His name is Karl. I was 18 and it was the summer before heading off to college about an hour away from my childhood home. We met one day while my best friend and I strolled around Buttonwood park. He was playing basketball with friends and he went out of his way to approach us. We talked, exchanged numbers, and started “dating”.
Our first date was a party he was having with friends. He was a few years older and actually owned his home – his parents had died and he was on his own. There was alcohol, but that wasn’t really interesting to me at the time, because although Karl was nice, attentive, and attractive, I was still afraid of boys and always tried to be at least a little bit responsible when I was in new situations. At some point, he challendged me to a “play wrestling match”, and in hindsight, it’s pretty clear he enjoyed pinning me to the ground a bit too much. My friend really didn’t like him after that, but I didn’t heed her gentle warnings. I liked him.
We spent more time together, but he was mostly into having a physical relationship that I wasn’t ready for. We didn’t even know each other that well. I remember a conversation we had on AOL where I admitted I was a virgin and he “joked” that he could help me with that “problem”. Oh look, another red flag!
However, I did see him again, and he was buzzed and we were making out and I tried a few times (unsuccessfully) to slow it down, and I finally said, “Stop! You’re scaring me!”. And it worked. He stopped. I rushed out and he chased me out into the rain, begging forgiveness and hugging and kissing me gently. I accepted his apology, but still left, explaining we could talk about it the next day.
I don’t recall the follow up conversations, but I forgave him and saw him a few more times. The last time I saw him, we went for a walk until sunset, then went back to his home. He led me to the bedroom and we cuddled, got undressed and started doing some things I had no idea how to do. It was overwhelming. I felt awkward, rushed, excited, and more awkward. Then he was on top of me and I was saying “no” repeatedly. He was between my legs, begging, saying things like “just the tip” and I kept saying “no” but he didn’t move. Finally, I think I shut down and I just stopped saying no and I guess he thought that was as good as saying yes, because after a minute or two, I was no longer a virgin. I hated it. I was sad. I had hoped he cared about me, but I was wrong.
It was unprotected sex, though I was on the pill, and he even asked if he could finish inside me, and luckily I had enough presence of mind to firmly say no and he actually listened. He left the room and came back with wet paper towels for me, saying I should go because he needed to get some sleep before work the next day. I was stunned. Confused. Pissed off. But I left.
I think I considered reporting it, but drove myself home, showered, and went to bed. I don’t think I ever cried. I was just mad – at him and at myself. Sure, I never once said “yes”, but why had I stopped saying “no”? After all this time, I’m sure it wouldn’t have mattered, but I beat myself up for years about that.
I think a week or so went by before he contacted me. I ignored him. He contacted me again maybe 6 months after that, to which I replied with something like, “Are you fucking kidding me? Fuck off.”
And I buried it. I didn’t consider that my “first time”. I just pretended it didn’t happen. And I let other guys treat me like shit for at least a few years after that. I considered my (now) husband a gentleman when he seemed to consider putting my hand in his lap, but then stopped himself, one of the first times we made out. He was actually picking up on my signals and respecting boundaries and that was shocking to me. I didn’t know that was possible. As a mother now, that makes me really sad. But also glad, in a way, that I recognized the good in my husband and made myself give a good guy a chance after a string of assholes.
Up until this year, only my best friend knew what happened. After the birth of our daughter and son, I think about my experiences more. I think about the things I would do to protect my kids, or avenge them, heaven forbid. When I share that with my husband, he doesn’t understand. So I finally opened up and shared a bit of this story with him. We’ve been together for 12 years, and I’ve never told him before that my first time was actually date rape. He understands me better now and I love him for his support and for what an outstanding father he is. For how deep his love is for me.
And now I wonder, does Karl have kids too? What will he teach his son about love and respect? Will he ever worry that some man will treat his daughter the way he treated me that night? Does he have regrets?