by Ellen Groves
High school was a rough time for me. I grew up in a very abusive environment, and suffered from low-self esteem and very self-destructive tendencies. I was a straight-A student, involved in many extracurricular activities, and on the fast-track to a full-ride at a respected university. All of this began to change during my junior year. Certain circumstances led to a complete mental breakdown that caused my anxiety to spiral out of control. During this time, I developed a drug addiction. During this time, I also had a boyfriend that encouraged my drug use. I was hooked on several types of prescription drugs and cough syrup. One night, I took too many pills and overdosed. My boyfriend was there at the time, and as I faded in and out of consciousness, I begged him to tell my parents or take me to the hospital. I was having heart palpitations, experiencing delirium, and aspirating on my own vomit because I couldn’t move from my bed to a trash can.
Instead of taking me to the hospital, my boyfriend had sex with me. While I was vomiting on myself and barely able to speak, let alone move. I thought that I was going to die, and the last thing I would remember is being forced to have sex while my body was on fire. When he was finished, he left me upstairs in my room, alone. Somehow I made it through the night, and managed to drive myself to the hospital the next morning.
I hated my boyfriend. He told me I was being dramatic. He told me that I shouldn’t have taken so many drugs. He told me that I was his girlfriend, and if he wanted to have sex with me, he could. He told me I deserved it.
And I believed him.
I’ve only shared this story with a few people in my life, but every time I tell it, I don’t define it as rape. I blame myself. For ten years, I have defended his actions by blaming myself. I say that I shouldn’t have been doing drugs; if I had been clear-headed, things would have been different. I have convinced myself that it was my fault, even though I was in my own home and incapacitated. People have told me for years that it wasn’t my fault, but I will always believe that it was.
This is the problem with society. Women are still viewed as property, and men still feel entitled to our bodies, even when we say no. Or can’t say no. When people tell me their experiences with sexual assault, I always assure them that it wasn’t their fault, but I don’t know if I’ll ever believe it that my assault wasn’t mine.
Sexual assault is inexcusable. I will never forget that night, laying in my bed, covered in semen, vomit, and blood. If something like this has happened to you, please listen to my words. It was NOT your fault. I may never be able to believe it for myself, but I hope that my story reaches you. No matter the circumstances, your body is your own, and don’t let anyone convince you that you “deserved what you got.” Not even if it’s your own inner voice.