The asshole that finally makes me say ‘enough’ is named Dylan. Like all of my manly adventures this year, all it takes is one night.
Every Friday afternoon, we stop work at about 4 pm and drink a couple of beers. The last few weeks, I have been getting friendlier with a group of people from work and one night we decide to go out after the beers run out.
I drink too much wine. Like always.
I hate myself again.
He seems so nice, so interested in me. I am such a fool. Again. I can’t remember how I end up agreeing to go to his place. I can only remember being there. Naked, in bed. Then saying “No” again. He listens.
But when I try to get dressed and go home, he gets angry. He throws me out on the street. “I hope you find someone to deal with your fucked up shit” is his parting gift to me. He locks the door and walks away.
It is the middle of the night, I’m on a road that I don’t know. I am still drunk. There are no taxis in sight. I’m alone. I try to buzz his apartment but I can’t find him.
I phone everyone that I know, no one is answering. Finally, a taxi comes. I pretend to make a phone call to a friend to tell her that I’m on my way home, more for a false feeling of security than anything else.
The taxi driver looks at me strangely. Stares at me. I am a filthy whore. He is going to rape me as well. Why not? I clearly can’t learn the lesson that I am meant to.
I talk to him. I make conversation and ask him about himself. I stop at the petrol station and buy him food and coffee. My body is poised for attack the whole time.
I make it home.
I keep putting myself in dangerous situations as if to test that I am still alive. I think I am unique in my stupidity but I learn later that this is something trauma survivors do. We re-create dangerous situations to prove we are still alive. When I can no longer stand one more second of my own company – when I am so weary of myself that I am ready to hurt myself – I drag myself to Jessica’s room and climb into her bed. She sleeps with an eye mask on.
“Hey, it’s me,” I say as I slip into the sheets of someplace where I am worthy.
“Hey friend,” she mumbles.
“Oh, my gosh, Mackenzie got mugged last night!” Jess sits up and yanks off her eye mask.
“What?” I turn around and face her.
“Oh my gosh, it was so bad. Ashley and I came home from The Power and The Glory and I was in bed when I heard a noise outside. It sounded like someone was laughing but when I leaned out of the window, it was Mackenzie. She was crying and convulsing.”
“Shit, what happened?”
“She took a taxi home, the guy pulled over and drew a knife on her. So she said that she just threw her bag at him and got out of the car and ran home. It happened at the top of the hill so she sprinted about five hundred metres home.”
“Fuck,” I say.
“It was so bad when we got her, I only woke up because I heard her crying. But she was so hysterical I thought she was laughing. I have no idea how long she was outside before I woke up. Ash and I had to undress her and put her to bed.”
We sit in silence. I stare at Jessica’s white duvet. I am not shocked by the news. But I feel the inky spider steps of fear, hate, death running around my throat, my heart, my lungs. The knowledge of what near-death feels like. I am glad that I wasn’t home to see her.
When I see Mackenzie she’s like a shell. Shocked and numb. Angry and sad. A lot like me. I am so proud of her for running away, it’s so much more than most people would have been able to do.
Later she admits that she didn’t take a taxi. That she had been walking home when it happened. We all tell her how stupid that had been, but we don’t have to. She knows. And I tell her about my night. Hadn’t I been just as stupid? We sit there, the four of us. Thinking about how we get into these situations and how powerless we are to fight them. Society teaches us, “don’t get raped” instead of pounding in the message of “don’t rape”. And here we are, four “don’t get raped” girls and all we have is “being careful” to use as a weapon.
What would your life be like if you weren’t scared? What would you do if you didn’t have to “be careful”? Even for women who haven’t been raped, the fear of violence restricts their movements and freedom.
For our twenty-first birthdays Jessica and I travelled to Croatia. We spent the first week on a sailboat with twelve other people, sailing from island to island. We would dock at an island and then have the freedom to roam about.
Jessica and I would walk past the cafes that poured onto the cobbled streets, the hordes of people walking, the old buildings pressing up against each other, the clear ocean sparkling in the distance. The atmosphere was free and safe. We walked around all night long and we never worried. We would speak to street ven-dors, cheerful waitresses and anyone else. We stayed out until the sky was inky black and the streets held only a couple of people.
But we were never in danger. It was the most absurd feeling, to have the freedom to walk around, to move. To own the night.
I want to own the night again.