Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Unwavering guilt.

Last year I went out with a friend of mine and have lived to regret it so much I find it hard to live.

Before this he and I were as close as siblings, our families have known each other for years, my great-grandfather and his great-grandfather were best friends, etc. Because of this we have always known each other, but had not become as close friends until he became friends with my boyfriend. He and J (my boyfriend of 5 years) have been close friends for years and due to him hanging around so much I began to become close friends with him. Anyway, skip forward through our teenage years to find that he and I are best friends in college.

Last year as a whole was pretty hard for me. I was being intimidated by my housemates and felt so alone. My mother has been very sick physically and mentally since I was seven and my father and I have cared for her for fourteen years along with raising my baby sister. Last year, I discovered that my father may have fathered a child with another woman behind my mother's back. The horrible thing about it is that the child is very sick and the woman often comes around our house begging for handouts from my mother while I have to sit there, fighting the urge to go crazy. My boyfriend and I were fighting and I wasn't sure whether I could put up with it for much longer.

Fast forward to the beginning of the summer and my friend and I are going out on a night out, he told me that he had broken up with his girlfriend and that he wanted to drown his sorrows. Because of this I went to the bar with him and got drunk, very very drunk and to this day I'm not sure if my drink was spiked or not. He said that we should go back to his house to go on chatroulette, something my friends and I would do when we were drinking. When we got there he realised he had forgotten his laptop and we should probably go to sleep.

I confess, that I thought nothing of sharing a bed with my friend, in reality, despite him having a girlfriend I actually thought he was gay. So I struggled with my jeans and was prepared to sleep in my t-shirt and some pants. This is not something that I would have done if I had not felt completely assured that this person was safe and that they weren't interested in me that way. I should say that I was severely overweight as a teenager and still suffered from low self esteem and still find it a bit astounding that people would be attracted to me.

Anyway, I'm lying in his bed and he starts rubbing my leg and my drunk addled mind seems to think that he's my boyfriend, as it is something that he would do. my mind is floating and detaching itself from my body, I'm not really aware that what's happening is sexual and am letting it happen. I'm so drunk I'm starting to slip unconscious, despite this he is touching me and I'm not telling him to stop, I barely know what is going on. I recollect that I drunkenly may consented to something because I felt him try to penetrate me, but due to a lack of sexual attraction, my body isn't allowing it to happen and I'm saying stop, with my last burst of consciousness I realise that what is happening isn't right, through the fuzz of my brain.

Then I fall unconscious or black out.

When I wake up, I feel sick. More sick than I have ever felt before in my life. My head is pounding and my stomach is curdling, my friend is also touching me intimately, something he must have been doing while I was unconscious. I freeze. My mind flashing back to an experience I had when I was three or four with a trusted family member touching me intimately while I lay there feeling confused. I'm numb, my lip is sweating and I'm going to be sick. I get up and stumble to the toilet and throw up. my sick and still intoxicated mind sees vaguely that this is wrong, but i feel as though I'm going to collapse, on shaky legs I return back to the only place I know in that house, his room. I felt that he hadn't meant to do it and that I'm probably exaggerating. I fall asleep again, only to wake up to the same thing again. Despite me making it obvious that I wasn't interested using my body language and that I was awake. I was so ill, my head was swarming while I lay there, my head turned away from him while he probed me, hurting me each time he touched me. I was numb. I was four again, confused and being hurt by someone I loved. I was too ill to walk home and too ill to do anything but vomit and fall in and out of consciousness or deep sleep. Eventually I couldn't take it any more. My fuzzy brain has convinced me that if I pretended to play along for a minute he would leave me alone, he didn't and I couldn't keep up the act. it was physically beginning to hurt and I eventually plucked up the courage to tell him to stop in a polite way, hoping that he wouldn't say what my teenage bullies would say, calling me frigid or that there was something wrong with me, my self esteem is so low that I often will not venture into well deserved arguments for fear that someone will mention the way I look and tear me apart again. I said to stop politely in a way that would get his attention, and he said, "Come on, no one will ever know.", I shook my head and said No again.

He didn't stop touching me. He was rubbing his penis along my back as I lay hunched up in a ball, trying hard not to vomit.

Eventually he left me alone and I managed to get up and get home. he walked back to my place while I stumbled home, the numb feeling urging me tell him that as far as I was concerned "nothing had happened. that I hadn't even kissed him." This much was true, during the whole thing, including the night before I didn't touch him, I didn't kiss him, I didn't get aroused or sexually excited, I just felt numb. He just shrugged and walked away.

He leaves me alone and I vomit again before sitting in the floor of the shower and stared at the tiles, unable to feel anything.

Six months later, I still felt numb but I can no longer walk nearby the old house where it happened, nor past the bar where we drank at. My spine stiffens at the mention of his name, or if I hear he has had contact with my boyfriend. I no longer trust my male friends, worrying constantly that I'm going to so something to attract them and cause the whole thing to happen again. I no longer care about what I look like, I don't think or talk about my appearance and shrink back when someone gives me a compliment. Come Christmas, numbness leads to self hatred. I see what has happened as cheating, as if it had only just happened, my brain comes out of a fog. I cry everyday, I don't eat, I can't look at my boyfriend without the whole night floating through my mind and hatred fills my brain. Suicide is an option during this time, though I wouldn't leave my sister. I pluck up the courage to tell J what has happened in two staggers. Firstly that I went out with someone I thought I could trust, that something happened between us before I passed out that I put a stop to when I realised that something wasn't right and that when I woke up he was touching me, that I was sick and that eventually I put a stop to it before going home. My boyfriend is the type of man who doesn't want to know the details, he just wants me to know that he doesn't blame me, that he forgives me and that he wants to know who it was.

I can't tell him. They've been friends for years, our families are closely linked and i can only imagine that in such a large and prestigious family that it if got out my life would be over and I would probably be sued for slander. Because I've been playing it up in my brain, convinced that when he found out that he would dump me, so surprised was I when he accepted what I was telling him and told me that he forgave me.

The problem is, I can't forgive myself. I feel like I should have jumped up and yelled at him, slapped his hand away and ran away, but instead I did nothing, feeling like a child once again. I feel like it was all my fault, why didn't I cover up, why did i drink so much, why didn't I just insist on going home, why, why, why?

My life right now is filled with shame. I look at my wonderful boyfriend, one I feel like I have betrayed beyond repair and put a pretend smile on while I'm dying on the inside, It physically ails me to think that this guy probably thinks that what happened the way he wanted to, with me enjoying it, though I have told my new housemate what has happened and she claims that there is no way he could have though it was normal and that it was all good.

I'm drowning in shame and because of this I find myself thinking about what has happened every second of every day, dying more and more, forgetting what it felt like to be happy.

I'm aware that some of the women and gentlemen in this forum have had a lot worse incidents than me and I am not trying to downplay them at all, merely trying to find out was it really my fault? and if not, how do I stop feeling like it is?

 

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8 thoughts on “Unwavering guilt.

  • Siân says:

    It really isn’t your fault and I hope one day you don’t feel so burdened with shame. You did nothing shameful.Trusting people in the way you did is natural. Betraying that trust is the shameful thing here. He will know it was wrong and I hope one day you find peace.

  • SusanLouiselatcham says:

    Not your fault! Its not normal for a man to want to carry on like that with a woman who is clearly not enjoying!
    Are you seeing anyone you can talk to face to face? It might really help to be able to clarify the situation in your own mind and show you that you are blameless. X

  • MarinaS (@marstrina) says:

    It absolutely, categorically, unequivocally, emphatically was Not. Your. Fault.

    There is no way this guy did not know what he was doing. Even if he didn’t realise the severity & the impact it might have on you, he knew he was doing something wrong, or he would not have reassured you that nobody will ever find out.

    That he did that, placing the burden of guilt on you, making it out into a fling rather than sexual assault, makes me believe all the more strongly that he was being a manipulative, entitled asshole.

    I know there is nothing anyone can say that will take the shame away. Shame is a terrible, corrosive emotion, and probably the most private one we have; when we are in shame, we are unreachable.

    But do take the words people put for you on this forum and keep them handy. When healing truly begins, they will remind you that there is a way of looking at this situation from outside that bubble of shame.

  • Kerry says:

    I can feel the pain from your post and it is very upsetting to read because this is 100% absolutely NOT your fault.
    There are a million reasons why women freeze when it seems like they should be screaming no and your response to the situation was completely normal particuarly as you were so ill you found it hard to physically move.
    I have had a similar situation where I drunkenly shared a bed with a male friend I would have trusted with my life. He honestly saw nothing wrong with touching me while I was passed out. I didnt make a fuss at the time as I excused his behaviour as drunkenness and I didnt want to “make a fuss”.
    The lack of a vocal no does not imply a yes. Women do not walk around in a state of consent unless we vocally inform men otherwise.
    I really hope you can feel better about this, none of this was your fault. Take care.

  • Mellie says:

    Oh Kate, it wasn’t your fault. Absolutely, it wasn’t your fault.

    You’re not downplaying anyone’s experiences by sharing your own. It’s absolutely horrifying and crippling, and it disrupts life in ways you never thought imaginable. Don’t downplay your own experience. Rape is rape is rape, and every case is severe. You have my support, and I believe you.

    I wish to share a tool with you that has helped me through quite a bit (I found it while in a group for sexual assault survivors). It’s through CCASA, the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. It talks about consent, victim reactions to abuse and violence (freezing, by the way, is a perfectly normal reaction. Your body does what it needs to in order to survive, and freezing was the right reaction for you in your situation), and also talks about reporting and what to expect. There’s a section for family, for healing, and even if the section may not seem specific to you, I would recommend reading everything if you can. Do it in your own time, at your own pace, and if you need to put it down, that’s perfectly okay.

    http://www.ccasa.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/2011-English-Handbook.pdf
    Page 8
    Page 18-19
    Page 43+

    These are specific sections I think you may find helpful immediately.

    I believe you, we believe you, and you have support here.

    You’re not alone.

  • Fi says:

    Hey Kate,

    I want you to know that I believe you and it was in no way your fault. A lot of the things you’re describing that are causing you anxiety and shame, like your having returned to his room as it was the only place you knew, and having felt a similar way to how you did as a child are completely normal reactions to what must have been a horrifying and traumatic experience. It’s often very easy to look at ourselves and our actions first, for example by wondering if your previous experiences made you react in this way (the reality is that most women do, regardless), but as others have said above the focus should be on his choices and his decisions. Thinking about that can be incredibly painful too especially as you knew and trusted him, but it is where all the responsibility lies.

    I’m really glad you were able to write this. I think it’s really common to feel like others experiences are ‘worse’ but the individual impact of this kind of trauma just can’t be exaggerated. I hope you’re able to be kind to yourself and that sharing your experience has been helpful for you

    Xxx

  • Heather Downs says:

    so sorry that he did that to you

  • @LizJ73 says:

    Kate it was NOT your fault. Im so sorry that this happened to you xx