I am a 25-year-old freelance classical musician from Maine currently pursuing my MFA in Writing and trying to get the most from my twenties. That is what I tell people when they ask who I am.
I do not say I am a two-time rape survivor. Like so many survivors of sexual assault, I have been mostly silent about my attacks, speaking only to my close friends and family members, as well as professionals like my therapist who are equipped to handle the aftermath of my traumas. The first of my attacks was nearly nine years ago. The second was exactly a year ago this week.
What I have to say is about silence and the power of finding my voice. After I was attacked the first time, I was terrified, full of self-blame, humiliation, and confusion. I was raped by a man I considered a friend in the Midcoast house where I lived my first summer away from my family. Even though while he was attacking me I begged and pleaded with him to stop, I could not bring myself to call it rape. I was certain that I had given him permission by letting him kiss me. I was certain that the attack was my fault. I kept my rape a secret to protect myself, my own denial, and the people who cared about me. In doing so, I also protected my rapist.
My second attack, January 20, 2006, occurred first in an Old Port dance club, where I went to go dancing with a group of nearly fifteen friends. I was sober until a man I had never met before offered to buy me a drink. I believe now that the drink he gave me was laced with Rohypnol (see “Drugs To Watch Out For”). He then isolated me from my friends until the drugs took effect — only about ten minutes. I have no memory of the five hours after I took a few sips of that drink. He must have dragged me, nearly passed out, to his car and driven me to his basement apartment.
When I came to in a dark, unfamiliar room, I first noticed my hand was covered in blood and loose bandages. Later I would discover bruises on my back and a huge lump on my head. I had no memory of sustaining any injuries.
It was then that I realized I was being sodomized. My motor skills had not returned and I could not turn my body around to see who was hurting me. My arms would not work properly. But I was starting to feel pain. When he realized I was awake he turned me onto my back, laid his weight on top of me, and continued to rape me. I didn’t fight back, I didn’t speak; I still had no idea who this man was or where I was. After he finished, he hurried into the bathroom to shower.
Stumbling around in the dark, I managed to find my blood-soaked clothes and dress myself. He then drove me back to my car. We could not speak in the eternity between his apartment in South Portland and my car downtown because he is deaf. I’m not certain I would have spoken to him, but I might have asked what happened in those five hours that I was unconscious, as he is the only one who knows. When I got back to my car I drove myself to my apartment, my head still cloudy with whatever he had put in my drink. Then, in my disorientation and confusion, I showered, washed my clothes, re-bandaged my throbbing hand and fell into a deep sleep. I woke and called a friend at noon the next day. It was her, not me, who first knew I had been raped. I could not understand it; I was unable to accept it for nearly three days after.
These facts that I tell you now, I have put together from the fragments of my own memory and from what the police and my friend who saw me the next day tell me. When questioned by the police, the rapist denied ever bringing me back to his apartment. Because there is no physical evidence, my case will never see trial.
I have run into this man three times since he brutalized me in his apartment last January. The most recent time I saw him, in late September in a parking lot near the Maine Mall, he met my eyes with the cold glare of a man who knows what he got away with. But rather than fall apart, rather than confront him in anger, rather than act on any of the emotions surging through me right then, instead I walked away. In order to keep on living my life, doing the things I love, and moving forward, I must accept that he is out there and he will never be punished for the violence he forced into my life. That does not mean I have moved on. That does not mean I am not angry. It just means I’ve survived.