I finally gave my silence back to my boyfriend
When I was 21, I was raped. It wasn't by some stranger. It was by my partner. After the experience, when he saw me crying, he told me angrily that I "shouldnt have made him do that if I didnt want to do it".
You see, I'd mentioned wanting to have a sexual encounter with him at some point. He responded by forcefully initiating it right that moment, and it took three times of me saying no, of my body seizing up, before he finally stopped. But - I'd asked for it...right?
This was the lie I told myself for the rest of the time we spent together, and the next seven years after. He repeatedly did things like that - take advantage of me sexually and occasionally physically, and then ask why I was making him do these things, making him feel guilty, etc. And well, he was my boyfriend, and he was nice to me the other times, so...clearly this must be true.
They dont teach you that in rape prevention. I was always waiting for the stranger in the alley, the drunken fratboy, that when it came in the form of an abusive partner, I couldnt process it, see it for what it was. I lost friends, the right to only have things done to my body that _I_ wanted done, and me.
The reality is, when you ask survivors of domestic abuse what the hardest part of the cycle is, they will say the emotional abuse. I didnt know who I was or what I stood for, was convinced no one else would touch me except for him, and that somehow, I invited all this upon myself. I was a strong-minded, extroverted college woman who shriveled up into nothing.
That kind of woman can't fight back. She has forgotten she can, or is too afraid that doing so will destroy what little of herself she has left.
Two years ago, he re-entered my life, and became friends with everyone in my social group. I couldnt speak up. I started having panic attacks and flashbacks and had to see a therapist for the next few years. Eventually, I stopped blaming myself. Started realizing there was no excuse, no reason he shouldn’t have been able to listen to the words ‘no’ and take responsibility for his own actions and feelings. Why do we think this is such an unreasonable thing to ask of an adult?! But when dealing with friends, I still couldn’t face all the victim-blaming, the 'this wasnt really rape' remarks, because I was too busy dealing with the PTSD. “I don’t understand why you’re making such a big deal over a bad breakup’ was the response I got when I started asking to know if he’d be at a party, so I could avoid it and self-protect.
I knew no one would believe me. Up until two weeks ago, I only shared with a few close friends. Doing anything else was too terrifying.
Two weeks ago, he saw me at a friend’s memorial, and kept trying to sit next to me, despite my only communication (an email when he came back) clearly stating I wished only that he never come near me or engage me in anyway. Seems so small, just sitting next to someone or making eye contact. My PTSD flared up again bad though, and I’m still dealing with it.
Then last week, he decided to post on facebook about it – telling people he’d been falsely accused of being a rapist and wondering why I was making these claims, saying such hurtful things. He even posted a link about preventing rapists from being in your social circle. It was too much. Almost 10 years, but this anger over my silence bubbled over – over him getting to walk about freely, over him getting to enjoy life without taking any responsibility for what he did, over him getting to live without the weekly, sometimes daily, panic attacks or other symptoms of PTSD that I do.
Enough is enough!
A few days ago, I posted on facebook the most respectful, short story of what occurred that I could. I named him. Jason. I wanted people to know what had happened, but do it in a way that they were free to make their own choice. I just needed to be heard, finally. Especially if they were hearing about it already.
Victim-blaming did occur. I’ve been told ‘regret is not rape’, that he should be able to post his side of the story on my thread (!), debating the validity of how much a rape victim I am, and even that I was doing a disserve to ‘real’ rape victims by claiming to be one. It’s hard to hear, I won’t deny it. Mainly because I told myself the same thing for so long before finally giving that mantle back to him and beginning to heal.
But you know what? I’ve also been told how brave I am. How inspiring I am being to other survivors for posting that, and even getting thanked by some friends I had no idea were survivors themselves. That they believe me. That they wish they had the strength I do. They’ve fought the victim-blamers with statistics, education, and calling them out for what they were doing. And those wonderful people? Significantly out-weigh the naysayers.
Something I’d been wanting to hear for years, I am finally getting a chance to hear: “I believe you.”
I want to encourage everyone to share their story. So many of us have similar experiences, but we’re too afraid that no one will understand, will believe us. We need to see each other! To throw the blame were it belongs, on the perpetrator.
The more we hear our voices echoed in others, the more we will heal and create an atmosphere in which rapists cannot hide.
Find that courage, whether it takes you a week, a year, or a decade. WE BELIEVE YOU.
The BBC, rape myths and damaging 'advice' http://everydayvictimblaming.com/discussions/the-bbc-rape-myths-and-damaging-advice/ via @EVB_Now
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Thank you for sharing your story with us.
I believe you. x
Your story touched me so much because for years after I broke up with my boyfriend I felt like this. I only about a month ago accepted what had happened & named it for what it was- rape. It’s so difficult sometimes to say those words, they’re filled with such ugliness, such power but it’s incredible that after i said “He raped me, it wasn’t my fault” that a weight i had been carrying around for years fell away.
I want to tell you again and again it’s not you, anyone who tries to make you feel bad or guilty about it either doesn’t understand what rape is or is an ass. This blog post, am about to link to you really helped me deal with my feelings, accept that I was angry, name the feeling and start really taking care of myself and being kind to myself.
Thank you for posting this. The first half resonated very much with my own experience and I identified with your feelings of self-blame, continuing the relationship despite the abuse, needing to find out from friends whether he would be at social events and people thinking I’m just bitter over the breakup because they don’t know the full story.
I’m lucky, though, in that my ex has never (to my knowledge) told our friends what I have accused him of. I say lucky, because I the idea of going through what you’ve just described is terrifying to me. While I agree with everything you say about survivors needing to see each other and be heard, for me the idea of being retraumatised and stigmatised by people I consider friends is just too much.
I BELIEVE YOU.
I understand how awful those seemingly small interactions can be. And I understand how hard it can be to see abuse for what it is until some time later. And to then start speaking about it…
Thanks for speaking out and all the best with your healing journey.
I believe you. Nobody made him do anything but him. He did wrong. The fact that he did not respect your boundaries again at the funeral shows how much he only thinks of himself. Again he was trying to start his emotional abuse on you.
You are so brave to tell your side of the story.
good on u girl…decent people believe u and always will xxx
I believe you because I know many women and girls who were also told by their boyfriends/husbands/male partners/male work colleagues that they were responsible for not preventing these men from raping them!
The lies these male perpetrators utter are insidious and because there are innumerable bystanders of both sexes who continue to deny the fact we live in a culture wherein pseudo male sex right to females is seen as a right not a violation of all women’s and girls’ right to sexual autonomy and ownership of their bodies, this is how these lies continue to be perpetuated.
The actions of this male rapist are not an isolated case, rather this is what most males say when they commit rape/male sexual violence against a known woman or girl. These male sexual predators constantly deny their accountability and claim it is the female’s fault. The male sexual predator is engaging in ‘mind games’ because it is vital he must not be held accountable for his actions.
Women and girls who speak out and hold the male sexual predators accountable, are very courageous because our women-hating society doesn’t want to know what is really happening. It is so much easier for innumerable women to deny the fact that ‘respectable, charming family man’ is in fact a male sexual predator. But if we women don’t speak out and hold those men accountable then nothing will change.
So what can women do? Listen and believe women rather than immediately dismiss their accounts as ‘lies’ because this is precisely what male sexual predators and our male supremacist system wants to happen. Women educate yourselves about the real facts of male sexual violence against women and girls and do not accept at face value the lies malestream media promotes whenever it sensationalises yet another ‘rape case.’
As author of this article discovered, so many women and girls have been subjected to the same dynamics wherein the male rapist makes the decision his male pseudo sex right to a woman’s/girl’s body supercedes her right to be accorded sexual autonomy. Sexual autonomy is what males have always accorded themselves and for women this is still a very distant dream not a reality. But all women and girls have that fundamental right of ownership and control over their bodies and sexuality, which is why we women must continue to demand this right and hold those males and their male created structures/institutions which uphold this male pseudo sex right, accountable.
Change doesn’t happen easily especially when it concerns eliminating mens’ sacrosanct pseudo sex right to females which is why women collectively speaking out has far greater power and sends a powerful message to other women that they are not responsible for the actions of sexually predatory males.
I too have had my rapist (ex-boyf) return into my orbit after 10 years… he moved to my village, on my street in June this year.
You’re very brave talking about it on Facebook, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve wanted to do so but worried about what people might say. I started my blog instead where I can talk about it and release what’s in my head. It’s been a haven of sorts as I’ve discovered how not alone I actually am. http://rapehappens.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/what-is-justice/
You are absolutly amazing!!! Thank you for sharing your amazing story. I wish I could comment on your story and tell those victim blamers what they can go do with themselves.
I came from a similarly abusive relationship and I have only told 2 people about it. The mere thought of my exam returning for a weekend sent me into a panic attack, I can’t imagine what him moving back would do.
Good for you!