Content warning: The following story contains references to someone being raped, and the trauma that followed them thereafter, which may be triggering for some readers.
"My Rape," TeMeka Estrada Williams
Where do I begin when revisiting the past? It has been eight years since I finally opened up about being raped. In some ways, it has gotten easier to discuss yet the tears always eventually surface because I know I am a smart woman now just as I was when it happened.
It - my rape - happened while I was visiting a Florida college for their homecoming festivities. My plans were to first travel to Miami where a close girlfriend of mine was attending undergrad. We were then going to drive up to northern Florida together to attend homecoming at another college while also visiting and staying with my friends from high school to help us manage our limited funds which is part of the whole college experience.
Well, my friend felt unprepared for an upcoming midterm exam and at the last minute decided she no longer wanted to drive up. So I was faced with a dilemma but completely understood my friend's decision. In fact, I was having a great time in Miami and tempted to stay too. However, I am a woman of my word and when I make plans, even to this day, I will move heaven and earth to keep my word. So, I called my friend to find out his preference because I also knew he was going through the black Greek pledge experience and the timing may not be good for him either. His pledge status also technically meant he was not supposed to be socializing. Little did I know his intention was to get me drunk and fulfill his desires with me.
When I got there, I felt comfortable and safe. He decided to host a party where I had too many shots. And when I knew I was done drinking and socializing for the evening he encouraged me to this room because the party was still going on and I was crashing on his couch prior to that. When he came in the room later that evening, I still wasn't concerned because I had known him for years. His best friend back then, another mutual friend of ours from high school, is still a good friend of mine. I had attended his father's church and knew his family. Well things changed when he made his move. After that night, a lot of internal questions would plague me.
He made his move to penetrate me and I was too drunk to say anything. I do remember stopping him eventually. My body was not responding; I knew it was not what I wanted. I managed to push him enough to indicate to stop. He used me visually at that point to "finish" on his own. I remember going to the bathroom afterwards to clean myself up. I had a long bus ride back to Miami to push what had happened out of my mind. I mean it was my fault for being drunk and trusting someone I knew, right? One of, if not, the hardest part has always been admitting to myself and reminding myself that what happened wasn't my fault even though I was drunk. That sex was never wanted on my part.
He even knew that he had intentionally got me drunk because months later I was again confronted by what happened when ex-boyfriend - my first boyfriend ever called to tell me was going to beat up the very guy who raped me because he was running around our home town telling everyone he gotten me drunk and had sex with me. At that point, I still wanted distance from what happened and I knew nothing good would come of me speaking up. Also, my Dad was and till is a high profile executive with the Chicago White Sox. Nothing good would come of this especially if was a slow news cycle. So, I asked my ex-boyfriend to do nothing.
My rapist was never prosecuted and had the nerve to call and apologize to me years later. His apology simply served his own selfish purpose. His apology didn't stop me from feeling uncomfortable at our mutual friend's wedding where I was the bridesmaid trying to remain on the opposite side of the room from him at all times.. His apology didn't stop my Dad from walking out on my therapy where I expressed my anger. His apology did nothing to repair the loss of self-confidence and doubt I still fight through on many days.
I was raped and I talk about it with the hope that I can help someone else. Time has helped but my rapist's apology means I let him knowingly get away with hurting me for far too long. WE must change rape culture. Rape remains a polarizing topic. I am now a volunteer speaker for RAINN's (Rape Abuse Incest National Network) Speakers Bureau and every time I participate in a speaking opportunity I feel like I'm given the opportunity to heal by taking back some of my confidence and some of what my rapist stole from me by overcoming my own doubts and fears about using my voice.
Maybe one day the tears will stop coming to the surface when I speak up about my traumatic experience. my hope is that even though my own family members are reluctant to acknowledge and talk about my rape- that my words will guide someone else's support system to do better for them. It is difficult for any of us to even begin to understand how each survivor feels about such a delicate, private matter. We are encouraged to more or less go public and act quickly particularly if prosecution is to be pursued. I wasn't strong enough to ever even consider going down the road of prosecution.
And, even recently, I spoke with friend in law enforcement who expressed frustration with the difficulty of pursuing justice whenever a survivor delays speaking up. Strength lies within us all but as matter of survival every rape victim needs a phenomenal support system to go from victim to survivor. Hopefully, my story helps any one coping with the after math of rape to seek support.
About the art:
While reading Temeka's piece, I kept hearing the song, "Say It," by War on Women in my head. "I will no longer be silent. Speak up, let your voice be heard," was the line that kept coming to mind while reading the reason she shares her story. I created the piece above to remind her that even if certain people are hesitant to believe or acknowledge her experience that she should not stay silent.