Trigger warning: I’m about to talk about rape. Further warning: If you know me, you’re about to know a lot more.
Let me first of all say that I want no one to tell me how sorry they are that this happened to me. I do not tell this for sympathy and I find that phrase unhelpful and patronizing even when it’s sincere.
Also do not tell me how brave I am. Despite how really scary it is to tell this story, it isn’t bravery that has prompted me to do it.
I’ve talked more than once about how I feel that women should be raised and trained to take no shit from anyone. I’ve also mentioned how I’ve occasionally felt stalked and violated.
But I never have, possibly from embarrassment, or maybe thinking I ought to spare my readers the horror of the whole story, talked about the time I got raped.
See, it’s a source of real shame for me. It may be shocking to some, but I’m not actually superhuman. I’m not even extraordinary as it turns out, to the disappointment of
me most of all some people.
Well, I figure, shame is a thing women get to live with a lot of, so read on if you can stand it. It’s not so bad.
It was so bad, actually. So bad my hands curl into fists when I think of it. Especially when I think of anyone else going through it. I’m tough and I could handle it. So what must they have gone through, those other women who got really raped? I moved on better than many women do, so it’s ok in my case right? No lasting physical harm came to me. Yet there is was. Rape.
He was a man I was very attracted to, had consensually fucked. Even earlier that same day. I knew he was dealing with things, bad things, in his head. See how I try even now to excuse it? We were in my apartment drinking coffee when he expressed his disagreement with some of my choices. He became agitated, then angry, then aggressive. I suddenly had to defend actions I hadn’t taken, face accusations with no basis in reality. He stood over me and I stood to meet him, indignant that he dared pull any such shit. Then he had my wrists in his hands and I couldn’t get away. He threw me down and reached into his pants. I screamed no and struggled to get away.
He twisted my arms till I knew something would pop and I stopped fighting, because I saw in his face that he would break my arms and do it anyway. And he slammed into me, yelling slut and whore and bitch and I forget what else.
Afterwards, I threw him out of my apartment and never saw him again. His last words to me were, “Don’t you dare say this was rape. You wanted it the whole time.” I said, “Not this time.” and shut the door in his face.
Or at least that’s how I’ve told the story to the very few people who know. But the truth is even worse than that. I didn’t just get up and kick his ass out. I made lunch first. That’s the shameful bit that I’ve never confessed to a soul. I got up, cleaned myself up, heated soup and made toast. We sat eating at my kitchen table as if the awful thing hadn’t happened. I was in shock, I think. I was trying to restore a sense of normalcy, fit the experience into the boundaries of sane interactions. It’s like I thought I could fix it with homemade chicken soup, like it was a cold.
The anger eventually seeped through the shock and then I did demand he leave and I never have seen him since. I couldn’t report it, of course. Who would believe me?
This is the shit that makes us question ourselves, that makes us feel sometimes that our stories aren’t legitimate. It is a scar upon myself and my self worth to this day, though it was years ago.
Sounds pretty weak right? But then I had the weeks of fearing that maybe I was pregnant or worse, and hiding that fear. My roommate came home and I acted normal, I saw friends later that day and acted normal. I said not a word to anyone and just got on with life. I got my period, had a reassuring STI test, and everything was ok. I didn’t come to hate men, or to fear sex or anything like that. But I will never forget the hatred in his face, and my own rage still burns.
This is why I say don’t tell me how brave I am. This isn’t brave. I started writing this in the wake of the Elliot Rodgers Isla Vista killings last year. I’ve been sitting on it ever since, opening it now and then to tweak and edit, stare at it and dare myself to hit the publish button. Rodgers and everyone like him, the stories I read on the #yesallwomen hashtag at that time, the reality I can’t look away from and can’t stop thinking about almost forced this story from me, but I never could quite work up the nerve to post it once it was written. I became terrified at my own audacity. I told myself it wasn’t kind to my friends and followers to share this story, that this was too much vulnerability to make public knowledge. I read over it again and worried that the legitimacy of the story was somehow diminished by the fact that I had previously had consensual sex with the guy. And the lunch thing. Good god.
I used to think feminism was almost there, that we were in the home stretch of building true equality between men and women. What a goddamn laugh. We have so far to go. And then we have idiot MRA’s and PUA’s, we have The Red Pill, religious oppression, online harassment, slut shaming and on and on and on. We have society, the media, our parents telling us to smile, be nice, be pretty, be ladies, and where is that getting us?
So I guess if I post this it’s pretty brave after all, and that makes me angry more than anything, because the shame of this should not be mine.
I hate having to post this story. But I can’t go around preaching feminism, encouraging women to tell their own stories while I hide my own. This post has been a huge stumbling block, staring at me every time I think of writing here, keeping me from moving forward even in my writing. And you know, fuck that. I was made a victim. I won’t continue making myself one.
We can’t shield and protect our abusers and hope to ever heal. We can’t judge each other’s choices when these stories come to light.
Now that that’s out of the way, if you’ve made it this far you should also know that I didn’t get into a car accident last year. My face looked like that because my partner at the time beat the hell out of me, and that is why he is gone. And I was sucker enough to lie to my friends to protect him. Fuck that too. Ironically, my records show that the last time I opened this post to edit and flirt with publishing it, was the day before that happened. Seems like a sign.
Thanks for reading.