Texting My Rapist
Trigger warning: rape
There is only so much we can do about our feelings. Still, we can confront them in writing and in discussion to shed some of the weight from our shoulders.
As of last weekend, Brett Kavanaugh is a part of the US Supreme Court, which means he will be able to make decisions about women and their reproductive health. He is a rapist. Maybe he is not a rapist, or the story turns out to be less criminal. This is my attempt at remaining slightly objective, but I believe Dr. Ford, and, either way, he is a proven liar. I remember what my assaulter said to me when I confronted him. The eerily similar testimony Kavanaugh gave brought me back to the casual text exchange I had in my freshman year of university. I was in Paris and he was in California. He was no longer the guy I would casually “see” in high school. He was someone who raped me.
I once hesitated to use that word, because it (used to) hold weight in our society. Maybe this insight into the fact that hardly any of my country’s elected leaders care about sexual assault has finally come at the age of 20. Perhaps it’s a truth that comes with age.
At the time, it dawned on me that if I were to go about a text exchange with him, I would need to be careful; with myself, and in my approach. Imagine receiving a text message saying, “Hey, it’s been two years but just wanted to say I forgive you for fucking me when I was blacked out in the back of your car on Halloween that year. Have a good one!” Not only would he feel attacked, but I wouldn’t have felt quite right about it. This humor and bluntness comes from a place of dissociation and anger. If I were still angry, it would mean that I haven’t forgiven him.
That’s not to say that sexual assault survivors should always forgive their offender. And it’s also not to say that I want to forget about it or maintain a friendly relationship. At the point in my life where I confronted my assaulter I had fallen in love. My lover helped me through a lot of the PTSD that I experienced after the assault, and I felt that I had truly come a long way. I was also sure that my rapist had no idea how I felt about that night. We were both drunk. I wanted to have sex with him (we hadn’t at that point), and other than a slightly stern text message the next day, I had continued to see him for the next couple of months; we even slept together after he took me to winter formal that year.
I can’t tell you why I did these things. In retrospect, I felt guilty. I had grown up with frequent lectures from my father about drinking safely, not staying out too late, and maintaining awareness of my situation at all times. My father was in the Navy for 20 years, as well as a lawyer for the District Attorney’s of my county in California. His lectures came from a place of caring. He had told me many stories of women in the navy being assaulted and not wanting to come forward, and he didn’t want me to have to go through something like this. He did not blame the victim, but I internalized that if someone gets assaulted it is their own fault for not being careful enough.
Many thoughts ran passed through my mind: I had taken too many Jello shots at the Halloween party. I had let my guard down. I had intended on having sex with him that night. At that point, I was asking myself if it really mattered that I wasn’t conscious. I had wanted it to happen and it did. I wasn’t sure that it counted as rape because I was drunk and I had pursued him earlier in the evening.
I vividly remember the moment I woke up to him inside of me. For a long time after that, it haunted me when I had sex. When I did have sex, I closed my eyes. A dark figure thrusting into me from above. Squeaking. A pound on the car window. My friend pulling me from the car. She told me to pee, that the guy she was quietly chatting with in the car next door had revealed that my assaulter purposefully did not bring a condom. I laughed, I was still drunk. I called my friend to ask if she could buy me plan B I took it-- my friend spent 60 dollars so that I wouldn’t get pregnant-- and I went home. I met with a couple girlfriends for brunch and told them what had happened. Only one of the six asked me if I was alright with what had happened. She asked if I was okay with having sex with him. I said that I guessed I was. And I spent the next two years of my life denying the “R” word.
When I texted him from Paris, I didn’t have his phone number anymore, so I sent a message to his friend asking for it. I typed out the text somewhat quickly and sent it, no hesitation. It was just something that had to be done. I coddled him like no mother ever would- I explained to him that I had not been conscious that night and had woken up with him inside me, and that it was a very traumatic experience. I told him I was sending this message with the purpose of preventing an event like this in his future, as if it were an unfortunate event that happened to him.
Looking back, I am disappointed in my attempt to spoon-feed my assaulter a harsh reality (harsh for me, not him), but I have faith in knowing that I was trying to diffuse my anger. I chose to preserve my soft demeanor; this soft demeanor was something I hoped would affect him.
The climax of this disgusting story is that my rapist decided to tell me how I felt: “I’m sorry, but you seemed to be really into it. You were conscious when I was having sex with you, you were just a bit drunk.” Sticking an uncovered penis into someone who was not awake enough to be wet without a condom should be an obvious problem. This is the narrative of every male who does not allow women a choice: we wanted it.
The way Kavanaugh defended himself brought me right back into the pattern of denial and “framing” of story that is so prevalent in assaulters’ speech patterns today. The faked shock at the accusation, the total denial, the false characterization of the self; Kavanaugh painted himself as a church boy who had never gotten drunk past the point of recollection, when there are numerous accounts of him blacking out. My assaulter had painted himself as the caring, playful surfer boy who slept around. One who called me princess and baby for months afterwards: two words that I can no longer hear without triggering my gag reflex.