The thing that happened.
A friend of Happy Bodies shares a story she has been holding on to for a long time. We thank her for her bravery in sharing it with us.
I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not to write about this event. I’ve thought about it for ten years, everyday it comes to my mind, everyday for the past ten years. I haven’t written, or talked about what happened after my junior prom since a few weeks afterwards. Mostly because of deep, crippling shame that makes me so sick I can hardly stand to let it sit in my mind for more than a few seconds at a time. But the memories come back so often. Really, they come back more often now then right afterwards. I betrayed everything I am, everything I was as a person. When I think about it I realize I can’t ever be who I want to be. I can’t ever hold myself up as a moral human being. I can’t ever be a friend again; I can’t ever have a friend again. I can’t ever promise to protect anyone, no matter how much I love them. I need to write about it now because there is just more room out there then there is in here.
In one sentence here it is. I overheard my friend being raped and I didn’t stop it. I’m writing anonymously because I don’t want her to find this and be triggered. Also, I’m so ashamed; I don’t want my friends to find out. The most shameful moment of my life, the one part of my life I’d undo if I could. Here are a few things about what happened.
Up until high school I never had many friends, not many girls that I could trust. But finally after sophomore year a group of us came together, we weren’t misfits, we weren’t popular. We were just us, none of us had many boyfriends, I was just so happy to have these girls in my life, they cared about me. They saved me from the trouble at home. They accepted me no matter what. They were my first real friends and the last ones I’ve ever really had.
We went all together to the prom, a few of us had dates but we didn’t pay much attention to them. It was more about us dressing up and going out. We didn’t go to many parties. When we got together we would usually just eat at each other’s houses and laugh while we watched movies or drive around in each other’s cars. Of all the girls Stephanie* was the kindest, the most accepting. She had been through trouble in her life. I appreciated that she would talk about it, just tell me things that were terrible but she said them as if they were funny, so I laughed. Knowing her made the hard things in life easier.
This was the first night my parents let me stay out past mid-night. I so wish they hadn’t. I honestly can’t remember the dance. It’s as if it never happened in my memory. I can’t remember where it was, I only remember what I wore because of photos. After the dance, we decided to go to a party. There weren’t many people there and after a few hours it was just us and some boys. I wanted to go home but I didn’t want to seem pathetic, so I stayed. Also, I’m not sure they would have taken us home had we asked.
We were all in a bedroom, Stephanie, me and one other friend with some of the boys. One boy, a man really, started kissing Stephanie. I thought she liked it, she seemed to. So me and my other friend left, it was late probably four or five so we went into another bedroom and fell asleep. An hour or so later I woke up to Stephanie’s voice, “No, no” she said. I turned to my friend, I was frozen, her eyes were wide, also frozen. It happened so quickly, really all I heard were a those no’s and then a short moan and it was over.
I’ve thought back on this moment so many times, I’ve had visions of myself getting up and eviscerating him. Scratching his eyes out with my stumpy finger nails. Stamping his testicles with my prom heels. I’ve thought about the various weapons I could have used to crack his head open and then drag my friend out into the night, to safety. I’ve thought about the numbers I could have called, my sister, other friends. But I didn’t do any of those things I lay there like an animal, like a cow. Unable to comprehend what was happening. In the morning another boy drove us home. For a few days I couldn’t believe life was going on as normal. Why hadn’t my parents figured it out? Why weren’t the police breaking down the door to take me away? How could I still be getting up and going to class. I still don’t understand that.
I talked about it a few times with my other friends but after few weeks it became taboo. Stephanie wore sweat pants for two weeks and then she became herself again, at least on the outside. I never talked to her about it, I never apologized, I was too cowardly even to do that. We stayed friends for a while, but we were never as close again. I don’t know if she blames, I would understand if she does.
Years later while working at a coffee shop one of my co-workers told me that another co-worker had been raped the night before. I was so angry, I started shaking, all the walls closed in on me. It was like it happened again at that moment. I’d let it happen again.
*name has been changed