My wheelchair-user friend was raped by someone she loved and trusted

A painting of a woman standing with a bluebird on her shoulder by Loui Jover.

A few days ago my friend and I were in the middle of a heart-to-heart conversation. She was crying, utterly distraught. I did not know what was wrong — she wouldn’t tell me.

A few days ago my friend and I were in the middle of a heart-to-heart conversation. She was crying, utterly distraught. I did not know what was wrong — she wouldn’t tell me. She just kept saying that she was heartbroken. I hadn’t even known that she was in a relationship.

My friend, whose permission I have to write this piece, is wheelchair bound. She’s considered a quadriplegic. And she’s beautiful, funny, outspoken, spirited.

My friend finally stopped crying, even though I could still see the tears in her eyes. She told me that she had met a man online. They didn’t know each other; he added her on Facebook randomly. She thought he was cute so she accepted his request.

They started talking, and had been chatting for well over a month before they decided to meet. Their meeting was just as unique as her – she was admitted in the hospital for a surgery to mend a fracture in her leg. He came to visit her and brought her a box of chocolates and a life-sized teddy bear, which is her favorite thing in the world. At the time, she thought he was the sweetest person she had ever met. She was instantly infatuated. He hugged and kissed her before he left, and it was one of those tender kisses that leaves butterflies in your stomach.

After their first meeting, they kept on chatting on WhatsApp and Facebook. He asked her to be his girlfriend, saying that she was the most unique person he had ever met. My friend was insecure about her situation and asked him if it made a difference. He said no. He said he loved her for herself, and her physical condition made no difference to him. I think any person, whether they have a disability or not, wants to hear these words.

After three months of sweet-talking, meeting here and there, and sappy gifts, he planned for them to meet at her home when her parents and brother weren’t there. At this point, my friend was head over heels in love with him. She trusted him, and arranged for a time when her family wasn’t home so that they could meet. He came over as planned and started chatting and laughing.

He started grazing her cheek with his fingers and started kissing her. She loved it; she had never felt something like this. Suddenly, he asked if he could shift her from the wheelchair to the bed, because cuddling her and kissing her on the wheelchair wasn’t comfortable. Reluctantly, she said it was fine, because she trusted him.

He shifted her and she sat up by the headboard of the bed while he sat next to her and started toying with her body. This made her feel very uncomfortable, but she didn’t know what to say to someone she trusted so deeply. Out of the blue, he pulled her legs violently, causing her left leg, which hadn’t yet healed from surgery, to start bleeding. He ripped her clothes off, and raped her. She didn’t scream or shout, she only wept. He violated her trust, and left her to drown in her own blood.

When her mom came home, she was surprised to see so much blood. My friend didn’t tell her what happened. Instead, she lied and said that she’d ripped open her stitches in the process of transferring herself into bed, and then took her clothes off because of the bleeding. Her mother eventually found out what happened, but my friend didn’t pursue a police case because she was too shaken.

Although my friend has received intensive psychological therapy, the trauma still haunts her, and she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. It is devastating to know that this man raped her. She is physically dependent, full of love and life, and quite sentimental. All she wanted was for someone to love her and care for her, like all of us do.

The man never contacted her again. She has never spoken of him to anyone except her mother, her therapist, and me. She has stopped being friends with men because she is intensely afraid that something like this may happen again. This is such a shame, because my friend is cut off from the possibility of what she wanted all along, because of one man’s crime.

I understand my friend’s reluctance. She’s hurt and scarred, and needs time to heal. She’s actively working towards a better life for herself. I hope that she heals, and in time, finds the love she deserves.

Featured image credit: Loui Jover