When I was 17 years old I was raped by a 16 year old student from my Long Island high school. It happened at the end of the school year, just before prom, graduation and eventually college.
I was in shock and I could not make sense of what had happened. When it was over, I ran from the house and got into my car. As I was crying and running to my car, my rapist followed me out of the house and said “Don’t worry baby, it was good for me, it was good for you.” I drove over to my friend’s place. I told her what happened, but I honestly don't remember what she told me to do.
I didn't say anything to anyone else for one or two days, but after I saw my rapist in school again I decided to tell a trusted adult in school what had happened. The thought of this rapist getting away with this and never knowing it was wrong made me ill, though talking about it made me feel even worse.
I told a counselor at school what had happened. He assured me that it would be kept private and that he would absolutely not tell my parents. He had me pulled out of class and referred to a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) program at a nearby hospital. I contacted VIBS (Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk) who sent someone to accompany me to the hospital. A woman from the organization showed up at the hospital and sat there with me in the waiting area with a folder of pamphlets. My friend had also come to the hospital with me. I am glad that she did because the representative from VIBS did not offer much support or conversation. It made me uncomfortable to have her there.
I could not go through with the physical exam required by the rape kit the nurses wanted to administer. Thankfully, the nurse who helped me was kind and did not push me to do anything I did not want to do. There were no police present, but had there been I probably would have been too afraid to speak to them. The nurse gave me medicine to prevent pregnancy and STD's, then collected the clothing I had brought from the rape. For the next few days I experienced a lot of stomach pain from the medicine I received.
Back at school, I met with the counselor again and he told me that he was "wrong" and it turns out he does "have to tell my parents and that I have to be there with my administrator when he tells my mother".
"Your daughter claims she has been raped by another student in the school" is the only thing that I remember my administrator saying to my mother.
I was told by the counselor that the mother of the boy who raped me had been informed of the accusation as well. When I heard this, the first thing I thought was that the counselor said “accusation”. I couldn’t believe that they talked with my rapist and his mother and he wasn’t in handcuffs. He was still walking around my school, talking with his friends. I was hoping for and expecting some kind of sensitivity and belief from someone, even from my rapist’s mother. I did not receive it there either.
I went to the police and asked to speak with a female officer to report the rape. I was put into a room and was to speak with a detective. She had me recount the details of my rape several times. She treated me like a person who had done something wrong, like I had broken the law. In the end, she said to me "There is no way that it could have happened that way. It is not possible. I think you are probably just trying to get back at your boyfriend, right?"
After I heard that, I knew no one was going to help me and I left.
In the end, the school did not help me, the police did not help me, and coincidentally, my family did not help me either.
I had to go to school for the rest of the year and see my rapist in the hallways. I had to see him smiling and laughing with his friends in the common area. I had to live the last two months of high school and the last eleven and a half years of my adult life wondering if or when he would do it to someone else. I remember people from my town gossiping about me and what had happened. It just became a story, a gossip point, something to chat about. I hate going back to my hometown. It only reminds me of this.
I’ve helped myself since then through seeking professional treatment with a counselor who was trained in working with rape victims. I was also treated for PTSD.
It is my hope that no one ever has to go through what I went through. However, if someone did experience a sexual assault I would hope that they seek professional help from an experienced counselor. I hope they find someone they can trust to talk about what happened. I want people to know they are not alone and there are people out there that can help them. I want the police to recognize where they went wrong in regards to my rape and how to prevent this from happening in the future. I want school officials and counselors to have a protocol for helping students who have been sexually assaulted that is solely intended to help the victim. I need to know that our society is on its way towards making my story one of the last of its kind.
This story is not easy for me to tell and I am sure it is not easy for many of you to read. I am sharing it with you all to show how pervasive and harmful rape culture is to victims, and our society more generally. I was treated with suspicion and made to feel ashamed at every turn after this assault. I want my story to teach us a lesson about the reality of this pressing issue.