Sexual Assault Awareness Month: I was raped on New Year’s Day

Although+the+incident+happened+on+New+Year%27s+Day%2C+Melah+distinctly+remembers+the+fireworks+from+the+night+before+her+rape.

Lucie Hošová

Although the incident happened on New Year's Day, Melah distinctly remembers the fireworks from the night before her rape.

By Kenny Kim, Westmoore High School

Editor’s Note: In commemoration of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a former Westmoore student would like to share her story. To protect her identity and those involved, she is referred to as the pseudonym “Melah” and her offender is “Peter” in this publication. 

It was New Year’s Day 2019, and Melah, a Westmoore senior, felt uneasy– as if something was wrong. She brushed it off and climbed into her boyfriend’s grey Chevy suburban, where he would later sexually assault her.

Hours before the incident, they went for boba in the downtown Asian district. Peter, her unofficial boyfriend of two months, knew how much she adored the drink— he knew her. He was not some stranger. This guy helped her through one of the worst breakups of her life. Melah trusted him.

“He was always kind-hearted and sweet. When we first met, he was extremely shy until I got him out of his shell. He would always make me laugh, and I never felt threatened by him at all,” Melah said.

It was nighttime and almost near her curfew. She assumed he would take her home, but he instead took her to a secluded, dark location. This was not unusual. The couple had nights where they just sat and reminisced.

It was not one of those nights.

As the only daughter of a big Latino family, she knew the deadliness of silence. She described that moment as a “weird type of quiet.”

He caressed her leg. Melah did not necessarily feel uncomfortable until he started to kiss her. In a jerk reaction, she pulled away and asked to go home. Even though she was almost an adult, she would have been severely punished if she arrived home late, especially if it was because of a boy.

“He then became forceful and held me down as he tried to kiss me. I tried kicking him off but he was stronger. I told him I didn’t want to do anything like that. I just wanted to go home,” Melah said.

He ignored her, and it was the following words she could never forget:

“Maybe you’ll like it once we’re doing it,” he told her.

He pulled out a condom, heighting her fear, and pinned her down. She cried and cried but he persisted.

“I remember my body going limp. I felt defeated and like I had my rights taken away. I wasn’t there anymore,” she said.

Her eyes were open, a blank look on her face. Realizing she was not responsive, he let go of her and asked if she was okay.

Peter took her home, their last encounter until months later, when he apologized to her. That night she took the longest shower she could remember.

“I felt so disgusting. I was just a used object. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it for days. I just stayed in bed and cried,” Melah said.

Resources

April is considered as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual Assault Awareness Day falls on the first Tuesday of April and marks its official 19th anniversary in 2020. The day aims to stop and prevent sexual assault, harassment, and abuse through education and social change.

Currently, rape culture blames the victim by publicly scrutinizing their dress and motives. It also shames men who get assaulted. Until these views change, sexual assault will continue to go unpunished.

“It was winter. It wasn’t like I was asking for it. I still remember I had a turtleneck and a vest on with pants and boots,” Melah said.

The sad reality is that Melah was acquainted with her offender. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, more than half (51.1%) of female victims reported being raped by an intimate partner; for male victims, it was also more than half (52.4%).

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault or violence, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673).

Moving Forward

Melah currently attends the University of Central Oklahoma and looks ahead.

“It was a terrible experience, and it takes time. It’s the strength after that matters the most. It took me many months to be stable again. It was hard because my parents would ask about him and I was scared to tell the truth. I stayed away from certain situations like being in a car with a male at night. I took a while to trust someone else enough for a relationship or with my body in general. I couldn’t be happier in the relationship that I am in now,” Melah said.

This story was originally published on JagWire on April 7, 2020.