I remember trying to open my eyes

It was a chilly fall evening in 1998. I was 20 years old. I was at a local bar with a few close friends. I had consumed 3-4 beer when a lifelong friend, Ronnie approached me. I hadn’t seen him in over a year. He was always a handsome, charming man. I did date him for a few months in our younger years but decided we were better as friends. So I introduced Ronnie to my group of friends. He had bought us two rounds so we had another couple beer.  I started feeling dizzy and stomach sick. Ronnie offered to give me a ride home. I vaguely remember leaving the bar. My head was heavy. I must have passed out because I don’t remember the car ride at all.
I remember trying to open my eyes. I was in pain. I could barely focus. I managed to get my bearings enough to realize that i was being raped. Ronnie was on top of me. I couldn’t breath. I screamed and yelled for him to stop…but he didn’t. Not until he was “finished.” He wasn’t wearing protection. I was sobbing uncontrollably.  I didn’t know where I was. In a parking lot somewhere, surrounded by trees. He tried to comfort me saying that it was what I wanted. He told me I had seduced him. I went silent. I just asked him to take me home. My mind was racing. Did I encourage this? Did I want to have sex with him? It was all a blur. All I knew was that I was a mess. I felt so dirty and violated.
I had an infant at home. I was already a single parent. My baby’s father broke up with me when I had got pregnant at 19. What if I was to become pregnant for Ronnie. What would I do? I couldn’t have another child. Not like this. I decided to make an appointment to see my family doctor that Monday. I told her what happened. She believed I may have been drugged. Really? I couldn’t believe that Ronnie would do something like that. It was a horrific feeling. My doctor gave me the morning after pill as a precaution. She tried to convince me to report it to police. I wouldn’t. How could I? I was drinking at a bar. I was a 20 yr old single parent. It was my fault. I shouldn’t have put myself in that situation. I couldn’t imagine having to go to court and chance being victimised again. I was so scared. I knew what was to come if I pressed charges. I had seen too many women go through the system already. They were sluts. They shouldn’t have been drinking. That’s how the public perceived situations like this. I couldn’t put my family though that process. And I was embarrassed and humiliated.
Six weeks after the incident, all my fears were realized. I was pregnant. I had some in depth conversations with my family doctor and decided to terminate the pregnancy.  We made arrangements for the procedure. I lied to my family. I had asked them to babysit for me so I could go to a weekend retreat with the university. They agreed. I secretly boarded a plane and flew to St. John’s for two days. It was done. A whole new mix of emotions were stirred up. I can’t even begin to explain. It’s something I will never ever forget. The guilt consumed me.
I returned home and tried to pick up the pieces of my life. I tried to bury the events and outcome of that night. I couldn’t deal with the emotional stress. I decided to seek out counselling at the university. I needed help to sort through it all. I felt stronger for it. I felt like I was in control of my feelings and I refused to continue to be a victim. I could have made a choice to continue in a downward spiral but I refused. I wanted to make a life for me and my child. And I would succeed. I will never forget that night because it did change my life.  I will always wonder what if. But I look back on it all now and I know I made the right choice for me. And I am stronger for it. I just wish I had the strength to bring Ronnie to justice without fear and prejudice. Hopefully someday the collective voices of victims will be heard and our flawed system will be reformed.
I could go on about how my life was impacted. About 6-8 months later I ended up in the hospital. I collapsed at work. Only to find out I had an STD… Chlamydia. I had no symptoms previously but I knew it was from that night because I didn’t have sex after at that point. It had completely damaged my reproductive system and I was told I would not be able to have more children. So this one event has followed me a lifetime. I just wish I had pressed charges. I hope and pray he doesn’t have more victims… that guilt sometimes creeps in my mind and I struggle with that.
Chrissie, female, 40, Western NL

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