When I was 18, I moved to Los Angeles to audition for roles. My boyfriend planned to come later. One night, a guy friend called. He said he needed a good night’s sleep for a meeting, as he’d been crashing on someone’s couch. I had known him for some time, so I said to come over and I set him up with a clean towel. We sat on the bed and talked for a while, then I fell asleep. When I woke up, he was inside me.
At first, I felt so disoriented and numb, I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep. I wondered if I had done something to give him the wrong idea. I felt afraid of making him angry. Believe it or not, I didn’t want to offend him. I just wanted it to be over. My childhood had come back to haunt me again: Because of the physical abuse, I didn’t believe there were borders between other people’s bodies and my own. I didn’t believe I had a voice.
Actress AnnaLynne McCord — best known for her role on the “90210″ reboot — has written a very powerful essay for Cosmopolitan called “Why I’m Done Staying Quiet About My Sexual Assault” that I urge you to read, as it demonstrates how a woman’s feeling of ownership over her body can be chipped away piece by piece.
McCord starts off by revealing the physical abuse she endured as a child growing up in a religious household, including that her parents regularly spanked her with a paddle. “My parents hurt me, which told me they hated me,” she writes. “It really messed me up. One day, I would suffer a punishment, and the next, my family would have a lovely day at the beach and I would tell myself, Maybe it’s not so bad.”
She then transitions into showing how feeling like her body was not her own and associating pain with love led to her being silent about further abusive incidents in adulthood, including the sexual assault described above. As for what happened with her attacker, she writes:
[My] attacker confronted me. We were at a club, and he cornered me, wanting to talk. I said, “You know what happened.” He said, “What are you saying? What we had that night was beautiful.”
My boyfriend came around the corner, and I got away. Later, a male friend told me my attacker was going around claiming I was in love with him. Finally, something in me snapped. “He raped me!” I said.
My friend’s reaction surprised me: He was so angry. I realized I was allowed to feel angry too. I told another friend, and she burst into tears. Again, I thought, I’m allowed to feel like this.
Much respect to AnnaLynne McCord for having the courage to share her story publicly. [Cosmopolitan]