October 6, 2014

GUEST ROOM: I Didn’t Think I Would Become A Victim

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Editors’ note: It is the policy of The Sun not to publish anonymous columns. In this case, we have made an exception and the name of the writer has been kept confidential to ensure that she is given the privacy that she has requested. The editors know the identity of the writer and have confirmed her story to the greatest extent possible.

Due to the sensitive nature of this column, we wanted to warn readers that this article describes multiple assaults.

When I was raped for the first time, I was surprised because it was so different from what I had imagined it to be like. I thought it would be violent. I thought it would be dramatic. I thought that the rapist would be like what you would imagine a criminal to be. I thought such a vocal and physically big and strong woman like me would never be a victim. But it did happen to me, and the rapist was my best friend.

At first, when it was about to happen, I tried to convince him that I’m his best friend. That I love him, but as a friend, and even if he had started seeing me another way, this was not the right approach. I didn’t kick or scream. In fact, I was still friendly, while clearly voicing my opinion. “I don’t want sex. If you do it, it would be rape.” However already taken by desire, he used force to stop me from pulling away and resisting, but he did not use violence. Later, he told me that he was sorry and that he always had feelings for me. Definitely not a rape scene I had imagined.

What really hurt me was not the fact that I was raped, but the fact that my own best friend treated me like a piece of meat, solely because of my female body.

After the first rape and several other encounters with men, I realized one thing: There are men who do not always take “no” for “no.” I don’t know if it’s because some men always want sex, so they cannot fathom the fact that someone would not want to have sex, or because some of them watch too much porn in which the female porn star shyly says no, but nevertheless enjoys sex. In any case, there are men who think that when a woman dines with a man, she will want to kiss, and that when she lets a man kiss her, she will want to have sex. In order for women to avoid being assaulted, women should know that there are some men who think this way. (The better way to prevent rape is for men to know that “no” is “no,” but we know better not to depend on them).

The second time I was raped was by a guy I had just gone on a couple of dates with. He was being “funny” and grabbed my butt. He lifted my dress “for fun.” I said “seriously don’t, I don’t like it,” but he seemed to find it funny and think of it as a play. I kept on asking him to stop, but he pinned me down and fingered me, still laughing. After that, he couldn’t control his own excitement and ended up penetrating. By then, he wasn’t smiling. Neither was I. (I was still wearing my dress and underwear, a clear sign of no, I don’t want sex.) This was also not a kind of rape I imagined. It started as something casual as grabbing my butt, what men see as “harmless” and “inoffensive,” sexual harassment. However, even these acts (like calling a girl sexy, spanking and groping, many of which I have experienced on Cornell’s campus) can be very dangerous. More so because there are men who cannot control their own desires. These men get excited by sexually harassing women and it can go too far, although that’s not necessarily what they had intended, as what happened with my second rape.

Both of these instances happened quite unexpectedly, and with unexpected people as well. I first abhorred my female body, then came to embrace it. In retrospect, my experiences, although traumatizing, have grown me into a stronger person overall.

Jacqueline is a recent graduate of Cornell University. Responses can be sent to associate-edito[email protected]. Guest Room appears periodically this semester.