I didn't know I could be raped and still look normal


Image By: Anne Marie Grudem

Content warning:

The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed at the bottom of the article.

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I was sixteen. My boyfriend had recently died in the beginning of my junior year from a freak health accident while trying out for the traveling soccer team at his east coast college. I was devastated, obviously, and I had recently increased my anxiety medicine prescription after it took weeks just to leave my bed. I could not see anyone I knew because the social anxiety imprisoned me. I decided leaving with my friend to visit her boyfriend who played Division I football at a large state school in the mountains would be the perfect nature escape for me. I could be surrounded by people who did not know what happened and who also did not know me. It was not a good decision.

One night while we were there, the football team came over to my friend's boyfriend's on–campus apartment to socialize but turn in for an early night. After the incident, I had not been able to sleep, so I had started taking my mother's prescription sleep medication. However, since it was so strong, I would always make sure I was alone in a secure place in bed before I took it. That night, I waited for everyone to leave, and when they did, I took my medicine only to return to my bed with one of the players lying in it. I pleaded for him to leave as I knew the medication would take hold soon, and as my pleading got more insistent, so did the blurriness in my vision.

Soon, I was probably nearly unconscious as I have no memory of the night from that moment on. I woke up, and I was sore. I remembered small blurry flashbacks of me saying, "No, no. Stop! My boyfriend died a month ago," in no particular order. I just remembered that I had said it, and that it was dark, and that I had felt afraid.

My body was sore, and I felt ashamed. I felt ashamed that I had had sex just a month after my boyfriend died, and I did not tell my friend on the way home that day why I wasn't speaking. I did not even know I had truly been raped, whatever that was supposed to mean. Media always portrayed rape as this violent act where I would be tracked down by a vengeful man who would leave me bleeding the side of a road. I didn't know I could be raped and still look normal. I mostly felt deeply ashamed. I didn't tell anyone. I was so embarrassed. I saw him on TV during his SEC conference games. I knew what he had done, and no one else did. I wish I had ruined his life.

I used to look up his social media profiles and type out a long message about how his mother would hate the creature that he has become, but those were never sent. And he never missed one of his games, although I missed my boyfriend and feeling like I had some innocence. One time, I even found his coach's name and email online, but that email never sent either. How was I supposed to speak up about the sex that I did not want to have when no one in the South even talks about sex you do want to have? No one would have believed me, and if they had, they would have blamed me for taking the sleeping pill in the first place.

I eventually told friends when I could talk about it objectively. I told my best friend in the car on the way to pick up donuts one morning, "I got raped by a football player when I went on that weekend trip, Kelly." Her mouth just opened. We didn't really say anything after that, but she knew I was broken far beyond repair for a while. I lived my life imprisoned by his actions, and he just lived his life.

I most regret not fucking him completely over. I regret not ruining his career, academically and athletically. I regret not getting his disgusting overpowering ass kicked out of university and into jail for my rape. But it never really works out that way for us, does it?

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Campus Resources:

The HELP Line: 215-898-HELP: A 24–hour–a–day phone number for members of the Penn community who seek help in navigating Penn's resources for health and wellness.

Counseling and Psychological Services: 215-898-7021 (active 24/7): The counseling center for the University of Pennsylvania.

Student Health Service: 215-746-3535: Student Health Service can provide medical evaluations and treatment to victims/survivors of sexual and relationship violence regardless of whether they make a report or seek additional resources. Both male and female providers can perform examinations, discuss testing and treatment of sexually transmissible infections, provide emergency contraception if necessary and arrange for referrals and follow up.

Reach–A–Peer Hotline - 215-573-2727 (every day from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.): A peer hotline to provide peer support, information, and referrals to Penn students.

Penn Violence Prevention: 3539 Locust Walk (Office Hours: 9 am – 5 pm), (215) 746-2642, Jessica Mertz (Director of Student Sexual Violence Prevention, Education) jmertz@upenn.edu, Read the Penn Violence Prevention resource guide.

Sexual Trauma Treatment Outreach and Prevention Team: A multidisciplinary team at CAPS dedicated to supporting students who have experienced sexual trauma.

Public Safety Special Services: Trained personnel offer crisis intervention, accompaniment to legal and medical proceedings, options counseling and advocacy, and linkages to other community resources.

Penn Women's Center: 3643 Locust Walk (Office Hours 9:30 am – 5:30 pm Monday–Thursday, 9:30 am – 5 pm Friday), pwc@pbox.upenn.edu. PWC provides confidential crisis and options counseling.