Forgiving him helped me pretend the rape was not real, removed the terrible pain of being sexually and emotionally violated.
Originally Published September 9, 2015
Ashamed to admit it, yet it is the truth, I slept with my rapist several times after he raped me on two separate occasions. The first rape happened in NYC during a photo test shoot soon after I arrived to begin my modeling career. I was 20-years-young, full of hope and innocence. Sasha was a jaded 30-something-year-old Russian-born photographer who drove me to the Hamptons, took photos of me on the beach then announced he was too tired to drive back to NYC. He took me to his friend’s house to rest. No one at home, he cornered me and raped me. I jumped into the shower afterward and cried for nearly an hour. I felt completely violated, grief-stricken, yet frozen in fear.
In Sasha’s car, safely headed back to NYC, my sorrow turned into defiant rage as I refused to speak with him the entire 4-hour car ride home. No matter how many times he engaged me, I refused to answer. Certain he sensed my intense upset, Sasha finally apologized as we approached NYC.
“I thought you wanted it,” he claimed.
“I did not want it. I hated it. I hate you. It was disgusting. You are disgusting!” I said in sharp retaliation.
I had two long-term boyfriends in high school and college who I had sex with, but I loved them. Sasha, my rapist, was the third man I ever had sex with, and I was revolted. I distinctly remember thinking, I have been raped. No other man will ever want me now. There was a long silence in the car after I blasted Sasha will my rage. He finally managed to utter something.
“I am sorry Patty. I, really am. I feel bad. You are just so beautiful. I couldn’t help myself.”
I sent him a dagger of a look, and he continued.
“I thought you liked me too. We had so much fun laughing on the beach. I’m … I’m sorry. I’m … really sorry.”
Sasha’s apology seemed sincere and so, I forgave him. Forgiving him helped me pretend the rape was not real, removed the terrible pain of being sexually and emotionally violated. Then I took the denial one step further. Before dropping me at my apartment, Sasha invited me out for dinner and various fashion parties in the upcoming week to make up for his miscalculation, as he called it.I accepted his peace offering, and we became friends, eventually lovers. Having a real relationship with Sasha truly helped to negate the rape, almost like it never happened, almost.
Sasha made me laugh, and his zany Cold War view of the world was intriguing. In love with him? No. Hot for him? No. Then why sleep with him? Sasha had a former place inside of me, albeit forced, and I guess that gave him the right of re-entry. I should have been in therapy back then. I was a psychological mess.
I moved to Paris two months after Sasha raped me and reconnected with him sexually a couple of times over there, even though I was in a monogamous relationship with Guillaume. Guillaume and I both agreed we wanted to be monogamous with one another. But, between Pierre, another photographer who I had regular sexually-harassing relations with and Sasha, I was unable to stay faithful to my boyfriend Guillaume, whom I loved very much. Of course, I never told Guillaume of my trysts. Part of me felt that I “had to” have sex with these photographers, or I would not get work as a fashion model. The other part of me could not defend myself against intense sexual seduction. I had zero defenses against it, almost like missing antibodies.
A few years later: In 1982, armed with several European magazine covers and a Chanel campaign, I moved back to NYC to make it in the big time. Guillaume came with me, hoping to make it as a fashion photographer. Sasha heard that I was in town and got my number somehow.
“Hey Patty, why didn’t you call me?”
My heart sank, “Hey Sasha, how did you get my number?”
“I don’t remember, someone who knows you or something. Why? Aren’t you happy to hear from me?” He said.
There was something I liked about this weird character, and if I erased the original rape, he was not such a bad guy. This time, though, I was adamant with Sasha.
“Listen, I am happy to hear from you, but I will no longer have sexual relations with you, Sasha. I have a boyfriend.”
“Yeah, well, you had the same boyfriend in Paris, and we still got together so what?”
“OUCH! He was right. But moving back to the U.S. was a new start for me. I tried desperately to shake off “The French Way” of infidelities that I had learned while living over there. Sasha, like Pierre, the other photographer I took up with in Paris, also thought I was being ridiculous to promise fidelity to Guillaume at such a young age. That’s how they got me. I hated feeling stupid. However, Sasha seemed to let my sexual rejection go easily, unlike Pierre. I soon found out why Sasha was not too ruffled.”
“Whatever, I don’t care what you do with your pussy. I just want to see you. I like you. I like how you think. You are smart. I don’t like too many people.”
Sasha had me at smart. I preferred a smart compliment to an attractive compliment any day. Maybe Sasha thought monogamy was a phase I was going through and that I would be back with him sexually again sometime in the near future. At any rate, I appreciated his laissez-faire attitude and so I agreed to meet with him.
We hung out at Sasha’s apartment one night because he wanted to show me his new photographs and didn’t want to schlepp them to the restaurant. Made sense. We laughed, caught up on our lives, looked at his latest photographs, and spoke about the famous model Gia, who was supposedly his lover. Then we drank vodka. At 4:00 AM, I found myself passed out on Sasha’s bed, face down. I awoke in a panic but felt relieved that I was fully clothed. Sasha was also fully clothed, seemed innocent enough. Must have drunk too much vodka. But why were my pants on backward? Was this yet another vodka mistake? I didn’t remember drinking that much. I was terribly embarrassed for passing out and quickly jumped off the bed. Sasha woke with the bed grumblings.
“My God Sasha, I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to pass out like that.” I quickly said.
“Don’t worry about it.” Sasha replied in a deep groggy voice and showed me the door.
In the cab ride home, I worried how I would explain to Guillaume that I passed out on Sasha’s bed but didn’t have sex with him. Better tell Guillaume I went to a club and lost track of time while dancing, that he would believe. I truly could dance all night, and he knew that.
Like all of my lies to Guillaume, he seemed to believe them, or at least he accepted them. I was proud that I did not need to lie about having sex with Sasha that night, though. Finally, I was starting to have sexual self-control. I was beginning to feel like I just might be able to kick this habit, whatever it was. I didn’t think there was a name for it. I called it my infidelity problem and left it at that. Did I have a sex/love addiction? Never heard of it back then. Maybe if I had, I would have done something about? No, probably not. I told myself at that age, I’m young. I’ve just made a few bad judgment calls. I can get myself back on track. So I thought.
After that night with Sasha, I grew stronger and happier with each passing day. I proved to myself that I did indeed have sexual self-control. However, there was also something else growing within me, a revolting odor. My terrified thoughts soon moved to, “What is this horrific smell coming from my vagina? Just as I am beginning to feel great about my sexual self-control, what the heck is this?!”
I knew I hadn’t had sex with anyone other than Guillaume in many months, so I had no idea what this could be. I told Guillaume, when he too noticed the horrible stench, “I must have a strong yeast infection,” and proceeded to make an appointment with the gynecologist. But I knew this was not a yeast infection. They never smelled this bad. This smelled like something died in there!
Whenever Guillaume was out of the apartment, I would cry profusely. I felt God must have been punishing me for my infidelities by giving me some latent sexual disease. The smell was horrendous. The morning of my gynecological appointment, I was so perplexed by this foul odor that I decided to do my own explorations. I put my fingers deep inside my vagina to see if I could feel anything unusual. I felt something very hard up there that did not feel like my cervix. When I took my fingers out, there was a gray fiber attached to one of my cracked fingernails.
A fiber? I questioned. I was expecting this mass I was feeling to be a cyst or a tumor but a fiber? The only kind of fiber that goes up there is a tampon. Tampon? I puzzled. And with that thought, I pushed my fingers deep into my vagina, as far as they would go, and pulled out a slightly bloodied, stench-ridden tampon. I gagged for a moment with the unbearable smell. But, I was incredibly relieved to discover I did not have a sexual disease, just a stinking week-old tampon. But how did it get up there so far? How did I not remember I was wearing a tampon? I was totally perplexed.
The string always hangs out. With that thought, I began going over my menstrual memories of the past week. I knew I was at the tail end of my period when I went to visit Sasha. I remembered consciously not packing a tampon in my purse when leaving the house that night because my period was so light I would not need a new one. So yes, I was indeed wearing a tampon when I went to see Sasha. But since I did not see the string hanging the next morning I figured that I had already removed the tampon at Sasha’s place during the memory loss of my vodka night with him. Since there was no more blood the next morning, there was no more need for a new tampon. My period was simply over.
With this week-old tampon in my hand, clearly I did not remove it that night with Sasha for it was jammed deep inside my vagina. The only way this could have happened … visions of me lying face down on Sasha’s bed with my pants on backward began to make sense. With this terrifying thought, I called Sasha immediately,
“What the fuck did you do to me last week?!” I asked.
Sasha responded with a devilish chuckle.
“Yeah, exactly. You were a great fuck. You just lay there like a dead fish. You were hot.”
“What? How?!” I exclaimed in horror.
“Yeah, I put a Quaalude in your vodka.” He said.
After his unapologetic recounting of what I had later come to learn was date rape, I hung up on him.
I had never even heard of date rape in 1982. But here I was discovering I had been raped again, in a different fashion from the first rape in 1979, yet with the same guy. The first time Sasha raped me was an all-out sexual assault when I was totally conscious. This time was a Quaalude-induced unconscious date rape. But instead of asking myself, What is wrong with this guy? How do I have him arrested? I asked myself, What is wrong with me that he has raped again? I have been having sex with this guy for a couple years now, off and on. Who do I tell? Who will believe me?
I was so humiliated I told no one. More buried sexual trauma to add to the pile. I felt violated and enraged that Sasha raped me, yet again. This time it was an unconscious rape I was not ever aware of. I could not tell my boyfriend, Guillaume, or he would confront Sasha and Sasha might then divulge our affair. I could not tell the police for they would tell me that a friend cannot be considered a rapist, or so I thought back then. So I lay there, rape frozen once more.
Months later, as the amnesia of my denial set in, I continued my friendship with Sasha, again, even sleeping with him on occasion. Why? Most likely I stayed friends with Sasha because this relationship mirrored the relationship with my mother. It felt comfortable and familiar. Mom beat me severely on several occasions as a child when she caught me playing doctor with my sister and my girlfriends. These were my primary sexual traumas. Because I needed and loved my mother, I forgave her. Loving my abuser seemed normal and so, I continued to have this insane relationship with my rapist.
It wasn’t until I left the fashion industry in 1989 that I heard Sasha was on the FBI’s most wanted list for raping several young and under-aged models. Unfortunately, he managed to flee the country before he was caught. My God, if only I had spoken up, how many more girls could have been spared.
I cannot alter the past, but I am speaking out now to let all women know.