I’m able to share my story fairly easily. I can talk about it without breaking down. It’s not hard for me to talk about. However, I don’t share all the details because I worry that someone will blame me for the rape. There was alcohol, an ex-boyfriend, and consensual sex involved before the rape took place. Many people may hear that and say that it’s my fault. Or that I had already consented. Or that I shouldn’t have done X, Y, or Z. Or that they can see why he thought he could do it. But the truth is, the second I said no, it should have stopped. I did not consent to what happened and I voiced my unhappiness and told him to stop. He did not. That makes it rape. And I feel that it some ways it’s even more important for me to share my story because it does consist of what so many think of as gray areas. It’s one of those rapes that isn’t as blatant or obvious as being “rape,” so many women that experience them may question whether what happened to them was rape or do feel like maybe they did consent, yet can’t figure out why they still feel so dirty and violated.
Studies show that women who are raped by intimate partners suffer even deeper and longer-lasting effects than those who are raped by strangers or nonintimate acquaintances (Bancroft, 2002). Not only has the woman been violated and assaulted sexually, she’s also been betrayed and hurt by someone that she trusted and thought cared about her. For me, dealing with the fact that I was violated by someone that I had trusted and that I had dated was just as hard, if not harder, to cope with than the rape itself. On the other hand, it made it easier for me to not blame myself for all those things that I listed above, because of course I let my guard down and put myself in a vulnerable position; I trusted this man and did not think he would do anything to hurt me.
Yes, I was drunk. And so was he. But intoxication is no excuse for not accepting no for an answer.
Yes, we had just stopped dating the week before. But previous involvement is no excuse for not accepting no for an answer.
Yes, I was having consensual sex with him. But consenting to vaginal sex is no excuse for not taking no to anal sex for an answer.
He told me that I “couldn’t claim to like rough sex and then object when it starts to get rough.” But there is a difference between rough sex and forcing someone to do something that they have already said no, and that had been discussed prior to any sexual activity as being a hard limit.
He had me pinned below him, me on my stomach and him ready to mount. He growled in my ear that I was “taking it in the ass whether [I] want[ed] to or not” before forcing himself on me. And with those words, he verbally confirmed what his actions would accomplish.
Those words haunt me more than his actions do. The one time I was in the same place as him, it was not the sight of him that made me sick to my stomach. It was the sound of his voice. A friend came up behind me while I was sitting at the bar and began talking to me very close to my ear. The feeling of someone talking into my ear from behind me triggered such an intense flashback that I started shaking and crying right there.
I shared a bed with a male friend that I’d shared a bed with dozens of times before and began hyperventilating with the fear that he would do something to me. A client told a story of being raped by her husband during a group session and I had a full on flashback.I fell into a really deep depression for about 6 months and couldn’t figure out why.
I don’t blame myself for what happened, and I’m thankful that I am a strong person with a good understanding of trauma and how to cope, deal, and process it. Not everyone does, and many women feel a great deal of guilt and shame about being raped, especially if it was perpetrated by someone that they trusted. They feel violated because they were violated. And I think that’s why it’s even more important for people like me to tell our stories. It reinforces the fact that it is rape, it’s not the victim’s fault, it’s okay to be affected by it, and that they (you, me) are not alone. This post was the prelude to my story. I’ve given details, but have yet to write it out in a linear narrative. That will come next. Not tomorrow, but soon.