I was raped by my best friend
It’s been years and I can’t forget it
When Warwick student Amy (not her real name) went home with a friend after a drunken night out, it quickly turned into non-consensual sex. But somehow, she and all their friends ended up forgiving him and sympathising for him instead.
This is her story.
Last month, the Stanford rape case made waves across the world. While focus has been placed heavily on the injustice of the criminal system, somewhat neglected has been the unusual nature of the case. What is particularly unique is that while the victim feared it would be his word against hers, she pressed charges, there was physical evidence, there were eyewitnesses, and she stood up in court to testify. For lack of a better word, and it disgusts me to say it, but she was ‘fortunate’. This is not usually the case. The outcome of the trial, however, reminds us why. Because even if we have all the ‘necessary components’, the most information you could ever really get on rape cases (without it actually having been caught on camera that is), rape is still not taken seriously. As seen by the pathetic three months Turner will serve.
What I also want to stress is that where this case is different too is that while she didn’t know her attacker, many victims do.
As a student at a top UK university, I was one of these. After one drunken night out in second-year, I ended up kissing my best friend. A guy who just so happened to be my ex-boyfriend three years earlier. We had hooked up sporadically but then decided to call it quits on the whole friends with benefits situation, until this night. Heading back to my place we began to have sex, as we frequently had before. This time, however, was different. He kept asking to try anal, and as I had a million times before, I told him no, I didn’t want to, it hurt and I simply didn’t want it. Yet he kept telling me I’d like it if I just kept trying. No, I replied. Next thing I remember is literally bawling my eyes out at both the shock of his actions, and the pain of it, and begging him to stop. But he didn’t, instead telling me that I would enjoy it. He then ejaculated and let go of me till I slumped back into my bed and wrapped myself in the sheets in a state of pure shock. He swiftly left back home after that.
I ended up texting him asking if he understood what he had just done, and he replied ‘haha’. I was fuming, and told him how I felt, how I was now bleeding heavily and in agony, and all he could do was dismiss it.
When the morning came, he read back our texts and realised what he had just done. In some weird turn of events, that psychology majors would certainly have a word/concept to help explain, I begged him to come over and see me, to hug me and tell me everything was going to be alright. That the strange man who raped me last night wasn’t going to hurt me again, that he could shield me from himself. He was repulsed with himself and was so angry at what he had done. I ended up telling him to forget it, that I just wanted company and that what happened didn’t matter. I cared more about how he felt than myself. I asked one of his housemates to keep an eye on him as I was scared he’d do something stupid. I’d seen him have a breakdown once before, it had been devastating to watch and I feared it again. He became the victim as I tried to push away what he had done, to comfort him instead.
He later asked me why I didn’t push him off me, and attack him back. I had slapped him in an angry rage before, why didn’t I fight him? And I ask myself the same question, as if it were my own fault, as if I could have simply stopped it by physically attacking him back. Sometimes I tell myself it was the position we were in, there is nothing more degrading and difficult to move than when you’re pinned down from behind. But, then I also think back to the past. He had never hit me, and the time that I did slap him he just nervously laughed at me, furious in disbelief. He ended up raising his hand back, but eventually punched the wall next to me instead. I ended up crying and shaking – scared of what he may do and genuinely sorry I had slapped him in the first place. He told me that I shouldn’t be worried, or scared, that he would never physically hurt me and I was stupid if I thought he would ever hit me back. But here he was doing something to me that I never thought he would do either, how did I know he wasn’t going to hit back this time?
Later, things changed. As years passed, he became less sympathetic about it, and just became more angry that I kept bringing it up when I was drunk and depressed. To this day still, every now and then when I’m drunk, I end up fighting him over it, asking how he could have done that to me. I get annoyed at myself in the morning for having mentioned it yet again, but in some ways I just want him to know that I haven’t forgotten, that I can never forget it. I run home from nightclubs early, or sit silently in the cab on the journey home so that I can cry and hyperventilate alone trying to remove it from my mind. Though I tell myself surely this is a sign I should stop drinking, or that maybe it would have been best to take a year out to avoid him as I had contemplated at the end of second year, I felt like all of these things would have made me a greater victim. I couldn’t let him stand in the way of my life, put it on hold while he continued his as he wished, and so I refused to step down.
My housemates, all females, fully aware this has happened and best friends with him too, ignore it entirely. At one point in first year, one of the females attacked him, drawing blood as she drunkenly scratched him for no reason. This year they joked that if had been the other way round they probably never would have remained friends with him. While this is a classic commentary of double standards, and along with the mention of me having slapped him will probably draw attention away from my real argument, what baffled me more is that when he raped me instead, they were willing to still overlook it. Instead, they later also acknowledged how creepy and sexually perverse he became when drunk by giving him the nickname ‘Mike’ for his ‘alter-ego’. And there it is: justification. And I’ll admit, I used it as a justification too. For such an intelligent and friendly guy, studying at the best university in the UK for his subject, it was just so out of character. It was a drunk mistake to be swept under a rug.
It is this type of response that led me to be so embarrassed to get professional help. “Hi, er, I was raped by my ex-boyfriend… Yup, we were drunk, yup we’d had sex before… Yup we still talk… Er yes, we went travelling together for two months even after it happened… Yeah I promise he’s a great guy though, heart of gold at times! Totally out of character.” It can’t really be rape, right? Wrong.
Later, I casually dropped it in a conversation at an STI check when they asked if I had been subjected to forceful sex. Shocked, they told me I could press charges if I wanted. I knew that. But I didn’t want to, and still don’t want to. Not only would a he-said-she-said court battle be emotionally draining, I like to hope that the shame and guilt he expressed are enough to stop him ever doing that again.
Alas, I now digress. The point of this article is not to evoke sympathy, nor to spark a witch hunt for the man. I know that his actions were wrong, and that I shouldn’t blame myself. I know that there should be consequences, and that there have been.
I’m not trying to take away from what has been said already, nor say one rape is worse than another, but the point is to show that while this article will become just another rape story, one of the few responses to Brock Turner’s sentencing, I wanted to remind you that sexual assault and rape happens everywhere, and we, as a society, are terrible at responding to it. Three measly months. Or as I’ve shown, instead of helping a person through it, we ignore it and we seek justification for actions to explain what we can’t understand. It must have been the alcohol. While I do not have the answers about how to change this, the first step is awareness. There’s thousands of cases that go unreported. Just because you haven’t experienced it, or the local paper haven’t reported on it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening every day to people that you know. It’s not always strangers and dark bushes. It’s time to change our perceptions and challenge the status quo.
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