I Am A Warrior

Julee-Back-Plants-Abandoned-Building-West-Loop Photo : Rachel Mandel

I continue to hang out with my rapist and I don’t know why. 

When he texts me, I will show up within 8 minutes and leave crying and confused about the type of person I am. Every single time. 

I told my friends about the rape after I left his house at 5 in the morning. I was confused about how to tell them, who to trust, and what the actual details were. What happened to me?

I came home in the morning without having slept and drenched in water. Wide-eyed and quivering from being hungover and in shock, I was scared to take my underwear off. To look at myself in the mirror, to look at myself naked. My roommate was pacing the kitchen when I got home, a typical early bird. I couldn’t look her in the eyes. I stormed past her and made my way to the bathroom. I remember peeling my underwear from my labia to discover a pool of blood from my ass and vagina. I knew I wanted to fuck him at the bar, but my current physical status said otherwise. 

I told a few of my friends that morning and continued to get the same response. 

“Honey, this is what happens to smaller girls!”

“You really need to stop drinking so much.”

“How did you end up there in the first place? Babe, why do you put yourself in situations like this?”

I assumed they would have the same amount of anger as I did; instead, I was confronted with a blank stare, an obligatory “I’m so sorry” and then their reasoning of why they expected this from me.

One of my closest friends said, “you were raped, weren’t you?” Flatlined, before I could even get it out. I couldn’t believe the responses. They had known all along that this would happen to me. If not sooner, then later. I was consistently the hurricane of a friend, with new trauma and emotional emergencies. I was embarrassed.

The only thing that seemed to make sense was to immediately recover. Sure, I couldn’t control my rectal sphincter and it hurt to feel my panties chafe against me, but maybe if I ignored the discomfort, it would stop. 

I began to believe I was recovering by justifying his actions for him. Although I had only known him for one long night, I felt I knew him for my life. He was dim-witted and handsome. He liked basketball and anal. There wasn’t much more to it. I was the “cool girl” that he “could finally vibe with” and I wanted to be that girl. I wanted it to work. I wanted to be in love and find someone across the bar that thought I was cool and sexy and chill. I wanted to make him cum and realize that himself.

Over the next few days, he texted me and it felt warm. If I couldn’t find warmth in my closest friends, I would accept the next best. Calling me pet names and sending me funny snapchats throughout the day, I looked myself in the mirror and told myself he was a good guy, and as usual, I was being dramatic. I couldn’t have been raped. Not by him. Not ever. 

He would order an uber to drive me over, and my only duty was to fuck him and leave. He wasn’t as nice to me sober and was uninterested in anything I had to say. I sat by him over and over while he watched basketball and waited to throw me against his bed and fuck me. 

When did I get so weak? I was strong. I was proud of my sexuality. I was confident. And now I was crawling back to a man that made me second-guess my nature. 

After being rejected from a cuddling session with him one night, I ubered myself home. It was late. I walked into my home and began stripping down. I could no longer handle his scent on my clothing or skin. I wanted to tear my skin off my body. I locked myself into my bedroom and looked at my body up and down and around. I was bruised and dirty. This was not me. 

I cried for a bit and then euphoria washed over me. I grabbed my mirror and looked into my own eyes for the first time in what felt like forever. I spoke to myself. No one else will ever again define my experiences. I am in control. I am a warrior. 

Leila Mustafa: Will get into a street fight and cry to a Coke commercial in the same hour.