Here’s what happened the night a guy broke into my apartment in the middle of the night and tried to rape me. Even now – almost 20 years later – those words choke me up. I almost find it ludicrous, unbelievable: an intruder broke into my home, got my kitchen knife, and entered my bedroom while I was asleep. How did I get away without getting physically assaulted?
I don’t write about the intruder very much, even though I’ve been freelance writing and blogging for over a decade. I mention the home invasion but don’t describe it in detail in my book Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back. Maybe it’s too painful, or maybe it just doesn’t seem useful to write about it. I prefer to write tips-based blog posts that encourage and inspire people! Hopefully my experience will help you in some way.
If you’re in a relationship and you were raped, your partner may not know how to support you. It’s not an easy topic for couples to face – especially if they’ve never had any experience with break ins or assaults. You may find it helpful to read When You Were Raped and Your Boyfriend Can’t Cope.
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.
I was 17 years old, living on my own, waitressing at Smitty’s Restaurant in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I was finishing my last few credits of high school. I didn’t have a boyfriend, and had only been living in Edmonton for a few months.
I didn’t know an intruder – a potential 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 the intruder shifted to pet one of my cats. They were both curled up on my bed near my feet. Traitors! That’s why I have two dogs now. They bark. I also have a cat, but don’t rely on her to save me from anything. Except a can of tuna, perhaps. Open up a can of meat, and she’s my biggest hero.
Anyway…when I saw the intruder at the foot of my bed that night, I screamed. I briefly feared that I’d make no sound, like in nightmares where you scream silently! But I screamed loud and long.
The intruder jumped on top of me and shoved his hand down my throat. 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 b***h.”
Humanizing myself clearly wasn’t going to stop this intruder from assaulting me. 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 intruder dove for the plug, 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…” and asked me to do something I didn’t want to do.
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.
If you suspect you might be the victim of a home invasion, read Are You Being Stalked? 19 Ways to Protect Yourself.
The Upside of Experiencing a Home Invasion
In Why You’re Safe Everywhere – Blossom Tip 56 I describe the benefits of experiencing an intruder in my home at 3 a.m. A home invasion really does change how you see the world – and it can be incredibly positive!
I used to think I was safe at home. Now I know there isn’t really any one safe place. Some places seem safer than others, but one never knows for sure. This doesn’t mean I live in fear. On the contrary, I life in freedom and joy! I’m always aware of the possibility that someone is watching or following me – but I know the chances of me experiencing another home invasion are low. Statistically speaking.
But, it’s not statistics that are the source of my peace, freedom and joy. It’s the presence of God. Whatever happens, I know I’m not alone. Maybe I’ll have to deal with another intruder in my bedroom one night; maybe I’ll ever experience another assault again. Who knows? All I know is that I am safe right now.
I learned to trust myself in a whole new way. I traveled around 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.
I also learned that if you travel in faith, you can never get lost.