The Night Rape Knocked

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On the night of my eighteenth birthday, I heard a loud knock on my door. It was approximately 11 p.m., and my roommate had no plans to return until morning.

“RA’s! Open up!”

I peeked through the peephole. Two men, not much older than myself, sought entrance. In my naiveté, I opened the door.

“We heard complaints of noise. Are you having a party?”

I was stunned. Only three weeks into college, and I was already in trouble. But, quickly, my real error surfaced: I had unknowingly granted two strangers access into my room late at night.

It was 2 vs. 1, and I was in no position to win.

I think this is the problem with rape. In our minds, we too often conjure up images of scantily clad women parading their bodies for any male spectator who may show interest. Perhaps there is alcohol involved. Regardless, it’s always the woman’s fault.

Let’s be clear: No woman asks to be raped. Ever.

For myself, this lesson was a hard one to learn. As it turns out, even fully clothed women who are in the privacy of their own “home” can fall victim.

The recent Stanford rape case has reminded me of how very lucky I am. Rape doesn’t always knock. On a night that could have so easily rerouted the course of my life, I was able to experience God’s amazing grace. My boyfriend at the time had surprised me earlier in the day and was still in my room at the time of the incident.

All it took was a single wave to protect my honor – and future.

Over the years, I have met women who have been sexually violated. And, yes, some of their circumstances, though certainly not all, involved collegiate athletes. Unfortunately, the deep pain and shame that rape produces often silences these stories. And, with no story, there is no consequence.

In the years that followed my dangerous encounter, I did spot – on two occasions – one of the young men who had posed as an RA. I will never forget his face and the fire, to this day, it fuels in my heart.

More than a decade later, I still live with the regret of having been so paralyzed by fear that I did nothing. But I am a parent, and I have the responsibility of using my hardship for good. After all, if I don’t teach my children to carry the weight of their own decisions, who will?

Humans, especially those who are young, will most certainly do bad things. But “20 minutes of action” can steal a woman’s core. In an increasingly self-centered world, respect has never been needed more.

An eighteenth birthday – and all the life that follows – may even depend on it.

8 thoughts on “The Night Rape Knocked

  1. when i was 19 i opened my dorm room door to a group of men in masks and hoodies, thinking it was my friend from down the hall, because he just left minutes beforehand, ummm and it was around 2am, and my roommate and i got robbed at gunpoint. its not the same traumatic experience as what you faced, however, opening a dorm room door is common. thats nothing to feel guilt or shame or naive about. the building where students reside away from home for the first time should be secure places.

    actually they are both potentially life threatening experiences, except social cultural norms dont allow for rape victims to receive empathy or grieving & healing. actually the worst part of my experience is that my parents told me i was stupid for opening the door and that i should have fought back, thus blaming the victim. thats the main reason i remember the event.

    which coincides with the leading cause of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in rape victims being determined by how understanding the responding police officer is to the victim & unfortunately as you alluded to, often times even police get angry and blame the victim. Hilary Clinton even blamed a 12 year old rape victim in one of her first cases as a lawyer, simply because its the only time society accepts an illogical fallacy as true.

    sorry for the long response, i was just trying to say that rape culture is the perpetual enabling of perpetrators to walk free or with little consequence, while further victimizing the person in need of help.

    then again america locks up people with mental health issues rather than provide mental health treatment, because we still live in a primitive age of understanding with regards to the fragility of the human mind and its emotional state.

    anyway, you didnt do anything wrong. im sorry that happened. honestly, being paralyzed with fear was your natural survival instinct. now today you are a survivor and you retained a good deal of information to tell your story. you actually did great. thats a really difficult experience to make it through.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your words. I agree that the system is so broken and victims too often suffer as a result. To this day, I still have NO idea what actions I should have actually taken that would have protected me in future encounters with the young men (which are inevitable on a campus, as I would learn in the years that followed). Your experience sounds equally terrifying, and I’m sorry that you, too, had such a traumatic circumstance. Despite all that Virginia Tech (the college I was attending at the time of the incident) has done since the shootings in 2007, I am pretty confident there are still no protections in place that would prevent a situation like mine. And, honestly, I’m not sure how they could even work.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “20 minutes of action” can steal a woman’s core- Very true! And while we teach our daughters about how to defend themselves from such rapist, we should also teach our sons how immoral and unacceptable it is to take something forcefully that is not yours – in this case, a womans pride, confidance, ability to trust, and above all – a part of her soul.

    Liked by 1 person

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