Surviving Rape and Staying Sober - Page 2

By Sloane McDermott 04/29/13

The tools of 12-step recovery can help me to recover from anything—even a sexual assault.

"No" is a full sentence. Photo via

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Slowly, I have been able to get out of denial. I was not being a pushover and the rape was not my fault. It had nothing to do with my awesomely adorable dress or the fact I went up to his apartment alone. It had to do with the fact that Eddie is a rapist.

My friend, Andrea, who has the same sober time as me, was raped in her first year of sobriety. She held my hand that first week, taking me to the crisis center and then to the health clinic to get tested for AIDS and STDs. She helped me as I took three types of antibiotics that made me want to barf. She kept reminding me that I was raped. Are you sure? Yes.

Even today, over seven months later, I can still fall into blaming myself.

The rape also lit up a relationship I had been in while drinking. They say the longer you stay sober, the lower your bottom becomes. At one point, I had a boyfriend who doubled as my coke dealer. Quite convenient. I'd chalked up our sex life to one big ball of discomfort and ugliness, but never called it rape. It was a small price to pay for free cocaine. But what I thought of as one bad date after another was rape. It is exasperating to have to spell this out, but: Sex without consent (as opposed to sex that is later regretted) can mean that you do not want to have sex with that person but they coerce you into it, pressuring you to do it after you have been very clear you do not want it.

I live day to day. I know that my experience will benefit another woman. I don’t have to drink at Eddie.

I have had sex that I later regretted, and that was not rape. The distinction is that I did not want to have sex with my coke-dealing boyfriend, but he threatened to break up with me, so I had sex with him to stay in the relationship. That is sexual coercion and that is rape. I wasn’t clear about it as I stuffed more coke up my nose and poured more whiskey down my throat. Alcohol sterilizes wounds, right? It certainly did for me at the time.

So now, I not only had to contend with this rape in sobriety, but to face a new truth: I had been raped before. I am still coming to terms with that, gingerly. One day at a time.

I wanted revenge, but I chose not to file charges. If you haven't been raped you might not understand that choice. The way the legal system works, you have to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt, and given that I showered immediately, and didn't accept the rape until after the fact, I would be unable to do that effectively. Pressing charges has also caused friends of mine to relive the trauma. And according to RAINN, out of only 46 out of every 100 rapes that are reported, just 12 of those lead to an arrest, and nine get prosecuted, with five leading to a felony conviction. Three rapists out of every 100 will spend a day in prison. How do you like them apples?

It has been almost eight months since the rape. I talk to Andrea every now and again. She said the rape she experienced in her first year will always be with her, but now, instead of it being the first or second thought, it’s the third or fourth. Today the rape for me is the second thought—pretty good considering it’s been less than a year. I’m treating it as I treated my first year sober: I live day to day. I know this too shall pass. I also know that my experience will benefit another woman. I don’t have to drink at Eddie. I know that’s not going to help, but that leaves me feeling powerless. I just let that sit. I don’t know what to do with that yet.

The experience has also helped me become better friends with my drinking days. I didn't realize that what happened with my ex-boyfriend/coke dealer was considered rape until I started talking about it with my counselor. The rape in sobriety has helped strengthen my First Step: I feel like the word "unmanageable" doesn't begin to express the danger my addiction put me in. Suicide mission might fit better. I am powerless over alcohol and drugs and my life had become one big suicide mission. I am lucky to be alive.

It is my experience that I have been able to stay sober through anything, and that while being raped was way too much for me to handle, I've been able to handle it with the help of other people carrying me along. The beauty of sobriety is in the sharing of our experience, our strength and our hope—I have allowed others to share that with me during this crisis, which gives me the strength to be of service to other people who might benefit from my hope of living through this and surviving it sober.

Sloane McDermott is a pseudonym for an actress in New York. Her last piece for The Fix was about suicide-iation.

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