I was raped in college. At the time I was a 6’1″, 235-pound rugby player, and would then and now be aptly described as “a red-blooded male.” To be more accurate, I was raped before college, during my pre-orientation visit over the summer. I had met a group of kids who were actually fun to hang around with, and they were also down to try to get away with drinking (we were warned we wouldn’t be allowed to matriculate if we were caught, and my college is the type of school where 70 percent of the kids were “that kid” in high school who reminded the teacher that homework was due), and after some hijinks, two of the people in our small group, a guy we’ll call Steve and a girl we’ll call Lilly, were able to sneak off to a liquor store and come back unnoticed. When Steve and Lilly got back, two other girls joined us, Lexi and Sam (also fake names), and we all went upstairs to the dorms we were being housed in for the weekend. We put on some music and started the festivities.
Lilly and I were sitting next to each other. She was attractive, outgoing, and best of all, cool. She reminded me of the girlfriend I had back home, only skinnier and with a much better body and tanner skin. Bonding the only way nervous freshman know how — with alcohol — we became fast friends. We told each other about our families, high school, what partying for us was like, prom (again, still haven’t even started college yet), and eventually that drifted over into hookup stories. The whole group had joined in with us. We recounted how many times we had sex, where we’d done it, the most interesting places it had been done in, all of that. I had just lost my virginity a little over a month ago to the girl I was currently dating, so all of my hookup stories involved the phrase “my girlfriend and I.” Lilly started saying how college would be really hard long distance, asking how we could possibly make it work. I said we were just focusing on right now, and that we’d probably break up at the end of the summer.
She playfully brought up that I should break up with her now and get it over with. It wasn’t something I was going to do, so I said no. She kept pressing the issue every time I took out my phone to text my girlfriend, but after a few more rejections from me (each more feeble than the last), she dropped it. By this point we had been drinking vodka for two hours and we were all pretty hammered, especially Steve and I (again, still not even freshmen, and we all had shitty tolerances that we thought were great). We started talking about grinding in high school, and I explained what my high school meant by twerking: guy posted up on a wall, girl slow grinds like a stripper on his crotch. The idea that we should demonstrate was brought up. I agreed because why not? In my mind, it wasn’t cheating. It was just dancing.
I posted up against the closet door and Lilly started grinding on me. Holy shit was she good. She was putting some feeling into that shit. Slow and methodic. I instantly became hard. She knew exactly what she was doing. Steve and Lexi decided to join in, and they flipped the lights off while Lexi decided to try and grind Steve’s crotch into powder. Sam left the room. At this point, while still grinding her ass into my now hard dick, Lilly put her head back and started kissing my cheek. Hammered, I made vague attempts to reject her, muttering something about “my girlfriend,” but eventually, I gave in and went with it. “It’s just kissing,” I thought. “It’s only one kiss. This isn’t that bad.”
She turned around and started to make out with me. At that point, I pushed her away, pretty firm that we couldn’t keep doing this, but Steve and Lexi were making out now too, and something told me this was a good idea. I was drunk, but I still was consenting at this point. I was too horny to say no, so we started making out. We then drunkenly stumbled into the hallway. I remember asking around for a condom for Steve, who needed one because Lexi wouldn’t let him have sex with her without one. Some kid on the floor had one but wouldn’t give it to me. But don’t feel bad for Steve — I later learned that he received a blow job.
Meanwhile, Lilly and I drunkenly stumbled into my room. My roommate hadn’t shown up for the weekend, so I had it to myself. We kept making out on and off; I would occasionally try to resist when my brain periodically reminded me I had a girlfriend. Finally, Lilly brought up having sex. I told her no. I might have been hammered and horny, but I was drawing the line. She started getting undressed. I told her no again. I reminded her that I had a girlfriend, that I had already fucked up enough, and that I didn’t want to make it worse. She was just standing there naked, half-begging, half-commanding me to have sex with her.
“No,” I told her.
“Just get naked and have sex with me already,” she said.
I kept saying no. Not in a subtle way, either. Not playfully. It was a firm, solid “no.” At this point, at around 12:30 a.m., my vision started slipping. Next thing I knew, my shirt was off. I didn’t take it off. I said no again. Things get super hazy around this point. I black out. There’s a brief flash of us on the bed, naked, her on top of me. I black in. We’re on the floor having sex. Something about the bed being too small. I’m on top. My brain is yelling at my body to stop and nothing is responding. I don’t have control anymore. I hated it. I felt like I was watching the events unfold from inside my head, looking out my eyes like the portholes of a submarine. The rest of me was on autopilot. I finally got control of myself again, pulled out, and told her I wasn’t going to cum.
“Whiskey dick,” I said.
I lay down in bed, and she lay next to me. I felt dirty. It dawned on me what had happened. I was a cheater. As I lay on my back, Lilly cuddled up against me, draping her arm over my chest. She gave me a quick, enthusiastic kiss on the cheek and said, “Goodnight!” Both her kiss and her voice would have been described as “cute” in any other context. I stared at the ceiling and gave a stone-faced “Goodnight.” I continued to stare at the ceiling. I felt disgusting, like I had sinned, as if somehow I had been in control of it.
The million different societal expectations about sex and gender swirled around my head. I had been on top. I’m a guy. I had an erection. I had willingly made out with her earlier. Why else did I take her to my room? This must be my fault. This is all my fault. I lay awake for what felt like forever. I checked my phone and saw a good night text from my girlfriend. She was worried about me spending the night. I had already made out with another girl before, so it made sense that I would do it again. I’m a cheater. I’m an asshole. Every ideal I have of myself is a lie. I stared at the ceiling longer. As predawn light crept through the blinds, I finally fell asleep.
Around 7 a.m., Lilly woke up. She had set an alarm on her phone to make sure she got up on time to get back to her own room without being noticed by the rest of the floor. She went into the bathroom attached to the room to fix her hair and look presentable. She came out and told me where she was going. I gave a hollow goodbye from the bed. I was still drunk. I fell back asleep and woke up 15 minutes before the second event of the day. I slept through the first one, a fact I only realized when I saw that it was almost 11 a.m. Still buzzed, I threw on a hat to cover my un-showered sex hair, sprayed some Old Spice, got dressed, and hurried off. God forbid I get in trouble by missing a pre-orientation event. When the guys I had befriended saw me come in, I decided to play it cool. They saw her go in the room with me the night before. As I passed their row of seats in the back, I put a smile on face.
“Yo, last night? Never happened,” I told them in my douchebaggiest, most drawn-out tone, clearly indicating that “Oh yes, I did get laid,” and “Oh yes, I am awesome,” while delivering high-fives down the line as I moved to one of the remaining empty seats somewhere else in the room. Lilly showed up 15 minutes after me.
The rest of the day, Lilly, Steve, and I all hung out. We pretended nothing happened, since Lilly didn’t want to be seen as the girl who fucked a dude in college before we were even in college. Steve knew we had sex, but he was too busy recounting his own blow job story to bother asking details. While everyone else was at lunch, Lilly and I went to her room and watched “Bridesmaids” in her bed. It sucked and I had her turn it off halfway through. She clearly wanted to hook up. I just lay there and talked. My mind was a million miles away: “I am such a huge piece of shit,” “Why would I risk temptation again?” It didn’t matter. That night we hooked up again, dead sober. “I can’t fuck up any harder, might as well do it again.” I am a human piece of garbage.
During the first week real week of school, they put on a skit about sexual assault, which coincidentally involved, among other things, a “bro” character getting wasted and, despite his insistent chorus of nos, getting raped by his girlfriend. I made a joke to Lilly that she had raped me; inside I felt like I was only half-kidding. I didn’t really believe I had been raped — or, rather, I couldn’t believe it. She looked uncomfortable and gave a nervous laugh and said, “I guess so, yeah.” We kept hooking up the rest of the semester. I tried not to think about it. The first person I told about the incident, my roommate, was the first person to say it out loud to me. “That’s rape, dude. You said no.” The multiple therapists I’ve seen afterward (for unrelated reasons, I might add) confirmed this fact when I mentioned it to them.
If the roles had been reversed, if she had been the one who had been saying no, and I had been the one pressing her for it, commanding her to get naked and have sex with me, I would not be a junior in college writing this article. I would be in jail right now, and deservedly so. But I spent six months wondering what it was. I was so fucking confused. Who the fuck keeps sleeping with their rapist afterwards? If I had been single, my pants would have been off in heartbeat. I absolutely would have consented. But I wasn’t. And I didn’t. I said no in that dark room, sitting on my bed. I said no a lot. I said it forcefully. And then I couldn’t say it at all.
I’m a rape victim. I’m the WASPiest looking kid on the block. I’m big. I’m strong. I’m tough. And yet, I’m still a rape victim. How the fuck did that happen? How could it have happened? I never went to the police, and I never intend to. I’m still conflicted. By any legal or cultural definition, that’s rape. I’m not conflicted over whether I gave consent. I didn’t. I explicitly said no. And no means no, right? I’m confused what to call it because guys like me don’t get raped. Guys like me are what feminists look at and call rapists before anyone is charged with anything. Guys like me adorn the slide shows of TFM, in as alpha of a pose as possible. Guys like me are envied for their confidence, for their ability to be smooth with the ladies. Guys like me don’t get raped.
And yet, here I am, one of the 38 percent of men who have been raped, according to this article. Other sources say between 5 percent and 14 percent. The FBI’s definition of rape didn’t even allow for men to be rape victims until 2012. The first to recognize it officially was the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, including in their definition, “being forced to penetrate.” I’m not alone, but that doesn’t make me any less confused.
A similar thing happened to my pledge dad (what my fraternity calls big brothers). We would talk about it casually. We don’t show any signs of trauma. He was blacked out when it happened, and only remembers resisting her verbal advances before his lights turned off. Men go to jail for life terms every day for doing that to women. He and I sat around talking almost jokingly about it because we didn’t know how else to handle it. We were rape victims. We didn’t feel like rape victims, we weren’t treated like rape victims, but we were still rape victims.
I see Lilly on campus from time to time still, and we exchange friendly hellos. It still feels like my fault. I said no, and it’s still my fault. I avoid talking about it because I never think people will get it. Or believe me. C’mon. How can I be a rape victim? What concerns me most is that, no matter how much I tell myself it doesn’t really bother me and that it’s not a big deal, here I am, still contemplating it. When people say, “Oh, you can’t understand what she feels like, she’s a rape victim and she’s extremely traumatized,” they’re right. I have no idea. I don’t wake up screaming from nightmares. I don’t feel the need for extensive therapy to deal with the trauma of rape. I don’t even know why it bothers me when there’s no psychological fallout. But if it didn’t bother me so much, why did I write all of this? Why does it keep coming back to me almost three years later.
This happens a lot, to a lot of guys, and most just shrug it off or pretend it was something other than what it really was. How many times has a brother of yours been led upstairs by a girl when he couldn’t even see straight, much less form enough of a sentence to give consent to anything? How many times has that happened to you? We talk a lot about double standards, but this is a big one. The reality is, female rapists don’t go to jail. Fuck, female pedophiles rarely get more than a few years when they should be locked up for decades like the men are. What kind of horseshit is that?
I couldn’t have brought charges against her even if I wanted to. The only part I even remember clearly enough for a statement is when I was on top, and I’m over two times her size. What cop is going to believe that I was raped from that description of events? If anything, I’d probably be arrested and charged with raping her because she was drunk, too (but not as drunk as me, though of course that doesn’t seem to matter in today’s world). Most importantly, why am I not allowed to be a victim? Is my privilege really so great that nothing bad can happen to me in the mind of society, no matter what happens?.