As I sit here deleting and retyping words, I realize there’s no way pretty way to say I was raped.
For years I wouldn’t even use the word at all. If the need arose, I would say I was “sexually assaulted.” The word “rape” is complicated and people don’t know how to deal with complicated. It’s a word that forces us to feel and question and relate to other human beings. It’s a word I hate and hope to eventually be unneeded.
Just typing the word is like ash in my mouth.
But I want to share my story. Someone who writes a blog I follow, Oh My God, That Britni’s Shameless, has recently had to deal with being raped herself and I’m hoping my story might help her or someone else. This isn’t something I talk about, so I’m not sure how it will come out. I’m not looking for sympathy, just understanding.
And if I only ever give one honest, naked piece of myself to this blog, then I want it to be this.
The first thing you have to understand is the way I grew up because you shouldn’t be surprised when I tell you I was only thirteen when this happened. Sad to say, that any rap video will give you a pretty good description of my childhood. Drugs, alcohol, sex, dropping out of school, prison, shoplifting, and foster homes were the norm where I lived. It wasn’t strange for girls to have kids before they were fifteen or to date men twice their age. Both my parents were tweakers and though my mother tried, she didn’t really give a shit what I was up to. So even though I was thirteen, had been drinking Cisco all day (yes because I really was that ghetto) and he was 22, it wasn’t some astounding significance. It just was just the way things happened where I lived.
But that doesn’t change the fact that I said no.
I’m not going to get into the details of what happened, but the first step was admitting that I really was raped. I’m ashamed it took me as long as it did. For a long time I thought maybe it wasn’t rape but somehow something less. I may have said no, but I didn’t fight or scream so how can it really be rape? I wasn’t beaten up or bruised. I didn’t press charges. I figured it must have been my fault, especially since it was someone I knew. Someone I had slept with before (once). In fact, he was the first person I ever slept with. How can it be rape? There a hundred thousand lies I've told myself to believe I wasn't raped.
But I’ll never forget the brief words, “It’s so cute the way you say no,” that he whispered in my ear as he took off my clothes.
That’s the part that’s really stayed with me all these years. The fact I still hesitate to say I was raped is one of the most upsetting things about the whole situation. That and the fact I can look at my situation with such detachment. It’s like it happened to someone else. I can look back and see it, but I can’t feel it and I want to be able to feel something. Anything. Rage or despair, it makes little difference.
Instead I feel nothing.
This happened ten years ago though so I’ve had a long time to come to terms with my situation and cope. That being said, I want to touch on another subject Britni brought up which is her fantasies involving rape since I have them too.
Personally, I don’t think there is anything shameful about being raped and then having rape fantasies. Fantasies are an unrealistic way at looking at sex. Even though a lot of fantasies can be achieved, they still derive from the imagination and are therefore outside of reality.
Rape fantasies are usually about being overpowered and taken by another person. This other person is overcome with lust and want and therefore can’t control themselves. The woman is absolved of any responsibility and walks away feeling wanted and desired. We see this time and time again in books and movies. Nancy Friday wrote in her 1973 classic My Secret Garden, "Rape does for a woman's sexual fantasy what the first martini does for her in reality: Both relieve her of responsibility and guilt… She gets him to do what she wants him to do, while seeming to be forced."
In reality though, rape is none of these things. It’s about power and violence and sexual fulfillment of only the offender.
The sad reality is our bodies were made for sexual reproduction and therefore respond to sexual arousal whether we want it to or not. The betrayal of a persons body (responding or having orgasms) while being raped is one of the most complex feelings we can experience and is one of the hardest aspects to deal with.
So I guess that's it. If you're reading this and you've been sexually assaulted, remember you're not alone and it does get better.
Here is a link to RAINN, The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. I hope you never have to use it.