Women

01.13.13

Daily Beast Readers Share More Stories of Rape and Sexual Assault

“Know that you will never forget, but eventually, living the rest of your life will take over. Know that you are a survivor.” Readers tell their own stories.

With protests over inadequate responses to sexual abuse erupting across the world, from India to Ohio, we asked Daily Beast readers to share their personal tales of sexual assault and rape. After publishing those wrenching accounts of women’s experiences last Sunday, we received numerous additional submissions—this time from both women and men, who account for an estimated 10 percent of American sexual-assault victims, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.

While many victims say they’ve managed to come to terms with their experience, others say they’ve yet to reconcile themselves or entirely recover. Here are our readers’ stories, as submitted:

The stories that you posted are painful. I am a 50-year-old man who was molested and many times raped by my father. I can’t even write all of the things that he did to me. He get into bed with me when I was 6,7, 8, up until I was 14.

I dreaded being alone with him. I was terrified. He caused me pain and knew it. I can barely write this. He just died and I am so angry at myself. I never confronted him, never told him how he ruined me. I can’t stand myself sometimes. I noticed that a lot of the women go through what I am going through. I need to be clean all the time, I have hyperactive sexuality.

Then after the molestation and rapes, he started beating me. He wanted me to cry. He punched me, never in the face, in the stomach. “Cry” he said. Sometimes I did it simply to get him to go away.

Then when I was about 14, I stared and said, “no.” Then he started verbally abusing me. “Dumbass, loser, jerk.”

Then, one of his last conversations with me was “We had good times.” I got sick after that.

I wanted to confront him. I wanted to spit in his face and tell him, “go to hell.” But I never had the courage. I am in pain, so much pain.

Nobody in my family knows this. Only my wife. His service is coming up on the 19th. I don’t want to tell my mother this. She loved that monster for 40 years. She wants me there but I don’t want to go.

I know this is something for women, but I have to say something. I am so sorry. I am doing this at my work and sitting here almost crying.

If only I said something. I am such a coward.

I need help.

—Jeff


I’m not kidding myself to think I was the only woman that was a victim o John Wayne Gacy but I might be the only woman to come forward. I was in my early 20’s and going to Fort Bragg in North Carolina where my husband was stationed in the Army. I had a three-hour layover in Chicago O’Hare airport. I got up to get something to eat, leaving my carrier next to my seat. About 20 minutes after I finished eating, JWG came up to me—he was clean cut, well-dressed in a blue ultra-suede suit and appeared to be some sort of “security” person. He asked me if I was “Jane Doe” (insert my real name) and I replied I was. He was very abrupt, said I needed to come with him—it was an emergency—but he refused to say what the emergency was. He said to leave my carrier there, which I did.

The door was maybe 500 feet away—right outside the airport door his car was parked (If I recall correctly it was either a black or dark blue Cadillac). When I got into the car the doors clicked and locked—I immediately became frightened but with the doors locked, I couldn’t jump from the car. He drove me to a very pretty home… which I now believe was possibly his mother’s home. He drove directly into the garage, which had an automatic garage door that he opened and closed immediately. He pushed me up the staircase to a bedroom (which I am guessing was his childhood room; it only had a twin bed in it) and he proceeded to rape me. He made it clear, if I didn’t do as he said he would kill me. Needless to say, I fully cooperated and when he was finished with me, he took me back to the airport. He told me if I ever repeated what happened he would kill me and my whole family.

I never said a word to anyone.

Evidentially, when I went to get something to drink he walked over to my carrier and saw my name tag on it… and that is how he knew my name and I was young, stupid and naive. It wasn’t until the internet that I realized who my rapist was. This is 100% the God’s honest truth and honestly the main reason I am writing this is because I know there have be many cold cases of female victims during that time period —his victims weren’t only young boys. They were women too.

—Anonymous


I was raped by a professor at my college. I was 16 years old, and it was 1970. I was staying at a friend’s off-campus apartment and he dropped in, expecting to find my friend at home. He was about 40 years old and a former movie stuntman with a rep as a ladies’ man. I was at the time a shy, overweight loner.

He made his move after ascertaining that I was alone. He held me down and ripped off my underpants, talking all the while. He locked his hands around my throat and forced his dick into me. And with his hands around my throat he forced me to talk dirty, to say how big and hard and wonderful it was.

Then he left.

I had bruises on my neck, my thighs, and my breasts. And I quickly learned that he subsequently boasted, telling other boys and men at my college that I might be a little chubby but I was a pretty good piece of tail.

What’s interesting to me is that at the time, it never once occurred to me to think of this as rape (after all, I knew him, right? He was a professor, right?), much less to report it. Do the math: it was a long time ago. To whom would I report this? Wasn’t I asking for it simply by being alone?

To the extent that this experience can still enrage me, and it does, I am more angry at this latter fact than at this one low-life scumbag, who is now, I hope, living in a lonely and impoverished old age. That is, the macro environment that made this very scary and painful event a non-event is by far the greater evil. And it pains me to know that, alas, not all that much has changed.

—Anonymous


When I was 16, I was raped and assaulted by a group of boys from my high school. I had left a party after arguing with a friend (who happened to be my ride home). I was walking to a local arcade where several people from the party had parked their cars, but the arcade was a few miles away. So when the car full of male classmates and friends pulled up to ask me if I needed a ride, I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to walk on the back roads alone.

Everything seemed normal until we stopped in a cornfield so one of the guys could go to the bathroom…or at least, that’s what they told me. A couple of the guys got out of the car and I stayed in the car with the guys sitting in the back seat. We chatted about the party I had left, about people at school…until the other guys got back in the car and one of them turned to me and said that I was now going to have to pay for the ride by having sex with all five of the guys in the car. If I didn’t comply, they were going to take my clothes and leave me in the middle of the cornfield. I told them I wanted to leave, they could have my clothes and leave me there…I just wanted to get out.

The driver of the car smiled and laughed at me. I remember shaking uncontrollably and trying to catch my breath. I kept thinking, ‘this can’t be happening.’ I clung to the boy in the backseat who was a very close friend of mine and begged him to help me. He put one arm around me and whispered into my ear that everything would be okay…while he put his other hand between my legs.

None of my crying and pleading helped.

I was dragged out of the car and thrown on the ground. It was autumn, the corn was dry and many of the stalks had been knocked down. I remember the broken corn stalks poking into my back as these boys who I had known for years attacked me. Their hands were all over me, ripping my clothes and tearing at my skin. I tried to run, but they found me. They dragged me back to the driver of the car who, by now had assumed the role of leader of this group. They started pulling my shirt off it caught around my neck and was choking me.

I begged them to let me go and the driver pulled me over to him. I told him I would do whatever he wanted if he got the other boys to leave me alone. He agreed to help if I performed oral sex on him. He shoved me back to the ground and straddled my face, putting his knees on my chest. At one point, I looked over and saw all the boys watching.

I was crying. I couldn’t breathe and I was scared and humiliated. When he finished, I honestly thought they would kill me or tie me up in the cornfield to hide what they’d done.

They didn’t.

They put me back in the car and drove me to the arcade and dropped me off.

I ran in to the ladies room and broke down. My legs were shaking so badly, I could hardly stand. I saw my reflection in the mirror. Pieces of corn leaves were stuck in my hair and clothes, there was dirt, blood and semen on my face and on my clothes. My clothes were torn, my bra was ripped apart and bruises were beginning to form on my chest. I dropped to the floor and cried.

When I was finally able to stand again, I cleaned myself up as much as possible and went outside to sit in the parking lot and try wait for my friends from the party. I was in shock. I made it home, but I was too frightened to report these boys.

They were popular. They were athletes. Who would believe me? And after all, I got in the car…so it was my fault, right?

It was the 1980s and I had seen all the blame be assigned to the women whenever there was a sexual assault. Why was she dressed like that, why was she drinking, why did she get in that car? I blamed myself and assumed everyone else would as well. I tried to go back to school to show them they hadn’t beaten me down, but they would laugh and wink at me every time they saw me at school.

And so I left.

I finished my senior year in summer school and spent a few months barely leaving my house and unable to sleep or eat. I have suffered years of anxiety, panic attacks, fear, insomnia, eating disorders, self-injuring and an obsessive need to check the doors and windows in my home and car to be sure they are locked. I avoid nearly everyone I went to high school with and am knocked back into that night every time I hear someone mention those names. The nightmares and flashbacks have been horrible.

I never talked about this until the past few years when I finally (thankfully) sought help from a therapist. I was diagnosed with PTSD and after a lot of work, I am beginning to believe I can live a normal life again.


I just read your article on the Daily Beast about rape survivors stories. I am pleased that the media is finally starting to talk about these crimes, but I feel that there is still an important factor missing from your article as well as from most community organizations focused on helping survivors. I’m referring to the male victims.

There are many out there, and they come from many places other than just prison. There are plenty of stories out there about male victims who were attacked in the military or in school, or as children, or like my story being drugged and taken from a local bar where I knew everyone only to endure a 12-hour long ordeal that has left me physically and mentally scarred for life.

Statistics show that more male rape cases are gang rape cases and that they tend to be more violent on average and even less reported. Society seems to ignore the fact that there are male victims. In my local society, a police officer had the opportunity to stop the crime in progress after I escaped a house and ran stark naked into a main street in the middle of the night. The officer literally told me that this doesn’t happen to men and proceeded to release me right back into the hands of my attackers. There were 5 at that point and it became a lot worse after they got me back to the house. There were more than 10 attackers by the night’s end and the injuries I sustained were immense.

I am lucky to be alive. I feel that there are many men out there who could benefit from similar stories being put out into the open. Society as a whole could benefit from opening their eyes to the fact that these crimes occur. Until this crime happened to me, I didn’t even think the possibility existed.

—Anonymous


I am a 57-year-old grandmother who is as angry today as I was 44 years ago. Actually, angry is not the right choice of wording here. I should have said enraged. After all of these years, I am still filled with rage.

I won’t share the details, because for the most part I have blocked them. I was 13, I think, he was 17 and the brother of my best friend. At one time I had had a crush on him. He had flirted with me and made me feel so special. He raped me on my friend’s basement floor, while his sister was upstairs making hamburgers. He shoved me down, pulled off my jeans, and twisted my arms behind my back. I honestly thought my arms were going to rip out of their sockets. At the time I wasn’t even sure what he was doing. It just didn’t sink in.

It was almost over as soon as it started. I will never forget him growling at me to pull up my pants. I was fumbling and shaking. He told me that if I ever came back to his house he would kill me. I was stunned. I mumbled some kind of excuse and ran home. I didn’t tell my mother but I did tell my sisters.

They confronted him, he denied, they threatened him. Pretty much end of story except I no longer had a best friend. I suppose her brother had threatened her too.

We didn’t go to the police. We didn’t think anything could be done about it. I did tell my mother a few years down the road. Her response was to stay away from bad boys. I am not sure what I expected, but that reaction wasn’t it.

My rage comes from the fact that I couldn’t stop him. I was helpless against someone that much stronger than me. My rage comes from the fact that he treated me like it was my fault the entire thing happened. And there is incredible anger at my mother who treated the entire episode like something that was my fault.

I can’t remember his last name or maybe I have blocked it. I often think that had I been able to remember, I would be in prison for murder now. Because the person I am now is not the timid and ignorant 13 year old that was shoved down on a basement floor and raped.

I am sure with the help of the internet, Facebook and search engines, I could probably find him. But why? I am married, I have two grown children, 3 precious grandchildren.

I am writing this because I want him to know that I do remember, I haven’t forgotten and God hasn’t forgotten. I also want him to know he is a coward and that I am no longer afraid of him and if I ever saw him I’d prove it to him.

—Anonymous


My father raped and sexually abused me from the time I was six until my parents divorced when I was 9. My mother never suspected why I was terrified to sleep in my bedroom alone.

I am now 70 years old. I am experiencing anxiety and depression that has come and gone throughout my life.

I thought I had dealt with this in therapy, but even now what he did to me is keeping me from enjoying life.

—Anonymous


I was in college, a Midwestern school affiliated with the Methodist Church. I was a virgin entering college. I had wanted my first time to be with someone special, and I had saved myself for this.

It was my freshman year. I made the mistake of going to a Theta Chi fall pajama party. It was your typical party, lots of people, lots of music, beer in Solo cups. My girlfriend had brought me over to the party. It must have been around midnight. A guy at the party encouraged us to drink EverClear punch and gave us each a glass. I had about 6 oz. I think. I remember going into a darkened room with my girlfriend and this guy (I didn’t know his name and he didn’t know mine.) He began kissing me, and I was quite dizzy from the drink. I noticed that my girlfriend was asleep (or passed out) on the couch in the same room where I was. The frat boy quickly pulled me to the floor and raped me. I remember there being a lot of blood and I remember him using soda or something on the floor where it was. I had put up a fight and said no, tried to scream, but it was all over very quickly.

It was the early ‘80s. There were no rape awareness groups at that time. I never told my family. I never told anyone, not authorities at the school or police. I think I felt numb. Looking back, it was a serious blow to my well-being. I didn’t feel I had done anything wrong; something was done to me without my consent and it was a violation. The drink may have had a drug in it. I would not normally be so powerless after having a small drink.

I felt like the frat culture at that time encouraged such behavior. I don’t think the guy who raped me felt guilt for what he had done. To him it was a nonevent, something I felt he had done many times before. To me, I think it affected my ability to trust later on. I saw him on campus later, but he didn’t acknowledge me. I was like a disposable Solo cup. I hadn’t wanted that for myself. In a significant way I feel that experience damaged my spirit. Very sad.

I still think about finding him and confronting him about the crime he had committed. I wonder what would happen if I did.

—Melanie


My entire life, my emotionally abusive father has been telling me that I have been a horrible person since I was 11 years old. I was 11 when my uncle sexually molested me in a house full of family. I have never felt safe since. Ever.

At around 40, I told my mother. The only thing she (an educated, rather decorated teacher) said was not to tell my aunt because it would break her heart. When I told my 78-year old father about the abuse a few months ago, he accused me of lying.

Is anyone really listening out there? I don’t think so.

—Anonymous


When I was four my grandfather began finger fucking me. This went on for years. After he did it, he would give me a dollar and say, “don’t tell your grandmother.” When I tell people, I feel they think it wasn’t so bad since he didn’t penetrate me with his penis. I finally told my mother when I was thirty.


It was late winter or early spring. I was 8 years old and playing in my bedroom. My mom had bought me a calendar. You could change the dates on the calendar by moving these cups around. The cups looked like half of those plastic Easter eggs. I was playing with my calendar when my brother, 13, walked into my room and said he wanted to play with me.

My brother had always been a mean boy. He never had anything nice to say to anyone. He once made my other brother eat grass in the front yard. My brothers physically fought continuously, and being the youngest of the bunch, I tried to stay out of the way.

I didn’t get much attention at home. My Dad was overworked in a stressful job and my Mom was battling MS. In those days, the drugs for MS were muscle relaxers and valium. So, when my brother wanted to play with me, I was excited and felt special for the attention.

I don’t remember much after that. The memories have come to me slowly over the years.

The first memory came after my sister-in-law said something about incest. Looking back, I assume my brother had confessed something to his wife, but at the time I looked at her dumbly, not remembering anything. About 6 months later, the first of the memories came. I was 25 or 26 when I remembered him on top of me. It was another 15 years before I remembered more.

It started with him asking me to touch his penis. His pants were off and he was hard. I thought it looked gross, so I took one of those calendar pieces and put it over his head. He still wanted me to touch it, so I tapped it with a pencil laughing at how it bounded back and forth.

Another time, I remember him penetrating me. I was on my back. He was on top. I remember that it hurt and I asked him to stop. He called it “getting me back” and said that if I ever did anything to make him mad, he would “get me back.” I know it happened a few more times, but the details are blurred. As I write this, I feel pain in my neck as if the weight of my entire body is on my neck.

I survived by keeping quiet. I looked at myself in the mirror and told myself it didn’t happen. I would look in the mirror everyday until one day, I had forgotten. I looked at myself in that mirror and did not remember why I practiced that ritual.

This is the first time I have put the events in chronological order and seeing my words on paper have had a profound effect on me. I can’t feel my body right now. I see my hands typing but can’t feel them. There is a lump in the back of my throat. The pain in my neck is almost unbearable. I want to cry, to scream. It wasn’t my fault. Yes, I had wanted my bother to play with me, but not like that.

Most of the memories have come in the past few years. I left an emotionally abusive marriage to a man with a porn addiction and an unstoppable desire to have sex with as many women as he could seduce. We fought constantly. I got my courage to leave because I had two young daughters and I did not want my girls to grow up thinking men could treat women that way.

Now, 40 years later, it is much easier to keep men at arm’s length than to allow myself to be vulnerable. I have dreams now where I say, “no,” where I stand up for myself, where I don’t allow men to take advantage of me.

My ultimate survival is to provide a role model for my girls, to show them what a strong woman looks like, to let them know that they do not have to put up with abuse, to let them know they can say no.

I know I am still affected by those events 40 years ago, and I struggle everyday with trust, but I realize there is a world out there where women can be strong, where we can decide who touches us, where we can fight back.

—Anonymous


I was encouraged by my sister to attend more parties and dress more seductively. It was the seventies and I was just not with it. I did go to one party and wore a lacey see threw top. I was bored out of my mind and wanted to leave. She insisted that I ride home with a friend of hers. He said he had to make a stop and he raped me in the basement of his family home. I felt so guilty that I had traded my home comfort and a ride for rape. To this day I stay at social gatherings for the least time possible and I always find my own way home.


I am 70 years old now, and have managed to create a useful life in spite of my childhood. When I was very small I was raped by two older boys in my neighborhood; I do not know the exact age when it happened. I do remember that I exposed myself to that danger more than once: I recall that I was probably lured into the first rape because I was lonely and wanted attention and “friends.” There were also threats of violence, and there had been life-threatening violence before even in my home. I had no one I could trust, no one to help me understand what was happening.

Looking back now, after years of therapy, I see that I have lived about one-eighth of a “normal” life because of all the damage I received in childhood. I’ve had a lot of depression, but I have tried to avoid hurting other people, and I have done some very good things.

—Anonymous


It was New Year’s Eve, and I was 17 years old. I was raped, beaten and tortured by an uncle and one of his friends for five and half hours. For ten years, I had to see him at every family party. Finally, my sister refused to attend holiday dinners if he was present, and for a few years, my sis and I celebrated together. It sounds awful, and it was, but this is the ugly secret of countless families. Years ago I was treated for what is now called Rape Crisis Syndrome. I still have nightmares from time to time, particularly around New Year’s, and there are times when I am melancholy.

—Stephanie


I was on a second date while on vacation in Paris. I actually had decided to see this guy a second time because I had been very badly harassed and was getting worn down by how tough this trip was in that respect. People had put it down to spring fever: beautiful weather after weeks of rain; everyone is horny.

Prior to this date, I had a wrestling match with a concierge who snuck up on me as I was opening the door to my room. I had to scream and grab on to strangers to prevent a man who I had one dance with me from following me all the way back to my hotel. I had a random group of boys jump out of a car and try to drag me into it, in broad daylight… and a policeman acted like it was nothing. He tried to shoo me off as I grabbed tight to his lapels and shook my head. So much weirdness, like ten years worth of abuse packed into one vacation. I was nervous and exhausted.

I felt my vulnerability might have sent signals attracting even more abusive men. I was tired of it but didn’t want to feel resigned to staying in at night, so I made a date to see this man I had already had sex with, a few nights before. I figured what could be safer, I already was happy to fuck this guy, right?

While waiting to meet him, a strange man came and sat at my table, demanding my attention. He pulled my newspaper away, and tried to get affectionate. I demanded, louder and louder that he leave me alone. Everyone there ignored it. He cracked me across the face very hard and laughed and walked away. No one blinked an eye, and that hurt worse than what he did. I hated those people for ignoring it. I missed NY where I knew a stranger would at least, comfort me, if not end the harassment earlier.

So there I am, on the date, we’re supposed to be seeing a jazz show. He said another couple is coming with us, we go to their apartment. I think it’s okay because it’s another couple. He insists I have wine. I hate wine, but drank it. Talking with the girl I realize she may not be coming with us, my date interrupts to assure me she is. I notice a wedding ring that wasn’t there last time we had met, and that he keeps interrupting me. All of a sudden, she is leaving, and he assures me she just has to get something and then join us. He talks over us both, later I realize he is trying to hide the fact that she is saying goodbye. I start to get an uncomfortable feeling, and go to the bathroom. Suddenly the bathroom is spinning and I feel woozy. I splash myself with water and resolve to head straight for the door. I knew for certain that I have been drugged. I am hoping they will not kill me too. I can barely talk, and know that I can’t scream.

When I leave the bathroom, I see another man has joined us, and I head towards the door, staggering. They all laugh at me. They know I am about to pass out. They block the door and lift me up unto the loft bed. I think my date actually left at that point. I guess he arranged to give me to the two other men- who were employed by him. I completely black out.

The next thing I know it is morning, and the younger guy is having another go at me. I piece together the last of what happened and let him. He behaves normal, even affectionately, and offers to take me out for breakfast. Like let’s pretend that wasn’t rape last night. I decline, and walk a few blocks to where I am staying, and tell no one. The next day I go to Versailles.

Years later, when I did tell someone close to me, she was angry that I wouldn’t fly back to Paris, years later, and insist on justice. She would not shut up about it. Knowing how women there were treated, I don’t feel terribly guilty over not going to the police. I doubt it would have accomplished anything. I found out she had told a whole circle of friends, who all wanted to discuss it at a Christmas party. I was pretty appalled, and felt betrayed.

I have only told snippets of things that happened that week because I was pretty certain most would say that much abuse couldn’t randomly happen to one woman in one week. I had, and still do, travel on my own and have never had so much trouble.

Aside from two close friends, I told my brother. He offered to kill the man. I said, No thanks. Only one friend was straight up sympathetic and supportive.

But I’ve never told a man I was close with. I don’t think they could handle it, or trust that I was telling the truth or didn’t bring it on myself somehow.

— B


My twin brother had known his best friend since 2nd grade, and we all grew up together. As I got older, I experimented sexually with my brother’s best friend, but only the relatively innocent things: kissing, fondling, and cuddling. He was never a serious romantic prospect and we only fooled around when we had nothing better to do. Aside from the occasional game of Truth Or Dare, all sexual activities ended after middle school.

As we got towards the end of high school and prepared for college, he expressed to me in private, many times, how embarrassed he was that he’d be going to college as a virgin. Although I told him it was nothing to be ashamed of, he intimated, several times, that we should have casual sex. I never felt comfortable with that idea; after all, this was my brother’s best friend and it felt weird enough that I used to make out with him. It remained an awkward undercurrent that was so tense that I would go out of my way not to be left alone with him.

Two weeks before my high school graduation, he threw a small house party for our close knit circle of friends. I was unaccustomed to drinking and I went far beyond my limits. I found myself being half-carried up the stairs into my brother’s friend’s room and him lying me down on his bed. I recall saying that I needed water and sleep, and him saying to relax. I remember his hands taking down the straps of my tank top and rolling down my leggings. I struggled but that actually helped him get my leggings off faster. I felt paralyzed; I was drunk and confused and I wasn’t sure if any of the situation was real. I didn’t think that my brother’s best friend would be doing this to me.

He put three fingers inside me, producing the sharpest pain I’ve ever felt. I made a noise of discomfort, which he mistook for pleasure, because he started talking dirty. In a normal situation, he would have sounded ridiculous but when I remember my assault, what I remember most vividly is him saying disgusting things about having sex with me. When he was done with his fingers, he inserted himself into me.

I have never felt so small in my life, with a boy that I thought was a friend ramming the most personal part of me over and over again and I was powerless to stop him. It was the most physically and emotionally painful experience that I’ve ever had. When he was done, I cried. “Come on, you liked that. You came!” he said, as though to console me. I kept crying and every time he touched me, my skin crawled.

“You knew we were going to do that someday. We both knew this was going to happen.”

He lay in bed with me for a little while, at first kissing me and touching me, but I was sobbing, so he smoked a cigarette and left me by myself. I lay in the bed until I heard my brother calling my name. I had no idea how to tell him, or anyone, what had happened so I put on my clothes and washed my face in the bathroom. I wasn’t entirely sure the next day that it had happened, that maybe it was all a bad dream. But I saw my brother’s friend, and he wouldn’t make eye contact with me. He knew he had done something wrong. I never told anybody because I didn’t know how; he never told anybody because he couldn’t.

—Leah


I was date raped in high school, on my 18th birthday. I went to a house party where most of the attendees were on the football team. I went to a well-to-do private school, and the football players were gods. I was somewhat of an outsider and was so excited to be invited to such a party. I drank too much. I got sick in a bathroom. One of my classmates had been following me around all night, grabbing me, trying to lead me off into some room. He found me in the bathroom. He took off my clothes. He locked the door. My friend was banging on the door, trying to check on me. Everything was a blur. I woke up sick and in pain. The hangover was paradise compared to the way I felt inside. I woke him up and asked him if he’d give me a ride home. He told me to walk. I had to sit next to him in chemistry for the rest of the year. I couldn’t concentrate in that class and got a D. We never spoke. The shred of reputation I had was tarnished. I couldn’t speak up about how I felt. My community, my family would, at best, ignore it. Uphold the institution at all costs. This is the first time I’ve really thought about it directly. I have so much misdirected anger and self-loathing. I have no idea what a good man looks like. I hated myself, still blame myself to this day. If only I didn’t drink so much. Didn’t go to that party. Maybe it was my fault, but maybe my bitterness will protect my daughter: don’t get wasted and avoid football players at all costs.

—Anonymous


My rapist was my boyfriend of over 3 1/2 years, and I was 24 years old. That night I took a cab home from a bar after he became unruly and aggressive. This angered him, and when he returned to my apartment a clean right hook rendered me unconscious in a closet. When I came to, all I knew was that I was bleeding, and I suddenly realized that this man who “loved” me was going to kill me. I tried every trick in the book to try to get him to go back to his place. But he was bigger than me, proud of himself, and would not leave. He said we had to sleep in the same bed. I was so anxious about his having struck me that I took 3 or 4 times my normal dose of sleeping pills—it was the only way to escape what had just happened. I remember putting on a long white nightgown with lace, as if it could protect me. As I was falling asleep the nightmare began again, but worse. He climbed on top of me and insisted on penetrating me. I begged, I cried, I writhed, but in my heart I knew it was hopeless. When it was over I surrendered to the drugs, feeling sticky from his fluids and filled with self-loathing. Somehow I *knew• that the violence had turned him on, and I was in disbelief. It’s been 20 years now and this is the first time I have told anyone what happened. Most women are raped by someone they know. Knowledge of that fact has done me no good. I had loved him, and in that one night I grew to hate him. He tried to see me after that, but the threats of 911 calls eventually caused him to melt into the past. But I still feel the violation of my white night gown, the stickiness, the nausea and the self-hatred. Those will never melt away.

—Cynthia


I was molested from age 13 to age 18 by a junior high school teacher. Well, he was a junior high school teacher and when I moved on to high school, so did he.

I was too scared to leave, too scared to tell anyone. I was afraid that my parents would blame me (I think they kind of still do). A very long story short—only after pressure from my boyfriend at the time’s father (a school superintendent of a neighboring district) was this man put on administrative leave(!).

I was too scared to testify, already suffering severe PTSD and afraid to bring shame upon my family. Little to no investigation was done at all. Basically I was just grilled to death by a couple half-wit sheriffs who did exactly nothing with the detailed information I gave them. He had sex with me at school, his house, in his car, in his car across state lines, took pictures of me. He gave me money, presents, a cellphone, you name it.

He was tried in juvenile court (even though he was in his mid-50’s at the time—I know, it makes no sense) and was given 30 days in jail. He was not required to register as a sex-offender. The charge was contributing to the delinquency of a minor (really?).

The Penn State saga brought all these feelings back up for me and I did some digging. I was 18 or 19 at the time of the prosecution. I’m now 33. I contacted an attorney that was representing one of the Penn State victims. I wanted to find out if there was anything further I could do, given the ridiculous charge. Sadly, the statute of limitations had run out.

I investigated victim’s compensation and I guess you have to file within two years of the incident and the loopholes for this thing are incredible. For example, in order to reimbursed for your therapy you have to choose a provider in your network. Well, I’m sorry but if you’ve suffered extreme PTSD and are having flashbacks and nightmares, you could give two fucks about being in-network.

I realize that I am one of the few, in that my perpetrator was actually brought to trial and served time—this is like finding a unicorn.

The point that I want to drive home is navigating the legal and justice system has its own set of problems and obstacles. Just because you involve the police and court system (which in and of itself is a huge step) doesn’t necessarily mean that justice will be served and there are no guarantees. None. The prejudice and victim blaming that exists there is sometimes just as bad as what’s in the community. I was offered no anonymity, no closed courtroom, no protection as a rape victim. No counseling, no advocacy no nothing. I was not treated as a victim. I was treated as a troublemaker and a slut.

After discovering that my courses of action after all these years were pretty much non-existent, I fired off an extremely scathing email to the county prosecutor’s office (the one who had handled my case was no longer in office, but after all this time I wanted to get some things off of my chest) outlining in detail the facts of what happened and their weak excuse for justice. I received an email from the office saying that they followed everything to procedure and they considered the matter closed.

Just as a footnote to this, the county prosecutor that worked on my case resigned years after because of sexual misconduct with a co-worker and is now a defense attorney. The perpetrator has an active Facebook account, last I checked. My parents are still in denial. My boyfriend from back then is like my brother and my best friend today. I have great friends and a job I really like, most of the time. I live in a different state than where all of this took place. I’ve some great therapists and I’m beyond thankful that I am able to even afford such a thing. I am learning to love myself and be kind to myself. But, I don’t share my story with anyone because even at my age I’m still afraid to be blamed, to be judged, to be looked down upon.

One thing I can’t shake though, is that I don’t want my experience to be in vain. I want people to know that you can survive it, you can live through it. And beyond survival…you can even (fingers crossed) thrive. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story.

—Melissa


I was 22 years old when I had gone to a party with a friend when I was taken and my life changed forever.

I was beaten, held in a dark room, and raped and sodomized by a gang for 4 days. I tried to fight back, but there were so many of them, I do not know how many there were, and they just beat me over and over. When I woke up I was tied up, arms and legs spread open and apart, gagged with a rag in my mouth and tape over it. I don’t remember much other than the pain, being scared, and the voices and the smells.

Usually I was knocked out by one of them with a bad temper, he liked to hit me in the head time and time again or choke me with his hands till I blacked out. After about 4 days, they took me outside and poured bleach on me, and then used a garden hose to rinse me off. When they released me, they told me they would kill me and my family if I told anyone.

I stayed in my apartment for days, not hardly being able to walk or even go to the bathroom, and I couldn’t shower because it burned so bad the cuts on my arms and legs, and from them tearing my anus and vagina apart, and the bite marks all over my breasts and my body. I would wash with a warm washcloth, and couldn’t get clean enough it felt like.

A few days after they released me, they broke into my apartment and it all began again, for another 3 days. This time they didn’t knock me out, so I was aware of everything. I counted 15 “men” all taking turns beating me, raping me, sodomizing me, putting objects in every hole in my body, not letting me sleep or pass out or being knocked out. I begged them to just knock me out, I tried to make them angry so they would, but they wouldn’t. They made sure I was aware of everything, so I would remember who they were and what they could and would do.

At the end of the 3rd day, they brought in my friend, who I found out was a cousin to the “leader”, and they made him rape and sodomize me in front of all the members. They used me to “jump” him in the gang. He told me he was sorry, and they would kill us both if he didn’t do everything they told him to do to me. I was more destroyed by him, my friend, my neighbor, doing this to me than anything. We were close like cousins or siblings, and for him to be doing this to me killed me.

As soon as I was able to walk again, I started packing, and I moved. I never heard or saw any of them again, but their voices and smells, and the scars are still with me 10 years later. I never believed in the death penalty before this, but now I do. I wish all of the rapists a painful and debilitating, and humiliating death. An eye for an eye!

— Lila


I was sexually abused—and live in fear for my life due to a sick individual (my cousin) who tormented me my entire life.

Even now even though he is miles away it affects me when I am out and see drunk men looking at me, making passes or giving me unwanted attention.

Trauma such as this messes with your brain and I will never be the same. I always wish I could live life again normal, without sexual abuse in my past. I wonder how that would feel.

Besides the sexual abuse, my abuser used to terrorize me (with the utmost enjoyment I am sure) by hanging my teddy bear in a noose and leaving it there for me to discover hanging in my room. Imagine the thought process that goes behind that? My teddy bear was the most precious thing in my life and offered me comfort. Memories of his body touching me make me sick. He disgusts me. His eyes looking at me.

I used to sleep with a bottle of hair spray next to my bed when he decided to move into my parents’ house—as though that might be some type of weapon in the middle of the night. He did not touch me in my house during that time. Instead slept in my bed with pornographic magazines between the mattress and box spring. Probably masturbating in my bed with me in the room next door as I lay in fear, not able to sleep. Oh and then of course he had to hang my bear on a noose again.

He wrote a diary about me—the rape. Sick. And what bothers me is not one person thought that this individual was a bad person. I have lived in fear my entire life that he would come kill me someday. He was obsessed with me.

How do you reconcile something like this in your head? You simply can’t—no matter how hard you try.

—Michele


I was 17 and working over the summer, before returning for my last year of high school. I accepted a dinner invitation from an out-of-province worker. That date ended with him raping me. I told no one. I was sure anyone I might have told would have berated me for accepting the date anyway. I didn’t know how to make sense of it and I was so isolated. It left me feeling so ashamed of myself, so dirty, and so afraid of who else “out there” might do the same.

“How many men are like that?” Far, far too many. I’ve never felt safe again.

I feel like many men make prey of women, like a bloody animal. It sickens me when I read how rape is a favorite tool of oppression in war. Can women not be safe anywhere, in any country?

—Anonymous


I was raped when I was seventeen, living in southern Africa (twenty years ago). For a long time it seemed like the central organizing fact of my life. The fashion at that time was to speak out as a feminist act, and I did, but I mostly wish I hadn’t. Of course, I am glad I reported it to the police, went through the court case, and got two convictions—these were useful concrete actions and I was proud I sent the two men to jail. But otherwise speaking out openly did not help me or make me stronger. It made people uncomfortable, and that increased my discomfort. It made people pity me. Somehow speaking out seemed to embed the attack as a central part of my identity. Still, for a long time, I felt compelled to tell people, as it seemed such a big part of myself.

I have moved about a lot, including internationally, and its great now to be in a context where the fact that I was raped is not known by my friends and colleagues. When I am around old friends who do know, there is somehow a slight burden back on my shoulders again.

I didn’t know the rapists and never felt anything toward them at all. Not even anger. I just hated myself and the people around me, I was so angry at everyone. I had many people around me who loved me, but I think it was stressful for everyone and peoples’ reactions seemed awkward, unhelpful and burdensome. I felt like I had to comfort and support people, and I was only 17, and quite traumatized. I ended up being ungrateful for all nice gestures, and pushed well-meaning people away. I didn’t have enough energy to be polite or nice or considerate. My obnoxious self isolation—which I thought was being strong—hit me hard as I am generally gregarious, like people and get of lot of energy from my friendships. When I think about the clumsy gestures of good people at that time, I can still feel my blood boil.

The last thing I would like to share is that I am white and was raped by two black men. Living among a progressive community of people this seemed like an extra burden—like I was playing out a racist caricature myself, all by myself. Like the sentences they got would have been shorter if I was black or they were white (well, this might be true). The two men were active criminals and in another armed robbery they said it was revenge for all the crimes that had been committed against their people. So now, I feel like I have paid a price for being white—for me it wasn’t a privilege, it was a risk factor. I hate it now when people talk about racism as if it’s only bad for black people and all white people benefit. It makes me feel like I have bugs in my shirt, I get so irritated. Of course, I don’t crash my own experiences into the conversation.

—Anonymous


Each rape victim’s story is unique, but the subsequent emotional torment is always the same. It’s shocking how often rape occurs and how rarely it is reported. To think that such an archaic and grisly act can seamlessly transcend cultural and socioeconomic strata the way it has, is mind blowing.

What’s most shocking is that such a pervasive thing, is so obscured and frankly, awkward, in our highly progressive and sensitized society.

At my prestigious alma mater, I was raped by a good friend one typical collegiate night. After a night out, my 3 roommates and I had a bunch of friends back to our apartment to eat greasy food and hang out. I stumbled into my room and fell asleep on my bed only to be awakened in pain as said friend, who had taken off my pants, was naked, having sex with me. I pushed him out of my room and locked the door. This guy had a reputation of becoming creepy when inebriated—which we all perceived as harmless, funny, drunken debauchery.

Like too many adolescents learn the hard way, I now understand that ignorance and invincibility is a daunting combination.

For the following year or so, I was in denial and with the power of mind, literally convinced myself that nothing happened. After that came years of self-blame, anger, guilt, etc.- token psychological issues. Over the past 6 years later, I haven’t dated a single guy. And since I’m an attractive, smart, athletic, and charismatic girl, everyone thinks my single-dom is due to me being extremely picky.

I suppose that’s convenient.

From my vantage point, it feels like rape is extremely stigmatized in our society. Whether that’s accurate, I’m not sure. But I know that as a high achieving, 25 year old grad student, who most people would be gobsmacked to learn about my life-altering secret. Paralyzed with discomfort and fear of having everyone around me ‘know’, only my family and a handful of dear friends are aware of my past. While I would love to educate and warn young men and women about the prevalence of this horrible act—how I can do that, I’m still trying to figure out—I can’t make a difference if there’s no way to share my secret for the greater good.

“Know that you are not alone. Know that it will take time, but you will heal. Know that you will never forget, but eventually, living the rest of your life will take over. Know that you are a survivor.”

—Stephanie


Every year I listen to more and more horror stories that are happening to our children. I am the father of a girl who was raped when she was just three years old. She was raped by a complete stranger who came in off the street in a daycare she was at and caught her in the restroom by herself. He proceeded to undress her, lay her down in a bathroom stall and do things unimaginable to her. As she laid there screaming he places his hand over her mouth and tries to quiet her down. Being gone from her room for some time now, the care watcher went looking for her. She found this boy knelt down over her naked body. She let the boy go and picked up my little girl and through her back in her room. The teachers and the daycare director got together and decided to keep this quiet. Well it got out.

There is much more to this story that will make you sick, but the sickest thing about the whole thing is not just the assault on her, but the fact that everyone involved said in sworn depositions that when they found this boy knelt down over her naked body with her screaming, it did not raise any concerns with them.

She is 15 years old now and she is trying to do something incredible. But around this town they do not want this story to come out publicly so there is not much support for her cause. If you would like to see what she is trying to do, here is what she is trying to accomplish. —Rodney