023: Pretend to be Normal
Content Warning: This post contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to some survivors.
"Pretend to be Normal," Anonymous
Note: All survivors who reach out to The Art of Survival are given the option to remain anonymous in sharing their story. Any specific details about the survivor are shared at their discretion, and not the creators of the page.
February 2, 2002, I was 16 years old.
It was late at night, my dad was asleep. This guy was 24, I met him online, he said he was going to come pick me up that night. I had met him before and we watched Harry Potter and ate Bertie Botts Beans at his place. This night though, I met him at my door, I went to walk out but he pushed his body at me, sorta, his face came close to mine. I thought he was trying to kiss me, so I kissed him. Why did I do that?! He shoved his body past me. I think that's what he was doing in the first place, trying to get past me to walk in my house. He wasn't planning on going anywhere, I see that now.
We ended up in my room watching TV. I don't really remember exactly how anything happened. I wasn't drunk or high or anything, I was nervous and uncomfortable but I didn't think he would hurt me. I am not very assertive, so the thought of just asking someone to leave my house is odd to me. Again, I'm not sure how things happened but I just remember him on top of me, my pants down, his were just undone. I was too scared to move much but I know I told him "stop" "it hurts" he was using his disgusting spit as lube and it was sticky and it hurt and he smelled bad, he was also wearing a leather biker jacket and I could smell that too.
He finished and was lying halfway on me watching a fishing show making comments about it.
Like nothing happened.
Like he didn't just violate me with his disgusting self. I wanted to ask if he wore a condom but I was pretty sure he didn't and I felt stupid. I wanted him to leave, and I wanted to kill myself. After he did leave I sat on my bed and stroked my stuffed sheep and cried the rest of the night. Maybe if I had screamed for my dad across the hall. Maybe if I walked to the hospital nearby. Maybe if I didn't kiss him. Maybe if I never invited him over. Maybe if I didn't...
I knew there was something wrong within a couple days. I at least got a period soon after so I knew I wasn't pregnant, but something else was wrong... I went to the doctor and I was too scared to tell her exactly what happened. She gave me pills for yeast infections. I didn't know what to do, I felt like I could somehow make this go away.
Maybe if I pretend this is normal!
Yes, that sounds like a good idea! So I saw him again, this time at the park with my friend, J. We all got ice cream cones. He threw his on the ground because he didn't like it. J got so mad at him for it she still talks about it. She hates him for the ice cream—not for what he did to me.
I kept going back to the doctor over and over because I knew something was wrong that wasn't a yeast infection but she kept giving me the same pills for months until September-October when I told my friend M what happened and she took me to the free clinic. I had trichomoniasis and BV (possibly caused by the repeated treatments for yeast infections from my doctor) they gave me some pills and it cleared up.
Around this time his girlfriend messaged me online. I met her and talked to her a lot. She worked with my dad. I learned the rapist was actually in his 30's. They recently had a baby together and she showed me his computer that was full of messages about fucking young girls. His AIM friends list was full of names of my teenaged friends from school. I actually met another girl at school he met but she got away from him before he could do anything. He had pictures of girls tied up and him doing things to them. Neither of us contacted the police. She married him. I was too scared to have to tell anyone what happened. This is the first time I've ever told anyone the full story. I've never even wanted to admit it to myself.
I've been sexually abused since I was a small child and wanted to pick a single incident to write about, the one that still haunts me the most, I guess. I have just recently fully realized that my body is my own and I have the right to say no and that no means no. I am learning how to be assertive and trying to put together all the broken pieces I've been carrying around for years so I can become whole again.
About the art:
This survivor's story really hit me when they mentioned trying to make everything seem normal, and how the thrown ice cream seemed to be a metaphor for how they felt at the time. They asked for the ice cream cone on the ground in their painting - specifically cookies and cream.
I did a little research to find some examples I could go off of, grabbed some stale Oreos from our kitchen, and some Mod Podge, and got to work. Once the cone was finished, the piece still seemed not to be. Craig thought the last line of the story would be fitting, and was a beautiful statement on this survivor's healing process.