Ten years ago on this day, when I was 26, I and my friend Eloisa met downtown for lunch, but the talk was so good that we carried on until dinner. When we still couldn’t bear to part we left the restaurant and went to some huge hangar full of teenagers and live music, and spent the whole evening huddled together at a table, talking and laughing till the tears rolled down our faces. It was, and always will be, a wonderful memory for me…I was so happy to just be with her; it was the most fun I had had in ages.
At 2:30 in the morning we decided we’d had enough (we weren’t party animals, just talkative) so she and I hailed our respective rides home. She found her cab first, and took off for her parents’ place in Marikina. I flagged down a passenger “FX” (like a mini-van crossed with a troop carrier)—the kind that follows a prescribed route, picking up and dropping off passengers along the way—got in, was abducted, and then raped for three hours, by the driver and his friend.
On the surface of things, I may have lost the battle that night—I was overcome and they (sort of) had their way with me—but I think I won the war, because both my rapists have been filling out life sentences in the country’s maximum security prison (a hell on earth, from what I’ve heard)all this time…and I am sitting here, telling you that the experience, however unpleasant, has been a huge gift…from life, from myself, and from The Powers That Be, to me.
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to turn into a melodramatic chapter from True Confessions…
I am writing this because I have been told that the story is special, that it could help others who have been, or who may someday find themselves, in similar situations. I have learned so much…about myself, about society, and about people’s attitudes to rape…from this experience, that I feel I should write about it, at least once, publicly…before I forget things, as I will.
I have told this story so many times, to all my friends and anyone whom I thought would benefit from hearing it, that I don’t feel the need to elaborate the details of what happened next. It was rape…there was a struggle, there was a lot of pain (mine, mostly, though I managed to inflict some, too), it was unreal, and ugly, and sordid. What more do I need to tell you? You can imagine it. Everyone does, anyway…some of the circulated versions of this story that have come back to me have involved a whole busload of men. This story kept my parents’ hypocrite friends, the nosy neighbors, the catty girls from the schools I went to, busy for months. Go figure. Everyone secretly craves a juicy rape story—the more, the thrilling-er—regardless of what they tell you to your face. That’s probably because so many people who seem upright on the outside have fantasies of raping, or of being raped. But those are Sexual Fantasies, invented and controlled by the individual; they’re only superficially related to the real thing.
The real thing is, only by involvement of the body’s private parts, a very distant relative to Sex (and there is nothing Fantasy about it.) Rape’s real family is Violence: Being raped is more like being knifed, punched, beaten up, wounded, shot, or murdered by a stranger…
Which is why I won’t shut up about it. Why should I? If someone you don’t know walks up to you, hits you a few times, knifes you in the stomach, and steals your wallet, you’d be shouting in the street. You’d tell everyone. Being raped by strangers is like that. I will say whatever I want about the day I was raped, because I have nothing to hide, and nothing to be ashamed of; I treat it as the violent crime it was, and it may as well have been committed in broad daylight on a city street, for all the shame I feel.
We stopped at the lights of a major intersection, and the driver’s friend got out of the van, walked round to the rear section of the van, and got back in. He was saying something about the toolbox. I was sitting, unconcerned, in the middle section, facing forward. I was still basking in the joy of the evening with Eloisa. The guy behind me rummaged through the tool box under the seats in the back. Lights changed. We started moving again. Then the guy’s left arm came from behind me, crossing my chest and holding me against the seat. He held an icepick to my throat with his right hand. “Fuck, this can’t be happening, not to me,” came the thought in my head…a naive, childish part of me continued to say this for the next three hours, in denial of the situation. It was a pain in the ass, that voice, because denial didn’t help me one bit.
Neither, for that matter, did fighting back. All those make-believe scenarios where I planned my fighting strategy to fend off attackers were flawed by an unrealistic expectation: while I was pulling amazing, Bruce Lee-worthy moves of self-defense, the imaginary thug stood there, like Jabba the Hutt, slow-moving, dimwitted, and recoiling with shock every time I rammed my knee into his crotch, plunged my thumbs into his eye sockets, pulled his eyeballs out and (rock and roll!) bit them off with my teeth. Yeahhhh, go, droogs!
Right. The assailants you imagine are only as good at fighting as you are. Hence, mine were always pudgy, soft-hearted, and short of breath from a lifetime of reading literature, baking cinnamon scrolls, and strolling on beaches.
At no time in my life had I ever had to fight with the intention of really, really hurting someone. No desperate fight-or-die experiences had ever taught me to fight dirty, no-holds-barred…to really throw everything I was worth against anybody. Probably, my real attacker’s life experiences had. He had no trouble bringing me down…he didn’t even need his buddy, who was still driving, to give him a hand. I was pathetic.
Eventually I managed to bite him, in the upper arm…
(Note: This is important. The scar I left on his arm was the only proof I had of a struggle against him, proof that I wasn’t an unhinged nymphomaniac who’d “invited the two men to have sex” with me, as they would later claim. The injuries they left on me, they told the courts, I’d already had when I got into the van…that I had been drinking and brawling at nightclubs. But the teeth marks in his arm knocked a hole in that story.)
I sank my teeth in as hard as I dared (I didn’t want to get his blood in my mouth…it wasn’t a conscious thing, I just realized later that I was not using my teeth the way I normally would to, say, tear meat from a bone, or to break into a hard green apple…I was holding back. This still amazes me.) This just made him mad…I think he was a little bit surprised by this, but he made me pay for it by unleashing a series of vicious, solid punches in the side my neck. I saw a flurry of little white snowflakes explode in front of my eyes, and I knew that if he kept it up I would black out.
I didn’t want to make him so mad that he could kill me. I wanted to stay conscious of everything that happened. I didn’t want to be physically hurt more than was necessary. So I let his arm go, and I made a huge decision right then: I decided that I would not be able to fight the two.
Please note, it may have been the wrong decision; I suppose I could have kept on fighting…maybe they would have gotten tired of me and thrown me out? I didn’t think so, though I will never know. I think the thrill of rape, to a rapist, isn’t quite the sex bit, it’s the hunt, the challenge, the struggle, the overpowering and doing someone violence, that they enjoy so much. The ‘sporting’ aspects of it. That’s the impression I got, anyway. I could easily be wrong.
I told him I would stop fighting and do what they wanted, if they would stop hurting me, and I asked him not to kill me, because something told me that it would sound good…to play really, really scared and docile. I was frustrated and furious, more than scared, by then. I hated them and I hated that I couldn’t fight them. He laughed and assured me that they wouldn’t kill me…as though the idea of killing me was quite absurd. So then I knew they weren’t hardboiled criminals, they were just two young dickheads on meth, who thought they’d get away with all this.
What could I fight with, I asked myself, that these two didn’t have? The rather obvious answer was ‘intelligence’…it wasn’t going to save me from the disgusting hours to come, but when all this was over, somehow, I would find these two motherfuckers. They weren’t going to use me like this and then disappear back into their everyday world, laughing over it and slapping each other on the shoulders like schoolboys who’ve had a jape, encouraged to try it again on someone else. Oh, hell, no!
Sorry, I did mean to write this all in one post, I didn’t plan this cruel, suspenseful break in the narrative! But it’s getting so long, it makes for a rather absurd blog post. And maybe you need a break? I sure do! So I’m going to break it up into parts…writing Part II tomorrow.