I was visiting a friend for the weekend. She and I had always had a lot of fun together so I thought I would go hang with her.
We went to a club we had always gone to and we had had a few drinks and had danced till closing time. One of the men who managed the club used to flirt with me and I flirted right back. It was nothing serious to me. He was an okay guy but not someone I would have considered getting close to. It was just playful fun. He joked about wanting to get with me and I managed to laugh it off and keep it light. I don’t remember but there may have been a time I sat in his lap or even hugged him. I know I didn’t do anything to make him think I wanted him for more.
I didn’t want to have sex with him. He really didn’t turn me on like that and I liked him for a friend but not someone I wanted in bed with me. I really didn’t want that with him. I just wanted to be friends. I told my friend that. I wasn’t interested in him like that.
So that night, we came home and I was in bed asleep. I was wearing a flimsy little nightie because that is what I usually wore. I toss and turn a lot and I have torn up nightgowns when they got caught under me. I liked something light and loose because I also got very warm at night and I wanted to be able to get out of it easily.
I don’t remember what caused me to wake up, but I did and there he was, in the bed with me. He had taken off his clothes and he was under the covers with me and he had pulled my gown up above my breasts so it was nearly around my neck and he was kissing and licking me while holding that gown tight. He was on top of me and I couldn’t move.
Was I dreaming? Was this an awful nightmare?
No. It was all too real.
He was large – probably 6’3” or so and muscular and very strong. I could not push him away nor could I get out from under him. I was trapped.
My mind was racing. What could I do? I wanted to get away from him but at the same time, I didn’t really want to scream or anything. I just wanted him gone.
Meanwhile, his hands were all over me, his mouth, touching me in places I didn’t want him to touch. I didn’t want him in bed with me. I didn’t want this. Not with him. Not like this!
I tried to joke with him or say something that would defuse him but it wasn’t working. I asked him to stop and he said no. He had wanted this with me and he was going to have me. He told me to stop fighting and enjoy it. I said I didn’t and he said “Fake it. That’s what you women do all the time anyway, isn’t it?
He had obviously put on some cologne before he showed up and I could smell it all over him. His body was hard and like stone. I could not move him and I couldn’t get away. I was furious. I hated the idea of having to have sex with someone I didn’t want but there wasn’t anything I could do. I just lay there and let him have his way.
When he was finished, he wanted to joke and play and tried to kiss me again and I told him to get his clothes on and get the hell out. He said he wasn’t finished and wanted to do it again. I said no. I slid out of the bed and wrapped the sheet around me and called him names and demanded that he leave.
I remember that he looked hurt and sad and said he didn’t understand why I was so angry. He had only wanted to make love to me.
That wasn’t love making! I hadn’t wanted it!
I was so mad I couldn’t think. I just wanted him to go
My friend was standing in the doorway as he left and she looked puzzled too. Didn’t I want him to come visit, she asked.
Maybe I would have earlier. Maybe if she had asked me. Maybe if it was to just sit and talk and get to know each other better. Maybe I might have liked him more later.
But to let him in without asking me and show him where I was sleeping and then leave me alone with him, no, that wasn’t what I wanted.
I had not wanted to have sex with him.
I was angry with her too.
The next day, I got dressed and I went home and I never spoke to her again.
I saw him years later at another club in another town with other friends. I made sure I stayed out of his line of sight though by then, he probably forgot me and what had happened.
But I hadn’t.
I didn’t think of it as rape. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it. I was a young woman who had had sex with men as I wanted, I went out drinking and dancing and I smoked weed and on top of it all, I was black. Who would believe me?
I thought about my life being broadcast in court and having all those self-righteous white people looking down their noses at me if they were in a jury. I thought about people staring at me and those thinking I had asked for it even though I hadn’t.
I had had a couple of the local police make a pass at me and I had said no. One of them had tried the same thing but I had been lucky enough to get away from him before anything had happened. They would not believe me.
And I had been flirting with him even though to me it was meaningless. What would they make of that?
I didn’t think anyone would believe me and so I just kept quiet about it.
As time passed, I told a few friends about it but mostly, I put it out of my mind.
I was more careful though. I wasn’t as playful with men as I had been. I didn’t smile and kid around with them if I didn’t know them and I made sure I wasn’t alone with them unless it was what I wanted. I didn’t accept rides nor did I let men in my home unless there were other people there too.
I had several men get angry with me because they said I was treating them all like they were rapists. Perhaps I was. I just knew that to protect myself, I had to be far more cautious than I used to be. I didn’t intend to ever get caught like that again and I never was.
Last week, as my brother and I discussed Brett Kavanaugh, he asked me if anything like that had ever happened to me and I told him about it.
He was quiet for a long time and then he said, “You just told me that you were raped.”
We both sat quiet, not sure what to say. I really had never thought of it that way, but he was right.
I had been raped.
A man had held me down in the bed and had sex with me without my permission or my cooperation. I had said no, please no and stop and he had not stopped but had gone ahead and forced his way into my body against my will. And it wasn't my fault. I hadn't done anything wrong.
I felt the tears burning but I didn’t want to cry and I fought them back. And I thought of all those other women who had had something like that happen to them. All those women who like me didn’t think they would be believed. All those women who had kept quiet for so long and had tried to forget it because they blamed themselves.
All of them who like me, had been with a man who was more powerful, who felt like he could do anything he wanted and did.
I looked at Brett Kavanaugh on television and I saw that anger, that rage, that how dare you tell me I was wrong look on his face. No one had ever challenged him and how dare a mere woman try stop him from getting what he wanted. I knew he didn’t think he had done anything wrong. But I knew he was lying. I knew he did it.
I looked at those men sitting there smugly agreeing with him and calling her a liar among other horrible things.
All those feelings of helplessness came back and once again, I fought off the tears. The anger came back.
But that large lump of pain is still sitting there in my chest.
I don’t think it will ever go away.