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DATE RAPE




I wake from the weight of his body. David is lying on top of me, pushing against my hips. I feel him pressing his hard penis into me. “Stop,” I say but not loudly. I’m sleepy and confused. I push on his shoulders. He doesn’t stop. I hold my breath as he pounds into my body. I’m afraid to make noise, to shout, to cry or scream. I’m afraid he will hurt me more if I protest, so I go limp and let him do what he is doing. When he is finished, he says, “My father was right. Fucking a woman is like fucking a melon.”


I say nothing as he walks out of my bedroom. I lie motionless, stunned, unable to reclaim my violated body. Unable to understand that I’ve just been raped. It will be years before I will know to call it rape. Right now I am quietly crying. I get up and take a long soapy shower. I keep asking myself what I did to make this happen, this heartless intrusion. Did I somehow suggest he could use my body this way? All I did was let him spend the night—on my couch in my living room—because when he drove me home, there was a thick fog. My apartment is near Lake Michigan and sometimes the lake generates a heavy fog that rises and covers our neighborhood making it difficult to safely drive.


David was a blind date set up by Jim, a man I work with. Jim thought David and I would like each other. He was wrong. I disliked David the moment he showed up at my door to take me to dinner. He was a short, wiry man with slicked back hair. There was something about the way he stood and the way he looked at me that made me think he was going to be bossy and controlling. I also didn’t like the way he swaggered into my apartment, or the smirk on his face when he saw the shabby daybed and the old black and white TV with the rabbit ears that were my main living room furniture. Besides the smirk, his hair was too short and his face too white and beardless. I like men with long hair, beards and mustaches. We are definitely not a match, I told myself, as I gathered my jacket and my purse. I thought it only fair to give him a chance to prove me wrong.  Before we’d even finished eating at the restaurant, I wanted to go home. He was even more arrogant than I’d expected. He talked about himself the whole time and didn’t once ask a question about me or about my life.


After our date David walked me to my apartment door and said good-bye. He gave me a quick kiss on the cheek. I didn’t turn away. Maybe that sent a message I didn’t intend to send. He got in his car and left but five minutes later he was back, begging to be allowed to spend the night. It was dangerous out there, he told me. He might have a car accident in this fog; he could die. “You don’t want me to die, do you?” he said.


Of course I hadn’t wanted him to die in a fog-caused car crash, but I also hadn’t wanted him in my home. (I had a habit of being overly nice, sometimes at my own expense.) I’d let him in to sleep on the daybed in the living room. That was the deal, the daybed and only the daybed.


I step out of the shower, shivering more from the remembered feel of his body on top of me than from the dampness of my skin, I glance out the bathroom window; the fog still blankets the neighborhood. I heard him drive away just after he left my bedroom. So I guess he didn’t die in the fog, though now I wish he had.


When I go to work the morning after my date with David, Jim, the one who’d set up my date with David, pulls me aside and scolds me. “I’m ashamed to know you,” he says. “I thought you were better than that, screwing a guy you hardly know. You’re a slut.” He turns away before I can think what to say. Obviously, he’s heard David’s distorted version of what happened. I’m already feeling ashamed, still uncertain of what I could have done to avoid last night. Now Jim has made me feel even worse. Maybe I am a slut, I think to myself. But even if I am, I wasn’t the one who chose to have sex last night. I didn’t want David anywhere near me, much less in my bed. I wonder if I could I explain this to Jim. That I didn’t have sex with David, he did sex to me. Would Jim believe me? Could I even imagine those words coming out of my mouth? No. I couldn’t. It would be way too personal and embarrassing.


Jim has walked away and since he works in a different part of the building, I know I will never see him again. And right this moment I’m sure that if he sees me, he’ll pretend he didn’t.


There have been quite a few close calls and narrow escapes in my life. (“Close Calls and Narrow Escapes” is the theme for these blogs.) Close calls like a car accident, a fall into a lake, a lightning storm. I obviously didn’t escape this rape, back in 1969, when I was twenty. I did escape being drugged, beaten or impregnated, as happens to too many rape victims. I was fortunate that way. Even so, my rape (it’s odd to own it like that, my rape) was an actual rape, a date rape, even without drugs or a beating. I think I was in my 30’s before I realized that.


My escape began when I finally let myself feel the rage that I hadn’t known I had a right to at the time. I escaped further when I was able to tell my twenty-old self, “It wasn’t your fault. The fault lies with him and perhaps with the macho culture in which he was raised.” Another kind of escape came when I met other rape victims—there are so many of us—and realized I wasn’t alone.


And finally, now, another escape: writing about my rape for the first time. Here. Now.



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