You’re not alone

What I had to do after I was raped

By Anonymous

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Content warning: This story contains language that pertains to rape.

The questions are always how, why, when, what were you wearing and who. Most of the time, they’re for the benefit of the listener, trying to satiate their curiosity. The questions should be, Are you okay? What can I do to make things better? You can’t force someone to feel better, but you can help them through it. 

Being raped is one of the most violent assaults any person can experience. There’s no one stereotype to how people will react to the situation because every assault is different. But sexual assault is sexual assault. There is no justification that an answer to those questions could give. There’s no minimizing the issue.  Survivors were violated in a way that nobody should ever be violated.

 When a 19-year-old man raped me, it was my first time having sex. It felt like someone had robbed me of something that I thought I would give to someone whom I really cared about. My virginity was something I had guarded since I was little. I had always understood the importance of it. But once it was taken from me, I had never felt so ashamed. It was a feeling I could never get back. It felt like I lost my innocence.

The lack of support didn’t help either. I was too afraid to tell anybody because in some way I thought it was my fault. I couldn’t stop replaying the night over and over in my head. “No” should have been enough; even if I had wanted something to happen, the moment I had said “No”, everything should have stopped. My words should have been enough. I shouldn’t have had to fight.

After everything that had occurred, I really lost myself; I didn’t know what to do. Crowded hallways seemed to be louder and more difficult to navigate through. I was afraid that everybody could tell, that someone had written “rape victim” on my forehead. I never wanted to be someone who experienced pity or someone who needed support. But everyone needs support. Nobody can get through life alone. 

There is no guide on what to do after you’ve been sexually assaulted. But I want to use my experience and pain to help others understand both that there are steps you can take towards recovery, and that there are reactions more helpful for survivors than others. 

This is the way I decided to react to this situation: by writing, reporting and exposing what it’s like after — after being raped. There is no right answer. What follows chronicles the decisions survivors have to make, among skeptics, often with few resources at their disposal.

To those who have been there, know this: Whatever you choose to do is the right choice. Do what you’re comfortable with; don’t let anybody else tell you what you can or cannot do. That’s important. The control you have over your story allows you to have control over the situation, more than you could possibly know. This article is my control. 

Medical Care

After I got raped, I was really worried about being pregnant. I prayed I wasn’t. The first thing I did was drive to buy Plan B. I was on other medication, but I knew that Plan B wouldn’t typically interfere with any medication. However, it’s expensive: about $50 for a single pill. If you’re 17 or older, you can purchase it at any drug store, but if you want to remain anonymous, you can get it at Planned Parenthood. It was difficult for me to go to my parents about sex, so I had a friend buy the pill for me. It was awful knowing that I had to take it, but I believe it was an essential component in me moving past this trauma.

Furthermore, Sexually Transmitted Infection screening is important to complete after being raped. In my case, the man didn’t use a condom, so I couldn’t stop thinking about an STI that I had no consent in getting. Every night before bed, I would think about it. I felt helpless. In the case of an STI, there are many different places to go; however, getting tested is expensive. I went to Planned Parenthood in Gaithersburg with a friend. It was $100 because my insurance didn’t cover it. Bring your insurance card, though — even if you’re unsure whether it’s covered, you should at least try. Bring someone with you when you go get tested. Having my friend there made me feel calmer and not alone. It’s nerve-wracking, but the results should come in within a week.

Reporting it to the police

I couldn’t decide whether to tell the police for the longest time. For one, I was raped by a 19-year-old, while I am still a minor. I wondered if he would be charged for statutory rape. Additionally, I’m a woman, and the testimonies of women are historically devalued. 

I decided to talk to a therapist about the decision. She knew from experience that the likelihood of the perpetrator serving any time would be very low. Because I was underage, she said it would be a “she said, he said” court trial, and the likelihood of any woman winning was such a slim chance that it wasn’t worth the turmoil. 

A doctor of mine reached out to a few public attorneys and told them my story in confidence. Some public attorneys contacted me because they believed I had a strong case since I wasn’t under the influence of any substances and neither was the boy when he had raped me. In the end, I didn’t report anything publically. I didn’t want to press charges. The idea of having to repeat the story over and over to a lot of people I didn’t know seemed exhausting and painful, especially when considering what others had told me about the end results. This article was hard enough, even without people knowing my identity. 

I did report it to the police anonymously. In the future if this man were to assault another woman and she came forward, prosecutors would use my testimony to make her case stronger. However, I would never win the court case for myself. I admit, I still have mixed feelings about my decision. 

Telling parents, and friends

Telling my parents was the hardest single act I had to do. I imagine it depends on the relationship that you share with them, but for me it was difficult. It took me about a month to tell my mom, and it took about three months for my dad to know. At first, I didn’t plan on telling them, but they found out anyway. My mom found out when a $621 bill came in my name to my house. It said that I was at the hospital at 3 a.m. on a Wednesday night. I didn’t have another explanation other than the truth, that I went to go get a rape kit test done. My dad found out through my mom two months later. 

The lack of support from my parents was astonishing. They said that I should have been more careful. They prevented me from going outside to hang out with friends and constantly tracked my location. They intended to keep me safe, but in reality it just made me feel even more alone, as if they didn’t understand that this wasn’t my fault. Even months later, I’m being victim blamed, saying that I was raped because I wasn’t being careful. It is never the victim’s fault. No means no. No should be enough, so be careful with who you tell; the friends and family who find out might not respond with the support that you want. In addition, stories like these can spread very quickly. Only tell people whom you trust. It’s an uncomfortable topic, so it helped me to think about what I would say beforehand.

Be cautious of who you tell and who you ask for help. Friends of survivors, if anybody asks you for help, do everything in your power to help them. It doesn’t matter the time or place, please be there for your friend. I had asked a friend of mine to drive me to get STI tested, and he agreed. However, the night before, he bailed to go hang out with other friends. It made me feel more alone than any other situation that had occurred in those few weeks, and I was heartbroken. 

Coping skills

After a traumatic event like rape, it’s important to call support lines, talk to a therapist or talk to a psychiatrist. Losing control over what happens to your body causes trauma and fear. For weeks, I had nightmares and had many sleepless nights. I was prescribed medication in order to help with nightmares. Even today, my therapist helps me feel less responsible for the whole incident. Coping using many different methods is essential in order to get past this event. The most important advice I can give is to find your own way of coping. It’s necessary to explore different coping skills and try to incorporate them into your everyday life. 

Personally, I’ve found journaling and writing poetry to be a great way to release a lot of anger, sadness, anxiety and frustration in a stable way. The situation was unfair, but being able to express my thoughts about it without feeling judged and having it written down made me feel as though my feelings were more valid. Reading stories and talking to other survivors of rape has also helped me feel understood. Although it made me angry to realize how common sexual assault is, it made me feel better to understand that the rollercoaster of emotions that I feel is absolutely normal. Furthermore, talking to a professional about what happened made me feel like I would be able to get through this. It’s important to get that professional help — you are not alone in this.

Triggers

For me, I had a lot of different triggers. It’s important to be aware of what your triggers might be and tell your friends in order to help you through times when you do feel triggered. For me, certain touches around my wrist, crowded hallways, screaming, rape jokes and graphic images can bring back a lot of hard memories. It’s important to be sensitive because everyone has different triggers. Friends of survivors, always be conscious of what you say. In some ways, you’re giving up your freedom to say insensitive things. But with small concessions, you are able to avoid genuine harm to your peers and help them through their process of recovery without regression.

After being raped, it’s common to blame yourself. You replay the situation over and over in your head thinking about every scenario and what you could’ve done to prevent what happened. But to those now and in the future reading, know this: it’s not your fault. Another human made those choices for you. For me, it took a lot of self-reflection and therapy to finally realize that. It was never my fault. “No” should’ve been enough. There are no ifs or buts. “No” means no. Consent is everything. You deserve to have control over your own body and your own decision. This article is my own decision to help others and be able to tell my own narrative. This will be only a part of my story.

(800) 656-4673 National Sexual Assault Support Line

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