I told my Tinder date that I wasn't ready. He said, "It's okay I'll be gentle.” Lies.
The first time I submitted my truth I gave the short BS version. It’s was until today that I realized I had never really told my truth. So if you're patient, I have three parts if you're willing to listen.
It was August. Yes, I saw my attacker again. For the entire month of August. Willingly. Maybe even confused. He was nice when he was sober. I'd never been raped before—assaulted, yes (that's a story for another time) but raped, no.
My boyfriend of four years and I had just broken up, so I decided to ”get back out there." I created a Tinder account and matched with a few people; I saw some that I eyeballed but never dared to message until this one day. I saw him and his hair, eyes, smile. He was 23 which was a bit alarming at the time, seeing how I was newly 20 so it was a bit older than what I was used to. Naturally, I would never message a guy first or make the first move. It was something different about him so I texted him a simple ”hey." Over the next two days, we would talk and get to know each other. We talked about everything. He had asked if I wanted to hang out with him and his friends. So I thought, "Hey he seems trustworthy, sure why not?" I got ready and waited for him and his friends to pick me up. Got a text, ”hey we’re outside.” I went outside gave him a hug.
I remember thinking that he smelled good and looked even better in person.
I was so nervous in the car. We talked but not as much as we had before on Tinder. As we arrived at his friend's house everything seemed fine. We went to the basement and played some video games, talked, laughed. He offered me a drink and I declined. Everything seemed fine. We went upstairs (his friend, his friend's girlfriend, and I). We showed each other our tattoos, talked about heritage, laughed a bit. Until the other couple left the room. As soon as they left the room he grabbed my ass so hard and kissed me with such force. I backed away.
Red flag number one.
I said ”Hey let's relax,” and he said, "I'm sorry, you're just so pretty.” With my heart pounding, I kissed him softly on the lips. They came back and we all went back downstairs. Sitting on that living room couch I started to memorize the room. The TV, the couch I was sitting on, the table in front of the couch, the kitchen behind us, the two doors to the left of the kitchen, one leading to the garage, the other leading to the basement. Everything. After we played more games, they asked if I wanted to stay or go home. I know I should've gone home but they had all been drinking and I couldn't risk that so I stayed the night there.
We went to the basement. He told me I could have the couch to sleep on. There was a painting on the wall to the left of all the old cartoon characters. Bugs Bunny, Jessica Rabbit, Daffy Duck, etc. His bags on clothes next to the chair that was in front of the gaming system. He said he needed to change into his pajamas and take his contacts out. At this point, I thought maybe he had calmed down a little from his moment earlier. Everything was fine. He pulled out his glasses and put them on. I told him he looked like a grandpa. He laughed and we talked about glasses/vision and past relationships. We talked about Tinder, how this was my first Tinder date. He said it was nice to talk to someone, I agreed. We kissed. He started to rub my thighs, I pulled away. I told him I had only had sex with one person being (my ex of four years). I told him I wasn't ready or prepared to have sex and he said, ”Wow really? We'll have to change that.”
Red flag number two.
We talked about sex and our history with sex. We spoke some more about our past relationships. He kissed me again but this time harder, he grabbed my thighs harder. Once again I pulled away. I told him I wasn't ready or prepared. He said "That's okay, I'll be gentle." He kissed my neck, kissed me, and I kissed back. He started to unzip my pants, and I again told him that I wasn't ready. He then replied that he just wanted to do to me orally. He pulled down my pants and went down on me. Hard. It wasn't love, it felt like hate, shame. He had gotten on top of me, pulled down his pants and again I said that I wasn’t ready. He said "It's okay, I’ll be gentle." No condom , or remorse, he entered me. Hard. It hurt. It felt like he hated me. I didn't know him.
He grabbed my thighs, my neck. He took me in any way he wanted to. I had never been choked before. Did I like it? I didn’t say no? I also didn’t say yes either. I was frozen.
At this point, I was on top of him shaking. Letting him do whatever he wanted how hard he wanted it. He said he wanted to “bruise my cervix.” I think he did.
I wanted it to stop I just didn’t know how to stop it. His friend's mom was home, his friends were home—I didn’t want to make a scene. I came so that means I liked it, right? No. When he was ready to finish he bent me over, did what he wanted and pushed me off. I laid there, confused as to what just happened. I balled up in the blanket next to me. I had work in the morning.
When he finished cleaning up, I got dressed. He laid down grabbed me on top of him and went to sleep. I had never felt my heartbeat so loud. Around 6:30 am we got ready for him to drop me off at home. It was a cold dewy morning. I got in the car and drove in silence. I was still confused as to what just happened. He grabbed my hand and asked if I was okay. He kissed me, the whole ride. Every stop sign, red light. He kissed me. I was terrified.
Dropped me off at home. I texted my friends about what a ”great night I had.” Bruises. I can still even now point out all the bruises he had left me. This was normal. It's just how he has sex right? A different kind of sex than what I'm used to right? Walking ached. My body grieved. I showered and rubbed my skin coarse. I went to work. Everything was fine. This was normal. He texted again.
He texted and I texted him back. Stupid, I know. I was confused. We made plans to take a hike with his friends the next weekend. Stupid, I know. The hike went well but I was scared shitless. You had already let this guy do what he wanted the weekend before, why go out with him?
He was a gentleman. He opened doors, paid for meals, tied my shoes, held my hand for balance, told me I was beautiful. Great, right? After the hike, we got ready for a welcome home party for one of his best friends. I took forever showering. I was scared. There was alcohol downstairs and from what I'd experienced he was aggressive when drunk. I made up my mind to get drunk too. Stupid, I know.
After we were all ready we when to the garage, played beer pong, met most of his friends. They thought we had great chemistry. We looked good together to everyone else. I was angry, I was scared, I was drunk. Five Smirnoffs down and two shots of whiskey. I was loose. We had won a few games of beer pong together. We laughed, we talked. Maybe he wasn't so bad. At least the drunk me thought so. Maybe if I ”got on his level” it wouldn't be terrible. He can't take it if I just give it to him.
We sat on some steps outside. He told me he really liked me. I told him he scared me. He said, "We're going to be toxic for each other." I told him it was true. He said he'd ”never felt like this before.” He said he needed to get back to his friends. I let him go. I walked by the fence outside and called my best friend (wasted of course).
He came back and grabbed my phone, and told her what he wanted to do to me. I hung up. We talked some more. I told him I wanted to live with my best friend in Florida. He slammed me into the fence, grabbed my throat and looked me in the eyes and said, ”You’re not fucking leaving me!”
Scared, drunk, and tired of this nonsense I took control. I grabbed his throat told him I could do whatever I wanted and I walked away. He grabbed my arm and smiled and kissed me hard. I couldn't win. I couldn't match him.
Everyone went home and we went back to the basement. We had sex. I had sex with him. I let him do whatever he wanted. How hard he wanted it. Even if I said stop or slow down. Nothing.
”It'll be okay if you just take it," he always said.
"I can't,” I said.
”You can,” he replied.
”See, I told you it's okay,” he said. I was still scared, he was still on top of me. I still don't know why. I called work and said I couldn't come in. I spent the next day with him. Barely. We spoke but not really. We played a game. We talked about me ghosting him (leaving). "Ball's in your court, kid,” is what he said. He took me home that evening.
Shower, sleep, cry, bed. More bruising, more aching, more confusion.
I spent the weekend at his house. I don't know what drew me back in constantly. As the weeks went by I ignored what happened to me. I passed it off as normal behavior. I acted like everything was normal and this is just how things were. This is just how he was.
I know, stupid. When he was sober he was a gentleman. He was so sweet. When he was drunk he was harsh and aggressive, but remorseful. In a way, it's like he knew what he was doing. That following weekend I decided to spend the weekend at his house. His parents were away. I know it was foolish. I had been working like crazy.
I had a hair appointment straight after work at 3:45. If you're African American depending on the style you know these appointments can last for hours. Well, mine lasted until the next day. Four in the morning to be exact. I had to be back at work around 5 am. So I got picked up from my hair appointment once we were done and headed straight to work with my weekend bag packed.
I was running on 28 hours of no sleep. He picked me up after my shift. We went to his parent's place. Asked if I wanted a shower. I said yes. We showered together. We tried new things together. He was sober for the first time having sex with me. He was still rough. He did stop when I asked him to. He was more gentle this time.
We got ready to meet his friends for a birthday dinner. I did my makeup and got dressed. We found place to go for dinner. His friends were nice. The dinner was nice. He had a beer. I got nervous. We all drove back to his house. The drinks were out to play.
They made margaritas and I had three. I took a shot. It was late. I still hadn't slept in almost two days now. I was intoxicated. His friend wanted to watch IT. We all sat on the couch and watched. I fell asleep. My head felt like a bowling ball.
He picked up me and took me upstairs. We talked. He said I should get some rest. He told me he really liked me. I told him I liked him too.
Everyone started to leave so I came back downstairs to say goodbye to everyone. I had another drink and helped clean up a bit. We went upstairs and I put on my pjs and took off my makeup. My head felt so heavy. My head spun. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out. I went to bed fully clothed but I woke up naked. In pain. Hurting. What happened? Did I have sex? More bruises. Wtf. I sat up on the edge of the bed and he walked in and asked me "Are you okay?"
"Did we have sex?"
"You don't remember?"
He laughed, "Well, I do.”
Did I say yes? Did I consent? What happened? After that, I met his family the same day. How can you tell someone that their son is a rapist? We went to his grandma's and I met his nona. She served me soup. She was amazing. We talked, laughed. She knew he was troubled. It was in his eyes and it was in hers. I was confused.
We went back to his house. His family had just gotten back from their trip. I met his sister. She was nice. She was pretty. I met his mom and dad. We went to his sister's room and watched her unpack. We talked. Laughed. Again I was confused. How was it that I could talk and laugh and ignore what had just happened to me? I wanted to scream, "He hurt me!” I wanted to tell but who would believe me? She left.
He took me to a room with one mattress inside. He wanted to have sex. His parents were just downstairs. I tried to talk about any and everything that I could. Avoiding what I knew was coming. We kissed. He pulled down my pants. I let him. He said he could show me that he could be gentle. He was this time. He was soft. He was very gentle. Why did I call out his name? He had just raped me the night before. Had I given up and just let him take me whenever he wanted? A single tear ran down my face. I was confused.
We got dressed. Went downstairs. Watched cartoons. His dad asked me questions, then he took me home. We hugged and kissed. Was this my relationship now? Was this normal?
I honestly didn't know what to make of this. Weeks went by and we didn't see each other until the day before I left for Florida for vacation. He came over my sister's house and I told myself I didn't want to have sex with him. I told myself I didn't want to be hurt. I told myself, "I'm leaving tomorrow I want to have a good vacation." No sex = no tears right?
We just talked, kissed. He said he was tired from work. I gave him a massage. Why? He didn't deserve to be catered to. But he had bought my meals and called me a princess...confused. He tried to pull my pants down. I insisted on not having sex. We watched a show. Hours later he left.
On August 27th I left for vacation. I was only supposed to be there for a week. I stayed in Florida. I moved to Florida. No warning, no thought. I just stayed. It was a fresh start. I found a job, I went back to church. Started working at the church. I met a great guy and we started dating. I didn't know if I was happy.
After I decided to date again it all hit me. I had a panic attack in the middle of the night. It hit me that I had been raped. My body couldn't protect me. I told myself, "You let it happen to you. You were weak." I was drinking in the middle of the night to numb the pain.
My Lyft driver took a wrong turn and I freaked out. He was a man. Was he kidnapping me? Was he going to rape me? No, an honest mistake. But I freaked out.
What you did to me puts me on edge about any man.
I called my mom. When I came home I told her what had happened to me and the reasons why I hadn't been myself lately. Why I flinch every time someone gets close to me, why I speak so low, why I'm so afraid to be alone with a man. She helped me.
October 31st. Some friends, my boyfriend, his friend and I decided to get dressed and go out to the club for Halloween. Tequila and Bacardi mixed ruined the night. I had drunk so much. I ended up in a ball on the parking lot garage floor crying about what you did to me. Drunk apologizing to my body. Telling everyone there how I hated my life. How I didn't want to live. How sorry I am. Embarrassed of how acted in front of him. In front of everyone. I thought I was okay. I thought I was ready to date again. I remember thinking that everyone witnessing this must think I'm weak.
No. My new boyfriend took care of me. My friends took care of me. They said I didn't need to apologize. I didn't need to feel this way about myself and that it gets better.
It does get better. Slowly. I still have flashbacks. Certain things trigger me. I have bad days. I cry during sex. Mirrors are challenging. Changing my clothes is hard. Looking at my body is a work in progress. But they understand me. My family is patient. My boyfriend is patient. They all understand.
You have to be patient with yourself. Recovery isn't easy. Recovery doesn't have a time frame. You can't rush. You have to know that your body is yours. You are of yourself. You are yours before you are anyone else's. You are not broken. It may be months or years from now. Healing is healing. You may cry, you may have a bad day—don't take it as defeat. Use it. Learn from it. Every tear is another step towards your growth.
It is now December 2nd. I am now telling my story.