Other Survivor's Speaking Out

Below are stories from other survivors, all specifics and names have been changed or generalized to protect the survivor's privacy.  I am giving each account a "name" but these are purely fictional and solely for the purpose of distinguishing one story from the next.  I am so grateful to these incredible women for joining me in taking a stand!

Elsa

 Imagine you have a fun night out with your roommate and her friends. When you're finally home, you get into your bed for the night, and your roommate's male friend opens the door and gets into your bed. You've had multiple drinks, so you're exhausted, but you still know you don't want this person in your bed. You roll over and ask what they're doing, and they say, "The sofa's uncomfortable, can I just sleep here in your bed?" Tired and intoxicated you decide to be a nice person. You tell them "okay, but we're not having sex" and drift off to sleep.
        When you wake up, this man has his fingers inside of you. He's saying your name as he penetrates you. You freeze in fear. You were raped when you were 19 and it ended badly...when you tried to fight you wished you hadn't. Everything's spinning, and you get out of bed and go to the bathroom. You sit on the toilet and try and think about what to do. It's 3am, you're still drunk, and you just want to go back to sleep. All you can think to do is to return to your bed. When you return, you repeat, "I'm going to sleep, I don't want to have sex." And he responds "okay."
        The next time you wake up he is inside of you, raping you. Somehow you are completely naked. Your eyes flutter as you wonder if this is real, but you decide it isn't and you must be having a nightmare. You try desperately to wake up, but you are already awake. You drift in and out of consciousness, each time awaking in a different position. He's calling your name. He's asking you why you're not fucking him back. He's saying "wake up, this isn't fair, I need to come."
        Hours pass. You're becoming more and more sober but it is all still so confusing. You wake up to him coming on your stomach. You grimace and roll away. You go to the bathroom to wipe yourself off, shaking all over. When you go back into your room, you can finally speak. "Get out. Go sleep on the couch."
        You get back into bed, just wanting to fall asleep, but it's impossible. You pace around the room for an hour. How can this be real? Did I just imagine that? Is there anyone even on the couch?
        You go out into the living room to check. There he is, on your couch under your blanket. You're filled with rage as you think about what he just took from you that you'll never get back. You remember the last time you were raped and how you'll never be able to confront him about it. As you stand there, staring at him, you think about killing him. You are right by the knives. You could just end it right there. Stab the shit out of him. Stab him while he gasps for breathe and begs for mercy, the way you couldn't.
        You fantasize for a minute then are struck with fear for having such a strong urge to kill someone. You grapple with having just had such murderous thoughts when your roommate's boyfriend walks into the living room. "Did you guys hook up?" he asks with a smile.

Your voice finally back, you respond angrily, "No he just fucking raped me"

His smile disappears, and he starts to stammer about how his friend was too drunk, how he told him to sleep on the sofa, how he's so upset with him.... My roommate comes out and I tell her what happens. She's crying and her boyfriend is yelling. Meanwhile the rapist is fast asleep on the sofa in front of us.
My roommate takes me to the hospital. I get a rape exam. I scream the most primal scream imaginable; one I didn't know existed, when they do the examination. All I can do is flashback to getting raped.
When I return home from the hospital, I am immediately triggered by the sight of the blanket on the couch, where He had layed. I fall to the floor, as I envision the feeling of watching him sleep there after what he had just done. I shake and cry as my roommates and mother try to console me. I finally get off the ground and try to go into my room, and this time the flashbacks are worse. I'm back in bed, being raped by Him. I'm confused and scared and I don't know why I can't just run away. I'm driven back to the hospital a second time.
I'm given medicine for my PTSD symptoms. My roommate has been receiving texts from the rapist; he is saying he is so sorry, and that he'll pay for my hospital bills, and can he make it up to me in any way? I find out that he gets a lawyer within hours of finding out I had gone to the hospital.
The cops download all of my text messages the next day when I report the rape to them. I go to a sexual assault unit; the officers are nice to me and give me hope that justice will be served. They have a lot of evidence;
witnesses confirming he was in my apartment that night
witnesses confirming they had heard me say "I don't want to have sex"
witnesses confirming the state of shock I was in following the rape
the rapists text messages to me saying how sorry he was
the rapists' best friend's testimony that "he gets like this when he's drunk,"
the DNA evidence of his sperm on my stomach
Since the second hospital stay, I could not return to the apartment. I stay in a hotel with my Mom for 12 days, as we try to figure out where I can live until I find a new apartment to move in to. I miss 5 days of work, and when I return, I am in a haze. I'm homeless, living out of a suitcase, couch surfing in Boston. I have to wait an entire month before I can move in to a new home. I spend New Years Eve crying myself to sleep, which is at 8:30. My belongings and pets are still at my "old" apartment.
        One of my roommates moves out of the apartment with me. The other roommate took the rapists side and decides she doesn't believe me anymore. She threatens me and tells me I've ruined her life. I tell her, no, if anyone ruined your life, it was the rapist. And I don't remember anyone raping you?
        After moving into my new home, I am feeling a bit back in control. But the hotel and moving costs put me $5000 back. My savings are gone and it's a struggle to pay my rent.
I finally am called to meet with the DA's office. I sit with the detective and DA and am told that I have no chance of winning my case. They say that no one will believe me, because I didn't react the way I should have when I was being raped. I should have screamed and fought and run out of the room. There were others in the apartment! I could have escaped! And why did I return to the bed after leaving the first time when I woke up to his fingers inside of me? Why did I allow him to sleep in my bed in the first place?
        They also mention that when I was questioned by the police, I was asked "Have you ever been treated for a mental illness or taken any medication for a mental illness?" I didn't lie, and this was a mistake. I admitted to formerly being assaulted and having PTSD, and taking medication for this. My DA explains that because of having admitted this, I will never win my case. The defense will claim that I am mentally ill and "off" my medication so cannot be held as a credible witness. I overcame my PTSD after years of therapy, and didn't need medication anymore, and because of that my rapist will never even be charged.
        A few months pass, and the DA calls me in for a second meeting. They are dropping my case. They say they cannot proceed because there is not enough evidence. They then tell me that they found sperm DNA evidence matching the rapist on my stomach. They explain that 80% of rape cases that come into their office do not go to trial, because they all look exactly like mine.  Cases like "this" are about whether or not the sex act was consensual, so it is his word against mine. I will be discredited because I am a former rape victim.
        The moral I've learned:
If you've ever been raped, and are raped a second time, your rapist will go free.
If you've ever had a mental illness, and are raped, your rapist will go free.
If you don't have a witness IN the room that you are being raped in, your rapist will go free.
If you know your rapists name, address, and phone number, your rapist will go free.
If you don't scream and fight back, but freeze in fear, your rapist will go free.
If you are asleep when your rapist starts to rape you, your rapist will go free.
If you had been kissing the rapist earlier in the night, but he later rapes you, your rapist will go free.
If you had had any alcohol prior to being raped, your rapist will go free.
If you don't murder your rapist when he is sleeping comfortably after having raped you, your rapist will forever go free.

        I feel dejected, ashamed, and completely powerless. Just like that, my power is taken from me all over again. I have no options, no choices, no way to seek justice. He will walk free and do it again to someone else. There is nothing on his record marking what he has done to me.


Jane Doe

I was raped soon after I left home and was living in a big city for the first time. I got lost after a friend's house-warming party, as I was new to the city, and had a sit down outside a hotel to try and get my bearings. I had had maybe a glass or two of wine, but I wasn't drunk. I was cold though, and I remember just wishing I had a warmer coat. It was past midnight, and a big car pulled up and within moments I was inside it. I have broken recollection of that night - I think I blanked quite a lot out - but I do remember feeling completely paralysed by fear. I always used to think that in a situation like that, I would be able to fight back or run away, but I just froze. I guess it's just extremely intimidating when there are four big men, versus yourself. So before I knew it, I was shoved inside this car, which was going about an hour out of the city, though of course I had no idea about that.
Although I have broken memories of that night, I do remember screaming with pain and realizing no one could hear me, and also screaming 'no' and it having no effect. That was a fundamentally difficult thing not only to experience but also to try and reconcile with later - that I didn't have control over my own body. That someone else did. And that I could be so alone and hopeless that no one could come and get me. It was the loneliest experience, and the most frightening, because I didn't know where I was or who I was with. And that fear destroyed a basic sense of security that I had taken for granted before that.
I got out the next morning, just running away, and eventually found my way back to the city. I was completely disorientated and in shock, so even that was very hard. What made it worse was that even when there were people, no one wanted to help. I told someone, as soon as I was away, and felt relatively safe / far away, that I had been raped. He just said "You should be more careful" and walked away. I went back to the place I was staying and ran a bath, but the hot water was broken, so I ended up having a cold bath. That is of course what you shouldn't do if you've been raped - it probably destroyed all evidence, and later when the police were involved, it meant the investigation was over almost as soon as it began.
The police were quite helpful, nevertheless, but in the end their constant phone calls seemed more of a harassment than a solution. The investigation getting nowhere was very depressing, but I am still glad I reported it, because I think it helped me face up to what had happened.
I found it very hard to recover from the rape, and a part of that was because I felt so alone and isolated through it. I didn't have anyone I could talk to, and when I told my mother, she didn't know how to deal with it or even understand it. When I later told friends or boyfriends, they wouldn't know what to say, and would often use it as a reason to think of me as 'weak' or 'difficult', rather than surviving something very upsetting and difficult. I think I was treated pretty unfairly and unsympathetically in the couple years after, whenever I confided in anyone. It made that loneliness and sense of helplessness stick. It made me miserable. I felt as though my whole sense of self had been shattered, and I had to begin again. It was like mourning for an old self, and having to start over completely.
However, things did get much better, and starting over was not as impossible as I'd thought. Getting through that hard time has definitely made me stronger, and more empathetic towards others who have been through violence and abuse, and made me want to understand why it is that these crimes happen, and why people let them, or don't help victims, or don't give survivors the basic respect they deserve. I've never wanted rape to define me, so I have not gone out of my way to talk about rape personally, but even thinking that way is symptomatic of a wider problem, where victims and survivors are made to deal with other people's perceptions and prejudices about rape. It is important for everyone to realise that rape and abuse (and violence in general) is quite common, affects everyone in some way, and is not some mythological thing that doesn't happen to normal people. It is normal, sadly. And victims and survivors should not feel scared to talk about it, and to ask questions, until society as a whole can face what is a social problem as well as a personal one.



Susie Q.


 Ive been raped more than once. i know exactly how you feel. thank you so much for your bravery. you are an incredibly inspirational woman! you rock!!! thank youuu! like sometimes i randomly think of this college guy and get so angry. i need prayer for forgiving him.. hes the one i still havent forgiven. i trusted him and we were friends.. it sucks. seriously. i felt so gross and that it was my fault and no one would have believed me bc he was a fraternity president, highly esteemed and respected and very involved with church and a campus ministry.  i felt ashamed for putting myself in that situation. i felt vulnerable and at fault. i felt like i deserved it in a way.. the act of him doing it against my will made me feel like that. I know its not true but for a while i wrestled with that and have wrestled with my own self worth due to it and have had a hard time trusting people. bc i worry they are just gonna use me. girls need to know they are never at fault. he knew i wouldnt speak up about it bc he knew he made me feel ashamed. he knew no one would believe me over him. i worry how many other girls hes done it to who have remained silent. I didnt talk to him for two weeks after bc i was so mad. then i spoke to him once and that was the last time- I told him how hurt i was bc i had trusted him as a good friend and he knew my values so how could he disrespect me like that and do something against my will? his answer was shocking- he said "i have wanted you for so long, i just couldnt help myself. i needed you so i got what i needed." he apologized but his apology consisted of"sorry i just really needed you. I have always cared so much and that time I couldnt help myself. im sorry you were so alluring to me ever since i first met you. I had to put you to sleep so i could finally have you" he said he didnt think i would wakeup in the middle of it. he said he didnt think i would know...so disgusting. his apology made me feel like i was an object. his mindset is so messed up. after that i started wearing baggy clothes and not dressing up as much or wearing much makeup. i was scared and felt like him doing it was my fault for being who i am. iNo woman should believe these lies and twisted manipulative ways that men use. Men need to be taught control and they need to be held responcible for their actions. women need to not be afraid. we have a voice and we have more power than we realize.

 (Specifics have been removed to help protect survivors privacy)