Once upon a time my friend and I giddily prodded my would-be rapist about if he lost his virginity to the girl he was recently broken up with, and that’s one place this story can begin. At the time he just said no and gave us an entertained leer before we ran off feeling pleased with ourselves. At 14, sex was still very obscure and funny to me.
Not long after that, he sent me a message telling me that we had caught him off guard with that question, because though he hadn’t slept with his ex, he had just had a perfect one night stand that very week we asked. He recounted the consummation descriptively, and thus began our dynamic of him being my personal sex ed teacher, and I his impressionable virgin student – though at the time, I saw this as the beginning of our relationship as confidants. I viewed his sharing of his intimate life as a display of trust, nothing more.
As time went on he continued to enjoy relaying his tales of dirty, sexual encounters with me, and I was honored to listen. I don’t recall ever feeling uneasy with the volume of personal information he shared with me, although looking back I can see how he eased me into it.
It wasn’t right away, but it got to a point that I, as an immature and inexperienced teen, felt comfortable sharing some of my feelings about sex with him. He was the only person I ever genuinely shared those sorts of thoughts with, as someone who was fairly uncomfortable disclosing much vulnerability, especially when it came to the desire to be loved in any capacity. But by the time our friendship had blossomed I could easily talk to him about anything. We had various earnest conversations about my aversion to cum (having never experienced it in so much as a photograph), and he tried to convince me that it wasn’t gross like I thought, at times borderline shaming me with his conviction that I was so wrong.
At 15 I began dating his good friend. My boyfriend and I moved slowly, but sure enough my rapist was the one I confided in about my relationship. I went primarily to him and one other friend about the emotions, the fights, the issues I had with my then-boyfriend, and I went exclusively to him about the physical experiences. In one particularly telling and embarrassing story, I had one hand on a penis as I gave my first ever handjob, and my free hand was texting my rapist telling him what was going on, because I was nervous and he was the one I wanted to confess it to.
Despite how it may sound in hindsight, I genuinely had no romantic feelings towards my rapist. The way I regarded him was the same as I regarded my girl friends. Though I made an abundance of sexual jokes, I had barely begun developing my own sexuality. I think a moderately important reason I ended things with my boyfriend was that we had begun to explore areas of sexuality I realized I wasn’t comfortable approaching, despite how I may have wanted to be ready to go further. It’s worth noting that my boyfriend and I never had sex of any kind; we had only gone as far as handjobs and fingering a small number of times each. And this, my rapist knew as well as my boyfriend and I did.
Before my boyfriend and I broke up, my rapist took his sex sharing to the next level by making me the target of his sexual desire. It happened just once, just once because he knew twice would have been inexcusable, but once could be overlooked. I thought it was strange, but I let it go, figuring he was just masturbating and a little out of line. I never told anyone about it, and I didn’t even think much of it, at the time. I had no idea that in less than two months, he would rape me.
He was the number one most supportive person to me during my breakup. Our friendship was proven many times in laughs, deep conversations, and platonic passion – but as I dealt with my very first breakup, our friendship grew even stronger than ever. He listened to me, he made me feel better when I needed it. We even hugged each other for the first time ever.
I once believed it was kind of him to wait until I was single to pursue me, but now I see he waited until I was especially vulnerable to pounce.
Just days after my breakup, we ended up cuddling on a couch. I don’t have memories of how this came to be; I have to rely on what I do remember and who I know I was, especially so early when I wasn’t yet broken. I would never have initiated that. What I remember is feeling intense guilt, worrying that by doing this he had cheated on his girlfriend. I even told another friend what had happened to ask her if she thought that was cheating.
He, who knew all about my growing insecurity about my physique, then told me I was beautiful, that he was attracted to me. We discussed how despite that, nothing should happen between us while he was in a relationship.
Yet he came over one day after school. I’m sure I invited him. And we went to my room and sat on my bed watching TV. And he put his arm around me.
If only I could have known – I didn’t know what was coming.
So carefully I didn’t even notice it, he got ahold of the zipper on my dress and indescribably slowly began unzipping it. At some point I noticed this, but the manner in which it was happening and the delay in my realization that it was subdued my desire to question it. The whole scenario was surreal and strange. I was decently ashamed of my naked/nearly-naked body, and I had only occasionally shared it shirtless with the person who I had once called my boyfriend after months of time together and kissing one another. It was too much to process that my platonic friend was slowly disrobing me having never discussed doing this or anything like it. We had only just hugged for the first time a mere week ago. I had never heard of anyone doing anything like this before. I didn’t know how I was supposed to react to it. I was immeasurably aware of his vast sexual experience and, conversely, my lack of it. I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I didn’t know what I wanted. I was equally confused and flattered at the possibility that my good friend had any interest in seeing my body beneath my dress. I was sure if I was supposed to comment on his unzipping of it that he was also supposed to comment on it, and since he didn’t, I didn’t.
Only after he fully unzipped it and pulled it down, so that I was there on the bed with only a bra and he was fully clothed beside me, did he finally break the silence. “It seems I’ve unzipped your dress.”
If I allowed myself to be embarrassed, it would have been too much. I cared immensely about what he thought of me. I was beyond overwhelmed, and everything moved so quickly. I managed to express my concern about his girlfriend, but before I had time to think, we were making out. I went along with this. I don’t believe I would have if I had had the self-respect to stop it or consider myself or if I had had the time to contemplate what I was doing, but I did participate. I kissed him as he kissed me, at least to an extent. He was gentle, glaringly, and he told me I was aggressive. I felt humiliated by that comment. Yet despite his delicacy with his kissing, he slapped my ass and shoved me against walls pretty roughly. He fingered me abruptly and put my hand on his penis to get me to rub him. All during our first kiss. And I managed to remind him how far I had gone, because this was going quickly for me. He kept his shirt on throughout all of this.
It only gets blurrier from there. What I know is that I never told the friend who knew about the cuddling that this happened, so what I know is that somewhere before he left, my soon-to-be-rapist instructed me not to tell anyone about this for the first time. I don’t remember what he said. I suspect he used my own shame for having kissed an unavailable guy to keep me from sharing it.
A few days later, we sneaked away during some hanging out with our friends to kiss. It was innocent, tender, and it didn’t go any further.
If only I knew that the next time he would kiss me, he would rape me.
But from the moment we had kissed the first time, I was carrying a secret that was fast becoming too heavy for me.
I remember only getting dressed that day; the next thing I remember is the sound of his belt buckle being undone, my pants already god knows where, and the feeling of him trying to shove himself inside of me.
And once it was over, he told me he felt as awful about it as I did, because it was cheating (even though I would later learn he had cheated with others), so that I wouldn’t question why I felt so bad. He then made fun of me for only having had sex once. Then he fucked me again.
Some people, some laws, don’t want to describe what he did as rape. Maybe people are afraid it would be a slippery slope for the law to reflect the reality that many rape victims don’t fight their attackers off. But in that world, people like my rapist who were cunning and conniving, who groom their victims into submission get a free pass every time.
What people don’t understand is the slope is not slippery. When I first was able to even entertain the concept that my rapist did rape me, I wholeheartedly had to believe he didn’t mean to do it, that he didn’t know, that he thought he had consent because I hadn’t told him otherwise. This was something I told myself to protect myself from this shitty reality I get to live in now where my friend is a monster and he raped me and he knows it and he liked it.
When I told myself he didn’t know, I was still in the process of remembering lost memories, of not having evaluated them, of protecting myself, my past, and my friendship with him. When I wanted to believe that he only raped me accidentally, I was allowing myself too to believe that it was acceptable for him to fuck me while he knew it hurt among many other unacceptable and noticeable factors contributing to the damage his rape has caused me.
But most importantly, I was never an active participant in the intercourse he had with me. I admit to kissing him that first time, despite being uncomfortable and confused, and that situation remains gray and confusing to me regarding how permissible it was. But when my rapist inserted his penis into my vagina, using dehumanizing force to enter as my body clenched in resistance, as he held my legs apart while I pushed them back together, and as he eventually thrusted into me until he was satisfied, I lied there trying not to cry with my eyes glued shut and my mind adrift from the pain I was enduring, my body rigid and still.
But apparently that wasn’t clear enough, so it’s my fault. Forget the years of preparing he did to get me in such a position with confidence I wouldn’t tell a soul. Forget the years of getting to know me; forget how he waited until I trusted him more than myself before he dared to rape me. Forget the lies he told to every single person around him. Forget everything besides the fact that I didn’t fight him off of me.
Maybe you can forget all of that and call it consensual, but I can’t.