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Trigger warning: this post talks about my experience with sexual assault. Part 1 is here.
The next morning, I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. S initiated sex again and I complied, faking getting off to move things along. He told me I snored the previous night but that it wasn’t a problem, motioning with his ring finger towards his right nostril showing how he presumably stopped my breathing. I’m not sure to this day, but that may have also been, combined with a small bump of coke, how he woke me up that morning.
I was racing afterwards, there was so much adrenaline in me. I wasn’t sure what to think, even what to call it, this bad thing I had just experienced. I had another date with ‘J Tinder Dude’ (hereinafter referred to as ‘J’) scheduled that evening. I was flustered and apologized for not being myself. Needing to remove the possibility of sex, I lied that I was on my period and politely excused myself to go home.
As I lay in bed that night, alone and in the dark, with the blue light of my phone illuminating my face, I sent a text to J:
I think I had nonconsensual sex last night.
“Ouch,” was the reply.
The weeks ensuing were pretty much a mess. I started being unable to sleep and began to forget things in my insomnia-induced stupor. I lost my keys several times, two pairs of airpods, and somehow, a single flip flop. It also became inexplicably, urgently imperative that I tell everybody, anybody, what had happened. This included the unenviable walgreens pharmacy technician. She could not reasonably predict how upset I’d get that my prescription was not ready, because I’d already been through enough already.
And there was still more to go through. After I revealed the assault to my doctor at campus health services, she began an unrequested inspection. I had asked for an STI screen and mentioned that I had been raped. She quipped, “I see you were also here in ____ week. Why didn’t you say something then?”
I was hoisted into some stirrups and she took a couple swabs. Before turning around, she placed a speculum inside me. I’m still not sure what the purpose of this implement was, as I’d only had it to take samples for pap smears before. A second later, with the doctors’ back still turned, the speculum clattered to the floor. My uncooperative vagina had rejected the harsh, cold metal as a foreign object. It felt terrible.
When I went to the OB/GYN, my memories were still hazy, but she was much kinder. She gently went through the protocols of examining my anatomical parts and signing me off with a clean bill of health. Disconcerted however, I asked at the end, “Aren’t you going to do a breast exam?” to which she replied, “Yes, that was the first thing we did?” Later, I learned that it is “not uncommon for victims of assault to dissociate while a stranger touches their body”.
I had completely blacked out—I had no memory of her doing that. I felt like I was losing touch with reality. And that scared me more than anything.
Campus services for victims of assault was another thoroughly disappointing experience. I was falling behind in my classes without sleep, and unable to concentrate on any of the assigned readings. I never submitted a final paper that was due that semester for one of my courses. When I reached out to schedule an appointment, I was told there was over a week waiting period. And when I finally showed up, they told me they had tried to call, but the person assigned my case was out that day.
I completely dissolved on the floor, bawling my eyes out. The doctor who had prescribed me things to help me sleep and think had encouraged me to seek out campus services. “Sadly, this happens a lot. They have the resources to deal with this stuff.” So many promises were broken to me: by healthcare professionals, by the counseling staff, by the partner who abused my trust and raped me. I was at a loss.
Seeing how distraught I was, they quickly shuffled in an administrative worker. I eyed her distrustfully over a throw pillow I hugged tightly to my chest. After sorting through the various paperwork needed for my classes, I gave a curt “Thanks” on my way out.
Last semester, I gave a spoken word version of this retelling of events to an audience of my peers. I’ll conclude here the same way I did then. I struggled to write an ending for this, because for me, there isn’t really one. I live with this everyday. I’ve had the blessing of some amazing support from friends and family, and some less than stellar treatment from people I trusted. But I wanted to share this story because naming things takes power. That night, and for a long while after, I felt power was taken from me. And today, by sharing this again, I hope to take some of that power back.