We were sitting on the floor in my dorm room when she told me. My legs were cramping from the awkward way I’d arranged them so I could pull her close and hold her while she cried.
I was in shock, still in disbelief of what she just told me. “It just hurts so bad,” she sobbed. “And he didn’t even care. He just told me to leave.”
She (let’s call her Sarah) told me she’d woken up in his room (he being a guy she liked for weeks). There was blood on his bedsheets; Sarah had a raging headache, extreme cramping and no memory from the night before. The first thing he said to her?
You got blood all over my sheets. You need to leave.
Yes, he was a psychotic assh*le, and guilt flooded over me for not seeing it earlier. My friends and I joked with her about her “stupid douche” crush over cafeteria dinners and lunches. We even told Sarah to just make out with him to get over it because it would never work out, anyway.
After the incident, she left his room, went back to her dorm, cried, showered and slept until evening. I stroked her hair until she stopped crying. Then I told her we were going to the hospital, especially since she was having such bad cramping. “No,” she said immediately. “I don’t want to report this. My parents can’t know.”
Sarah’s parents were extremely religious. She was allowed to date, but sex before marriage was a huge no-no. I told her she wouldn’t be forced to report it, but to be honest, I didn’t even know.
It was scary how unprepared we both were for this, even with all the sexual assault seminars and talks we’d been to during freshman year. I’d always just sit there through lectures, relaxed, bored and half-listening.
Of course, it would never happen to me, or any of my friends; we were invincible. The more she thought about it, the less she wanted to go to the ER. “They’ll know,” she kept saying. “My parents will find out.”
She became hysterical all over again, but eventually calmed down enough and realized the pain was too unbearable to forgo the hospital.
I drove her there, and we sat in silence in the waiting room, grasping at each other's hands. I was so scared for her; I still can’t imagine what she must have felt. “It’s going to be okay,” I told her, but, of course, I didn’t know.
Also, I desperately wanted her to report the rape, if that’s what it was. I wasn’t even sure yet; I remember feeling so confused and unsure about everything at the time. Even looking back on it now feels like a blur.
The nurse who took her in was incredibly kind, and I was so thankful for that. We didn’t tell the nurse the whole story at first, only that Sarah was having extreme pain “down there,” after sex.
After examining her, however, the nurse looked worried and asked if Sarah remembered the intercourse. “You have extreme tearing,” she told her, and both of us immediately broke down crying.
Sarah told the nurse everything, and said she was afraid because she didn’t remember anything except waking up in his bed with blood everywhere.
The nurse (I wish I remembered her name), actually started tearing up, too. She said she was so sorry this happened, and told Sarah she should get a rape kit.
I just stared at her, still in disbelief that this was happening. “I’m not reporting it,” Sarah said over and over. The nurse reassured her she didn’t have to and said, “But if you do decide to, at least we’ll have evidence.”
I had so many questions, but felt so out of place asking anything. Even still, a part of me felt so intimately hurt and affected by what happened, as if this nurse and I were also victims of this horrible thing.
It was so late by the time we left the hospital, and we were both exhausted. I didn’t know what to say to her. I kept wishing I could help her more, tell her something to make her laugh, anything. I kept coming up empty.
She slept in my room that night. We stayed up and watched "Tangled," and she fell asleep on my shoulder. My boyfriend finally texted me back after I told him; I had to share it with someone. “Wow, you must be exhausted,” the text read. “Is she okay?”
I started crying all over again. I knew he meant well, and he was probably asking the right questions. But I knew he’d never have to understand this feeling.
This helpless, terrible feeling of being completely vulnerable and powerless. I didn’t even fully get it, and to be honest, until now, I’ve blocked most of this from my mind; I think I had to for my own sanity.
She’s okay now, but unfortunately, she never did report it, like so many other victims. To be honest, looking back at how unprepared we were and how brutal the situation was, if I had been in her shoes, I wouldn’t have wanted to report it, either.
Now, however, I know it’s absolutely the right thing to do.
The assh*le who did this to her? He kept going to parties, dated other girls and eventually graduated. Report rape and sexual assault; hold the person accountable and be there for your friends as much as you can. Please remember, no one is invincible -- not even you.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It