Hypersexuality: The Opposite Spectrum of Coping Rarely Discussed in Sexual Assault Victims
April 22, 2015
I remember whenever I thought of rape victims in high school, the movie, “Speak” immediately flashed before my eyes. For those who haven’t seen it, Speak was the film that placed Kristen Stewart on the map and where she also happened to be able to finesse “the Kristen Stewart role” she’s played in every damn movie since. But anyways, I digress, the film depicts a high school freshman, Melinda, who refused to speak ever since she called the cops at a summer party where she was assaulted. She is ostracized for being considered a “rat” and consequently she folds into herself trying to hide her secrets. From its release in 2004 and onward, Speak became the consistent go-to portrait of sexual assault survivors which was: a girl and/or woman who was extremely anxious, restless at all times, prone to occasional outbursts from nightmares/flashbacks, and basically someone fighting through a fog of severe depression.
By KiNG, AFROPUNK Contributor
Despite the constant education, I never paid much attention to this stereotype because I always felt I was invincible to danger. I had never felt a kinship with sexual assault survivors because the “victim personality type” was something so distant from my own demeanor. This mindset was obviously extremely fucking ignorant and eventually turned my world upside down come graduating high school.
In April of 2013, I was sexually assaulted during a trip to New York. On my second night in the city, I went to a party at NYU after getting into a fight with my then- in limbo- boyfriend. I set out into the night with one intention, and one intention only, I was going to get fucked up and make out with someone. I had decked myself out in my favorite denim on denim skirt and corset. Flash forward three hours later, I had pummeled back two mixed drinks with Rum, three shots of vodka, two shots of tequila, and three Jaager bombs. So…basically…I was extremely intoxicated to the point of belligerency.
As many of my friends can attest, I’m not much of an outwardly affectionate person but get me buzzed, I become a little love muffin sitting on people’s laps, giving hugs, and everyone is “sooo beautiful” and “sooo amazing” to me. That night in April was no different. I had made out with a random black hair, blue eyed hipster version of my ex who wound up nearly puking in my mouth then into a toilet. I spent 20 minutes rubbing his back as he continued vomiting into the street while we waited for his campus cruiser to arrive.
Upon returning to the party, I noticed a new group of guys that were in the room- none of whom I had ever met nor seen in my time at NYU. There was one in particular that kept staring at me, he looked crossfaded as hell but still, he was cute enough in my book to make out with…and so I walked up to him and did just that. The following still, two years later, remains disjointed but I distinctly recall him attempting to unbutton my corset in front of everyone and me pushing him away. I, then, moved to the kitchenette so I could be alone and he followed in shortly behind me. I turned around to his dick flinging out of his pants saying that he knew I wanted it, to which I laughed sluggishly, too drunk to articulate what I really wanted to say, which was “shut the fuck up.” But instead, I whined saying I wanted to go home or be with Jason* (name changed for privacy–my in limbo boyfriend at the time). He then grabbed my hair and told me to pretend he was Jason. I shook my head as he continued to pull my hair in attempt to drag my face between his thighs. I was too drunk to resist and eventually I was choking on my saliva and him while being forced to give a blowjob.
When he finally let go of the back of my head, at one point, I tried escaping the kitchenette, but he grabbed my neck from behind choking me. Using his other hand, he bent me over the counter, pulled down my skirt, and started tearing off my underwear. I begged him to stop but he said, “Just the tip,” “Just one minute,” “I know you want this,” “With a skirt and ass like that, you must want it, it’s your fault for being so damn pretty.” I became fatigued upon realizing there was no way of escaping his grip and gave up on fighting. For 15-20 minutes, I was penetrated vaginally and anally as well as sodomized. He bit my neck, scratched my back, and slapped me repeatedly until he was finished. While stumbling around to zip his pants, he commanded me to walk out of the kitchen before him. I smoothed out my skirt, adjusted my top, tied my hair in my bun, then re-entered the party where I was met by the “oohs” and “aahs” of acquaintances and friends alike saying they knew where I had been and congratulating me on “getting some.”
I didn’t know how to react. I remember feeling so overwhelmed that I picked up my things and left silently to go back to my friend Laura’s dorm. I think the conversation following with her was more or less me just having external dialogue trying to determine if I was raped. Looking back, it was the craziest shit when all the facts pointed towards the answer being yes- but I was making excuses for my attacker, I was making excuses to convince myself what had happened was anything BUT rape-
“I mean I started off making out with him, so I guess I can see how he got confused” “But I said no, more than once, maybe I just wasn’t forceful enough” “I do get a little handsy when I’m drunk” “We were both drunk” “I was kinda dressed sluttytonight anyways”
It took a couple weeks for me to reconcile and tell friends that I was raped. I felt as if saying it out loud meant owning it had happened to me, which was something I tried for as long as I could to avoid. However even after I chose to tell those close to me, I didn’t report to authorities, I didn’t complete a rape kit, only because I had heard stories of how rape victims were often times subjected to scrutiny rather than sympathy. I did nothing because I was scared of what would happen to not only me but oddly to my attacker. We clearly knew some of the same people and I felt this odd inclination to protect him because it meant protecting my one wish, which was to pretend that night never happened.
The months immediately following New York were filled with confusion. I was still in shock that something had happened to me; my bubble of safety was penetrated yet what freaked me out the most was the fact I was still functioning as though I was completely normal. Yes, I had a moments of grief here and there but I wasn’t confined to my bed, I wasn’t crying all the time, I wasn’t fidgety if someone reached for me too quickly, and there were no nightmares, I was even having sex with other guys whenever my boyfriend and I would have a routine break up…it almost felt as if I was too normal…or perhaps too numb. I somehow completely shut my feelings off when it came to that night.
However, the thing is, I WAS grieving. My relationship with sex took a turn for the insane after my assault. When Jason and I would fight or break up for periods of time, I would go “hunting.” I started using my sex appeal as a tool to manipulate men. I would go out to parties or sneak into clubs (sometimes alone), scour the attendants, pick a guy, and then just gun for him until we were in bed using whatever means necessary to fit their needs: if it was charm, wit, sass, dancing, you name it, I was a wizard of getting guys to fuck me in 15 minutes or less.
Being a “female playa,” male and female friends alike encouraged my behavior. They found it mesmerizing that I had recovered so quickly but also appeared to have entered my sexual prime…something I believed too. But the reality of the situation remained true, I was trapped in a cycle of engaging in questionable behavior. Since the way my grief was being expressed was contradictory to what myself, and those around me, were conditioned to believe as true for sexual assault victims, we simply chose to ignore it.
What is often times neglected in sex/rape culture education and is lacking in media representation of survivors is that there is a duality of coping in each victim. Yes, there are the ones who address their pain like Melinda in Speak but then there are the ones, like me, who remain on the polar opposite end of the spectrum and become hypersexual. Being hypersexual was my way of trying to regain control of the power I lost when I was attacked. It was as if I adopted a similar mentality to my rapist, sex was a game and I wanted to win at the end of the night.
I buried myself so deep in this type of behavior that Jason started to notice and even when our relationship ended, it was something I continued doing with those I casually dated. Sex was how I baited men and eventually women alike – it also became how I manipulated them to stay. Sex was a way to wedge a certain amount of distance between us. I figured if I fucked people early on, then there was no way an emotional attachment could form, there was nothing but “intimate distance.” If I started feeling a certain amount of dependency forming, I started talking to other people and eventually I was able to juggle multiple “lovers” at once. Every romantic relationship I had became a circus act of me attempting to control people to fill a void.
Eventually sex wasn’t enough. I had already been struggling with addiction to self injury and substances on and off since high school, but soon enough, I was back to regularly self harming, using drugs, and having sex with a train of people at a time. My parents pretended my sexual assault was something that never happened after our initial conversation- where my mother went on to say I had it coming. After a year passed, I sunk further and further into my addiction; on top of it, I was suffering from anxiety (unbeknownst to me) and a personality disorder which was already festering and it started becoming more evident to those around me. I had a severe distrust for everyone and true intimacy. I figured if I hurt and/or left people before they could do the same to me then I could remain functional, in control, and I would come out alright. I didn’t realize my rape was a catalyst to my rapid downward spiral until I was sitting in front of a therapist after an attempted suicide earlier this year.
After completing intense therapy, I am able to say I have been clean and sober for 3 months now and have remained celibate as well. I can honestly say my relationship with sex is still unhealthy just from how I approach scenarios in my head but it is improving. To un-do the permanent harm of 45 minutes where a boy contorted my “no” into a “yes” has been astronomically overwhelming. Each day, I have to remember who I was before April 2013 happened. Each day, I have to tell myself that what happened to me is no excuse to manipulate lovers, sexual partners, or even those around me just to feel loved temporarily. See, this is the eternal human condition: we want, no we crave, to be loved so desperately that we will do anything for it; yet, in the same breath, we fear receiving it for we have seen what love can do…or the way it leaves…or the way it can ruin people in its absence. My rape was the result of someone who hadn’t been loved, or someone who was searching for love, for power, for a reason to take without asking and it felt as though after that night, he became a part of me. But he is not. He never was. I am me. Singular. Never plural. Someone writing anonymously but still wholly beautiful. I can attest that the love inside me was missing for awhile. I remedied lonely and grief- making me ugly beyond recognition. However, I am not a victim. I am woman. I am brown woman. I am brown woman who writes to make her bruises shine like full moons. Damn it, I am a survivor. And no one can take that away from me.
* KiNG is a 21 year old gender fluid, bisexual, biracial, spoken word poet, as well as co-founder of SLiM Poetry (an open mic at the Container Yard in the Arts District). Through writing and performing, I seek to create dialogue and develop a rapport with readers/audience members. I also intend to shatter stigma pertaining to mental health, feminism, racism, and anything social justice related as well as encourage creative communities to integrate and innovate.