He was there to keep me safe…

He was there to keep me safe. He told me that if I were alone in this area, I’d be killed or sold. I believed him. I went alone with him because I had put my trust in him. We were across the globe from anyone I knew, and even if I could scream for help, I didn’t know enough of the language. Besides, I had no way to get home if I left him. This was now about survival, pure life or death. My best chance to survive until morning was to let him do what he wanted. I thought that maybe if I cooperated I could convince him to use a condom or finish in my mouth instead, but my requests were met with a laugh.
I tried to do what I could to survive the night, and I did. I survived that night. I told another girl what happened, but I did not use the word rape because I felt like it was too strong a word to apply to me. She convinced me to report to the police. They urged me not to ruin the reputation of a good man of God, one who was in school and had a bright future ahead. Besides, I had no evidence it was not consensual. The only texts between us included me enthusiastically agreeing to get dinner.
I felt like I lost a part of myself. Years later, I still do not know the resolution. Maybe he finished school. I don’t know. I do know that after advocacy and therapy, I can now go to events in parks again, after years of not being able to. It’s a small victory, but it’s a victory. I survived that night and I survived every night since, even when it was hard.
If I could say anything to someone going through this it would be this: just because you agreed to meet someone or put trust in them, it does not make what happened your fault. Even if you did not fight back, it is still rape. What happened to me was rape. What happened was his fault, not mine. And what happened to you was not your fault either.