It was 1986 and I was just entering my freshman year of high school. I was terribly immature and was genuinely afraid of starting high school. I had come from a small neighboring town and attended the same K-8 elementary school that both my parents had attended. I was raised by my maternal grandparents and was largely sheltered from the horrors of the outside world.
Being thrust into a public high school setting was deeply overwhelming. Being that my mother was employed full-time, highly abusive and enjoyed her social life, I was not very fond of her. She was not someone I could rely on or share the feelings I was experiencing with. As for my grandparents, I was afraid to say how afraid I was because I didn’t want to disappoint them. I knew I wasn't ready to take the leap from a small, safe and familiar school to a loud, multilevel complex that I was barely able to navigate. I was deficient in math and other academic skills but I was also very socially awkward and had few friends to rely upon. Not everyone from my hometown decided to attend this public school.
The fall that I entered high school I was 14. During my enrollment, I decided to try orchestra as my musical requirement. I had no prior instrument experience but I figured I would give the viola a try. Given that I have never been able to read music, it's a mystery to me as to why I chose this class or was allowed to join the orchestra in the first place. Nonetheless, I sat second chair, front row right across from the violins. It was there, in that class, that I met W. I found him instantly charming, talented and was taken with him, almost immediately. After a few classes I found out who he was, that he was a senior and a major feature in the schools musicals, band, orchestra and even competed at the state and national levels with voice and choral groups. Being as impressionable as I was, I thought W was just wonderful. He must have sensed my vulnerability and my obvious interest in him because he began to send me notes between classes and would make strong eye contact with me.
As young as I was, I had been exposed to sexual situations related to my mother’s dating that resulted in me being much more aware of my own sexuality. I knew more about sex than the average fourteen year old and I think W could sense that about me. As naive as I was, I was insanely flattered that a senior with W’s talent and popularity would be interested in me. My confidence was so low, I couldn’t see that I was being pursued simply as sexual conquest of W, nothing more. Of course he told me he loved me and that I was his special girl. I fell for all of it and believed I was lucky to be in love. One ordinary fall day, he came to me in the hallway at my locker and insisted we were going to skip classes. We went to a car that belonged to his friend and his friend was in the driver's seat already. I got in the back seat and W sat in the front. I asked where we were going and they responded with, “for a ride.”
We drove for a few miles to the outskirts of town onto a secluded road with a large group of trees. We went down a dirt path and parked. The person driving stayed where he was in the front seat, but W had other plans. He got out of the car and began to fold down the seats in the back of the car. Being clueless of his intentions, I helped him. As we sat there, he began kissing me and laid me down on the fuzzy trunk liner in the back seat. We were making out while his friend sat in the front seat, which was strange to me. W began to get more aggressive and all at once, pulled down my pants. W quickly unzipped his own pants and entered me. I felt like I was being jabbed with a wooden stick or some foreign object. It burned and hurt and I froze in pain and disbelief that W would do this to me. His friend sat quietly in the font seat as W finished with me. I was in shock. W put the seats back so that I could ride alone in the back and return with them to school. I showed up late to my own choir class and never spoke a work to anyone about what had just happened.
As time went by, I had convinced myself that what had happened with W in that car must have been what sex was, and that if I was in love, that is just what you do, what you accept. Since W was such a talent and a senior, the theater director felt W was trustworthy enough to have a set of keys to the band rooms, rehearsal rooms and the school's main auditorium. W came to me, as he had many times before, to pull me away for another make-out session in the school's secret hiding places. W even had keys to the school's loading dock and elevator where we would sneak off and skip class.
I hadn’t had my fifteenth birthday yet, and W was just turning 18. I was flattered by his attention, completely unaware of our age difference being a legal issue, since our relationship had moved from heavy petting to actual intercourse. Of course, W was sure to have plenty of condoms in his locker and when we would change classes, he would flash one at me, grab my arm, and whisk me away to the auditorium. I romanticized these encounters, not realizing how much my education and personal safety were at risk. On this day, W had taken me to the auditorium, and I expected the same intense kissing and brief intercourse that was our usual routine. We were lying in the main walkway, lying on the hard, curly carpet and he was on top of me. W lowered my pants and then his. As I laid there under him, I expected him to be on top of me to have sex. Without a word or warning, W grabbed my waist and hips, flipping me over onto my stomach. I felt his breath in my ear and his full weight on me, his crotch grinding on my backside. I anticipated him wanting to have sex in another position other than what I was used to. W then reached down with one of his hands, gripping himself and I thought he was adjusting the condom. It was then I realized he was penetrating me anally. He forced himself into me and I tried to fight him, keeping him out of my body. He forced all of his weight onto my slight frame and ejaculated into me. As he finished, he whispered in my ear, “You will never forget me.”
I was humiliated. W shared his achievements with all of his friends, who went on to make humping gestures at me whenever I walked by. I couldn’t tell my mother, she would just blame me. I couldn’t tell my grandparents, it would shame them. It was my burden and I sat with it for a very long time.
Two years ago, at 46, regardless of the statute of limitations, I reported the rape to the police in the same town as that high school I attended with W. I also contacted W’s employer, wife and his two daughters. I told them exactly what kind of man their employee, husband and father is. I do know he no longer works at the school where he taught music to teenaged children, I made sure of that. I also know he no longer has a public social media account after I posted what kind of man W truly is. While I will never have my day in court, I know in my heart I was raped, twice, by a person who took advantage of me because I was naive, impressionable and alone.
After my rape, I withdrew and even though I attended school, I did horribly. I was only in classes for attendance and barely completed any of my work. I was essentially on auto-pilot, getting up, dressed and on the bus. I knew I had to attend school regardless of my ability to learn.
I failed my freshman and sophomore year of high school despite moving out-of-state and living at a private school. My junior year, I was found to also have a learning disability and some major social and emotional issues. It was also the year I left my mother's house and lived briefly with my dad.
After two years at a special school for kids like me, I graduated at the top of my class with a 4.0 average. Not having the initial success in the classroom, I was on a self-destructive pattern of sexual experimentation that carried me well into my 20’s. I began to value myself based on sexual acts and the number of partners I had and I also drank, a lot. If I was found attractive or could make myself attractive enough to win the affections of yet another partner, I felt I had worth, and that I was succeeding in life.
What happened over 10 years ago at the time was causing me to take risks with alcohol, one night stands and unprotected sex with up to 30 partners by the time I was 20. At that point, I knew I was at risk for so many diseases, especially hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. I had seen what AIDS could do after working in hospitals as an aide, and I knew I was risking my health. I realized in those days waiting for my test results, that W had set me up for this kind of reckless behavior.
The pleasure I may have felt was only outweighed by my being devalued as a human and not just a sex object. To my relief, I was and am HIV negative. This however led to two failed marriages and the birth of a son.
Since the rape, and the years that followed I had locked away who I really was. When I turned 40, I came out of a very dark place denying what I always was, which was queer. I had never taken the time to find out what I wanted when the rape occurred. I was no ignorant that I believed W, that men were my only option, despite my feeling for girls at the tender age of 3. Now, at 48, I have the woman and the relationship I always had wanted but didn’t have the emotional intelligence to seek when I was only 14.