- Anti-Porn and Anti-Prostitution Writer, Speaker and Activist
- AntiPornography.org Volunteer
WARNING! VERY GRAPHIC AND DISTURBING CONTENT BELOW!
Rape has become so common in our society that to many people it's now just another story on the news -- another headline. It happens so often to both women and men that many people have become desensitized to the pain it causes. It's not that they don't care, they just don't put much thought into it. They think something along the lines of, "Oh, that's sad," and then change the channel or click on a different news story.
There needs to be more in-depth personal stories shared publicly by both male and female rape victims. (Not just short news blurbs.) This is the primary reason that I have decided to talk about my personal experience with rape. It's not easy for me because one of the things that I hate the most is being portrayed as a victim.
So, to be clear, I am a survivor and this event doesn't define me or my life. It could have been much worse, and compared to many people that have been raped, my story is quite tame. But it's still a story that needs to be told for many reasons. One of them is that I'm tired of (unintentionally) protecting this man, tired of pretending like nothing happened. I'm tired of acting like it wasn't a big deal, because it was a big deal -- just like anyone being raped is always a big deal.
It all started when I was nineteen and the strip club I worked at temporarily shut down. The area I lived in was full of other strip clubs, but they were unappealing to work at due to their high house fees, or too many "dancers" and not enough customers. Porn industry work was hard to come by, and at that point I had not yet started "escorting." A regular job was out of the question for me at the time; after all, who would hire me with no work history? All they would have to do was a little searching online and they'd see the porn scenes I had done.
Like many people in the sex industry I felt trapped as a result of these circumstances. So naturally, when a "dancer" friend of mine came to me with an easy way to make $100, and having sex with someone wasn't part of this proposed "job," I was interested.
It seemed safe enough; all we had to do was hang out with a man who was a former "customer" of my friend at his apartment for two hours. Just laugh at his jokes, make conversation, maybe spend some time in the apartment complex's hot tub with him. My friend said she had been to his place twice before, and it was a really easy way to make 100 bucks. We would be going together, so it wasn't like I'd be alone with the guy. What could go wrong? Apparently a lot.
We got there and the man, Tommy, grabbed some beers for us. At the time I was too naive to think that maybe I shouldn't accept a drink from him, or that I should at least open my own beer. I assumed that he wouldn't slip anything into our drinks; after all, my friend had been there before, and nothing had happened to her. (At least that's what I thought at the time.) Tommy's roommate was there, and I would later learn that his roommate saw him drop something into our drinks. Yet he said nothing.
We took the drinks out to the jaccuzzi and made the usual fake stripper-esque conversation with Tommy. We then went back to his apartment. That's when I started to feel strange. I felt out of it, slow, lethargic... just weird. I couldn't understand how one beer could get me so drunk.
After that things got hazy, and I don't remember a lot of what went on. It's all in bits and pieces mixed up in my mind. So here's what I can recall: My friend fell asleep and Tommy led me to his bedroom. He showed me a fur coat, and for some reason I admired it and tried it on. This was highly unusual for me, because I was a vegetarian and strongly against wearing fur or leather.
That part really stands out in my mind, because I know if I had been clear-headed I would have gone on and on about how cruel the fur industry was, and I certainly wouldn't have tried on the jacket.
After that all I can remember is being on the floor with Tommy on top of me. I went in and out of consciousness, and I remember hearing someone knocking on the door in the background. I think I tried to talk, to say something about the knocking, and to ask him what he was doing, but the words either didn't come out, or he ignored them.
The next thing I knew, my friend was driving us back home and we were both really tired. After that I remember waking up with that fur coat next to me and noticing some dried semen on my thigh, and some more semen leaking out from my vagina. I was still kind of out of it, and totally confused, but I realized this semen must have been Tommy's. What had happened? Why did I have that fur coat? I hated fur! And why would I have sex with Tommy and let him ejaculate inside of me? Whenever I had sex with guys outside of porn I always used condoms. It was all so confusing.
I threw the coat in the closet, took a shower, and tried to forget about it. I couldn't make sense of it, so I just did what I did best back then, and put it in the back of my mind and shut it out.
A few days later I got a call from my friend. She sounded really upset, and told me that we were both drugged that night. Apparently Tommy's roommate had called her and told her that Tommy often drugged women, and that he had seen Tommy drop something into our drinks. According to this roommate, Tommy usually used a mixture of "roofies" and the sleeping drug Ambien." ("Roofies" is slang for the "date rape" drug Rohypnol.) This roommate said that he had tried to warn us by making hand signals, whatever that was supposed to mean.
Why this man just sat there and watched Tommy drug and rape women, I don't know. Maybe he participated sometimes -- that's the conclusion I have come to. His roommate also told my friend that Tommy seemed to have an unusual interest in children, and that Tommy sat beside the apartment complex pool on a regular basis and watched children run around for hours. Because of this the roommate suspected that Tommy might be a pedophile as well as a rapist, and so the roommate planned to move out soon.
My friend said that it all made sense to her now, because the last time she had visited Tommy she felt "really drunk" after a beer or two, and then fell asleep. She figured that it was just her being a "lightweight," because she didn't drink very often. After what Tommy's roommate had revealed to her, she was wondering if Tommy (or his roommate, for that matter), had done something to her while she was passed out.
I was angry at my friend to a degree; why did she bring me to his house? But on the other hand, I knew that she truly didn't think he had drugged her at that time, or that he would ever drug both of us or rape me. She already felt so guilty, and I didn't want to make her feel even worse.
I went to a clinic shortly after the rape to make sure that I hadn't contracted an STD or become pregnant, and luckily I came up negative for both. I told the people at the clinic that I didn't want to report the rape, but they called the police anyway. I refused to tell the police about the rape because I was sure that if I tried to press charges, they would just label me as a promiscuous prostitute without much credibility, and throw the case out. After all, I had willingly gone to Tommy's house to get paid to "just to hang out." What kind of girl does that? How stupid could I be to think that a man would pay me for that? I felt that no one would take me seriously, so I went home and proceeded to push the entire thing out of my mind.
A few months later the strip club re-opened and I started working there again. It was an early evening when who walked in but Tommy. The club was empty, with just a few "dancers" in the dressing room and the owner outside in front. I walked right up to Tommy and told him that he was a disgusting rapist, that I knew he had drugged and raped me, and that he had not even bothered to use a condom. Tommy seemed genuinely confused, and he really didn't look like he thought he had done anything wrong.
Just seeing Tommy's confused look filled me with conflicted feelings of rage and guilt. Maybe it was my fault, I thought. I acted out those mixed-up feelings by spitting on Tommy, and then I angrily stomped back to the dressing room where all of the "dancers" were. I told one of the women that I had confided in previously about the rape that Tommy was out there, and that I didn't know what to do. This woman was normally very sweet, but if you got on her bad side all hell broke loose.
She ran out to where Tommy was and screamed in his face, "Rapist! Rapist! Get the f*ck out of here before I beat your ass!" If I remember correctly, this woman threw her heavy stripper heels at Tommy while he hurried out the door. We then told the owner the story, and he agreed that he wouldn't let Tommy come into the club if he ever dared to return.
Out of all of the bad experiences I had at strip clubs, this stands out as one of the only good ones. It wasn't as satisfying as putting Tommy in jail, of course, but it did serve as some sort of justice for me at the time. And it was nice to know that some people had my back in the only way that they could.
Now, of course, I wish I had pressed charges, and I feel extremely guilty whenever I think about how many women (and possibly children) Tommy may have abused after that time. And I sometimes wonder if Tommy is still out there, or if someone finally reported him and brought him to justice. I feel like I'm part of the problem, because I should have stood up and reported him when he raped me, even if he didn't end up going to jail. At least maybe he'd think twice before raping someone else.
But it's too late now to bring this rapist to justice, because the statute of limitations has expired in this case. So now all I can do is face up to what happened and do my best to heal and to educate others. I have stopped ignoring what happened to me, and I now understand that it wasn't my fault. I made a bad choice, but this man still had no right to drug me and rape me.
The only thing I can do now is try to prevent others from making similar unwise choices, so that maybe they won't become vulnerable to predators like Tommy. Sharing my story publicly is one way for me to do this, and to begin healing from this traumatic experience. And although speaking up like this is extremely difficult, I feel that it's the least that I can do.
So here's my advice that I would like to share with anyone who will listen: Please don't be lured by "easy money" and a friendly face. Anyone can be a "Tommy" -- just waiting for you to let your guard down. And if something like this does happen to you? Don't be like me -- please report it. Report it even if there's a good chance of that person going free. Make it known and don't be ashamed.
When you are raped or assaulted you are the victim, and you have nothing to be ashamed of, no matter how you got into the situation. Feeling so ashamed and guilty that you won't speak up is exactly what men like Tommy want you to feel. They want you to feel powerless and scared so that they can continue to victimize other naive and vulnerable people.
I hope that you too will have the courage to speak out and share your own story, if you have ever been raped, sexually abused, or sexually exploited in any way whatsoever. All victims and survivors need to start speaking up loudly and clearly -- to help put a face on these horrific crimes. We should never be ashamed.
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Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexualitytakes an unflinching look at today’s porn industry: the stories woven into the images, the impact on our culture, the effects on us as men and women, the business machine that creates and markets porn, and the growing legitimacy of porn in mainstream media. Above all, PORNLAND examines the way porn shapes and limits sexual imaginations and behaviors.
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"Pornography is a marketing device for sex trafficking: It normalizes degradation and violence as acceptable and even inevitable parts of sex, and uses the bodies of real women and children as objects. The difference between pornography and erotica is clear in the roots of the words themselves -- porne means females slaves, eros means love -- so pornography, like rape, is about violence and domination, not sex. Millions of lives depend on our ability to separate pornography from erotica, and to disentangle violence from sexuality."
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