I thought that being forced and being conscious was better, because then you knew; even if no one ever believed you, you knew. Most rape experts agree: how can you face what you can't remember? I tried to hammer through the amnesia, but nothing broke. I was so hurt.
--Andrea Dworkin, feminist author
Her head buzzed like an electronic mosquito trap as her weary eyes took in the small motel-room television turned to a Pay-Per-View channel, the July sunlight shining through the window blinds and the half-dressed man snoring on the double bed.
She saw a surprising, loopy trail of LifeStyles and Trojans and NYC condoms ripped open around her clothing and realized she was naked. She could hardly remember getting undressed. "We had sex," she thought with a jolt. "I told him, No."
A foggy memory of tightly wrapping her olive skin with the white sheet reached out to her. She remembered his rough hands pushing her long black hair away from her face and pulling at her as she pled, "I don't want to."
She'd left with him to smoke a cigarette on the stoop next door and settled into his lap as he told her he was an immigrant, that he lived with his mother, that he was a construction worker.
She remembered her friend saying, "I can't help you." She remembered getting in the cab with this guy, whose name she couldn't remember, and asking him to bring her home. "I can get you the money once we're down there," she'd said.
"Mami, yo te quiero," he'd replied.
She didn't remember the rest of the ride or climbing out of the car. She didn't remember him opening or using any of those condoms. "What the hell happened? What did you do?" she berated herself.
She grabbed her childhood lime green panties decorated with small and large blue stars, and then, her black 32-B sized bra and her red v-neck blouse. When she checked her jeans pockets, she found a dollar and a dead cell phone an an empty Newport pack. She was stuck there, wherever she was, feening for a cigarette.
She dressed as quickly as she could even though her frightened hands kept failing her. Her tight light blue jeans fought the pull over her thick thighs; and she fumbled with the laces of her worn out shoes.
She almost didn’t remember him taking her in the shower. But he had left the gold holed ovals there, her 99-cent earrings fading in the flood of bathroom floor. A flash feeling of him beneath her beauty-marked back, lifting her by her behind, pulling her, pushing her up and down as if she were free weights, heavy and dumb.
"Who am I going to call?" she asked herself. "What am I going to say? How am I going to get home?"
She bent to pick up her earrings and when she turned back around, the man was staring at her, smirking. "Wanna go again?" he asked her.
She backed up against the tub, asking, "How many times did we have sex last night?"
His thin brown lips widened as he chuckled, "You don't remember?"
"No," she said, her voice cracking. "How many?"
"I don't know. 5? 6 times? You were really sleeping?"
"Did you use a condom every time?"
"I ran out."
"I don't even know your name," she replied.
"Me llamo Angel." She thought his name ironic because he appeared demonic to her in that instant, his thick eyebrows pushing down over his eyes, his smirk still lingering on his lips.
She didn't know what else to do, what else to say. She only wanted to get out of that tiny bathroom, out of that motel room, out of the presence of this man; but she let him pull down her jeans one more time. This time, she wanted to be in control. This time, she'd say, "Yes."
It took her days to go to the hospital. They asked her for her panties, but she'd washed them and herself in the tub at home. The police questioned her, but it took so much energy to try to remember more before, the moments after the amnesiac shot: the leaving, the cab ride, her wrapped-up-in-a-white-sheet No.
She burned with shame, knowing only that he'd left her with nothing more than these bits and pieces of story, his biblical name and pelvis-punching gonorrhea.
Copyright 2013 Xiomara A. Maldonado
is a website committed to giving survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and sexual assault a voice.
Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted, and 54% of these are never reported to the police because of shame, self-blame and the fact that most of these assaults are committed by someone the victim knows (RAINN Sexual Violence Statistics).
It's important for people to be educated on sexual violence and its' emotional, physical and mental ramifications for the victim as well as the importance of consent education.
Like the main character in the story above, between 4% and 30% of rape victims contract sexually transmitted diseases as a result of the victimization (Resnick 1997) and "often experience anxiety, guilt, nervousness, phobias, substance abuse, sleep disturbances, depression, alienation, sexual dysfunction, and aggression. They often distrust others and replay the assault in their minds, and they are at increased risk of future victimization" (DeLahunta 1997).
Did you read that? People who are victims of sexual violence are likely to be raped again.
These statistics clearly show why the House of Congress must reauthorize VAWA and why it makes me angry that this act expired in the first place.
In a culture where catcalling and the sexualization of women in digital media is prevalent, we must continue to support sexual assault services programs to help women and men who are subjected to sexual violence no matter what their sexual orientation, gender or ethnicity is. Most importantly, both children and adults need to be educated on the value of consent so that they can recognize and prevent sexual violence from occurring.
What's your take on #VAWA and the prevalence of sexual violence in the U.S.?
This post is also linked to Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop
and Pour Your Heart Out with Things I Can't Say.