*Trigger warning: Rape*
For some reason, despite saying that I'm boycotting Reddit - I still visit the site. There are some subreddits that are truly a fantastic resource, especially for learning San Francisco places to go and eat, and talking about video games. However, there are plenty of comments that just make me want to rage out. One in particular was in response to a women's post about how she was raped at 14 and that it scarred her for life. A commenter responded with a statement about how being raped is something you should get over, because it's not like you were murdered or anything. The response was disgusting, victim-blaming, shaming, and completely ridiculous. But, it made me think.
When I was in my early 20's, I went to a house party at a friend's house. I remember we had all consumed a little bit of alcohol, and I went off into a room by myself to play the piano. I was enjoying sitting on the bench and playing music for myself, because I didn't own a piano myself and I loved to play. An older friend of a friend walked into the room and closed the door behind him, then came up and sat next to me on the bench and put his arm around me. I wasn't comfortable with this because I didn't know the guy, so I slid off the bench and stood up. I remember him reacting defensively, as if I was accusing him of doing something wrong. I awkwardly said something like "I'm going to go get a drink" in order to make an excuse to leave the room. This man rushed after me and pushed me up against the wall next to the door. He stared at me, with the most cold and empty eyes I have ever seen. I said "let me go, please. I'm not interested in this" and tried to move away, but he pushed my shoulders back and kept blocking me from reaching the doorway.
He pushed up against me and leaned in for a kiss, and I dodged him by turning my head away. He pulled back and held me by the shoulders at arm's reach and just stared at me. Those eyes, gray and penetrating, just looked right into my soul. I ducked and spun and managed to get out of the room. My heart was racing, I felt cold and numb and my head was pounding with this unrecognizable sound. I ran out into the main room where a group of around 15 were lounging and having fun. I walked over and stood next to the friend who was hosting the party. The older man was on the opposite side of the room, sipping a drink and continuing to stare at me. I whispered to my friend that I wanted to talk to him, and he slipped out the patio door with me and I told him what happened. He told me to stay there, then went inside and promptly kicked the guy out of his party. I had never been more shaken yet relieved.
I will never forget those eyes. I wasn't raped, but I was lucky. I was alone in an empty room with a man who was drunk who was obviously interested in forcing things upon me. The door was closed and there was loud music going on in the main room, so no one would have heard. I had no reason to fear going into the room to play piano, because I thought I knew everyone at the party and trusted their judgement on who was invited. Sometimes, I still see those eyes. When I make eye contact with people, I sometimes flash back to that moment where I felt truly powerless and helpless. A scar is a lasting impression, a moment that leaves a mark on you. I know that if a 'near miss' like this had the potential to stick with me for so long and affect me negatively, causing me to feel those emotions all over again, that if someone was actually raped the emotional damage and baggage would quite literally last a lifetime. When you have a moment of pure fear, where you feel helpless, alone, in true danger, when you are left exposed, where you can't escape, it gives you a feeling that you will continue to feel again and again for your lifetime. Long after any physical pain is gone, emotional scarring exists to remind you of that moment for the rest of your life.