He was the popular guy at school. The letterman-wearing, white-tooth-smile football player. Everyone liked him. He was the type of guy Mom’s wanted their daughters to bring home.
She had just graduated high school. She was smart, and ambitious. Summer had just started. She was confident.
They were in his room. They had the television on, but they weren’t watching it. She loved him, she really did. He kissed her. Yeah, she thought, she definitely loved him. He rolled on top of her and grabbed at her shorts. It was a little uncomfortable. She didn’t like it. But, she loved him.
A few months later, excited for the year ahead, 18 year old Jane Smith* filed into Staples Auditorium with the rest of her graduating class. She waited in anticipation for Speak About It, a program that traveled around to different colleges and talked about the realities of sexual assault.
The curtain opened, and five casually dressed twenty-somethings stood on stage. Some of them held water bottles. They started off the show with sensual jokes and light banter. Smith carelessly laughed with her new friends.
The mood altered. The audience calmed down. A female speaker stood on stage and told the story of a college student who had been raped by a man she loved.
It was the moment she realized. A few months earlier, Smith had been raped by her boyfriend. A man that she thought she loved.
“I had a 10 p.m. curfew, and I had to leave soon,” Smith said. “We started making out and then he got on top of me. I knew he wanted to have sex, and I said, ‘No, I do not want to do this. This is not how I want to lose my virginity. Not right now.’ Then he said, ‘But I’ve waited so long for this.’”
Despite Smith’s efforts, her boyfriend, her assailant, continued.
“I tried to push him off, but he just kept kissing me,” Smith said. “Then I tried to get up, and he pulled me by my jean shorts and threw me on the bed. I just kept saying no, but then my pants were off.”
She felt defeated. She let go.
“At that point,” Smith said. “I just laid there and took it.”
College was the place that she was supposed to start over. She had a clean slate and abundant freedom. College was supposed to be the place where she became a new person, and found herself. But now, she found herself in pain, shocked.
“I didn’t think I was raped until I was sitting, that first week, during my freshman orientation,” Smith said. “I think Hendrix does a good job making students aware. After speak about it, I thought, ‘That happened to me’.”
Smith didn’t really understand exactly what it meant.
“They kept calling it rape,” Smith said. “I didn’t want it to be rape. The guy I knew was great. He would never do anything like that.”
Like many victims of rape, Smith can remember her rapist attempting to convince her that is something he deserved.
“‘I’ve waited my whole life for this,’ is what he told me right before he took my pants off,” Smith said. “That’s what I remember, like he was justifying what he was about to do.”
Smith admits that her love for him made it hard for her to truly admit what happened was wrong. Many people picture rape victims chosen at random, unaware of who their assailant is, or the capability to love them afterwards. But, most of the time, rapists are someone the victim knows.
“I don’t like being wrong about people, especially people I really care about,” Smith said. “I’ve known this guy since second grade, and he was one of my best friends growing up. I continued to see him. After moving away, it was easier to move on because I got to move away from him. We didn’t do anything after that. I guess he got what he needed the first time.”
Contrary to popular belief, letting go wasn’t easy. Even after moving away, Smith missed him.
“I remember crying in a bathroom really drunk one night, upset that we didn’t talk anymore,” Smith said. “Now, once I really got over it and figured it out, I knew he was a bad guy. He still tries to talk to me to this day but, I don’t let him. Moving away and growing up made me realize how terrible he is, and that I’m better than him. I deserve better.”
Afterwards, Smith reached out to him. She told him that she didn’t want it, and he still didn’t believe her.
“I really don’t think he thinks he raped me,” Smith said. “He thinks that I wanted it, even when I told him no. I told him that I said no many times, and he said ‘whatever, don’t act like you didn’t want it.’ He makes jokes like that. He has apologized before, but it wasn’t sincere. He just said it to end an argument.”
Smith’s experience has changed how she acts around men, especially when she goes out.
“I’m fine dancing with men and hanging out,” Smith said. “But when it comes to going back with them, or having a relationship I tend to push guys away. I don’t really want that. Because I don’t want to get hurt again, and I’m scared to go through what I went through. It’s really hard to date people because I don’t let people in. I don’t trust them anymore.”
Even after moving on and accepting what happened, Smith’s assailant still won’t leave her alone.
“He texted me Happy Valentine’s Day this year, after I told him to never talk to me again,” Smith said. “I think he’s pathetic and I don’t want anything to do with him anymore. But at the same time I try to remember the guy he was, and I knew that I really did love him. It’s just not worth it.”
*The name of the victim has been changed in order to protect her privacy.
Photo courtesy Speak About It