“Well, that’ll teach you to be more careful”
Since the age of 18 I made the naive decision to confide in those I believed closest to me - in making such a decision, I have left myself open to not only the torment of my rape and the nightmares that go with that - but the confusion and unwillingness to be understood by my confidants. I have allowed myself to hear their ugly thoughts and opinions on something only I should be allowed to have an opinion on, I have experienced the human race's inability to lend a listening ear, to comfort and to hold - but instead to judge and subtly blame me for what I experienced during my relationship with my rapist.
I understand that my naivety reared a relationship that many found difficult to swallow, a relationship where people would rather sit back and comment on from afar than reaching out in a bid to help. I also understand that unfortunately rape is still a taboo subject, people flinch and recoil at the word - the connotations attached make peoples skin crawl. I know, looking back, that I expected too much from my inner circle to react and pull me out of a situation. A situation that they believed I got myself into and a situation they deemed possible to get out of, their lack of understanding fuelled their judgemental attitudes. People are always frightened of something they don't understand, something they've never had to experience.
In many ways I was pushed further into his arms by their complete inability to acknowledge what was going on, the fact that some of them had him as a Facebook friend. They would rather comment on their dislike of him instead of questioning my thoughts and feelings. When I was diagnosed with depression, a direct factor of my rape, I had to listen to their whispers and see their eye rolls, 'she thinks she's the only one with problems' one of them said, whilst others shrugged it off and casually stated 'I didn't realise it effected you that much', as though rape and depression is something that you just 'get over'. They made me feel like I was the one to blame.
There were times that I found the strength to reach out (albeit when I was drunk) sitting my closest friends down and attempting to explain how even though he hurt me, I was trapped and I loved him, I looked for guidance and instead I was told to 'stop complaining'. They couldn't get their head round the fact that I was his girlfriend and I remained his girlfriend, that I was not an innocent girl that was dragged into the toilets or down an alley. Instead of questioning why he abused me, they questioned why I stayed with him, why I was the one letting it happen. They trivialised my experiences, with comments like 'you'll get over it' and 'well, it's only four years of your life', they couldn't understand why I was falling apart. I was told that if he was ever convicted for what he did, that it would be 'harsh'. Simply because I was in a relationship with him, I apparently didn't deserve the justice that someone would if they were viciously attacked by a stranger. I questioned whether their thoughts would be different if I was a victim of domestic violence, if I came home with my face beaten black and blue - would it be acceptable to prosecute him then when they had visual proof of what was happening?
I had to listen to my family members chastise me and tell me that if I did take the case to court, that 'I would be ruining a young man's life' and that they were sure I was 'as much to blame in all of this', I was expected to revoke my statement so he would be free to live his life a free and innocent man, allowed to manipulate and control someone all over again - whilst I had to live with the guilt and shame. They sat there and said 'well, this didn't happen when I was younger' and silently branded me a slut because it had never happened to them, because they only went through life with 'two boyfriends', I was told that 'next time..' it would 'teach me' to be 'more careful' as though I was the one that even needed to be taught, as though I was the one to blame. They sighed with relief when they found out I'd been raped rather than getting myself pregnant. My boyfriend at the time berated me for his belief that I'd always 'love' my rapist more than him.I had to listen to jibes from my closest friend saying that, 'It's so easy being gay, you don't have to listen to women saying no if they don't want to. If you want sex, you have sex. Who even says no to sex?'
I've learned to accept that the majority of people simply turn a blind eye when there's trouble, an unwillingness to get their hands dirty - yet something I will never be able to accept is the fact that those very people who make no effort to reach out a helping hand are also the ones with the most to say - the ones who blame victims so casually, most the time without even realising.
- I have a blog documenting my own experiences through the court case and how my rape case was handled with victimisation a main theme: it can be found here: http://revokingmyanonymity.wordpress.com/ if it is of any use to your followers.
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