Dear John Doe,
There were two times you raped me. If I am being really honest, there’s actually a third time but I’m not ready to face that one. I know that you will never understand or believe any of that. Admittedly, it took some work for me to believe it. I didn’t (still don’t) want to admit it. I worry that people will judge me. I should’ve done more to stop you. I could’ve done more to stop you.
One thing is for sure, I hate myself for not stopping you.
The first time was only a month into our relationship. I just had surgery. My face and throat were swollen, I was having difficulty breathing, and everything hurt. You came over to my place to “help take care of me.” You didn’t take care of me and honestly never would.
I remember telling you more than once that I didn’t want to. I remember telling you I felt like shit from surgery. I also remember you making me feel guilty. I remember you pressuring me. I try not to remember the rest, but I do.
This happened before I opened up to you about previous times I was assaulted. I found ways to blame myself. I wasn’t clear with you. You didn’t know my history, so you didn’t respect my boundaries. You were my boyfriend, so it didn’t count as rape. You loved me, so you would never intentionally hurt me. My mind went into hyperdrive making excuses for your behavior, a toxic coping mechanism I would use for the next six years.
Years later we would get in an argument about how coercing someone into having sex is rape. I want to be clear, the points I was making in this argument were from my experience with you.
The second time was the first night in our new apartment off Mack. We were so excited for a new start in a new city and our first place. We got a bottle of Jack to celebrate the move because I was still enabling your alcoholism at the time.
After moving in 103-degree weather and going toe-to-toe with you, a 250lb. alcoholic, with shots of Jack, I thought I was going to die if I didn’t go to sleep. Again, I remember saying no. I remember telling you I felt like I was going to black out. I remember you making me feel guilty. I remember you pressuring me. This time, I remember you getting really angry. Again, I try not to remember the rest, but I do.
At this point in our relationship, it was already clear to me that you had no shame using your strength and size advantage against me. There had been several times where you’d grab me so hard that I would have bruises on my arms perfectly showing where each finger had pressed against me—holding me captive. I knew if I ever needed to defend myself, I was smaller and weaker. I never stood a chance.
I didn’t fight. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I knew you would fight back harder. This was the first time I wondered if you would kill me. I realized if you wanted to, it would be too easy for you. While you were raping me, I was faking enjoyment because out of all the scenarios I contemplated to get me out of this, that was the only one I saw myself living through.
The next morning, you woke up like nothing happened. Did you not feel how terrified I was lying next to you all night? I hadn’t slept at all. The whole night I thought about how I made the biggest mistake moving in with you. I left the only place I ever felt safe into a small one bedroom with someone that didn’t care about my safety. I couldn’t stop thinking about how far I was from the people I love.
I started to question your previous experiences with other women. All the stories you liked to brag about. Such a macho man with your long list of partners. I wondered if you raped those other women. For the next three years, I couldn’t shake that thought from my head. While I could create thousands of reasons to forgive you for what you did to me, I couldn’t forgive you for potentially raping these women I didn’t know.
I never trusted you again. I tried really hard to, you just never gave me one reason why I should. I always thought that if you got sober, you would be a better person. One that wouldn’t treat their girlfriend like this. That day never came and never would.
You picked up on my distrust and constant anxiety I had around you. That’s when you started complaining about our sex life. It was too boring for you. The truth is, I didn’t want to sleep with you. Whenever I tried explaining how I was feeling, you assumed I was talking about previous assaults… I was talking about you every time. While you were worried about our sex life, I was trying not to have these two nights replay in my head like a highlight reel.
It doesn’t matter where I’m at or what I am doing when fragments of these nights flash through my mind. It happens when I am laughing at work with my friends. I instantly want to go home and be alone. It happens when I am with my mom and we are joking about the things we used to argue over. I instantly feel like she is ashamed that I am her daughter. It happens every time my dad looks at me because he raised me to be strong and I can’t stand that I failed him.
It happens every time I kiss someone new. I instantly recoil and feel like I can’t trust them.
Every day I try to remember who I was before I met you. I can’t. Instead, I remember the two times you raped me.
P.S. I hope you read this. I hope you remember, too.