1989 – The Rape

It was the fall of 1989.  I was a freshman at the University of Tennessee at Martin.  I had led a very sheltered life up until that point.  While my high school classmates went on dates and attended dances, I waited tables in an all-night cafe.  When Mary Johnson* was getting pregnant and having multiple abortions, I milked cows.  Or drove the truck in the hay field.  Or helped my mother with the house work.

When I had time to myself I usually spent it with my head in a book. I preferred fiction.  It fueled my day dreams.  I fantasized about the fabulous career I was going to have, the split level house with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, the incredibly handsome, considerate man I would call my husband.

After graduation, I spent the summer eagerly anticipating college life. I had several scholarships and a little grant money. After paying for tuition and books, there was going to be a couple thousand dollars left. My parents gave me two options: use my refund to buy a used car or live in the dorm and buy the requisite meal plan. I didn’t hesitate. I wanted off the farm.

My mother and grandmother moved me into the dorm. They helped me make the twin bed and hang my one poster on the wall. Clothes were neatly stacked into drawers and my toiletries organized in the plastic tote. The mini fridge from my grandparents’ garage went at the foot of the bed with the 13 inch black and white on top. I was ready for them to leave; they stalled.

My roommate, a red-head named Julia, showed up a couple days later. We found we had a few things in common, chief among them skipping class, shooting pool and drinking copious amounts of wine coolers. Neither of us had much experience with alcohol and, while beer tasted disgusting, wine coolers were sweet and yummy. We met a couple girls from down the hall and quickly became a foursome.

While we were regulars at Cadillacs, we rarely ventured into the world of frat parties.  None of us felt like we particularly belonged in that crowd.  If anyone asked about our Greek association, we proudly said G.D.I. (God Damned Independent).

One night about halfway through the fall semseter we gave in and attended a party at the Phi Sig house.  It was a large, two-story brick house on the edge of campus.  It had bedrooms and several of the brothers lived there.  This night the house was overflowing with people.  There were kegs of beer inside.  On a picnic table outside were watermelons that had been soaked in vodka.

I wasn’t used to beer or vodka and before long I found myself wandering around the house, my head swimming.  I saw Julia in the upstairs hallway.  She was leaning against a wall, a plastic cup of beer in one hand, laughing at something the cute guy in front of her was saying.  We made eye contact as I passed by.

I went out the door and found myself on the metal staircase leading down to the back yard.  Melissa, another girl from my dorm, was sitting on the steps about halfway down.  I grabbed the railing to steady myself and started down.  Just as my foot touched the top step a guy I knew by sight but not name came out the door behind me.

“Whoa! You ok?” he asked.  Clearly he could see I was struggling.

I shook my head.  “No.  I don’t feel so good.  I’m going home.”  Just a few weeks before we had received some kind of flyer in our dorm mailboxes about personal safety.  I knew I was past my limit and I just wanted to go to my room and lie down.

“Home?  Where is home? The party’s just getting started.”

“McCord.  I live in McCord.”  My gaze remained fixed on the back of Melissa’s head; my hand had never left the metal bannister.  I took a tentative step; he reached out and grabbed my upper arm to steady me.

“How are you getting there? How are you getting to McCord?” he asked, his voice full of concern.

“I’m going to walk.”  I didn’t have a car.  It was just across campus.  No more than five minutes.  Well, no more than five sober minutes.  In my condition it would probably take fifteen.

“You don’t need to walk by yourself.  Something could happen to you.  Come on, I’ll take you home.”  I was touched.  I had been feeling vulnerable, out of control.  This guy that I barely knew was looking out for me.  I wasn’t particularly used to men treating me well. I let him lead me down the stairs and across the yard to his truck.

It was a dark colored little truck, maybe an S-10 or something similar.  When we got to the parking lot he opened the passenger door for me.  I got in but before he shut the door he told me to hold on a minute.  He had brought some friends with him and didn’t want to just leave without telling them he was going.  He would be right back.

True to his word, he was back in less than five minutes.  But he wasn’t alone.  His friends were ready to leave, too so they were going to ride with us.  I scooted over to the middle as one guy opened the passenger door and the other jumped over into the bed of the truck.  My prince charming got behind the wheel and we were off.

I would be in my bed in less than ten minutes and was already regretting the hangover I was going to have in the morning when I realized we were turning the wrong way.  “Hey,” I said.  “I live in McCord.  You’re going the wrong way.”

“I know,” the driver replied.  “But I need gas.  I’m going to run by 3J’s so I don’t have to stop on the way to class in the morning.”

Okay, I thought.  That made sense.  I was getting a ride, after all.  I shouldn’t complain.  I leaned my head back and rested it against the seat.  We turned on Parrish St. and then made our way over to 45.  I was starting to feel a little nauseous and thought maybe I should go to the restroom while he pumped the gas in case I had to puke.  I didn’t want the guys to see me retching.

Just as I decided I should definitely go in the gas station bathroom, the truck began to pick up speed.  We were almost to the driveway; there was no way we could safely make the turn at this speed.  “Hey, slow down.  You’re gonna miss the turn.”

“I’ll get the gas in a minute.  Just relax. Let’s go for a ride.”

He drove towards Sharon.  I don’t know exactly how far we went before he turned right and took us out into the country.   We ended up on a rutted dirt path in some farmer’s bean field.

I wanted to go home.  Badly.  I didn’t know what to do.  There were three of them and one of me.  One really drunk me.  They started getting out of the truck.  I was stalling, trying to think of something.  I finally slid over and got out.  “I have to pee,” I announced and started walking down the rows of beans.  I don’t know what I thought would happen.  Maybe I hoped they would just leave me there and I could walk home when the sun came up.

I edged out into the darkness, hiked up my skirt and squatted.  Taking a deep breath, I released, careful not to pee on my shoes.  I could hear them behind me, unintelligible whispers floating through the darkness.  I finished but couldn’t gain my balance well enough to stand.  I rocked slightly on my heels, hoping to propel myself upright.  Instead I fell backwards, landing in the puddle of my own urine.

As the warm wetness seeped through my skirt I became aware of him above me.  He unbuttoned his jeans and got on top of me.  The next twenty minutes was a blur.  The driver finished and first one friend then the other came over for their turn.  I never made a sound.

When they were done, they helped me stand and straighten my skirt.  The owner of the pick up was worried I might hurl on his seats so they put me in the back for the ride to the dorm.  The driver cut across the field on his way out and I remember thinking the farmer would be pissed that we drove over his beans.

We drove straight back to campus and pulled up on the basketball court behind my dorm.  Gentlemen always, they helped me out of the truck and asked if I was okay.  I didn’t answer.  I just walked straight to the lobby, stuck my key in the hall door and went to my room.

Julia was not there.  I stripped off all my clothes and crawled in the bed.  I thought of Scarlett O’Hara as I drifted off to sleep, “I can’t think about this now.  I’ll go crazy if I do.  I’ll think about it tomorrow.”

 

 

 

28 thoughts on “1989 – The Rape”

  1. It is so sad to hear what happened to you. I have a sister that is 16 years old. I don’t know what I would do if that happened to my sister. Having a sister and a mother has helped me a lot with treating and respecting women. I would never want to do something to a women that my sister or mother would not wanted to be done upon either. I am eager and curious what it feels to have sex like as I have not. It is always on the top of my mind even if I don’t want to think about it; nature is powerful. But I draw clear line between fantasying and reality. I was actually planing to join a fratenatiy this Fall 2017 at University of Houston called Delta Upsilon. I am a junior and have isolated my self for the past 2 years and wanted to know people. I am an international student and I come from Ethiopia. I wanted to get to know people, especially of the opposite sex since it feels very natural. I went to a boys only catholic high school so I am very shy. I am really thankful you shared your painful experience openly Tracy. Your writing is Amazing. Your sorrow experience motivates me even more to treat women with respect and never, ever do anything to a women without her full consent while she is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I wish as was there to take you home. I will be sure to share your message with all the people I know. I hope God helps you recover, bless you with for your future or current husband and child. One thing I want to ask you is why you never made a sound when these animals hurt you?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Why she never made a sound? Oh my God I cannot believe the comments on this blog post. Here this woman speaks her story of rape and she is questioned. You don’t get to ask questions EVER of a rape victim. That is called secondary victimization. What you are doing is blaming her. Treating her as if she said or did anything it would have changed the events. Do you think had she screamed it would have changed a thing? When a woman gets raped she often freezes. It is what the brain does to protect you. I am appalled you felt it was ok to ask a woman of rape this question and I am so sorry she had to read it.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I am not trying to blame Mrs. Croom. Screaming shows your resistance and it is worth trying. I don’t know how effective it would have been in this situation. The only thing that brings forth change is dialogue Bethanyk. Read my whole comment before you make atrocious claims Bethanyk.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I read it all. It is a quest that should never be asked period.
        Screaming i a field of rapists will do nothing, my claims are educational and factual, not claims. I work directly with victims as does my husband in his job. You may think this but please understand, asking a victim after the fact is a form of blame. I am simply trying to teach compassion

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      3. I read your response many times. These men took her in false pretenses. They kidnapped her. Said they were taking her home and took turns raping her out in a field. This is rape. This is not, ” oh why did you not do something” this is not educational purposes for how men should and should not treat women while drinking alcohol. This is not a “sexual” post. Rape is not about sex. Rape is about control and violence. The only word said to her should have been ” thank you for sharing, and having the courage to share your story. I commend you for having this courage and I am deeply saddened by what these men did to you.” Your comment in all aspects was unacceptable! You will now learn how to treat women? By what…not raping them? I can’t even. As an advocate for women who have been through sexual asssault I believe you should read what she has written again and reread your comment to her. You’ve not been raped. Or you never would have said what you did.

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      4. Why even get drunk in the first place? By the way, I am not giving a reason for the assaulters to commit rape! What makes you think that if someone rapes a person that person wouldn’t want to kill the victim afterwards? You should spend more time giving “preventative advice” to women in addition to the great work you and your husband do. Surround yourself with good people in a good environment to eliminate the chance of abuse. If you are willing to share your story, you should be open to receive questions. You make it sound like asking a question is a another form of rape. It is just words; nothing more. You should know better.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Nathan, thank you for your viewpoint. I was an 18 year old who was drinking something other than a wine cooler for the first time. I did not intentionally get drunk. When I realized I was past my limit, I attempted to go home. A “good Samaritan” offered me a ride that should have lasted three minutes. I sincerely hope your daughter – or any other woman you care about – never finds herself in a similar situation.

        Liked by 3 people

      6. I hope the same too. Thank you for sharing and I am sorry for your bad experience. I hope my question was not offensive and I did not intend to be. Just wanted to have a discourse.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Screaming in a field…can also get you killed.
        Working closely with a detective unit on sexual crimes has taught me a lot. I may come across very angry at you. This is in protection of a woman who has bore her soul. She deserves validation for her pain. Not questions. Know I am just trying to give her the validation she deserves. It is not really about you. It is about showing her that women will stand behind her and give her the support she needs, no questions asked

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your story is absolutely heart breaking. I am so very very sorry that these men raped you. I know it took a lot of courage to tell this story, to relive it and write it.
    1989….that year was awful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on NOT MY SECRET…overcoming the shame of sexual abuse and commented:
    I feel compelled to reblog this survivors story for many reasons. 1. She is sharing her story and all of our voices need to be heard. She needs to be n our tribe of survivors that have bonded together in our truth and our healing. 2. After reading the comments on her blog post I was mortified. I encourage you to read them and to give your support and outpouring of love to this courageous woman. I believe if you read the comments here you will see my outrage and what has been said. This goes against all healing, boundaries, etc.no one gets to ever ask a woman WHY she was raped. THAT is the kind of thinking that causes revictimization and real harm to a survivor of sexual assault. Lets share some love here….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know exactly about how you feel about that incident because well…it hurts more when you are 5 or 6 and it’s your own cousin on the other side. Best of luck for the rest of your life. I hope you are doing good now.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. This is just heartbreaking. I am so sorry you had to go through that dark experience. Those men won’t get away with it, I hope you know that. Karma has a way of sorting that stuff out. The fact that you spoke up about it takes the power away from them and puts you in truth and light where you’r beautiful soul belongs. They can abuse our bodies but can never touch that pure part of us, never! Thank you for sharing this. Alcohol is a date rape drug! I am a rape survivor too. Everyone is so up in arms about spiking drinks, what about the drink itself that renders women defenceless. My heart is truly touched by your story. Lots and lots of sisterly love to you. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Not sure if my earlier comment was received, however…
    Imagine there was a notoriously rough neighbourhood: well known to be a high risk suburb.
    Then a person goes into that neighbourhood out of their own free will, at night, perhaps well dressed and wearing expensive jewellery.
    Then that person got attacked and mugged.
    What is our reaction?
    Yes the perpetrators are criminals, and vile people, and all sympathy to the victim, however, perhaps we should educate everyone to assess the risks of our life choices too?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leave her alone for heaven’s sake. This is not a study group!!! Or a let us ponder this equation. This is a woman telling her story. I see you deleted your porn requests joe public. And yet you go onto webpages of women who have been raped and feel you get to have some sort of conversation. Go away!

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  7. I usually refrain from leaving comments on another persons blog, but a very good friend of mine, a woman I would die for, a sister from another mister, Ms. Bethany K, brought something to my attention. So with Ms,. Tracy Croom’s permission, and if I speak any words here that offends any of you ladies, I apologize in advance, I will respond to the wholeheartedly stupidity of JoePublic 107, and the even dumber assed Nathan.

    Women do not asked to be raped, assaulted or groped, not even leered at by males. I do not call ’em Men, because I am a Man. If a guy were to “allow” himself to become inebriated, and for JoePublic and Nathan, that means drunk, and that guy was then raped by another guy, because he was drunk…..how would you two dumbasses react to that?

    Lets say a guy accepted a ride home from a party from another guy, and guy number 1, who accepted that ride from guy number 2, was a little too tipsy. Now guy number two drives drunk guy number one out to a field, proceeds to rape his ass, and ……I am wondering, would you have thought to ask guy number one, who was raped, did he scream?

    See, dumbfuckery is stupidity no matter how you look at it or attempt to dress it up. As a Man, I am disgusted and sickened by these two male trolls who came to Ms. Tracy Croom’s blog and left this uneducated 5th grade attempt at a comment. Both JoePublic and Nathan are pond scum and whenever they wish to visit a Man’s blog, MINE, with that bullshit, please be my guest.

    https://themilitantnegro.com/ Stop on by anytime.

    Ladies, I hope I did not offend thee.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I almost forgot…..neither Nathan NOR JoePublic have wordpress blogs, so that is a highly probable indication they are trolls, who travel from blog to blog, most likely women’s blogs, leaving stupid in their wake. Be aware Ladies.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Bethany and Militant Negro.
    I appreciate your reaction, and in all honesty am neither a troll or insensitive to any rape victim, male or female.
    I simply would like to see more effort in trying to minimise rapes occurring in the first place.
    Do you get where I’m coming from here, and wouldn’t you both be supportive of that initiative?
    And yes, perhaps this is not the best place to post a comment, however I assure you the intention was good.

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  10. I appreciate defensive training. I have even taken it. I have never been raped because of alcohol or drugs. I have been unconscious because I was sleeping and on heavy anti-seizure drugs for my disability. I can tell you first hand though… there is not a single thing you can do to stop this. They wait for your most vulnerable moment. There are predators just waiting. Now think about how often men in frats get totally trashed and wasted, pass out. Worst case, usually, is someone drawing on their face. Women should not be PUNISHED for being human and vulnerable now and then. Going to a party full of people should not be like walking in an ally with expensive jewelry on. We are not objects that must be locked up. That’s like comparing a HUMAN BEING to a car with a door unlocked. MOST people who rape you are acquaintances. Mostly family and friends and partners. Are we to spend every waking minute expecting to be raped? Because that is absurd. I live that reality now with intense CPTSD and it is so not healthy. Women should not be expected to never ever let their guard down, accidentally or on purpose. I’ve been drunk before. Know what happened? My husband took me home, held my hair back, and then tucked me in. Done. That’s normal. Not: but why did she EVEN get drunk? Umm… well it’s a party. Everyone was. This was clearly some guy looking for a victim. Additionally, to answer why she didn’t scream, if I may, it’s called fight or flight OR FREEZE. Ever heard of a deer in headlights? Yea sometimes we FREEZE. In my rape defense course this was taught to us. It’s a natural response you have little control over.
    Besides that. Thank you for sharing. It is hard to open ourselves up to this kind of shaming in an effort to spread awareness and education and speak out to heal. I completely understand your reactions, your emotions, it’s horrifying. Sending love!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I definitely think it will help others, it certainly has added more to my understanding. I admire your bravery and open stance, it takes a huge amount of strength!

    Liked by 1 person

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