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Imaginebeing grabbed by the wrists, pushed down, and restrained while someone youtrusted steals your innocence. I can still see the pain in the eyes of a closefriend who went through exactly that. It's a nightmare she never awakensfrom.
He was a close friend, and they had liked each other for a while.She went to his house to hang out and watch some movies, but what seemed innocentsoon turned ugly. I recall her telling me, with tears in her eyes, "We werejust kissing! I didn't think anything of it." He pushed her back gently,kissing her softly, and positioned himself so that she couldn't move. She becameuncomfortable, but never imagined it would get worse. Then he unbuttoned herpants and when she felt his hand, she screamed. She desperately tried to pullfree, but he had placed one arm behind her back and had the other down her pants.His knee was digging into her stomach; she couldn't escape. After what seemed aneternity, he attempted one last kiss and got up.
Running from the houseand crying, she used her cell phone to call me. I was with her other best friend,and we rushed to meet her. She explained what had happened and kept repeating,"I never thought this would happen to me." We begged her to tellsomeone, anyone. She was terrified, but felt that the assailant's friend mighthave some explanation as to why this had happened. Since she was close to himtoo, she decided to call.
He didn't believe her.
In the end, itturned into a debate, her word against his. It seemed easier to believe him; hehad the less painful story. She lost friends and came to the conclusion it washer fault.
Before you finish reading this article, at least one more womanwill be raped. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that a woman gets rapedevery two minutes. Considering that only 31% of these crimes are reported, andonly 26% of the time the assailant is a stranger, it is questionable whether muchhas been done to educate people about rape.
Most believe rape is onlycommitted by strangers in deserted alleys. The biggest misconception is that noone you know will have to deal with rape, and I hope they never do. The pain,stress and agony associated with this crime can leave people lost, alone andscared for a very long time.
An obvious question for many is, if the crimeis so painful, why do so many women not tell? I found myself asking thatquestion, but realized that at the moment of the violation, it is really hard toshare what happened. The victim becomes frightened of what people will say. Whenit is hard to tell even close friends, it becomes almost impossible to tellsomeone in authority. Without hard evidence, it always turns into her wordagainst his. Due to fear, and then the realization that no one may believe them,these crimes go unreported.
There is also the scenario where the victimis scared the assailant will return and hurt her if she talks. Sometimes thevictim concludes that it was her fault, that if the rapist is a close friend, shemust have been leading him on or making him think it was okay for something tohappen.
There are many organizations to help rape victims, includinghotlines and crisis centers. If this crime were ever to occur to someone youknow, or even you, you need to know you are not alone and that there is somethingyou can do. If you don't know who to turn to, call the Rape Abuse and IncestNational Network at 1-800-656-HOPE. You will immediately and confidentially beconnected to a counselor.
As a high school student, I have heard aboutrapes at parties. They usually begin with a girl having too much to drink, andthese cases are even less likely to be reported since she feels she can't tellher parents about the drinking that led to the rape. This again leads her tobelieve it was her fault. But doing something wrong, like drinking, doesn't makeany assault right.
If you are ever in a situation like this, get to a safeplace immediately and call 911, or someone you trust. Do not shower. Getimmediate medical attention. You may think that you aren't physically hurt, butyou may be. Lastly, please at least consider reporting the rape topolice.
If you are concerned about being attacked, follow these tips toprotect yourself:
* When on a date, stay in open, public places if youare with someone new. Go on double or group dates.
* Stay sober.
* Be clear about what your boundaries are.
* Listen to your instinct. Ifyou don't feel comfortable, then get away as soon as you can. You never have tobe anywhere you don't want to be.
* If you are assaulted, you must befirm with your attacker. He needs to know that you don't want him to do what he'sdoing and that you are not kidding. Be clear and assertive. Yell "No! "or "Stop!" Show confidence, not fear.
If you are sexuallyassaulted, try to do all you can so the rapist will serve time for his crime. Itis estimated that the average rapist attacks between eight and 16 women beforebeing caught. Don't let them hurt anyone else like they hurt you. You can dosomething.
As for my friend, it has taken her almost a year to trustpeople again. She now has a caring boyfriend and life seems somewhat back tonormal. Although it's getting easier, she will never forget the nightmare thatruled her life for so long. She wants to do all she can to help others, includingsupporting me in writing this article. She hopes you will learn from herexperience and will never have to go through what she did.