Updated: Mar 31, 2021
“…and before I knew it, I woke up and he was having sex with me,” she admits. I could tell the next thing she wanted to say was hard for her to put into words, “I knew what was going on and I was screaming inside my head, but nothing was coming out of my mouth.” She felt paralyzed. Perhaps it was dissociation? Dissociation is often described as an “out of body” experience where someone feels detached from reality. It is a defense mechanism the brain can use to cope with the trauma of sexual violence (RAINN.org).
Nia's rapist was the boy next door. They had grown up together and had been great friends. She was raped 15 years ago but despite the time from then to now, I could hear fresh sorrow in her voice. I heard the loss of a friend, her innocence, her former self, and what she thought was a safe place and a safe person. Speaking from experience, I know this heartache all too well – the loss of a safe place.
She later heard that her rapist was on a mission that night. He was going to ‘get some’ from someone that night no matter who it was. And at the end of the night when he hadn’t gotten any from anyone else, when he saw his friend passed out in bed, he decided to take what he wanted.
Being raped comes with great defeat and loss from many directions. One of those directions for Nia was eventually losing her boyfriend at the time. When she told him what happened, he victim blamed her by saying, "I don’t want to see you or talk to you unless you do something about it." This chapter details how Nia has coped and how she is trying to heal, still, 15 years later.
“Women don’t need men to protect us. We need them to stop protecting each other.” – Unknown Author. Women need men to stop victim blaming. We need men to stop giving the rapist the benefit of the doubt. We need men to call each other out and help hold rapists accountable for their actions.
In The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr (given to me by my amazing friend J.F.), she writes, “It’s through shame and silence that a perpetrator seeks to capture someone else’s soul, sentencing her to a lifetime of collusion with him.” And that is what it is for Nia. Her childhood has been rewritten from having a great friend for all those years, to him suddenly being her rapist.
My heart breaks for you, but I know you are strong. While listening to your story, my eyes welled as yours did, just as they are now as I write this chapter. Together we connected on a level most cannot and I wish so dearly that I had been there for you 15 years ago. But here we are today with more knowledge, more power, and more ambition to become stronger than we were before.
Thank you for sharing your story with me and soon the world,
"Nia" is an alias used for confidentiality.