This weekend, Washington Post columnist George Will wrote an article about sexual assault on college campuses in which he called “victimhood … a coveted status that confers privileges.” In response, survivors of sexual assault having been sharing their stories with on Twitter with the hashtag #SurvivorPrivilege. Here, one survivor shares her story.
#SurvivorPrivilege is feeling anxious and afraid over revealing truths that could possibly impact your family, career, and friendships.
#SurvivorPrivilege is fudging details about your “first time” when chatting with friends, because even 18 years after the fact, you’re too ashamed to talk about what really happened.
I was 16-years-old when I lost my virginity … or rather, when it was taken away from me. It was the spring of my sophomore year in high school. I had received my driving license only months before, and was flexing my newfound independence whenever I was able to borrow my mom’s car. I had been dating a boy two years older than me from a few towns over. We knew each other from a local youth group and had fallen into an easy relationship spurred on by our shared loved of similar bands, cigarettes and coffee. Oh, to be 16 again …
He was my first serious boyfriend, and I didn’t have much experience in my bag — either sexually or relationship wise. I let him lead and had been okay with that so far. We had kissed, rounded second base, and everything was good. Great even. Then one night, I drove 25 minutes to his house because he called me over to hang out.
When I got there, his parents were home, hanging out in the living room. They had no problem with us going up to his bedroom and locking the door. We started making out, and then things started moving too quickly.
“Let’s just do it,” he whispered.
“Do what?” Even though I knew exactly what he meant. I wondered if he could hear my voice shake.
“Sex. I think we’re ready.”
“I don’t know.”
He silenced my uncertainty with kisses and started to undress me. I didn’t do much of anything besides try to figure out a way to get him to stop. It didn’t feel right to me, and this wasn’t how I envisioned my first time: while my boyfriend’s parents had coffee downstairs.
I finally found my voice.
“It’s fine. You’ll like this.” His hands started poking and prodding and I already didn’t like it.
I squirmed underneath him, attempting to get out, but his body, easily 80 lbs. more than mine pressed me down into his mattress.
“See? It’s good.” He must have mistaken my squirming for being turned on? My mind was swimming. Could he not hear me saying “no”? Was I being too quiet? I didn’t want his parents to hear.
Then, out of nowhere, he breached me, searing pain and skin rubbing against dry skin making it worse. Was he even wearing a condom?
“OW!” I know I said that out loud. “Stop. That hurts!”
“It will only hurt for a second, then it will feel so good. Trust me.”
Trust had already gone out the door and was nowhere in sight.
“I don’t like this. Stop.”
He continued pumping into me, oblivious to my demands. He gripped my hands that had been pushing at his shoulders in a weak attempt to toss him off. His eyes were closed as if he refused to look at me, and his face was screwed up in … pleasure? How could it be? A bead of sweat dripped down his forehead and landed onto my face, where it mixed with the tears that were spilling from my eyes. I started whimpering.
“Yeah. Yeah. Ohhh … yeah. So good.”
Who was he talking to? Could he not hear me crying?
Finally he stilled and stopped, his entire weight coming down onto me. His hot breath wafting over my ear as he whispered all sorts of sweet words to me.
“See? I knew you’d like it. So good. You’re such a good girl.”
And then? I went on autopilot. He finally lifted off of me and I rushed to the bathroom, and sat on the toilet for what felt like ages. I was bleeding. The blood would last another day or so. That couldn’t be right, I thought. But I felt ashamed and dirty and didn’t want to ask my friends because I was afraid they would say it was somehow my fault.
I still had to walk downstairs, make small talk with his parents and drive myself home. My mind was muddled the entire drive home. What had just happened? I was scared. Maybe I didn’t make myself clear? Maybe I made it seem like I enjoyed it? But I said “stop.” I told him I didn’t like it. In the days that followed I realized that what had happened was not consensual, but I still didn’t have the tools or the voice to call it what it was: date rape. I tried calling my boyfriend so I could at least tell him what I thought, but he never picked up or returned any of my calls. Then, about a week later, I got a call from his best friend, breaking up with me for him: “He’s just not in a good place for a relationship right now.”
#SurvivorPrivilege is being a lost, scared 16-year-old who doesn’t tell anyone what happened because she is ashamed, confused, and worried about what people will think of her.
#SurvivorPrivilege is then going on to not have a real relationship for another four years, but rather an endless parade of friends-with- benefits as a way to control the situation as best as possible.
#SurvivorPrivlege is accepting a Facebook friend request from the man who took your virginity because maybe he really didn’t know, and maybe the way you remember it is different than what he experienced, and maybe you should just forget about it.
#SurvivorPrivilege is remembering what happened 18 years later and feeling like you failed your 16-year-old self.
The author of this piece chooses to be anonymous. If you would like to contact her, send an email to [email protected] and it will be forwarded.
[Image of a woman via Shutterstock]