raped by a “friend” who had come over to my apartment to “hang out”. I had talked to him about the difficulties and stress I was going through with the guy who was my boyfriend at the time. He gave me a kiss and I *did* kiss him back a couple times before telling him that I was sorry but I loved my boyfriend and that I couldn’t be intimate with him at this time. He stopped, but then 10 minutes later start again – id tell him “please, I don’t want to do this” and he would stop for 5 minutes…and start again becoming more persistent each time until finally he ignored when I said “I can’t”. I was too afraid to really fight him off, I didn’t scream or yell but I did ask him to at least use a condom which he did. I just didn’t want him to hurt me anymore than he already was and prayed it would be over as quickly as possible.

After it was over I felt as though someone had dropped an atomic bomb on me, but went on with my life as if nothing happened. I felt it was my fault because I should have told him to get out, or at the very least fought harder – and I did kiss him a couple times. I’m sure HE wouldn’t consider it rape, especially not since I begged him to use a condom. I knew that I did NOT want to have sex with him, and he did hurt me but I still felt as though I’d asked for it. I didn’t go to the police, and I couldn’t get a doctors appointment until almost 3 months after it happened. I was too ashamed to tell my doctor what went on, I just got a quick check up. My boyfriend and I decided to live together 6 months after I was raped and I became progressively stressed out. I would cry for no reason, I gained weight, couldn’t concentrate at work and thought constantly about ending my life. I didn’t connect that maybe all of this could be from what happened, I just kept telling myself it was PMS. I finally told a supervisor (an incredible feminist, anti-racist activist) and friend at work that I had been raped after I got into an argument with my boss who is male and broke down. She was understanding, and suggested I get therapy and take some time off from work. My boyfriend on the other hand freaked out and accused me of cheating on him and then calling it rape. He said that he felt violated and that he couldn’t look at me the same way because I’d had a guy in my room that wasn’t him. We were on and off again trying to work through it for about 4 painful months and then finally split up for good. I am seeing a therapist, and trying to piece myself back together slowly.

My therapist has given me a little bit of literature on acquaintance rape and I’m realizing that I am so far from alone in my silence. Many women are raped by husbands, boyfriends, family, and friends - people they care about and trust. I still feel as though I cannot go to the police, but I have the knowledge that it’s never too late – and maybe if I share my story it will help other women to come forward. Aside from just sharing my story, I wanted to ask you Amy if you can give me some more good books/information on acquaintance rape. And also if there are any resources/groups/centers in my area that I could contact and possibly do some activists work with to help women who have gone through this empower themselves.
 
Thank you so much for all that you do!
 
Clarissa

 

   

Dear Clarissa,

I know that other people sense a great relief, just from the process of sharing -- just by telling your story and your truths, you have exposed others to that fact that they aren't alone and hopefully realized that in the process. Acquaintance rape is incredibly common, especially among college campuses and women in their twenties. It seems to go with that time in life, where boundaries are blurry and expectations are great.

In fact, I think I read that acquaintance rape is the most common form of rape -- so you aren't alone. And part of the problem with detecting such rapes or documenting is that they often go unreported --people fear turning in their friends and thus don't report it. Reporting is actually almost beside the point -- though I highly encourage everyone to do it -- but it's problematic, because it's so specific -- you have to do it within 48 hours and you need to specifically have a rape kit and even with these guidelines met, too many cases fall about because the pressure is to great or becausethe required evidence is too specific. Given this, I usually encourage people to find their own sense of justice somehow -- not sure that there is one answer for everyone, but I think that everyone has something that makes them feel better about what happened. It sounds like you are on a good track. Have you visited RAINN -- they have great resources. Also, in New York City there is the Mount Sinai Rape Crisis Center -- it's local, but its resources are national. I get their newsletter and am thoroughly impressed by their work. I hope that you keep sharing and talking and realizing that that will help others.

-- Amy

 

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