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Getting Raped Does Not Make You a Lesbian

The importance of consent, breaking free from societal norms, and seeking support in the aftermath of sexual assault.

Photo: Anete Lusina via Pexels

For a long time I was afraid to admit to anyone that I had been raped.

In 2005 I was date-raped. All my life I had been cautioned about rapists; I watched no less than a dozen Oprah shows about rape, and I received countless chain letters over email with tips on how to avoid being assaulted. And yet when it happened to me, I was so shocked that I didn’t know what to do.

I met my rapist on an Internet dating site. He wrote me a few emails, and one Sunday we chatted on the phone. During our conversation, we discovered that we knew a few people in common, people I met while away at boarding school.

The guy lived about two hours away, and he said, “Hey, I’m free today. Can I come down and take you out?” Since we had a somewhat shared history, I felt that I could trust him.

“Sure, I’ll make a picnic, and we can go out to the park,” I told him.

We had a pleasant date; we drank wine and talked a lot. I found him to be a very nice guy — a good guy.

On the Thursday after our date, he called me.

“I’ve got to entertain a client tomorrow night,” he explained. “My parents invited us to eat with them at the Golf Club. Will you drive up and be my date? You can sleep over at my house.”

I was really flattered that he wanted to introduce me to his mother after only one date, but the idea of sleeping over at his house made me uneasy. I decided to ignore that warning sign. Instead, I called my mom and told her my plans.

“Mom, I met this great guy, and he invited me up to visit him. I’m going to stay over at his house, but I just wanted you to know where I am in case anything happens.” I gave her his name and phone number and said, jokingly, “You’ll know where to find the body if I go missing.”

The following afternoon, I picked out a nice outfit and drove to his house. We left my car at his place, and he drove to dinner. His mother was stone-cold and distant. However, I did my job, and I played the part of the perfect date for everyone at the table. I charmed; I laughed in all the right places, and I used the correct utensil for each dinner course. In other words, I flawlessly executed all my training on how to be a good, sweet, eligible lady.

My date drank heavily at dinner. Since I was minding my manners, I only sipped. Despite my fear that he had consumed too much booze, I let him drive us home. On the way, he insisted that we stop at a bar. He downed several more drinks. I was embarrassed to ask him not to drive. Luckily, we made it to his place. Once we were safely installed in his living room, he started to work his way into a bottle of red wine. His housemate was home, and we stayed up late talking to her. Finally, he was ready for bed.

We had sloppy sex and then fell asleep.

In the middle of the night, I woke up, and he was on top of me, forcing his penis inside me with no condom. I panicked and said, “What are you doing? Don’t do that!”

He ignored me and continued. I didn’t know what to do, how to respond. I couldn’t really understand what was happening, and I was freaked out.

“Please stop,” I pleaded with him. He looked at me in a sinister way, and he ejaculated. I saw his face; it was clear that my fear had excited him enough to finish off.

He rolled off me and moved to the edge of the bed without a word. I laid beside him, confused and worried. I found myself thinking, “This didn’t happen. He’s drunk. He didn’t know what he was doing.”

At the same time, other thoughts came in direct conflict: “What if I get pregnant? What if he has AIDS? I told him ‘no,’ so why did he do this? We already had sex, so why didn’t he just wake me up?”

Instead of kicking his ass, screaming for his roommate, or leaving, I just lay there paralyzed.

In the morning, I felt a desperate need to make things all right, to erase what had happened the night before. I gave him a blowjob, and then I gathered my things to leave.

“I’m going to shower,” he said. “You can show yourself out.”

And that was it. He was finished with me. I was relieved to get in my car and drive away. Immediately, guilt set in. I was so embarrassed for the way I had responded to a rape. I berated myself for not fighting or standing up for myself. I felt disgusting, and I thought that no one would believe that I was raped. After all, I thought, “It’s kind of my fault for sleeping over in the bed with a stranger.”

The most bizarre part is that I wanted him to call me to ask me out for another date, because I felt sure that if we had sex again, it would negate the rape. I could give him a chance to “make up for it.”

He didn’t call me for about a month. “Sorry I haven’t been in touch,” he said. “I’ve been busy.”

I yelled at him: “I don’t care. I can find a hundred guys like you.”

“What the fuck! Go find them. Fuck you, you fucking bitch!” he hissed, and then he hung up on me.

I erased his number, and I made myself forget his name and his face. It was at least six months before I told anyone what happened.

The experience only added to my gay guilt and to my shame in general. I thought, “What kind of a person am I if I can let something like this happen to myself? What the hell is wrong with me?”

For years after I came out of the closet, I was embarrassed to tell people — even my therapist — about the rape, because I was convinced that people would say, “Oh, well, it’s obvious that this experience made you a lesbian. It turned you against men.”

What strikes me so strongly when looking back on my history is how brainwashed I was — how a lot of us are — into believing that women have to be polite and sweet all the time. I never wanted to cause a fuss. I believed that people would like me more if I was a good little girl and kept my mouth shut. The compulsion to be “nice” is still something I have to battle.

It’s not right or fair for me to have to carry around the guilt for what some sick man did to me. I don’t know what causes rapists to rape, and the truth is that I don’t care what the reasons are. It is not my fault. Even if I ignored the signs — which I did — it’s still not my fault.

“No” means no. The shame isn’t mine to bear; it belongs with my rapist.

Originally published in The Huffington Post on November 30, 2011

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