My Soon-to-be Un-Secret
****Trigger warning: rape****
I never thought I’d write this post. Ever. I never planned on anyone ever hearing my secret. In fact, until December of last year, I hadn’t told ANYONE until I told Brandon. Then, earlier this month, I told my sister. Earlier today, I told Melissa. As of this moment, my parents and other siblings don’t know.
Because how do you tell someone who loves you that one of the worst of all possible things happened?
When I lived in North Carolina ten years ago, I was in a relationship with a guy I worked with, “T”. I was incredibly lonely, broke, and living with a friend and her family. One night, I went to his house and when I got there, I was the only woman there with a few guys. For hours, we sat and talked and I drank wine while they drank beer. At some point, T offered to refill my glass. He went into the kitchen and came back with the glass, and I drank it, thinking nothing of it.
I didn’t think he’d drug me. That was something that happened to other women who carelessly let strangers have access to their drinks in seedy bars. It happened to slutty party girls. It didn’t happen to fat, bookish girls who rarely went anywhere or did anything.
Most of the rest of that night is a blank. I have a couple of flashes of memories in his bedroom, but I don’t know if it was just him or if any of the other guys were involved. The memories are like blurry photographs – if I had my glasses off, I wouldn’t have been able to see anyways.
In the days that followed, I knew three things: 1. I couldn’t really remember what happened, except 2. I might be pregnant and 3. there is no way I could have had a kid at that point.
For about six weeks, I was scared witless.
And I told NO ONE.
Like I said before, I never planned on telling anyone. I could prove nothing, and I didn’t want people to think I was dirty and broken because of it, so I left it. In December, I managed to tell Brandon, not because I had planned to, but because it blended into the conversation and because he is one of my safe people – someone I can talk to about ANYTHING and know there’s no judgment.
I didn’t think that telling him would change anything. It did, though. It made me think that I could tell someone and not be dirty and broken. I planned to tell Melissa when I saw her in person in March, but how do you bring that up? “Oh, by the way, ten years ago, I was drugged and raped by at least one (but maybe more) man?” It doesn’t just roll off the tongue. When I told my sister, it was in an Olive Garden, unplanned, and thankfully, she didn’t seem to react too badly, and it made me feel a little bolder still. Today, when I told Melissa in the middle of a conversation on Facebook, I doubt it was the easiest thing to read. She’s my person, and her reaction meant everything.
It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t “asking for it.” No one – woman or man – is ever “asking for it.” No matter what they’re wearing. No matter where they are. No matter if they’re sober or drinking. No matter what. No matter if they are promiscuous or a virgin. No matter if they’re as rich as Trump or totally broke.
Having been raped doesn’t make me dirty or broken. It doesn’t reflect on me at all – it’s on him(them?).
Why, then, ten years later, am I making it public knowledge?
Because people like me are why corporations like Hobby Lobby and Mardel need to stay out of decision making with regards to specific health care issues.
In those six weeks that I feared I was pregnant, I knew I couldn’t have a kid. I was too poor to raise one. I wouldn’t know for sure whose it was. It would mean I’d have to tell someone what happened, and I wasn’t quite sure what I would even tell them. Had I been pregnant, I would have likely terminated the pregnancy. I’m glad I wasn’t, but for me, in that circumstance, it would have been the difficult choice I would have made. If the “morning after” pill would have been an option, I would have downed it in a heartbeat, but it wasn’t, so I was stuck.
I stayed out of relationships for a long time after that. I had an occasional crush on someone, but as you can imagine, trust was hard. It still is, but I’m getting better at taking risks.
The SCOTUS ruling on religion, contraceptives, and the Affordable Care Act made me rage today.
Not just because of the coverage of the morning after pill, but also because I’m also on birth control because I have a witchy uterus. Without it, my risk of uterine cancer skyrockets. Thankfully, my insurance covers it and I only pay a few dollars a month to keep things behaving properly. I have other friends who are on birth control because of PCOS or a hormonal imbalance. Birth control is not always just to prevent pregnancy. It addresses a lot of serious health conditions, too, but the reason someone takes it is none of their employer’s business.
As a pastor, I pray that people make the right choices. In the end, they are their choices. Not mine. Making it harder to make the right choice wouldn’t make me a better leader or Christian; it would make me a tyrant and a bully.
Here’s my request: when you are thinking and talking about the SCOTUS ruling or reproductive rights, try to check yourself. When you think of a woman who needs a morning after pill, who is she? When you think about a single woman who takes her birth control like clockwork, who is she? When you think about a woman seriously contemplating an abortion, who is she? She might not be who you think she is.