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'A man raped me to live out his porn fantasy'

The writer of this article could tell you her name, but that would spoil all the fun.

Rape porn isn't harmless and women have the scars to prove it

All Kelly* remembers is thinking she was having a nightmare — even though she was awake everything still had an unreal dream-like quality. It was the middle of the night and being wrenched from a deep sleep made it hard to process what was happening to her. At first, all she could think about was suffocating — his hand was covering her nose and mouth so tightly she saw stars as she fought for every breath.

But then her roommate screamed and everything came into sharp focus, all at once: The man ran out of their college apartment. Her roommate was still screaming. She hurt. Her clothing was torn. All her roommates were screaming. She was crying. But if she was crying that, at least, meant she could now breathe. And as she took deep, gulping breaths, she realized she'd been sexually assaulted.

"The first coherent memory I have of that night is looking out my window and seeing yellow police tape — you know, the kind they put around crime scenes? — and realizing that I was the crime scene. My body was a crime scene," Kelly says, still shaking even though it's been years since she was attacked.

More: 14 things rape survivors want the men who date them to know

The police, called by a downstairs neighbor who heard all the yelling, found plenty of evidence in the apartment, in her room and on Kelly herself. From a criminal standpoint, the case was a strong one. And while she tried to be grateful that she had what so many victims of sexual assault don't — proof — from her standpoint the nightmare was still happening.

"It's funny, because there were witnesses and DNA and stuff I think everyone knows more about what happened to me than I do," she says.

One of her roommates heard their front door open. Another roommate's friend, who was sleeping on the couch, also awoke to the noise and saw the man walk confidently across the living room. (It was that confident walk that stopped her from calling out then — he acted like he belonged there and so she assumed he was somebody's boyfriend making a late-night visit.) The police then told Kelly it appeared that he'd watched her sleep for some time — 30 minutes to an hour — masturbating as he slowly pulled back her covers and then her pajamas. Touching her. Taking his time.

And yet she remembers none of this. Her mind is blank, until that awful moment of waking up wondering if she was underwater and then realizing she was under a person.

It's that blankness that drove her crazy in the following months. She had so many questions. Why her room? Why her? Did he watch her roommate too? Had he been watching them for days? Had he come in other nights and they just didn't know it? But why her? And why didn't she wake up sooner? She hadn't been drinking that night (she's sure because she had a huge presentation in a class the next day and wanted to be on top of her game). So why did it still feel all fuzzy? And why did everyone else know what happened to her and she didn't? But mostly it was an endless repetition, played through endless sleepless nights, of "Why me? Why me? Why. Me."

More: The type of PTSD we're not talking enough about

The questions are what drove her to the courtroom every time he appeared before the judge (and it was many times). Her victims' advocate, a nice woman who understood everything about the legal process and nothing about the assault, told Kelly she didn't have to go. But she wanted answers. She wanted to hear herself, from the man that had done it, what had happened to her body that night.

Court cases are not like they are on TV. They're equal parts grueling, frustrating and boring. And real, satisfying answers are very hard to come by. He never confessed so she never got to hear what he'd actually done to her. But the police didn't need his confession, it turned out, because he'd done it before. Kelly was the last victim in a string of nearly identical attacks that had occurred over the past decade in her college town.

Other victims testified in court against him, telling a story so eerily similar to Kelly's own that she said it was almost like watching a movie — which would turn out to be more true than she realized.

"But it wasn't like some sisterhood of the traveling rapist," she jokes, wryly. "We were all so traumatized, still, that we couldn't really help each other. We could barely help ourselves."

More: Sexual assault documentary explores the epidemic of rape on college campuses

But while none of them got an answer to the "me" part of the "why me" question, they did get an answer to the "why." Sort of. After the judge ordered a psychological exam of their attacker, the psychiatrist reported that Max* had gotten addicted to pornography during his adolescence, right when his sexual drive was at its most vulnerable. He testified how Max had told him that eventually just looking at nudes wasn't enough and that he'd gotten into more hardcore porn. Then videos that showed a particular kink: having sex with sleeping women, especially those that were filmed as if they were real and not staged. And maybe they were, Max speculated, excitedly. The women in the videos certainly had seemed surprised and horrified, he said, and everyone knows women aren't that good of actresses. He was particularly fond of a specific video and eventually, the lines between fantasy and reality became so blurred that he wanted to try it out himself. He didn't see why shouldn't, he told the psychiatrist.

Max wouldn't talk about any of his real-life victims, but he talked for hours about the porn he watched, describing in detail the plots, methods, scenery and set-ups involved. That porn clip turned out to be the most damning evidence in the end. Because Max had acted it out so faithfully — he had even worn the same clothing that the man in the movie had — it was nearly as good as a confession. And they had his DNA.

Kelly and the other victims testified at his sentencing, describing again what had been stolen from them — even though the physical scars were long gone, none of them could sleep peacefully and all of them had nightmares. They did it because they were worried that he'd get off on a mental technicality as he'd repeatedly been suicidal while in jail. But the psychiatrist said Max was sane, although likely a sociopath, and the judge sent him to prison.

More: I was raped and never fought back

"You'd think that would be the end of it, that I'd feel like justice was served and everyone is safe," Kelly says. "But I don't feel safe. Raping people might be illegal but rape porn isn't. He might be in prison but those videos are still out there and men are still watching them. And who knows what they're learning?"

"People will say it wasn't really the porn that caused it. He was the one who made the decision to rape me. And that's true," she adds. "But the porn taught him how to do it."

*Names and some identifying details have been changed for privacy reasons

If you or a loved one is a victim of abuse, please contact RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network 1-800-656-HOPE.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

Rape porn isn't harmless and women have the scars to prove it
Image: Dennis Van Tine/Future Image/WENN.com
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