This account is difficult to write for more than one reason. One, I still feel, years later, that I am wrong to perceive that interaction as rape. A part of me still thinks that I should have been more clear and forceful when I said no and that I should have taken more precautions. That part of me, as I write this, is quite strong. Two, I feel that in the current social and political climate, me telling my story in which I got into a car willingly, put myself into a ‘vulnerable’ position, and came out unscathed physically presents an opportunity for people to trivialise my story or discredit other survivors by blaming them for their own trauma. Three, it has been over two years and I hate talking about it, thinking about it - even referring to it - because I want to wipe the memory from my mind. This account makes me relive everything I have tried so hard to suppress, but I am doing this to tell other survivors to hold on to their truth; theirs and no one else’s.
Years ago, I met someone through a friend of mine who was decent. We hung out, had fun, fooled around, and the arrangement was a very simple no-strings-attached situation. One day, he asked me if I wanted to go for a drive and I thought ‘why not?” Frankly, I don’t remember the day, the time, what was happening, what I did, and what they did, but I do remember that I wasn’t expecting it to go the way it did. Instead of just my friend being there, he brought another man and expected me to perform sexual acts on him as well. The assumption was that if she is loose and a slut with me, she is loose and a slut with everyone. As I type this, I use the word slut the way he would have: to describe a woman who has sex before marriage for her own pleasure. I don’t remember most of the details because my brain has successfully blocked out so much of it. I don’t know why or if I even agreed to this or let them think I had agreed to it. Look at me gas lighting myself already.
We got into the car and things got weird immediately. My friend and I fooled around in the back seat while the other guy drove. It was weird and uncomfortable and there were alarm bells in my head throughout, but I thought I cannot say no. The word no was not in my vocabulary, and even if it had been, I don’t think I would have been able to say it to my friend. This might have been something I could have still walked away from without as much trauma, but an hour later my friend decided that he would drive and that his friend would sit in the back seat with me. This was the turning point where my brain started to shut off. I remember feeling dread. I remember feeling light headed. I remember being dizzy and feeling like I was sweating a lot. I remember feeling numb.
The other man got into the back seat and expected me to have sex with him. I remember saying no multiple times and pulling away. But at one point, he ran his hands through my hair, grabbed me by the nape of my neck, and push my head towards his lap. After that, I have no memory. And for that I am thankful.
Later on, I told myself everything happened with consent and that I was ‘adventurous’ for doing something this crazy. It was years before I came to terms with what I had known all along: I was raped. My brain had done an excellent job sheltering me from this trauma all these years, but I had to accept it one day for me to heal.
It took me two years to say the words “I was date raped” to one of my closest friends. Bless her soul, the first thing she said was “I believe you.” There are no sweeter words that a survivor can hear. It took me another year to tell my partner, and months after that to tell other friends. No one asked me what I was doing there, why I was there, why I didn’t report, or why I did not have any nishaan from that incident. They knew that sexual violence occurs in many ways and doesn’t always leave a physical mark.
I am afraid that the reader will see this and think that what happened to me does not count as rape because I got into the car willingly, or didn’t jump out or do everything I could to tell them I did not want to do that. Frankly, to this day I ask myself the same questions. But as a feminist, I know that these questions are baseless and that they hold no merit.
The reason I wrote this account was to tell people that just because someone has a lot of sex and practices sexual autonomy does not mean they deserve to be assaulted. There is no justification for sexual violence and the blame is always on the perpetrator. We often assume that rape is only rape if it’s the way it’s shown in movies i.e. struggle, breaking things, ripped clothes, and wounds and scratches on the body. I am an example of how it’s not.