A guy broke into my apartment in the middle of the night and tried to rape me. Even now – years later – those words choke me up. How did I survive without getting raped?
I’ve been writing and blogging for almost a decade, but I’ve never written about how I survived the attempted rape. I prefer to blog tips-based articles that help people achieve their goals, not personal stories about my life.
But, I’m changing the focus of my blog, calling myself The Bounce Back Babe, and inserting more of myself into my articles. I still have to offer practical tips because that’s who I am, but I also have to give more of myself.
Here’s how I survived when some guy – a stranger who had been stalking me without my knowledge – broke into my apartment in the middle of the night.
The Attempted Rape
I was 17 years old, living on my own, waitressing at Smitty’s Restaurant in Edmonton, AB, and going to high school. I didn’t have a boyfriend, and had only been living in Edmonton for a few months.
I didn’t know a rapist was watching me.
In the middle of the night, I opened my eyes to see a guy kneeling at the foot of my bed. He was gently moving my quilt, which is what woke me up. I squinted, not believing it was really a man’s head and shoulders at the end of my bed. I wracked my brain, trying to convince myself that I had piled a big jumble of sheets and blankets at the foot of my before I fell asleep — that there wasn’t really a man at the foot of my bed.
But then he shifted to pet one of my cats (they were both curled up on my bed, near my feet and the rapist. Traitors. My dog Georgie would NEVER do that! I still love cats, though. Just not as protectors or defenders).
I screamed. I was worried no sound would come out like in nightmares, but I screamed loud and long.
He jumped on top of me, shoved his hand down my throat. He was definitely a smoker. I couldn’t breathe; all I could think was “I won’t scream, I won’t scream. I can’t breathe, you’re suffocating me.”
He withdrew his hand, and we wrestled for a second or two.
How I Got Away
I remembered that a possible rape escape involves humanizing yourself so your attacker realizes you’re a real person with feelings, just like his mother or his sister. So I asked him not to hurt me, and said I was a virgin.
He said, “Yeah, right, you bitch.”
Humanizing myself didn’t work. I needed a Plan B.
On my nightstand was my clock radio. I turned the volume up to full blast, hoping the neighbors would hear and come to complain. It was 3:09 a.m.(Later, the cops looked at me suspiciously when I told them the exact time of the attempted rape. Evidently I was too precise, causing them to wonder if I perhaps had more involvement with this “stranger” than I claimed).
The would-be rapist dove for the plug in the wall, sliding off the bed headfirst. I jumped off the bed and had to step over him to get to the door.
He grabbed my ankle and said, “Oh baby suck me off.” (That makes me chuckle now because I was nowhere near his penis, and wasn’t about to stop my escape act to give him a blow job).
I kicked away his hand and raced upstairs to my landlord’s suite. He was awake, sitting in his armchair, watching TV. He heard me scream, but thought it was the show he was watching. We called the police and went back down to my apartment.
My big kitchen knife was on the floor by my bed, along with an Exacto knife I didn’t recognize. The rapist had put them down to play with my quilt, pet my cats, and watch me sleep.
Surviving a Rape That Happens at Home
When you’re almost raped at home, you change your definition of “safety.”
I used to think I was safe at home, but now I figure I’m usually safe at home most of the time. I’m always aware of the possibility that someone is watching or following me, even though I know the chances of that are low, statistically speaking.
Surviving an attempted rape in my own bedroom changed my perception of danger and life itself, in both bad and good ways. I stopped living alone and sought male roommates, believing they’d keep the house (me) safe from rapists and prowlers. An unexpected bonus was establishing strong relationships with men and letting myself trust and know them – and be trusted and known. My self-esteem ripened with the knowledge that I survived an attempted rape and got away.
I learned to trust myself in a whole new way. I traveled ‘round half the world and lived in Africa for three years, finding safety and comfort in the knowledge that bad things happen everywhere, even in your own home in the middle of the night.
Adventures were easier after I survived an attempted rape.
I’m telling you my story because I hope I can help you survive something, too. Maybe a rape, maybe a chronic illness, divorce, loss, disappointment, any one one of life’s downs.
How Will You Respond?
- If you’re a rape survivor, I encourage you to tell your story. You can share it here, or with people you know and trust. Expressing yourself is one of the best ways to heal and bounce back from terrible experiences. If you were raped, remember that it was not your fault.
- Read books like Resurrection After Rape: A Guide to Transforming From Victim to Survivor. Learn how other women survived rape and other types of sexual assault.
If you know or think you’re being stalked, read Are You Being Stalked? 19 Ways to Protect Yourself From a Stalker.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.