Not a Real Friend… Testimony from Havana

Photo: David Martinez

HAVANA TIMES – You don’t have to be young to fall victim to sexual violence, but nobody can deny that young women are more attractive for men of all ages. Relatives, strangers or even friends, who they trust, believe they can do as they please with them: that if a woman accepts an invitation then she is willing to do whatever they want; that if a woman drinks too much, they don’t need to respect her.

A lot of the time, it’s more than just sexual pleasure and has more to do with them exercising their power over the female body.


I thought I shouldn’t have gone for some time, but how was I to know that my friend would get us mixed up in something so awful? I was 18 years old and hung out with Imara a lot: we worked together, went out together.

A friend of mine was interested in Imara; when they met up at my house, he always tried to get close to her, he complimented her, but he was never disrespectful. Back then, my house was like a meeting place, especially for young people who were interested in literature, open-minded young people, who enjoyed a certain freedom (in the wide sense of the word).

My friend, who wasn’t so young, had fit into our group quite well. We shared many good times during that stifling Special Period, and as well as sharing what we were all reading or writing, we formed friendships that continue to unite us. 

My friend was a great guy, intelligent, a good, solidary person. It was easy to feel comfortable around him. Imara didn’t really have serious relationships, and he agreed to just have an adventure. Everything was perfect up until then. When they arranged to rent a house to have sex, Imara didn’t feel safe and proposed that it would be best to invite lots of people to share it and then at the end of the evening, they would see if they wanted more or not.

My friend invited a cousin who was visiting Cuba after many years without returning, and my naivety stopped me from catching on to the fact that this was really a trap. Several hours passed by until I realized that nobody else would be coming, that it would just be us four; even so, I didn’t think anything bad would happen.

The cousin bought beer, rum and food, we talked a lot. At some point, my friend and Imara left us and I carried on drinking. When I finished one drink, the cousin served me another one, until I couldn’t drink anymore, my head was spinning and I was suddenly lying down in a bedroom, with the cousin on top of me, groping me. I didn’t have strength to do anything, the only thing I could do was cry. The cousin moved away half-confused and I took advantage of this to go to the room where my friends were. Imara was as drunk as I was, and my friend didn’t listen to me, he just said that his cousin was a good person, that he wouldn’t hurt me and he closed the door.

I felt alone, powerless, my spinning head didn’t let me get very far, I fell down and I was suddenly laying down again with the cousin on top of me, groping me, and he just kept saying one thing: I’m not going to do anything you don’t want me to. I didn’t understand, he was already doing it. I didn’t want him on top of me, I didn’t want him to kiss me, I didn’t want him to take off my clothes or penetrate me, I didn’t want him touching me, and I began to shout.

He took his penis out from inside of me and got really angry, he told me that I was just a little girl, and to not cry, and he left. I stayed in the bed for a little while, then my friend came in all serious and told me off, he believed I had made him look bad, that I shouldn’t have drunk so much; he ended up saying that it would have been better for me to have stayed at home. I still didn’t understand anything. Imara didn’t come out for a while, she had fallen asleep. The cousin wasn’t there anymore when we decided to leave, but my friend gave us 10 CUC that he had left behind. They were the first CUC I saw up close, we were living in extreme crisis, but I didn’t want that money, I left Imara with it.

I carried on talking to my friend, I never told him how awful the memories of that day were for me. Recently, I did. Many years had passed before I really understood that my friend was not only an accomplice of the sexual violence I experienced, but that he had also betrayed my trust in him, and the worse thing? He still doesn’t even recognize this.

And you? Have you ever suffered any sexual violence? Do you think telling your experience will alert other people and help educate them that violence is NOT normal?  If so, write us at: [email protected] or [email protected]

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