I live at an all girls res, we dine at our brother res’ dining hall for all meals. The girls in our res are close with the boys we eat with. We have become friends with them since all the bonding activities during O-Week and of course, meal times.
My friends had all met particular guys who they were very close friends with and so had I. I met a specific guy at dinner once and we had talked for hours. We became good friends, we would study together despite our different faculties. Furthermore we spoke about his girlfriend and my boyfriend (who doesn’t live in Cape Town). It was more than clear that both of us were not available and therefore were only friends.
When June Vac came, we didn’t see each other but occasionally would talk on Whatsapp. When we came back from Vac I saw him one night in the dining hall and we had dinner and coffee together talking about vac. He was very sick with some form of a chest infection that he thought was flu. Being a good friend, I offered to give him some of my flu medication which I had back in my room. He asked if he could walk me down after dinner and get it. I agreed.
Usually I would never let guys into my room, especially if it were just the two of us. That night I made an exception as he stood outside the entrance to my res shivering and coughing up a lung. We went up to my room and I told him that my heated blanket was on so he could sit on my bed while I got the meds. He took the medication and I made him a Hot Toddy. I sat at my desk, keeping things as appropriate as I could.
We were talking about how he wanted to marry this girl he was seeing and that he had even spoken to his parents about it. He said that it would happen soon. I was curious about the haste since we’re both in first year and there really isn’t a rush. He insisted it’s what he wanted to do. The conversation went on and as I was talking I stood up (it’s just how I talk sometimes). He stood up too, listening to me. Suddenly he grabbed me, almost as if to hug me except my arms were pinned. I felt uncomfortable and it could be sensed in my sudden silence. He shoved me onto my bed, pinned me down again and tugged tightly at my hair. He said, “I took you for a girl who likes it rough”. At this point I knew I was in trouble. I said, “What are you doing? You have a girlfriend. You need to stop”. I struggled but the combination of his strength and my fear left me helpless. He pulled my pants down to my knees and forced his fingers into my vagina. All the while, trying to kiss me on my mouth and my neck. Whenever I got the chance I said, “no”. There was no getting away from my denial of this act. When he realised that I wasn’t kissing him back he rose up, still fingering me aggressively, this time his other hand was on my chest holding me down. My eyes were closed as I spoke to God and fought back tears with only whimpers and No’s escaping my mouth.
When he was done, after what seemed like forever, he got up with a smug look of accomplishment on his face. He looked over to me and said, “Agh, are you really crying right now?!”. By that stage I could no longer hold back the tears. I cried because I was violated. I was invaded. I trusted him and I considered him my friend, I was hurting emotionally AND physically. But I was also crying because I was relieved that he was done and that he didn’t do anything more.
I stood up, pulled up my pants, pulled myself towards him and said, as firmly as I could, “You need to go, now.”. I went down, signed him out and tried my best to hold it together. I went straight to my best friend’s room and told her a much shorter version than the one I’ve just told you. I cried on the floor in her room. She held my hand and let me know that it was gonna be OK. I told my boyfriend that night on Skype. He was so supportive and continues to be.
The violence with which he attacked me left me bruised to a point where sitting was uncomfortable and even painful. Months later, I still feel the pain. It haunts me in my dreams, when we see each other at the dining hall and even rarely on campus. I even had panic attacks for a few weeks after the incident. I decided not to do anything about it. I didn’t tell anyone who was obligated to do anything about it. I thought about it, so much. I still do. But I felt that I didn’t have evidence and it would just be my word against his. There have been times when I was so tempted to share my story. We, as woman, have been provided with so many spaces to share stories like mine recently, thanks to UCT for women and #PatriarchyMustFall. Somehow though, every time I wanted to stand up, he stood in the crowd. It’s intimidating.
Thank you for making it easier to share.