The first time I realised it was actually rape

The first time I realised it was actually rape, was the day after it happened. I knew what it was, and it was rape. I didn’t want to think about it though, so I didn’t. Not until now, when I have to face him. It was easy to ignore what had happened, because we don’t live in the same town anymore. But I’m moving back there. Where he lives. And I’m terrified.

I knew it was rape, but I wouldn’t believe that it was. Not until I started reading all the columns and news stories during the 16 days of activism against women and child abuse. That when I knew it was rape, and I couldn’t deny it anymore.

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Until now, I hadn’t thought about all those protests I participated in, as part of the 1-in-9 campaign. I had forgotten about it. I taped my mouth shut for 24 hours in solidarity with the 8 out of 9 rape survivors who, because of social pressure, never report their rape(s). I fought for the rights of rape survivors, I prayed for them, and voiced my anger at the denial of their justice. I cried with them and laughed with them. And now, I am one of them.

How ironic.

Three years later, and here I sit denying myself my own justice. Because I am too shit scared.

He was a friend of mine. Actually, he was my ex-boyfriend’s best friend. He is my closest friend’s ex-boyfriend. He is a serial womaniser, and treats women as the means to satiate his sexual desires. I once heard he had slept with over 70 women. I am now one of them. But how many others also said ‘no’?

We were friends – but only God knows why. I think I trust people too much. I tried to support him through his bad break-up with my close friend. But because I have breasts and vagina, he saw my support as sexual flattery. I told him then, months ago, it would never happen. It was too complicated, too many people will get hurt. “It will never happen,” I told him.

How naive.

He told me he wanted to do “naughty things” to me, but if I didn’t want it, he would “control” himself. He continued making sexual jokes and comments, even when I told him they made me uncomfortable.

So I avoided him. I would not go to see my friends in the town where he lives, because I scared I would see him. I told him again and again that it would never happen between us. He asked me why I wouldn’t visit. In jest, I told him it was because I didn’t trust him. He told me I could trust him, but not when he had been drinking, “haha”. I told him it would never happen between us. He said he understood. He said “you’re still my super Journo friend whom I respect whole heartedly (sic)”. I believed him.

How stupid. How absolutely incredibly fucking stupid.

He came to my town, I suggested we meet up for drinks for old time’s sake. I was lonely, vulnerable in a new town, and honestly just wanted a friend to hang out with at a bar.  He said I could trust him – and I believed him.

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He came to my house, so that I could introduce him to my dogs. I love my dogs – they mean everything to me. I was black-out drunk. I don’t remember much.

I do remember he kissed me. I do remember he carried me to my bedroom. I do remember he undressed me.

And I do remember saying no. I do remember stopping him. I do remember telling him that too many people would get hurt if we did this. I remember telling him I cared too much about my friend – I love her dearly. I don’t remember what he said in response, and I don’t remember what I said then.

But I know he didn’t stop.

The next day my thighs and my vagina hurt – I lied on my couch all day thinking about what happened. I showered twice. I cried and hugged my dogs. I slept on the couch that night, because I didn’t want to go near my bed – the scene of the crime – and the thought made me feel nauseated.

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I considered laying a charge at the police. I have written evidence that I told him, months prior to that night, that I did not want to have sex with him. But would they believe me? I was black-out drunk. He was at my house, where I live alone with my two dogs. I took him home the next day. He has a reputation for sleeping around. Would anyone believe that I said ‘no’? That I tried to stop him? That I physically covered my vagina with my hands and told him, in no uncertain terms, that I did not want to have sex with him?

No one knows about that night. We are the only people that know. If I laid a charge against him, my friend will know. She will be hurt by me, after I tried so hard to protect her, and I was there for her, and I listened to her cry. I don’t want to hurt her. Everyone will know about that night. They will make my life hell. They will say it was not rape. They will question why I only reported in now, months after the fact. They will question, question, question.

But now I am moving back to the town where he lives. It’s a small town, and we have the same friends.

What the fuck am I supposed to do? I feel like I am betraying the cause by not charging him with rape.

But God, I am so scared. What should I do?

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12 thoughts on “The first time I realised it was actually rape

  1. I don’t know how to answer what you should do, but I’ve heard you sister, thank you for sharing, I went back to work with my perp the next day, and lived in denial for three years, trying to figure out why I was so angry and destructive. I wish you strength, and a way through it.

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  2. You should talk about it with someone. You need to see it for what it was. It was rape, and we believe you – you are not alone. I don’t know what I would do in the same situation, but all I know is that healing starts from within. Your friend will understand, as we have, that you did not want to hurt her. She will understand that you were hurt instead. Don’t be ashamed, or afraid, or uncertain. As my friend once said, it’s not how you fell down, but how you got up, that matters.

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  3. I think there are probably many people who, like me, read your post this morning and have been trying to think of the “right” thing to say to you since then. My first thought was something along the lines of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – I don’t know if you’ve read/seen it, but the title character manages to tie down the man who raped her and tattoo “rapist” on his stomach (well something along those lines…)

    My first reaction was to think “get out of there!” Don’t go back to that town! But I suppose it’s not that simple.

    But I think that this is one of those moments where there is nothing that anyone can say that will help. What’s happened to you is so unfair and is about to be rubbed in your face, and all you can do is surround yourself with people who care about you, let yourself be supported and try to make it through each day.

    It’s obvious that you are a very strong person, whatever that means. Well, from reading your story I have no doubt that you will find a way of getting through this. But I’m sure it will take a lot of therapy and a lot of time. I am so sorry that this has happened to you.

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  4. Beautiful lady! Look at what you have already done! You are stronger than you think. It took courage to write what you did even if we don’t know who you are. I feel for you so much. You are living with a heavy weight on your shoulders. No one should bare that load alone. You should talk with someone. The fears, pressures, and concerns are there, but think of the number of other women he could have done this to? You are a strong woman. Believe in yourself and the cause. What happened was wrong, but more importantly your reaction to it can change things. Being scared to outwardly acknowledge what happened is a big step, but it’s worth it. Your friend will understand, and if she doesn’t (heaven forbid) then was she really a good friend to you? Blah, that left a bitter taste in my mouth. What matters the most is that you stop this for yourself and for others. Be the strong woman that you are!

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  5. I’m still not sure what to say, or what you should do. But by the looks of things, taking it one step at a time, is the only to get through any situation. And it is such an awful one, and i agree with Pernelson. You are a strong woman. Believe in yourself and the cause.

    The tiniest movement in any direction, is better then not doing anything at all.
    All our Love and Support.

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  6. I also know the feeling of having to face him again. I didn’t press charges, and I thought that he wouldn’t be living in the area the following year, so I went back to that town and tried to get on with my life. And then one night, there he was, standing in front of me. I froze. I didn’t know what to do or say. The first thing I could think to do was phone my dad. At 2 in the morning I cried my eyes out to my father. And the very next day he drove the 9 hours to my town to be there for me.

    I am so glad you finally told your mother. Telling my parents was more painful for me than what actually happened, because I could see their worse nightmare coming true, I could see it in their eyes and it hurt so much to have to do that to them. But I needed them, I couldn’t have gotten through it without their support.

    My only advice to you would be to keep that support close by. You should tell your friend, and if she doesn’t stand by you then I don’t think she is the kind of friend you need. You need people who believe you, who are there for you and who want to help you, not blame you.

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  7. Being able to say it to someone else helps tremendously. I’ve found that each time I say it to someone, a little bit of the weight of guilt and shame and horror is lightened.

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  8. Reading this post and the comments gave me goosebumps. First for the horror that exists in our world and the things people are put through. And second for the fact that there is this place, this space, where complete strangers are able to comfort and support each other – that despite all the horror in this world, there is still something beautiful.

    To the author, you are stronger than you know and more powerful than you give yourself credit for. Have faith in yourself and those around you to support you. Time and love heal most things. My thoughts are with you.

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  9. How brave of you to have done what you have so far to survive! I am sorry that you had to endure someone who does not understand that no means no.

    I feel that each survivor makes a decision that is right for her. If doing what is right for her means not reporting, then that is right for her. Isn’t it enough that you are the one that is working through the trauma?

    I wish you all that you wish for yourself.

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  10. Well done on taking the first step in healing yourself. It is those pigs out there that give us men such a bad name. Whatever you do, please don’t allow this awful
    experience to deny you the joy of sharing love with a real man again.

    Good Luck!

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