Because I didn’t know it was rape.
He was a very close friend. I had a massive crush on him. But he had a girlfriend. I loved him from afar.
One night, he showed up on my doorstep, coked out of his mind.
He couldn’t sleep, he said.
Could he just crash in my bed, he said.
It would help him calm down, he said.
I said yes.
He passed out.
He was coming off a major buzz, sweating profusely.
I remember how my sheets were soaked and how I kept rolling into fresh sweaty patches.
I remember lying awake thinking how disgusted I was with his behaviour, how all I wanted to do was get him out and wash my bedding.
I woke up the next morning with him spooning me.
He was pressing himself against me and kissing the back of my neck.
I said no.
I said I wanted to but he had a girlfriend. So no.
He kept kissing me.
He started touching me.
“Come on,” he said.
“No,” I said.
I pushed his hands away.
They came back.
It happened again and again.
And at some point I gave in. Maybe my body wanted it. Maybe it was easier than fighting.
Immediately after, I had a shower. I told him I had to get ready for work and he needed to leave.
He phoned me later that day.
“Shit, we didn’t use protection,” he said. “Maybe we should get a pregnancy test.”
I told him not to worry about it.
When it came up in conversation later, we called it, “The Catholic Incident.”
We joked about it.
Things were going well with his girlfriend. But for months, he’d still touch me inappropriately whenever we hung out and I would always have to say no — every time. It was never a lesson learnt on his part. I guess he just assumed that, like before, it would become a yes. He didn’t to notice how uncomfortable I was becoming around him.
And then, one day, the penny dropped. The sex was not consensual. I hadn’t wanted it.
I cut the ties completely. I still haven’t told him why. Every now and then, I get messages from him saying he misses me and hoping I’m well.
But once I’d made the mental leap about how our sex wasn’t consensual, there was no going back to pretending everything was okay.
Maybe what happened wasn’t rape. I really don’t know how to define it. Maybe when my body gave in, it became consensual… even though my whole heart as revolting against it.
And how do you report rape, if you don’t even know what to call it?
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.