Image: iStock. By Dori Hartley for Your Tango. Warning: this post deals with sexual assault and may be triggering for some readers.
My parents, who were self-involved at the time, had split up and moved into separate apartments that didn’t have enough room for “the kids.” So my brother and I scrambled for lodging wherever we could get it. My brother ended up in the spare room at my father’s girlfriend’s house and I ended up rooming with a young man who turned out to be much more than just someone to live with.
It was an ordinary day and I was getting myself ready for school. My roommate woke in an uncharacteristically aggressive mood and out of nowhere, he seemed to focus all of that mood’s terrible attention on me.
In one moment he was the “guy I knew” and in the next, he was the blurred shape on the other side of a swift fist to my face. I was caught off guard: What was going on? What just happened? Did my roommate just punch me in the face?
After that, he pulled me by the hair into the bathroom where he shoved my head into the toilet bowl for several flushes, dragged me back out and stomped me. (Mamamia Senior writer’s talk about the rape problem in society. Post continues after video.)
As I finally found my way back to consciousness in the living room, I remember hearing words in my head: “Survive, Dori. No matter what, survive. Survive.”
It was almost as if my mind had become a separate thing from my body. I was now a witness to my own beating. Whatever my body was going through was something I would have to endure, and simply because of one reason alone: He was bigger and stronger than me. He had the brawn therefore he had the power.
He knelt over me, filled with sudden guilt. He took me in his arms and started weeping. That’s when he decided the only way to handle this was by raping me to make it better.
So, he raped me. Again and again, all while crying and saying he was sorry.