The One Where I Face Reality (potentially triggering)
This post may be triggering. Please read with caution. Take care of you.
I used to vehemently deny that “rape culture” exists.
When people talked about how rape is so commonplace that it’s often treated as if it’s no big deal, or how, in some places, it’s even touted as a good thing, I would go off on long tangents about all the reasons those things weren’t the norm. I’d point out rapists who were given more jail time than murderers, and the fact that child molesters are often raped, assaulted, and even beaten to death in prison. I’d mention the guys who beat up one of their best friends because when we parted ways after I agreed to dance with him “as friends” (we were the only ones not dancing at a New Year bash), he began harassing me.
Suddenly, I saw rape culture in a completely different light.
You see, the truth is I never really believed that rape culture didn’t exist. My life experience has always told me otherwise. But to admit that meant admitting that the people I thought cared about me growing up really didn’t. At least not enough to stand up for me, or give me a hand when I needed it most.
Three years and four days ago, I finally admitted to the world that the abuse I’ve suffered affected me. Everyone else already knew, but this was something I needed to do for me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to talk about all the ways it has affected me, so I stuck to my issues with intimacy. And even with the love and support I received from my friends and the blogosphere* afterwards, I did what I always do, and clammed up as if it never happened. I backed away from the subject of sexual assault, and avoided talking about my assaults as if my life depended on it.
Thing is, that one attack alone affected me in far more ways than just making me afraid of being touched.
At the time, I was with this guy, D. The relationship was weird. I’m still not sure I know what was really going on. The stories I heard when we broke up were all over the place. But in the beginning, things were awesome.
D’s parents tried to control him, even though he was 19 and on his way to joining the Navy, and he wasn’t allowed to go places with girls unless there were guys there, too. After lots of discussion, he finally grew tired of having to sneak around to see me, and moved in with an older friend of his until he could find a place of his own. The guy he moved in with was drug and alcohol addicted, but he was nice enough, and our group liked to party, so none of us thought twice about hanging out there. And when we heard the rumors that he’d raped a girl when he was younger, we decided it was a misunderstanding. I mean, if he’d raped a girl, wouldn’t he be in jail?
A little while after he moved in with G, D had to leave town for six weeks. He asked me to take care of G while he was gone because G wasn’t really great about taking care of himself. So when G called me and said he had to pick up a prescription, I made plans to drive him.
When I got to his apartment, he invited me in and offered me a beer. I turned him down because I don’t drink and drive, and besides the trip to the pharmacy I thought we were taking, I still had to take my son Trick or Treating, and then drive his father to a party on the beach.
“Well, I just popped this one open before you got here,” he said. “Can I finish it before we go?” And I agreed. I had a couple hours to kill, and I really didn’t want to kill them with my son’s father.
G had two couches and an arm chair in his living room, so I got comfortable on the couch by the door and started flipping channels. I didn’t take off my sweater or shoes like I normally would because we were leaving as soon as he finished his beer. So G decided to take my sweater off for me.
I should have left then, but I didn’t. G sat down on the other couch, making no further advances, so I decided my boyfriend’s friend was a little too drunk, so he was being a little too familiar.
A few minutes later, I got up to get a glass of water, and G found a reason to be in the kitchen with me. I accidentally backed into him, and he made a comment about how nice my ass felt against his thigh. I immediately rebuked him, reminding him that I was dating his best friend, and he started talking about all the reasons I should forget about D and have sex with him.
I should have left then, too. But I didn’t. Instead, I tried to make him see what a complete douche he was being. That’s when he yanked my pants down.
“You know you want it,” he said. “If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have rubbed your ass against me.”
I fought with him, but he was too strong. And before I knew it, three hours had passed before he slipped up and I was able to run out his front door.
I didn’t go to the police because there was no evidence. It would have been my word against his, and my story didn’t sound all that bad. There was no real violence outside of the force. He left no marks. The only thing I had to prove he’d forced me to have sex with him was his cum, and the only thing that proved was that we’d had sex. So when I left his apartment, I drove to my ex’s house, and kept what happened to myself.
I didn’t tell anyone for months. My ex kept asking me why I never showed to take our son Trick or Treating (I did manage to give him a ride to his party), and I’d make up some excuse. We had to go to four stores to find G’s meds, and it took forever for them to fill the script, and…I didn’t want to tell my ex what I’d let** happen to me. Mostly because I didn’t think he would believe me.
And I was right. No one believed me. Not even my mom.
I told my best friend before I told anyone. She told her boyfriend, who was also a friend of mine. They got really mad and went to G’s house to confront him without my knowledge. Of course, G told them I was lying. That we just had sex. There was no force involved, and I never said no. And since there were never any outward signs, and I didn’t go to the police, my friends believed him instead of me.
I decided not to tell anyone else, and I would have stuck to that, except I got pregnant. After finding out my due date, it was painfully obvious that I became pregnant around the time that G raped me. There was a very real possibility of my baby being born the child of a rapist, and if that was the case, it would have been obvious she wasn’t my ex’s kid because G is black.
By the time she was born, I was back together with my son’s father, who looks white, and I didn’t want him to think I’d cheated on him. So as the doctor was hooking me up to anesthesia, and with my mother standing on the other side of my hospital bed, I blurted out, “Right before we got back together, I was raped.”
I told them both what happened. I told them when. I told them why I didn’t tell them. And they both called me a liar. They said the timing was too convenient. I was just trying to get out of trouble for cheating on my son’s father.
That, right there, is rape culture.
I mean, yeah…I should have gone to the police. I should have talked to my ex about what happened before I was strapped into a hospital bed waiting to go in for an emergency c-section to have a potential rape baby cut out of me. I should have told my doctor, asked for a DNA test (though I don’t know if they could do those in vitro back then), told my therapist. I should have done anything besides just assuming no one would believe me and keeping it to myself. But I didn’t.
And the people I did tell? They should have been there for me instead of calling me a liar. They should have believed me, not my rapist. And if they really and truly thought I was lying, they should have pressed me to get help for that. Instead, my mother wrote it off as just one more gross thing about me, and my ex acted like I was diseased for the first year of my daughter’s life. Apparently, my rape was worse, morally speaking, than the six times he’d slept with other girls behind my back.
That’s rape culture, too. And it’s high time I stop avoiding this shit and face it so I can fucking move on.
Sorry if I stepped on any toes while I was pretending it didn’t exist.
*I didn’t mention M because that goes without saying. M will always love and support me through everything I go through.
**I know, now, that I didn’t “let” the attack happen. I didn’t have a choice in the matter. I’m just explaining my thinking at the time with that statement.