Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Was it rape? I feel responsible and guilty for not seeing through it sooner.

He was a new friend I'd known about a month, we were taking a trip together in the summer after exams. I had experienced abuse and had never been able to have a real relationship. It became clear during the trip that he wanted to be more than friends and I felt something for him too. I told him about my abuse and that I wasn't ready to be physical. He said he understood, we kissed and he took my top off but I stopped it because I wasn't ready. Next day I woke up with my pajamas pushed out the way and him naked on top of me wearing a condom and trying to push it in me. I said no, he did it anyway. I told him it was hurting and to stop, he carried on. I had nowhere to go, no way of getting away even if I did get him off me. I zoned out. I lay there thinking 'this is sex, it hurts, I don't like sex'. He held me still telling me not to move as he finished. He flopped down on top of me and stayed there for a minute or two then told me I was dirty so go take a shower. I bled and was sore all day. I asked him why he didn't stop when I said no. He said he thought the whole thing from the 'story' on was a ploy to look vulnerable and turn him on.

I stayed for the rest of the trip. I didn't know what else to do. He convinced me I needed him, he loved me, nobody else would love me. I fell for it. Every time we 'had sex' it hurt so much, sometimes it hurt enough that he couldn't even manage to force it after he'd said we'd better 'power through' the pain. He said I must be allergic to condoms.

I stayed. For a few years. I convinced myself I was happy. We had a baby. Before the birth I took advice and saw the relationship for what it was. He was abusive. I had no money of my own, no friends, no privacy. He made sure the bills were in my name and kept my bank account just in the red. He pushed me around, screamed in my face, shook me, checked up on me when he was out, monitored my internet usage, isolated me from my family, humiliated me and made me feel like nothing. I had to ask him for food and products. He told me he only wanted the baby to prove himself, that I would be expected to keep it quiet and that if the baby was loud he would have no problem shaking it to shut it up like he did to me. He told me I wasn't strong enough to birth on my own and would 'fail'. He said if I left him nobody would let me keep my baby because I would ruin the baby's life, and that I should be locked up and he should raise the baby away from me. I knew it was abuse and I left him, but I felt responsible for it all because I was physically strong enough to stop him that first time but I didn't do it.

He molested me again after the baby was born, several times and at least once when I was asleep next to my baby. When I asked him why he did it, he said that it was OK because I had enjoyed it.

I have made sure we weren't alone for several years now. When he or his parents want to see the child we meet on neutral ground. He has threatened abduction in the past, threatened me with court, he is not a good father apart from any of this and I do not trust him to look after the child. The child has formed their own opinion of him - I've never said anything bad and have followed the 'rules' and tried to encourage a good relationship despite my personal feelings. My now much older child's words: "My dad is an a**hole, why do I have to see him?"

He says he was never anything but good to me. I am told that because he pays child support that he is a good father and I should be grateful. I am told that it wasn't really abuse because he didn't actually hit me with his hands. I am well educated and intelligent so I would be sensible enough to not get into situations like this. I must have made it up because he's so lovely. It's all in the past.

I see him in my child's face. I love my child more than anything in the world, it's heartbreaking seeing him in my child's eyes and stance and expressions. I can't wish away what happened because that would be like wishing away my baby and I would never do that, but I do wish it had happened differently.


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