What didn’t happen to me, but could have
I had just started studying at university. At that time I was still a virgin. I never took shit from men, and all my friends knew that. They all knew that I’d never sleep with I a man I didn’t know and didn’t like, even when intoxicated. Or at least that’s what I thought.
One night I was at a house party. There was about ten people. I knew them all fairly well. One of them was my best friend from school, and she was there with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend’s best friend was the culprit of the deed that ‘never happened’. Let’s call him Kris. Everyone knew that Kris and I didn’t see eye to eye. It was no secret. We tolerated each other, but kept communication to a minimum to avoid conflict.
On that night we were playing cards. I had too much wine, and went to lie down on the couch in the same room where everyone else were. Kris told me to go sleep in his bed, but I refused twice. There was no way in hell I’d put myself in a position where I had to be in a room with him alone. That’s the last bit I remember. A few hours later I woke up in his arms. He was asleep. I was fully dressed, thank God. However, I kept wondering what he had been doing to me while I was asleep. I wanted to throw up. I really hated the guy, and no matter how drunk, I could not imagine getting in this situation willingly.
I went to the living room where all of the other people where. I asked them to fill in the blanks in my memory. They said that Kris kept telling me to go sleep in his bed, and that he would sleep on the floor. Apparently I kept refusing, until he threatened to carry me to his room if I didn’t go with him. They thought it was pretty funny, said I had put up a good fight, ‘respect sister’, and all that.
To everyone I told, this story made no impression. Many women said if you couldn’t remember the details it didn’t count. People kept telling me that it was normal to lose inhibitions when you’re drunk, and to wake up next to people you didn’t like. My friend (whose boyfriend is Kris’s best friend) said it was no big deal, I was still a virgin (about 99% certain), why complain. I started to believe that I was crazy (sometimes still do), for being frigid and making a mountain out of a mole hill. Obviously, I didn’t report it, because there was nothing to report.
However, until this day I have problems trusting men. Very few people understand why something so trivial is still affecting my relationships. Not even the last bit of the story convinces people that what ‘didn’t happen to me’ was actually a very big deal: A few months later, another girl I knew woke up, half intoxicated, with Kris on top of her. She didn’t remember consenting to sex, but when I dared using the R word, she got really angry. She had a tough time dealing with what happened, but still refuses to call it rape (almost ten years later). She didn’t report him. Most people I know still hang out with Kris, even though everyone knows what he did. She was drunk they say, maybe she did consent but forgot. It’s as if it never happened.
Which brings me to the question, how do we report rape if ordinary people refuse to admit that it exists? ‘What didn’t happen to me’, did not serve as a warning of what mentality this guy has towards women. What didn’t happen to me, happened to this girl, because people dismissed my fears as no big deal. What didn’t happen to me, happened to this girl, and people just laughed it off. After re- reading this letter, I feel like a crazy women all over again. I must be imagining things again…
This story reminded me of a post on creeper’s by Captain Awkward. Read it for advice on how to deal with men who don’t take no for an answer or understand boundaries. – Mish
If you are rape survivor and need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to call the ‘Stop Gender Violence‘ helpline at 0800 150 150.
Note: Rape myths abound after the Vavi rape accusation was brought to light. These myths hurt all rape survivors – and if you ever experience sexual violence, these myths will hurt you too. The most common myth I’ve seen is the fallacy that if you don’t report to the police, it didn’t happen. (See here.) I put out a call on Twitter for survivors who didn’t report to send me their story. To follow the series, see here.
If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please email me: michelle at journoactivist dot com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.