Trigger Warning: Rape, sexual assault
…this is a long-ass post. Buckle up.
It has been about two years since I actually posted on the internet that I am a sexual assault survivor.
In those two years I have come leaps and bounds past where I thought I would be and I get so emotional when I think about Past Jess and her hopelessness.
This blog has been a huge part of that. Telling my story, even in stages, has helped me understand and process my own feelings on what I’ve been through.
But I’m not done yet with my trauma narrative. Just about, though so that’s cool.
I want to talk about the two most recent attacks on my body. I’ve blogged about them both before but they were terribly reactive posts instead of being reflective like this narrative should be.
Enter the DC chapter of my story.
I moved to DC in June of 2015. I got a job immediately and made so many friends there. I had also made hella connections with my housemates and had a solid support group. So when my housemate said “let’s go to a Juanes concert!” I couldn’t turn that shit down. And when my friends from work asked if I wanted to go out with them after my concert I was stoked to have a Friday night full of fun with people I cared about.
Of course that concert was dope as hell. And my housemate kindly accompanied me to the bar to meet my colleagues before dipping out. I got real real drunk and had a lot of fun with the friends.
Then we decided to go get some late-night ihop and traveled across town.
Here is where I forget much of what happened. Of course, it’s the integral part. It’s the “you will actually believe me if I could tell you all of these details” part. It’s the “I can totally describe what he and his car look like” part. The part that makes it real.
It still doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel real that I came to awareness while my head was being forced down on a stranger’s body. I realized I was crying and began to sob and scream. He slapped me in the face and told me not to cry. That I should like it. And when I didn’t stop crying he stopped the car and told me to get out. Dazed, drunk, terrified, and confused as all hell I got out of the car as he sped off.
I didn’t know where I was. I was sobbing uncontrollably and wandering around a neighborhood without any idea of where my phone was, what time it was, or where I was going. A stranger parked his car nearby and got out with his groceries- he asked me if I was okay, and if I needed to go anywhere. I just answered with a wail and fell to the ground crying. He helped me up.
He helped me up and he led me to his car and he asked me where I lived. I said the name of my street but didn’t know or couldn’t remember the cross street and I just described the surrounding area of my house. He drove me home, and watched until I got to my front door before he left. I was too drunk to remember where we kept the key on the front porch and I sat outside until I was able to wake up someone to let me in. I immediately went to my housemate’s room (the one I went to the concert with) and told her what happened.
So drunk. So sobbing. Much terror.
I tried to call my sister, my brother, my mom, my dad. Could not remember a single phone number. I fell asleep with mascara on my cheeks.
The next morning I came to and my housemate had messaged my sister on Facebook and my sister had called the cops and sent them to my house. I eventually called and reported the violation.
I was in the hospital for so long waiting to get my exam. DC provided me with someone called an advocate. She came in to the room while I was waiting and explained she was there as a legal representative for me. Free of charge. To help me cope with what happened and get through the investigation.
DC provided me with a human who understands the horror that is the aftermath of being assaulted. And she was amazing. She held my hand while the doctor asked me questions. She wrote me weekly emails in the months after the attack. Checking in, offering support. I am so grateful for that. She got me therapy at the DC Rape Crisis Center and she got the city to send me a check to cover the value of the clothes that forensics had to cut into tiny pieces so they could try and find the man that assaulted me.
The detectives came to my house the next day and the entire time I did not feel validated. I wish my advocate had been with me for this first interaction. I felt cold and like it was my fault. Because I was drunk.
IT IS NOT MY FAULT BECAUSE I WAS DRUNK. IT IS NOT MY FAULT.
Sometimes I have to remind myself…
The conversation with the detectives was recorded. But my tears weren’t. All that was recorded were my answers to their questions. Usually some form of “I don’t know” or “I can’t remember” or “that part is fuzzy.”
Do you know how hard it is to report an assault you can’t remember? It is so frustrating and so toxic to know you were violated but to not be able to explain the details of the event? It physically hurt every time I had to tell them I couldn’t answer their questions.
The conversation was recorded but my internal feelings of shame, confusion, and absolute certainty that I was attacked were not.
On and on more stuff to do with the investigation. blah blah.
Basically they still haven’t found the dude and I doubt they ever will. But I reported it. And I jumped through the hoops. And it was incredibly hard.
I am sobbing right now as I write this because I haven’t thought about the humiliation of shouting “I was attacked! Me! I was hurt and I was used and it’s not okay!” and the first questions being “Were you drunk? How drunk? What were you wearing? And you can’t remember the color of the car?”
“Why did you leave your friends?”
“Why didn’t you call an uber and make sure the license plate matched?”
“Why did you leave your phone in his car?”
“Why did you get into a strangers car?”
Shit. I was drunk. And I was taken advantage of. Put drunk me anywhere and that doesn’t mean I’m going to be taken advantage of. The only part of the equation that got me assaulted was the man willing to assault me.
It is all on him.
It is not my fault.
Why don’t we tell men not to rape women instead of telling women what to do in order to not be raped? Get your shit together, America.
My narrative isn’t even fucking done there, either. Because trauma is forever and because I was assaulted again more recently. By a coworker.
And now I’m mad. I’m thinking “when the hell will this end because I am tired of getting attacked.” But I digress. Let me tell the story.
Bartender at one of my million serving jobs. On valentine’s day he gives me one of the roses the restaurant was giving to guests and he tells me I’m beautiful. Asks for my number.
Texts me 7 times in a row.
I tell him I’m doing shit and I’ll see him at work.
“Oh so it’s like that.”
Of course it’s like that I don’t know you stop texting me so much.
Fast forward to me having to return to work late one night to pick up the jacket I had left there. He asks me to go have a drink with him. I don’t see the harm in it and sure I had a long day so I’ll go for a drink.
He puts his hand on my leg in the car- I take it off and ask him not to touch me. He does it again and I tell him not to touch me.
We get to the bar and I’m glad it’s one near my home. We get drinks and I finish mine real quick. He has to take a call and the bartender asks if I’m okay. No I’m not okay I think he’s going to hurt me. “Yeah I’m fine, thank you for noticing my discomfort.” I text my housemate groupchat and they all tell me it’s okay for me to leave and that I should leave.
He comes back from taking the call and asks me to kiss him. I tell him I don’t want to and he pulls my head toward his and kisses me. Then he gets mad “why don’t you kiss me back do you not want me?” No I don’t want you. You scare me. “I don’t want to kiss you.”
I start to cry because I’m fucking triggered and I tell him I’ve been assaulted before and I don’t like the way he is making me feel and he says “stop crying I didn’t do anything wrong” and I call an uber and he tells me to stay. “Just stay here with me. We can go back to my place. Just stay.”
No. I go outside and get into the car. He follows and attempts to pull me out of the uber and my driver, a wonderful woman, asks if she needs to call the cops. That makes him let me go. I slam the door shut and start to hyperventilate, trying to hold back a massive panic attack.
My driver tells me I’m safe. That she’ll take me home or to the police station, whichever one I want. She takes me home, gives me her card, and tells me to call her if I ever need a ride.
Work has been pretty supportive but I’m still kind of pissed that they accidentally schedule me with him on the reg. I’m trying to work with HR but legit this shit ass should be fired. The work part’s a little more intricate but I’m tired of thinking about that right now.
You know what I’m noticing in both of these stories? Immediately after my assaults in DC I was faced with incredible people who are completely worthy of trust. I am able to trust a stranger right after being attacked by a stranger.
I don’t know if that makes me crazy or kind or just normal. But I am so grateful for the fact that I am able to continue trusting people. I wake up and usually am not afraid of the world. I feel stronger every day when I can find genuine joy and feel positively about my self and my body. Because it is hard to do that when your body has been stolen from you. When your self has been damaged seemingly beyond repair.
And thus ends my narrative as far as my past goes. But every day I’m writing my story and I am in control of where it’s going. I will always be living with trauma but I will still look for joy in every moment possible. This absolutely doesn’t mean I’m done blogging about my story (sorry not sorry) but I have finally concluded this portion of my therapy, of re-telling my trauma narrative and reflecting on how to take my story from here.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, friends.