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I have been technically raped. I don't know. It was my own fault. My older brother's friend, who I had a crush on, his friend, my best friend and I were all this kid's house. We were drinking, which makes it my fault. He was high, and I was drunk. I can't remember, but the event plays in my mind. It doesn't haunt me. Sometimes, I wish it did. I wish it did because then I would feel like I have a conscious. But I think I don't. Sometimes, I don't even think I feel. Joe and I were sitting on the bed, and he kissed me. I didn't say no. I didn't object. I liked him. What was the harm in kissing someone I liked? We were kissing and he climbed on top of me. And that is it. That is all I remember.

I woke up, two hours later. I was naked. I don't remember getting myself naked. I don't think I said no. I don't think I said yes. I don't know. I looked around, but he wasn't there. I heard his voice downstairs. I dressed myself and went downstairs. I was scared. When he saw me, he hugged me and kissed my head. I smiled. It was a half-smile though. I didn't know if I was right or wrong. I was scared. He left to go get food.

I called my older brother to come get me. But, he wouldn't. He was already late for work. I didn't tell him what happened. He knew I was with Joe, and he didn't like it. He didn't like it at all. He knew Joe, and he knew the way he worked.

When Joe came back, he took me home. Right as we pulled in, my brother was leaving. The staring contest that occured in my driveway was horrible.

Later, my brother came back, and started in with the questions. Questions I didn't know. Questions I couldn't answer. My brother set out to find out the truth that I was unable to give him. He found out. He found out what I didn't know, and I should have. But he found out too late. I was already with Joe. We were together. We were a couple. Joe told him we had sex. Joe said I didn't know. Joe said I wouldn't care. Joe said I wouldn't do anything. Joe said it didn't matter anymore. That is why it is my fault. That was the start of a long abusive relationship. One that I could never fully pull away from for almost two years.

One of the scariest days of my life was not that summer day. It came two months later. Joe picked me up. As we were driving along, we began to argue. I think it was over something dumb. All of a sudden, he pulled a gun out. A shiny gun. I think it was a revolver. He put it against the side of my head. Right on my temple. It was cold. He told me if I ever fucked around on him, I would be dead. He would end my life... BECAUSE HE COULD. I remember looking at him, with the calmest expression. My reply was calm, cool, and collected. I hid all of my fear inside. I said, Yes. Yes you can end my life. Yes you can kill me. You can pull that trigger. But you won't. You won't kill me. You don't have it in you to shoot me. You want me to fear you. To respect you. I fear that gun, but I don't fear you. I don't think for one second that you will shoot me. How I found the courage to say that, I don't know.

After I uttered those brave words, I really thought my life might be over. But it wasn't. He began crying uncontrollably. And that was the end. The end of the conversation. The end of us being a couple. But not the end of our connection.

People always asked me why I couldn't just leave him. Why couldn't I just walk away, never to look back. He needed me. I needed him.... at the same time.

When we parted, by force from my parents, it was hard. How could it be hard for me to part from a guy who had sex with me without me knowing? How could it be hard for me to part with a guy who put a gun to my head? I don't know. I don't know.

The next summer, almost a year later, he called. He wanted to try again. I said I couldn't. He questioned my love for him. I questioned his love for me. He got angry. I didn't hear from him for awhile. I moved on. He didn't. I grew strong. He didn't know it.

The following summer, I had a new boyfriend. Joe had been around, back in town, and he had heard that I was seeing someone new. He didn't like it, and soon enough, I ended up at the same party as him. It was outside, in the country. I can picture the scene. The driveway was long, and lined with cars. The party was around back, away from the road.

I saw Joe, but since I had my head shaved, he didn't recognize me right away. Once he realized who I was, he called me over. Thinking no harm could be done at a party full of people, I approached him.

We were off to the side, down the long narrow driveway. We started off with small talk. I asked him where he'd been; he just said "gone." He asked me about my hair, I just said "gone." Finally, he named his request. He wanted me back. I told him that couldn't happen. He begged me. He told me he loved me. I told him he thought he loved me. He asked me why I wouldn't be with him, and I told him he didn't respect me enough.

He got mad, and stormed off, saying, I'm going to get high. I replied with "Okay, Joe." And that's when it happened... With the blink of an eye, he came flying at me, pushing me up against this truck. My head hit the truck hard. He began yelling, "What the fuck did you just say to me, bitch?" and he raised his hand to hit me. I looked him right in the eye, and I saw fear in his eyes. I said, "I said, Okay, Joe'. And he goes, "Oh, I thought you said, You're gay, Joe. Why do you gotta talk to me like that?" His hand was still raised, but it was shaking. I felt the blood run down the back of my neck, and I lost it completely.

I looked at him, and I started yelling: Do it. Hit me. Go on. Enough of this bullshit. Look at you. You are shaking like a fuckin' baby. You can't handle it. If you are going to act all tough like you are going to fuckin' hit me, do it. I dare you. If not, I suggest you put your hand down. Because I have a bunch of my friends standing right over there, and if you pull this bullshit tonight, you will get your ass kicked. THIS is the reason we are not together. RESPECT. You don't respect me. You can't. Because if you did, you wouldn't put me through this. (I lost all bravery, and I broke down crying.)

He saw it, and took every opportunity to save face. Don't go back to the party. Stay here with me. Right now, I want you to choose Tim (my new guy) or me. And this is for good. You pick him, and you will never see me again.

I replied that I wasn't choosing. My friends were over there, my ride was over there, everyone I knew was over there. It had nothing to do with Tim. He began yelling, CHOOSE! As I slowly backed up the driveway to the party, I had tears running down my face and I kept whispering, I'm not choosing. I'm not choosing. I saw him start to cry. And that's when I turned around.

Tim had heard part of the commotion, and walked over, to see if I was okay. He saw me crying, and instinctively, hugged me. This made it look like I chose Tim, but really, I didn't choose. I glanced over my shoulder in time to see Joe put his head down, crying, and walk away.

I haven't seen him since, and that was almost a year ago.

I learned one thing from Joe: as scary as it is, face the fear head on. Be prepared to face the consequences, but face it. If you don't say how you feel, you will always wish you had. I realize I was lucky in my situations; things could have been drastically worse. I also do think Joe loved me. He was just incapable of showing it. He had a rough life, and expressed himself wrong. I do not condone abuse or rape. I only handled it the way I did because it is the only way I knew how. I cared about him. I did love him, and I didn't want to hurt him. I know he didn't intentionally hurt me. He just lost control of himself.

Although I haven't seen him, I heard he attended an anger management class, is going back to college, and has a full-time job.

And despite the fact that I am happy for him, he took something I will never get back. He took my virginity. He took my innocence. He took my pride. It made me grow up fast. And despite the fact that he took my virginity, I don't consider it lost to him. I lost it to the first person I willingly had sex with.

To anyone who has been raped, my heart goes out to you. I was lucky. I do not remember it, so I don't have to go through alot of the pain you do. Also, I dated him. And to anyone who has been in an abusive relationship, you will get out of it. As bad as it is at the time, and as many black eyes you have to conceal, you will make it. You can get away, as hard as it is. I loved Joe, but I knew that there could come a day when I might not be able to talk my way out of it. Or I might not be able to withstand all of the physical pain and violence. I knew I needed out, if I wanted to keep my life.