A while ago, I got a phone call around 1 AM. This is pretty typical for someone who is friends with comedians. It was an out-of-town area code, which is also typical. Then I heard the voice on the other end."Is this [my name]?" I shivered. I knew that voice."Yes.""This is Brian. Do you remember me?"Yes.Brian (I've changed his name for this story) proceeded to tell me why he was calling. He was an alcoholic. He was in a 12-step program. He told me he knew what he did to me was wrong—that it wasn't OK. But he never went into detail about what he did. So I'll explain: Brian used to be my friend. He was also my rapist.
After his long diatribe about recovery, there was an awkward pause."I hope it's OK that I called you."The words "it's OK" crept out of my mouth. It wasn't OK. But I felt frozen with fear. I'd fantasised about confronting Brian for years, but when the opportunity finally presented itself, I was shocked into silence. I didn't think his voice would affect me like this. I had to get him off the phone immediately."I hope you can forgive me.""It's OK," I said again and hung up before he could say another word. My stomach was churning. I was so upset.No, not upset. I was livid. I thought about what Brian had said. Yes, he was truly sorry—but for what, he didn't specify. He might not even remember. He didn't call me because he was sorry. He called me out of the obligation to apologize—step nine.Worst of all: He was calm. Like he arrogantly expected to be forgiven.Then I thought about what he said and realised I do not forgive him. Not at all. I couldn't abide forgiving him when I wasn't sure he realised that what he did to me was even a big deal. The fact that he called me at all meant he knew he did something wrong. But coercive date rapists don't always know they're rapists; they think rape only comes from strangers in alleyways, not friends in studio apartments. He didn't know the effect he had on me or he wouldn't have dared contact me. He didn't know about my revenge fantasies or the fact that I moved cities because of him. Nor did he know about my recurring rape dreams, which I've been told are a symptom of PTSD. I started packing to drive up to the last place I heard he lived. I didn't know what I was going to do—throw a brick through his window, hit him with a baseball bat, scream—I only knew I was going to hurt him.
A friend talked me out of it. I didn't know if he still lived there, after all, and I could have been arrested or worse. Plus, I was too scared to even confront him over the phone. I looked him up on Google and found out where he worked, but the idea of walking up to some receptionist and saying, "Hi, you have an employee who raped me years ago" and standing there waiting for a reply just didn't make sense. I'd have to talk to him directly.I checked my phone. His number was saved. I was afraid that if I heard his voice I'd freeze up again, so I texted."I do not forgive you," I wrote."What you did was unforgivable. You raped me. You knew I was drunk. You knew I was afraid of men because of my ex." With each word, I felt a little bolder."After I said no you reached your hand down my pants and told me I was a liar and that I was wet. You got me drunk and scared the SHIT out of me as I kept saying no. THAT'S why we had sex. Not because I wanted you. I never wanted you." Rage filled my fingertips with heat as I pounded the touchscreen."I hope if you have daughters you can't look them in the eye. I hope you can't even speak to your mother without remembering what you did and who you are. I don't forgive you. Do not reply to this. Don't ever contact me again."There was no response.I felt relief. I'd said my piece. But I didn't get the complete closure I'd always fantasized about. I never drove up to his place and he wasn't fired from his job. He's free to live his life. In the days that followed, I spoke to a relative who has done the 12 steps and who told me that Brian would have been told not to seek forgiveness in cases where it would have done more harm than good—so Brian had gone against the guidelines to clear his guilty conscience, and I didn't let him.I've been asked why I didn't go directly to the police after what happened, and my response is simple: For years, I refused to acknowledge to myself that I'd been raped. I lived in denial. I also had no evidence—I went to his apartment willingly and he used a condom, which he flushed immediately. I admire rape survivors who do go to the police and I wish I could have had Brian removed from society. But I know that even if I had gone to the cops I'd still dream of being raped at least once a week. I'd still live with fear. Nothing could have changed that.I don't think closure exists for people who've been truly traumatized, but I'm glad I kept him from getting his.Closure, an event that allows a person to move on with their life, is extremely powerful if it exists. I don't get to move on, and I don't think he should be allowed to either. He is probably not a sociopath, since he sought forgiveness. He needed that forgiveness because he felt guilty for hurting me.I want that guilt to bubble up in his throat every time he's on a date with a girl. I want it to flash through his mind on his wedding night. I want him to feel pangs of shame when he drives his daughter and her friends to school. I want him to feel enough pain to show respect for the women in his life and never repeat what he did to me. If closure exists for him, I want it to be at the end of his life—with the knowledge that I was the last woman he victimized.