Jaclyn’s Rape Story
by: Jaclyn Romero
To tell or not to tell… I’ve tried to talk myself out of telling my story several times today. For a victim of rape to share their story is not an easy thing. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, just to SAY “I was raped” has been a struggle. But in these recent months, as I’ve focused on healing my pain and releasing my anger, as I’ve made the transition from victim to survivor, I have learned how to accept that this event will always be a part of who I am. So I will embrace it, I won’t ignore it, and I will not be ashamed for I have nothing to be ashamed of.
A very powerful woman, miss Iyanla Vanzant, once told me…. “Tell your story. It will heal you.” I will never forget those words. They are replaying in my head even now as I prepare to tell my story to you.
5 years ago, I made a trip to California to visit a dear friend. I was 22 at the time. Had just gotten out of a relationship. Didn’t want anything to do with men at the time really, was just out to have a good time. It was Friday night, my girlfriend and I met up with a friend of hers who was visiting from out of the country and one of his friends. He was cute, charming. After a bit, my girlfriend got a message from a guy she was seeing at the time and wanted to go spend some alone time with him for awhile. I felt a little uncomfortable about her leaving me with this guy but we were out in public, he was a friend of hers, she was a very dear friend of mine… and by the sound of it, we would all be meeting up later that night anyway. It would be fine. Neither her or myself could have ever imagined what would really happen in the hours to come.
We headed to a popular night club area in LA and visited a couple of clubs, danced and had good time. It started to get late and I hadn’t heard back from my friend. The clubs were closing. I didn’t know my way around town well enough to find my way back to her house. And he certainly didn’t know his way around town either. That meant only one thing, we had to head back to his place until we heard back from my friend.
I remember being at his condo. Sitting on his couch, flipping through a magazine. He made me a drink. I don’t remember what happened next. There is a 3 to 5 hour period of time that I’ve never been able to recall.
What I do remember is waking up in the morning with this man on top of me, inside of me, having his way with me. As I tried to gather my thoughts (how did I get here?!), I began to panic. I tried to get out from under him but he made sure I wasn’t going anywhere. I knew I couldn’t fight him but I still begged him to stop. No. Please. Stop. I began to cry when I realized what was happening. He looked at me, put his mouth to my ears and whispered with his foreign accent “Don’t cry baby. You like me baby.” It seemed like this went on for hours. But maybe it was just minutes. Whatever it really was, it felt like an eternity. Like it was never going to end.
When he did get off of me, I looked for my phone, for my clothes, my purse. Nothing. None of my belongings were in the room. I asked him for my things. Nothing. I asked him to call my friend. Nothing. He did let me use the restroom there in the bedroom. I closed the door, fell to the floor and cried. How can this be happening to me? How do I get out of here? There was a small window in the bathroom. Maybe I could crawl out of it. But I was naked. I didn’t even know where I was. Or maybe I could be nice to this man and he would let me go. I was terrified.
Moments later there was another woman in the room. A girl he had invited over. She was clearly on his side. He wanted to have his way with the both of us, at the same time. They spoke to each other in their own language, terrifying me even more. What were they saying? I remember at one point she looked at me and said “She’s pretty”… He forced me to do things to her as he forced himself back onto me. I felt completely helpless, so completely ashamed, violated, scared.
Once he was satisfied, she left and he finally gave me my things. My clothes, my purse, my phone. I text my girlfriend and told her I was at his place and asked her to pick me up right away. I got dressed and she was there before I knew it. On my way out the door, he tried to kiss me, like it was all okay.
I was in a state of shock. Once my girlfriend picked me up, I didn’t know if I should tell her what had just happened. I wasn’t even sure what had just happened myself. I immediately felt shame. I knew in my heart that I had just been raped. But immediately I began to blame myself for putting myself in that situation. It was my fault after all, why tell anyone. Just suck it up, take the blame and move on.
That is the mentality I carried with me for quite some time. It was months before I was able to tell anyone about it. And years before I was able to tell anyone the whole story. I’ve always left out the other woman when telling my story. Again, shame. And I was always worried that no one would believe me anyway, it wasn’t like what happens in the movies (a man with a weapon approaches a young woman in a dark alley and forces himself onto her), so why put myself through the pain of reliving that night when it wasn’t going to make a difference anyway.
But now, thanks to some amazing people in my life and organizations like RAINN, I’m able to talk about the events of that night. Talking about it, verbalizing it, it is healing, like Iyanla said it would be. This story is something I’ve kept bottled up inside for many years. I’m setting it free now. Or more like setting myself free from the pain I’ve allowed it to cause me.
Thank you for reading my story, what I just did was a very big step for me and I thank you for being a part of it.
Love & Courage. Jaclyn