Warning: this post addresses the topic of sexual assault. It is not described in graphic detail, however, please proceed with caution if that subject is in any way a trigger for you.
Even with my new epiphany about myself, I still hadn’t made much of a change in my life. I was still dating around and avoiding places of worship like the plague. I was still smoking and drinking and getting high, always too afraid to try any “real” drugs, even though people all around me were all doing them. I was working nights at Outback Steakhouse (a really bad Australian themed restaurant that used phrases like ‘Wallaby Darn’ as names for their menu items) and barely attending any of my classes. I wasn’t attending any of my mandatory chapels because I was up so late working (I mean, come on, this school forced you to attend three mandatory chapels each week? IN THE MORNING?!). I prayed and read my Bible on occasion and cried out to God to heal my broken spirit and broken heart and broken life….but my actions were not reflecting the cries of my soul.
I finally decided that maybe finding a good Christian boy would solve my problems. See? I was still searching for boys. And boy, did I find one. I don’t even remember how we met. Maybe at the gym? At the tanning booth where he worked? At my restaurant? All I know is that he was single handedly the most attractive, most well-built, and most evenly tanned Christian boy I had ever met. I was smitten. Finally, someone who looked and acted the way I always dreamed my future husband would. He was a bit younger than me, but not much. The first time I met him, I asked his name and his response was soooo attractively Christian:
Me: Hey, I’m Danielle. What’s your name?
Him: Well, I’ll give you a hint and see if you can guess. Think of Joshua in the Bible…
Me: Um…Judges? Is your name Judges? That is the book in the Bible that follows Joshua…
Him: Um, no. It’s Caleb. Like, Joshua and Caleb?
Me: Ha! Yeah, duh. I promise, I totally read the Bible. Like, all the time. At least I know how to recite my Old Testament books!
Him: Yeah, well, gimme your number and I’ll maybe drop by Outback sometime.
Me: I can hook you up with free drinks too!
Him: Yeah, I don’t drink.
Me: (Wow, my Christian-ese is realllllly rusty) I mean, like LEMONADE of course!
Him: (laughing) OH, yeah. Of course!
I’d like to say that his holiness changed me and taught me to be a better person, but all the experience taught me was that boys are SO CONFUSING. He gave me every sign that he liked me, but then he also gave me every sign that he didn’t like me. He would come over and hang out at my house and then he would awkwardly leave and not call me for a week. He would bring his friends into my restaurant and sit at my table, whispering to them as I walked past but never once asking me out on a date. He invited me to go to Disneyland with him once and I went out and bought a brand-new outfit, asked for the day off work, was so, so, so, so, so excited and then he bailed on me that very morning. He would visit my apartment, bringing his guy friends over (in my mind to “show me off”) and then his guy friends would call and ask if they could come over and hang out with me when Caleb wasn’t even going to be there.
During this frustrating and annoying period of time, I started hanging out with a guy from work, who I regrettably went and messed around with once. At the time, I didn’t want to sleep with him, but I also had put myself in his apartment, at night, alone.
To say that what happened next was rape, is something I would have never admitted….I even thought that word might be a bit of an exaggeration…until now. My mindset was this: “I put myself in this compromising position, I led him on and it’s too late now. Anything that happens from this point on is all my fault.”
LET ME STOP HERE. Ladies…and gentlemen too…..any sexual behavior that happens TO you and not WITH your consent is harassment, assault, or rape. I take responsibility that if I wasn’t interested in sleeping with this guy, I should have stayed away. I own that. But now that I’ve looked back and really reflected on what happened…..I finally realize the gravity of the situation. If when someone is having sex with you and you don’t want to have sex with them is considered rape, then yes, that’s exactly what happened to me. I stopped him at one point and he sort of obliged, begrudgingly. I just know it was terrible and awkward and I didn’t want it at all. The rest is a blur, but I left his apartment feeling like a piece of literal trash.
I don’t share this to gain sympathy. I share this to enlighten anyone who has experienced anything like this and has ANY question at all about what it was that happened to them. I share this in solidarity with any man or woman, boy or girl who has dealt with this sort of pain and confusion. I suppose this is my contribution to #metoo. It’s funny though; I don’t feel like a victim. I feel like a woman who has had some awful things happen to her and has overcome them. They’ve made me stronger. So, if you read this and relate to me in any way, you can overcome those things too. And you will be stronger for it.
My attempt to find a man who wouldn’t take advantage of me had left me so confused and empty that I allowed myself to be in a vulnerable situation with a person I barely knew and something awful happened. I knew it wasn’t completely my fault. I also knew I couldn’t tell anybody.
Well, news travels fast among men (ahem, boys), I suppose. I got a phone call a few days later from Caleb, point blank asking me if I had slept with that other guy. I have no idea how he found out. He wasn’t even in the same circle of friends as me. He didn’t work at my restaurant, he had never even met the guy before. I confessed that yes, I had in fact done so. Even though, I hadn’t “slept” with him. I think? I still didn’t even know at that point. All I knew was that I didn’t want it. But I couldn’t say that to Caleb. He just wouldn’t understand. I was under the impression that he’d still blame me for “leading” that guy on in the first place. Which, yes, I had done. Caleb never spoke to me again.
Any self-worth I had accumulated up until that point had been obliterated. In my warped mind, I felt that I didn’t deserve a good man who would treat me right. Because of this, I was still searching for my worth in the opinions and admirations of any men at all. I had NO idea who I really was. I had NO idea who God was. I had no idea what I wanted or needed. I didn’t really know much of anything.
It was exhausting.