I don’t know your name, and I never will. I don’t remember the exact lines of your face, or what your voice sounded like as it slid greasily over my skin. I do remember the drink you bought me, and the brown hair that you flicked up when you looked at me as we danced, vaguely. You start to blur around the time you asked me if I wanted to smoke as you led me across the dance floor toward the bathrooms.
“Don’t make a fucking sound,” you told me. “Don’t you make a single. fucking. sound.” You held me as your friend ripped off my tights, yanking my shoes off in your haste to taste forbidden fruit. “You asked for this, I knew you wanted it, I saw how you were looking at me.” You choked me, holding me captive. You marveled at my breasts as you pawed my dress over my shoulders. You didn’t know that I had just worked my ass off, literally, to lose 15 pounds before this trip, and that afterwards I wouldn’t be able to look at myself in the mirror for months. You marveled at the fit, so tight you had to share it with a friend. You told me I was lucky, that you were the perfect man and no one else would measure up. You waited to finish until a frantically searching friend screamed my name, and you sprinted into the darkness. You didn’t stick around to see the damage that you had done, or to see if the drug you slipped in my drink would make it out of my system. You didn’t stay up with me that night as my body shook with drug induced chills, and you weren’t the friend that helped slip my feet back into my shoes, or the ones who half walked half carried me home when my limbs refused to awaken from the haze you put me in.You didn’t care that you had given me a secret that I wouldn’t be strong enough to talk about, even to the people who took me home. You didn’t know if my spirit would survive.
But it did, I did.
In the days, months, and years afterward there were times I wondered to myself if I had asked for it. Was my dress too tight? My heels too tall? My smile too trusting? Was I too naive about strangers traveling the world? Had I brought this upon myself? Could I call it what it was, what it is? Did I tell friends, my family? You created so many terrible questions, and I was on a path to self destruction, seeking out everything that would make me forget and handing my body out like an object searching for self worth where I would never find it.
You raped me.
But what you violated was not just my body, it was also my mind. You filled me with self-doubt, you turned me against by body, and you created a secret I felt like I had to keep from the world. To this day I don’t speak about it, few friends know, and they don’t know the whole story, only the takeaways. There are nights when I wake up sweating, with panic gripping my chest as I blink in the darkness, even after three years.
But here is what I have to say to you. You did not break me. My body is mine. It is my temple. When I look at myself in the mirror I do not see you. I see me. I am all that I have for this lifetime and I will be damned if I spend time wasting it by thinking about you. I am a survivor of you, my rapist, but that is not how I define myself. You are one insignificant human, and I am so much more.
Watch me as I set this world on fire with my dreams.
Survivors: you are never alone. Visit Project Unbreakable, cover photo from their archives.