The following blog post may be triggering for some readers. The survivor story comes an Ensemble member of MMRP. Though she wanted to share her story, she asked to keep her identity anonymous.
Throughout our rehearsal process, this line in the Blueberry Hill monologue by Christine House has always stuck in my mind. Though I always take it out of context, I go back to January 27, 2015, to the words coming out of my own mouth as I ran out of a dorm to my friend’s car – “it wasn’t consensual but it wasn’t rape." Over and over again, I spoke those words during the ride back to my apartment, while talking to my roommate, while crying to my ex over the phone, while telling my friend, while talking to the doctor, while talking to the investigative team at the hospital.
It was supposed to be studying at a classmate’s apartment. It turned into a hook up and then into a non-consensual sexual encounter. At first, I just told him it hurt. He stopped after a couple minutes and persuaded me to try again. I told him it hurt again and tried to push him off, crying as he asked me if it felt good and I said "no." When I finally got him off of me, I grabbed my clothes and kept putting them on as he asked for me to continue and for us to finish together. I told him he had two hands and he could use them. As I ran out the door, I called friends to try to get a ride back home since I was on the university's other campus and felt too disorientated to figure out how to get back to my apartment.
That night changed me.
While I was able to seek justice through the university, it was not easy. My grades plummeted from straight A's to B's, C's and even a D. The doctors at the hospital found multiple tears in my vagina and advised that even with a condom used, that I should go on HIV antivirals since his status was not known and Richmond was having a problem with HIV at the time. The medications caused terrible nausea, and caused me to throw up. I had to repeat my story over and over again as the classmate kept appealing the case and other victims came forward with similar situations.
I kept questioning if it was really rape since it had started consensually. After all – “you can’t rape the willing”. I had to come to terms with what had happened to me. It was not as traumatic as other rapes I heard about. But it was detrimental to my progress and even as I fought back through the university, it took a year. Near this time in 2016, I had the final word from the university that he was expelled. After countless interviews with university officials, it was done.
I participated in MMRP so I can keep healing and moving past what happened to me. By hearing others stories and being able to use dance to express them, I’m realizing that I’m not a victim. I’m continuously surviving. And others are learning how to survive as well – I’m not alone in this journey. We can bring awareness and hope even as we’re fighting an overwhelming darkness.