20 years ago, at the impressionable age of 15, I put myself in a situation that I still regret to this day. I believe I was raped. Or believed. Or believe. I’m not sure anymore.
Over the course of researching and writing my book, memories long forgotten have started to surface, including some about one particular night. Like the ambiance in a nightclub, most of the night is blacked out with small flashes of illuminated remembrance.
A group of friends and I had gone to a buddy’s cottage and proceeded to get incredibly incredibly drunk as teenagers without supervision are bound to do. My friend Lynn and I shared a bottle of tequila, shooting it in shot glasses, oblivious of the repercussions. One friend warned us. We laughed. Black out.
It could have been minutes or hours later but my next memory is throwing up in a bed beside Lynn. We had a plastic bag that we were sharing. She’d puke in it, pass it to me. I’d puke it in, pass it back to her. At one point either before or after Lynn came in, I must’ve thrown up on the bedding at some point because I took the sheets off the bed, bunched them up and put them in a corner. Black out.
Eventually the door opened, the light hurting my eyes. “Get out,” I murmured to the person entering. I rolled over. Lynn was gone. I don’t know when she left.
He got into the bed with me. I begged him to leave repeatedly. Black out.
The next morning I woke with a ferocious headache. I thought my eyes were going to explode, taking all brain matter with it. The pounding was a cadence that warned me of a rough day ahead. Then it registered: we had sex. My panties were wet, my legs sticky. I was furious. First, he took advantage of me knowing full well I would have never agreed to sex with him. I was beyond drunk and puking for that matter! Who would do that? This was a classic textbook definition of rape. But he laughed it off. For years after he’d repeatedly say, “Hey Kels, remember that time I took advantage of you at Carl’s cottage?” He knew he had done wrong but found it funny. I later learned that night that he suggested to Carl that they “tag team me” and Carl had said no because I was so intoxicated. I’m glad someone had respect for me that night. Hearing this sent me into another spiral of rage. There was intention and premeditation behind his actions. Was he merely waiting for Lynn to leave the room before entering? Was he waiting until I was too drunk to fully protest? He clearly had a plan.
Second, I had a boyfriend and he knew that. I was filled with shame, anger and pain. How could he do this to me? He claimed he loved me. We were “friends” in a toxic and abusive relationship that consisted of him constantly manipulating me and emotionally and sexually abusing me. In retaliation, I would purposely hurt him back by having boyfriends or sleeping with someone else just to spite him. It was a cycle of absolute chaos but I was an incredibly insecure young girl stuck in the eye of this tornado for years.
The newest memory to resurface from that night though: I was on top.
Is it rape if I was on top?
This has plagued me for months now. I believed he had raped me: he forced me to have sex with him. But now? I was on top. I. WAS. ON. TOP. Rape doesn’t happen like that or does it? The movies suggest otherwise. So was it as simple as he jokingly referred: he took advantage of me? A drunk man came into a bedroom where a drunk girl was throwing up, sick as a dog, and they had sex. Who is in the wrong here? Where does this fall under the law? What about our moral codes?
Ontario just recently passed a law saying men under the influence of alcohol can’t be held responsible for their actions. How many women will be “taken advantage of” now with no repercussions for their abuser? How many women will “agree” to something they wouldn’t agree to sober? How many will nod yes because they can’t say no? How many will feel mortified by their shame the next day? Who is to be held responsible in these scenarios?
I’m honestly at a loss. One part of me says, “ I’m the one who got drunk out of my gullet. Deal with it.” Another part says, “I thought I was safe among friends.” Another part of me says, “You should’ve tried harder to get him to leave the room.” The other says, “maybe he was black out drunk too.” How do two blackout drunk people decide who is responsible for the bad decisions made? How does the law decide this?
Sex without excited, mutual consent is wrong. Period. If a drunk woman gets together with a drunk man and they are into each other, that’s one story. But if a drunk man is into a drunk woman who doesn’t reciprocate the feelings, or vice versa, sex is forbidden. He exploited me for his own gain that night. He diminished my self worth even more by betraying me and my body.
This is an old story with a fresh wound. I’m horrified to remember this now. I’m questioning everything which is hard to do with so many gaps in my memory of that night. I do believe he knew that if he hit on me earlier that night I would’ve said no so he waited, like a predator, until I was out of my mind so he could “take advantage” of me. Was it rape? Maybe. Maybe not. Our judicial system doesn’t seem to have that line drawn firmly in the sand yet. It was definitely inappropriate. It was definitely exploitation. It was absolutely wrong. It was a violation of my body, a disrespect to my relationship and a dissolution of our friendship. We were never the same after that. Unfortunately, as it goes in most abusive relationships, he manipulated me back into his world and I lived in that toxicity for another four years. Years later, I heard he had a daughter. I wonder what he would say if she ever came to him with the same story.