I don't expect any miracles here, but I can guess from your column that I'll at least get a nice dose of truth. About two years ago, I was raped by one of my former guy friends. That incident resulted in an STD, but thankfully no pregnancy.
I'm 23 now and haven't been seriously involved with anyone since before then. I haven't told anyone what happened to me, and I don't want to. I'm ashamed and scared of what my future relationships will be like. I know if I ever get involved with someone, I have to tell them what I have, but I don't know how to do that. My friends and family think I'm just really picky and kind of a stuck-up bitch because I never stay with anyone past the first few dates. I just can't bring myself to get close to any guys because I can't imagine telling them I have a disease. I get lonely, though, and I guess I'm too young to give up. I need some advice. Thanks for your time.
Of course you're picky—someone you considered a friend violated you in a brutal and horrifying manner! If that wouldn't shake a girl's trust in men, I don't know what would. There is nothing wrong with being selective. However, there is something wrong with shutting yourself down. You're right—you're far too young to throw in the towel.
I am very sorry this happened to you. It isn't fair, nor is it in any way your fault. You might be thinking it is because you trusted him. Maybe you were drunk. Perhaps you were flirty. It doesn't matter. He forced you to have sex with him against your will. Though the more loathsome of the species won't admit it, men do possess self-control; there is nothing you could've done to warrant a man forcing himself on you.
I don't mean to be bossy here, but you have got to quit being ashamed—you are not alone. One in six women in the United States has been a victim of sexual assault (myself included). Because of the stigma that's remarkably still attached, rape is also the most underreported crime on the books.
The first thing you need to do is tell someone (and writing to an advice columnist doesn't count!). I know the thought of telling scares the crap out of you, but I swear, you will feel better once you do it. My advice is to make that someone a counselor who has experience dealing with rape victims. The Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress is one possible resource. You can call them at 521-1800. Another organization offering free and anonymous phone counseling, in-person counseling, and legal and medical help is the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, who can be reached at 888-998-6423. Either of these places can hook you up with a counselor who will not only help you cope but also help you work up the courage to tell your loved ones about what happened. They'll also help you handle it if the people you confide in act like idiots. Because sometimes, no matter how good their intentions might be, even people who love you can say stupid and unhelpful things. Especially when it's about something as loaded as rape.
I'd also like you to get in touch with an organization called Home Alive (323-4663). Formed in reaction to singer Mia Zapata's murder, the group offers self-defense classes, which will go a long way toward restoring the confidence that scum-sucking pig tried to steal from you.
As far as the STD goes, it sucks that he left you with a permanent and contagious reminder of the crime against you. But the fact is, loads of perfectly happy, sexually active people have STDs. If it makes you feel any less alone, I have oral herpes—and I doubt I caught it kissing any babies. You need to tell any potential partner you're a carrier of whatever it is you have, and remember that there are measures you can take to protect your new friend. And while, yes, there are men who'll reject you over this, there are others who'll give you a pass because your hair's the wrong color or you refuse to let them rock out to their Phish CD in your car. It's a jungle out there. Here's hoping you're up to exploring it real soon.
Dating dilemmas? Write Dategirl at firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.