Trigger warning for sexual assault. Some details have been changed (not the important ones).
Megan was crying over the phone. She never cries. "Can I come over?"
I tell her to come and start walking around my apartment, nervously preparing. I am usually on the other side of a tear filled phone call. When she arrives she is wearing the new dress we had picked out together the weekend before; that night she had won an important award for her work. Her face was streaked with black and she didn't say anything at first. I held her, standing in front of my door, while she sobbed.
We sat down and she started wiping off her face and nervously smiling. "I'm being so silly."
"What's up, baby girl?" I tried to speak as softly as I could without actually whispering.
"Something happened with Kevin." She swallowed and smiled again. "We were hanging out last night and I didn't want..." She wrapped her arms around me and started crying again.
She and Kevin had been casually seeing each other for almost a year. Megan doesn't really want a serious relationship and Kevin was the perfect guy to not have a relationship with. He is the bartender at a bar right next to where we both live and because he works a lot he didn't demand too much of her time.
"What happened?" I tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear and she smiled again.
"I'm being so stupid, it's not a big deal," she said, looking away. "So he came over after work last night, right? And we're hanging out and he's all like, 'let's do it' and I was like 'uh, no, not tonight' and he was like 'oh come on, let's have sex' and I was like, 'no, it's not going to happen'. That goes back and forth for a little while and I thought he got the picture. I mean, I wasn't even drunk or anything. I said he could crash with me because it was already like 4 in the morning and when I... when I..." She took a big, shaky breath. "When I woke up he was fucking me and when I told him to stop he said that he was almost done and so I... I didn't do anything." She looked at me out of the corner of her eye.
"That shouldn't have happened, ok? That was wrong of him." Had to keep my cool. I used a soft voice and asked her if it was ok for me to put my arm around her. She smiled and said of course.
"It's not a big deal, I don't know why I'm so upset."
"It is most definitely a big deal and it is a completely and totally normal reaction to be upset. That shouldn't have happened." I didn't use the r-word. I thought it would just upset her more.
"I just... Why did he have to do that? I mean, really, like why?" Most of her makeup had been rubbed off, but she was still in her dress and heels.
"People do that because they want power, he shouldn't have done that."
"It's just so dumb. Like it's such a dumb thing to do." He voice was squeeky and trying to sound normal. "I'm being so stupid."
"No, you're being really brave, like really really brave just by telling me." I looked at her tear streaked face and wished I could have been that brave. I never told Megan about when I was raped. I couldn't even believe that it was rape for over a year. I didn't go to her crying, I cried by myself. I wanted to tell her then, to make her feel less alone, but I didn't because I still wasn't brave enough. "Megan, look at me." She looked up and her eyes were deep and dark. "You are a special and worthwhile person and I love you."
Light flickered across her eyes. "Really?" She really didn't believe that in that moment.
"Really. You are strong and brave and I love you so much. I know that you feel wronged and violated and confused and stupid and silly and like it's you fault but it's not, I promise you it's not. And it's so completely normal to feel all of those things when something like this happens, ok?"
"It is?" Her voice was so small.
"You did everything right, ok? He is the one who fucked up here, not you. He made the mistake, not you, ok?" I felt so powerless. Because that's the thing about rape, it is not just the survivor that has to deal with it.
I kept it together until she left that night. I felt all the things that she felt because she is my best friend and I feel all of the things she feels and she was raped. She was raped by someone she trusted and knew and who knows all of our friends. My best friend was raped by someone that worked two blocks away from where I live, at a place where our friends congregate. My best friend was raped and it broke my heart because I couldn't stop it or fix it or or take away her pain because I was powerless. He didn't just make her feel powerless, he made me feel that way too. She is my best friend. She has been there through so much of my shit and she was there for me when I was raped even though I never told her, she was there for me. Maybe she knew, maybe she didn't, but she is my best friend and she is always there for me so it didn't matter why I was so messed up for so long. My best friend was raped and my sister was raped and I was raped and a couple of my cousins (male and female) and like so many people because it's everywhere. And it's easier for me to deal with it when it's me, but when it's those that I love I... I don't have any control or power. I try to say the right things. I try to listen and be there.
It just doesn't feel like enough.