It happened in 2008.
I was an ocean away from home, an exchange student in a small Southern college town.
I felt lonely and isolated, met a guy who started doing nice things for me – driving me places (I didn’t have a car, and it was a driving town), inviting me to lunches, and other entertainment activities.
He was short, and out of shape. I was a tall, athletic blonde. I felt pity for him. We went jogging. I told him I would help him get in shape, so he could get a girlfriend.
We became friends, he joked around that one day he would marry me. I said, no way.
On Christmas break, I felt lonely, everybody else I knew was out of town, so I agreed to go on a road trip with him to an entertainment park. And then, to a remote state park to spend a night camping.
My instincts were against it, but alas, there I was, in the middle of nowhere, without any way of getting away, and drinking an excessive amount of vodka that he had brought from home.
We were sitting on a bench on the camping ground, talking about boyfriends and girlfriends. I told him there’s somebody I have a crush on, back home.
He said, I want you to be mine, but if you have somebody, and that can’t happen, then I still get something good – I get you as a friend. I felt so relieved when I heard those words! I thought, “Great; so he appreciates me as a friend, so he’s not going to make unwanted sexual advances, I’m safe.”
I remember stumbling to the tent, not being able to walk straight, laying down.
Next thing I remember is him on me, and in my body, going in and out, in and out. With a kind of a look of a happy surprise on his face.
My body just didn’t do anything. It didn’t protest. It didn’t scream. It was unreal.
God knows, I have hated and blamed myself for seven years for not fighting him. For giving up so easily. But back then, in that moment, I was SCARED. Scared to run away, scared to make a fuss, scared I wouldn’t be able to get back home without a car. Scared of having to confront him. Scared of being accused of leading him on, and being told that it’s all my fault.
I was already thinking, this is all my fault. What was I thinking, getting into a situation like this? I could hear my mom’s voice in my head, telling me, “What did you expect? Now, get over it, and move on.”
In the morning, feeling dirty, vulnerable, and pissed, I told him that I was angry that he took advantage of me while I was drunk. He shrugged his shoulders, and said something like, hey, it is what it is.
He drove me back home.
The thing I still don’t understand is why I accepted him as my temporary boyfriend after this. I continued dating him, like a child coming back to a parent who beats him. As if I was saying, you broke me, now you owe me – you have to heal me.
And he treated me nice. Complimented me all the time, and didn’t push me to have sex. It wasn’t about sex after all. Like he said, he wanted ME. All of me, for himself.
The worst part is, I found it flattering. I thought his desire to own me was love.
I thought my temporary status and leaving the country would provide a natural end to this relationship.
In my heart, I longed for that moment to come. Longed for being away from him, and close to my family and friends.
As you can expect from the title of this post, the story doesn’t end here.
I need to take baby steps to learn how to talk about this. Feeling nauseous from going back to this place and time in my memory.
But I know, step by step, I will tell my story, as if I’m vomiting out what has been poisoning me. I hope somebody benefits from this.