Imagine it is your first time going to a college party. You are so excited! You are seventeen and the world is yours for the taking. Excitedly you prepare. You wear something you hope looks cool but not slutty. You decide on a flowered top and short overalls with sneakers.
You and your friend head out. You could have gone to a party with your sister (whom you are visiting at her school) but decide it would be cooler to head out on your own. Besides your sister and her friends are lame. You have trouble finding the house that the two guys you met earlier that day had given you the address of, but get directions from a couple of other guys hanging out on a nearby front porch. They invite you to come party with them, telling you, “don’t go to that other house, it’s bad news.” You laugh thinking they just want you to hang with them, never giving their warning another thought.
You finally make it to the party. So many cute guys are there! The music is pumping and the alcohol is flowing. People are playing cards and hanging out. You find yourself getting a little carried away and drinking too much but think, hey, I can handle this. I’ve done this at parties before and nothing happened. I’ve got a friend here with me so everything will be cool.
Flash forward an hour and you find yourself being guided upstairs so you can use the bathroom. You are so intoxicated you fall on the floor in front of the toilet when you try to sit down to pee. That guy that walked you up the stairs? He helps you to your feet. What a nice guy! He asks you if you are feeling ok and you say no. He shows you to a room and you proceed to vomit several times, soaking your clothes. He offers you a t-shirt and pair of shorts that you change into. He comes back in, gives you a blanket and you lie down.
The next thing you are aware of is hands are all over you, violating you. You are somehow naked. Two guys are on the bed with you and you look over to see five other guys standing there watching. You feel like you are paralyzed and can’t move. Your mouth doesn’t work and your voice remains trapped in your throat. One of the guys you met earlier that day says, “Leave her alone, she’s had enough.” These words will echo through your memory for the next twenty plus years.
Suddenly it is morning. You panic, looking around for your clothes. You find your friend and leave. Your friend asks you, “You didn’t do anything with any of those guys did you?” Too ashamed to tell her what happened, you answer, “No, not that I remember” in a cavalier manner. You say, “I’m a virgin so it would hurt if I had, right?” To which she doesn’t respond.
You head back to your sister’s dorm. You don’t tell her what happened either. She is furious with you for being out all night and not calling. She says, “Mom’s on her way and she is really pissed.” When your mom gets there, you don’t tell her either. In fact, you won’t tell anyone for three days. When you do, you get taken to the doctor and a therapist. Your dad blames the fact that you have been drinking saying, ” This wouldn’t have happened if you wouldn’t have been drinking.” You never press charges because you don’t want anyone else to know.
That night will influence the direction of your life in ways you won’t realize for years to come. It will hang out in the back of your mind like an uninvited guest who has overstayed their welcome, coming back to haunt you again and again. Your self confidence has been stripped away from you and years later, you still won’t have it back. It won’t seem that way to the outside world as you will have developed a shell to hide behind like a shield; not letting many get close for fear of harm. You survived physically but every day a shadow walks beside you, accompanying you, whispering “you’re no good, you’re dirty, no one really loves you, everyone will betray you in the end.”
This is what happened to me and I live with it every day. It gets easier but you are never whole again once you have been violated in this manner. If you find yourself at a party with a friend, make sure they are safe. If you see a stranger who looks too intoxicated to care for themselves, stop to help them. If you see someone being assaulted, call for help. It could happen to you, your mom, your sister, your brother, your friend. It can happen to anyone and will unfortunately continue until attitudes change and statements like, “This kind of stuff happens at parties all the time” are no longer seen as acceptable excuses for depraved behavior. We must stand up to end the tolerance of rape and sexual assault in our society so that no one else has to go through what I and so many others have experienced.