Monday, 26 March 2012

I Took the Blame for My Own Rape

...and I didn't even know it.

There is a blog that I thoroughly enjoy, called Blue Milk. Feminist issues are the main focus there, and a topic that comes up frequently is rape. I got caught up in the comment threads of some old posts there recently, and it has been a highly emotional experience for me. The blog's author wrote a post, entitled "Don't get raped," that sarcastically pointed out the foolishness in suggesting that a victim's behavior can ever 'lead to' rape. Not surprisingly, some debate ensued and Blue Milk wrote a follow-up post to address suggestions that victims are often partially responsible for their own assault (hint: this assertion is wrong). That post, titled, "But why shouldn't she take some responsibility too for the rape?" was later followed by "All the way - gray rape and third base," and "To the woman unconvinced."

As I read these posts and the comments that followed, I was overwhelmed by a deep sense of sadness, not only because of the awful comments made by some readers, but even more so because it finally brought me to the place of fully recognizing something: I was raped. Not once, but three times and by three different individuals. So many years have passed and I have no desire to address the individuals who were involved, but I have been going through a great deal of processing, trying to make sense of what happened, and how I came to view these incidents as completely and totally "my fault." I seem to have been enculturated with the same twisted ideas as some of the commenter's on Blue Milk's articles, ideas that sound so ignorant and anti-woman to me now. I was brought up in a culture of victim blame, a culture of excuses, but there is no excuse for any man or woman to have sex with an individual who has not willingly and openly consented to such an act. How I didn't see this before is baffling to me, but I'm glad to know it now, and hope to impart that sense on my own children.

I am so very saddened to think that I, as an intelligent and capable young woman, did not see what any of the men who took advantage of me did as all that wrong. It certainly wasn't right, but who could blame them. It's what men did, I thought. I was flirtatious, I was playful, so what did I expect? Would it have been so wrong to expect respect for my own right to choose when and how I wanted to have sex? How about to expect the men to hold themselves up to a higher standard? I really don't think so. I'm disgusted by the idea that I put all of the blame on myself for the conscious decisions these so-called men made to take advantage of me. My point of view at the time was so very twisted that I even continued to have an amicable relationship with at least one of these men, because it wasn't their fault, after all. I was stupid. I was irresponsible. I made bad decisions.

All of these years later, I can finally see that no decision I made gave another person the right to have sex with me without my consent. No decision I made "led" to unwanted sex.
As part of my processing, I have been going over and over these scenarios in my head, trying to figure out what led me to think and to do the things I did, and to completely and totally let these guys off the hook. I want to know what led me to think that what they did was okay, in large part so that I can protect my own daughter from a similar fate.

The first scenario involved my boyfriend at the time. This boyfriend, several years older than I, knew I had not had sex and that I was not ready to have sex. We had discussed this on numerous occasions. One night, he invited me to join him at a friend's house party, where I hardly knew a soul. The drinks got to me quickly, so he suggested that we should go. I got the sense that I had embarrassed him, and half expected him to take me home and go back to the party unencumbered. His and my apartments were within a four or five mile radius of one another, as was the one where the party was located, so taking me home would have been easy, really. To my surprise, he wanted to go to his place. We did, I relieved that my hip older boyfriend had not ditched me for embarrassing him. I was extremely intoxicated, sick, and out of it, but glad to he still wanted me around all the same.

Before long, I found myself in his bed and we did things we had done before, all of which were fine with me. What I didn't know at the time was that he was planning to have sex with me. It's all so clear to me now, looking back on details from the night, but I didn't see it then. I was enjoying myself, so I suppose I believed that what followed was the logical next step, and that because I had willingly participated in the lead-up to it, I had consented in some way or another. One minute things were normal, and the next I realized that he was having sex with me. I was shocked, since he had given me no warning whatsoever, but believed I had brought it upon myself and made him think that I wanted it, so I didn't speak up but merely waited for it to be over. Very few, if any words were spoken afterward. We went to sleep, and the next morning he proceeded to enter me again, with little to no warning. We never discussed what was actually happening, he never asked my permission. He really didn't seem to consider what I wanted at all.

In the days that followed, I spent a lot of time processing what had happened and ended up convincing myself that I had wanted it. I know that I know that if I had actually been asked if I were ready, if I had been consulted at all, I would have told him I wasn't ready. The fact that our entire social circle had heard the news, and was congratulating me on having lost that antiquated thing called my virginity, helped create and feed this twisted idea that it had been a good thing. But the reality is, he took advantage of me. And I didn't stop him. I'm really not sure which is more upsetting - my passivity or his complete and utter selfishness and lack of consideration. If I had asked him to stop, said no, would he have stopped? I'd like to think the answer is yes, but I don't know. It's this not knowing that caused me to blame myself. I couldn't say he acted against my will, I felt, because I failed to make my will known. I wish I had said no, sure. I could have said no, sure. But absolutely nothing gave him the right to assume a yes and move forward with something he knew that, sober, I hadn't wanted, especially without checking in with me first.

Fast forward a couple of years and I found myself in an even more disturbing scenario, for which I fully blamed myself and agonized endlessly over my poor decision. I had flirted with a coworker, not because I was the least bit interested in him, but because I was young and flirtatious. We worked in a social environment where this type of interaction was going on constantly, and it was fun, but didn't obligate anyone to follow on with anything at all.

I went out one night with two old friends who I trusted, rightly. They were kind and gentlemanly and I had known them for years. When the two of us who were not driving had consumed our fair share at the bar, they drove me home and came up to my apartment for a chat. Meanwhile, I had been texting with the coworker, who wanted to come over. Against my better judgment, I decided this sounded like fun, and invited him. I have absolutely no memory at all of his coming over. My first clue came in the morning, when I found a note apologizing for his having to leave before I awoke. I was a bit surprised, since I didn't recall going to sleep beside him anyway, and certainly had not expected to wake up to him in my bed.

A bit later, I went to the bathroom and found a piece of latex inside of me. I can actually remember thinking, "well, at least he used a condom." This was a relief to me at the time, and more pressing a concern than the issue that I had no memory of agreeing to a sex act of any kind. Again, I blamed myself. What had I been thinking!? Looking back now, I know exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking that I wanted to have fun with my good friends, who I had not seen in ages. Because I felt safe with them, and was not particularly good at rejecting others, I allowed a coworker to join us. Beyond that, I can only imagine, but I know that I was in absolutely no condition to give consent. Is it wise to drink to excess? Perhaps not, but as an adult do I have every right to make a decision to do so? Of course I do! Does another adult have a right to use the situation to their advantage and have their way with me? Abso-frickin'-lutely not.

That time in my life was a wild, spontaneous one and it involved many nights of drinking and spending time with friends. There are certainly experiences that are fuzzy, times when my wits were not entirely about me, but I always remembered at least bits and pieces from every hour I was awake, even if only half awake. The fact that I remember absolutely nothing - not a single moment from my time with this man - is very suspicious to me as well, especially since I did not drink that excessively. Either I had already entered a hard sleep, or something else occurred without my permission.

Later on that next morning, I received a call from the trustworthy friends who had been my drinking companions the night before. They called to check on me because they were worried. They had not felt comfortable leaving me with my coworker the previous night, but at the same time had to get home, so trusted that I knew him well enough to be safe. I thanked them for checking in on me, and told them everything was absolutely fine that morning. In reality, I was angry, upset, horrified - but I was also embarrassed, so my response was to pretend like nothing had happened. It was my fault anyway, right? I took one hundred percent of the blame and responsibility. A few days later, when my coworker (who fortunately wasn't working all that often, and who I asked not to be scheduled with again) started texting again and asking for a date, I made up excuses until he gave up. I didn't have the nerve to tell him I thought he was scum, or that I was furious, or horrified. I just made up excuses and waited for it all to go away. I was to blame, after all.

Just days after that incident I was enjoying a game night with close friends at their home. We were all drinking to some extent, so the plan was for everyone who didn't live in the neighborhood, to sleep on the couch or a futon. Sometime later in the night, a friend's brother joined us, someone who I knew by reputation but had interacted with very little. I actually thought he was cute, but too cool to be friends with me anyhow. This was the only person I did not know well and trust, but given that others seemed to, I felt safe enough and eventually went to sleep, with trusted friends nearby. Before long, I awoke to the friend's brother making a move. I was not all that out of it, so I woke fully and for whatever twisted reason took his advances as a compliment. There was some kissing and we agreed to go for a walk.

It was snowy and perfectly quiet in the middle of the night and my new companion was just about as charming as he could be. I enjoyed talking with him and somehow felt comfortable. The whole situation had started to feel like something out of an indie film, so when our walk took us relatively near to my house, I suggested we head there to get out of the cold. I agreed to let him sleep there, but was quite clear that I didn't want sex, especially because neither of us had protection. Still, I was enjoying myself, so kissing continued, and before I knew it he was apologizing. "Sorry, sorry, I couldn't help myself," he said. "You're just so hot, and I can't believe you're hanging out with me." I was angry, annoyed, but still somehow charmed (you can see why I'm disgusted looking back. Why did I not send him away immediately? Better yet, why did I not see and call him out for the scum that he was when he made advances toward me, someone he hardly knew, in my sleep?), so I got dressed and went to sleep, allowing him to stay. The next morning, he accompanied me out for coffee and was so outrageously sweet. I was organizing an event at my place of work that evening and he said several times that he wanted to hang out with me, and was going to come by. I actually thought this might be the beginning of something - what a destructive relationship that would have been! - but fortunately he never turned up that evening. I never saw him again.

There is a common thread I see when I look at these three stories together, and that's a lack of confidence - in both myself, and in my rights. It disgusts me that the tiny bit of flattery used in that third scenario was enough to make me excuse such a plain and simple violation. In that situation, I had said no, but the other person chose to do what they wanted anyway. In the first situation, the warm feeling of being wanted likely played a huge role in my silence. In the second scenario, I was too embarrassed to even admit that anything had happened, much less call the person involved out for his actions.

Aside from that I felt a definite lack of power as a woman. The image of rape I had been presented with growing up was one where a woman was in clear danger, and attempted to fight off an attacker to no avail. This image has been a sad reality for far too many women, but it ignores the fact that every woman has the right to choose who she will sleep with. Every woman deserves to be asked whether or not certain actions toward her are acceptable. The opportunist who does not give a woman the chance to say no may be less violent than the men I pictured when I thought of rape, but their behavior is in no way excusable. And yes, women can and do rape men, too. This is no more acceptable, and it saddens me that society paints it as though it's often some sort of privilege for the man.

The bottom line is, everyone has the right to give or deny consent for sex, and no one has the right to take it just because the moment is right. I'm not in a position to say exactly how and what at this point, but a lot of things need to change so that future generations of women and men can grow up knowing this at the very core of their being.

Photo Credit: xoder on Flickr
_____

A note: If you disagree with my classification of any of these incidents as rape, you're probably not alone. I never thought of them as such before either. I'm not here to have a debate over what qualifies (although if you disagree with me, you may find the posts linked above insightful, and I would also encourage you to look into "alcohol faciliated" or "incapacitated rape." Another useful tidbit would be the FBI's recently updated defintion of rape which includes: "The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim" (emphasis added), and especially not to have my decisions scrutinized. This was a difficult subject to discuss, hence my decision to do it here, anonymously. Please make comments sensitively, and refer to the Honesty Conspiracy's comment policy at right if you're unsure of whether or not your comment will be appropriate.

17 comments:

  1. I am so, so sorry that you've had to experience all of this - so sad and angry on your behalf. You are absolutely right that no one - ever - for any reason - has right to any non-consensual sexual act.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I hope you find healing - and that others will as well. I will definitely be keeping these things in mind as I offer eventual guidance to my own daughter. Love and blessings to you.

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  2. I have had a number of similar experiences myself, so I wanted to say firstly, that you are not alone.

    In terms of what needs to change, it seems to me that if girls/women could be more supported in being confident in themselves, we would be less vulnerable to the kinds of exploitation you describe. And it would also be good if more males knew they would be held to account for such behaviour.

    One thing that I think would help in this regard would be some clarity around definitions of rape, which seem to me to be a little bit biased towards a male point of view, leading to beliefs that if the woman has not said no, or has said no outside of the current situation, or if she has consumed alcohol, or associated with the man willingly, consent can be assumed. I think the law does in principle allow for cases where the woman is asleep or intoxicated, but it does not seem to make it encumbent upon the man to actively seek consent, or to give an opportunity to consent. If the law were changed so that non-consent was the default position, we may find a)more convictions and b)that certain men might modify their behaviour.

    Also, for consent to be meaningful, it needs to not be coerced (including financial incentives), and it needs to be informed (consent based on misinformation should not be deemed to be valid). These last two might seem pretty radical, because men have taken it for granted since time began, that they can pay or lie to get sex. But I think that's just symptomatic of the broader malaise that leads to the kinds of male behaviour that you describe, and the kinds of female acceptance of it too.

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  3. I think you would feel more empowered if instead of classifying these instances in your mind as "rape" which puts you in a victim role, you classified them as sexual experiences where, for one reason or another, you did not speak up about not going further.

    I think many woman in our society feel so bad about wanting sex, that they in turn feel guilty about not stopping it. I strongly disagree with you calling your first sexual experience rape and I find that very dangerous to do so. (I understand this is a difference of opinion between the two of us). You are a creature with a free will, and while you were engaged in sexual acts, you did not tell him to stop with your voice or body language. You communicated with your actions and lack of words and even I as a woman would assume if my boyfriend was having sex with me, that he wanted to. If you don't say no with your words or your actions, my goodness, how is he to know? I don't know if anyone has ever "asked" me in the moment, if I wanted to, but my actions made it either clear that I did or if I did not, I said no or made the physical maneuvers to show I did not.

    I know this sounds really shocking, but could your first time have happened because somewhere inside you do did want to experience sex? (and if so nothing wrong with that- it would be more natural than not wanting to). Again, I find that as a society and in this community we take power away from woman by making them feel "guilty" for wanting sex. We hear all the time "make a guy wait, wait until marriage, don't sleep around, blah blah, blah. All of these messages constantly remind woman to repress their own sexual appetite.

    The other two times when you were intoxicated are unfortunate as you were not of sound mind to say no.

    Confidence is the theme coming up here. You lacked the confidence to either own your own sexuality and enjoy the experience (for whatever reason) or you lacked the confidence to say no. In either case, I think it is dangerous to accuse someone of rape when your thoughts and actions did not say no.

    Regardless of my thoughts, I am sorry you have been going through this. I have had somewhat similar experiences and I find that when I took out my "story" behind what happened and just looked at the facts of what happened, it was a lot less dramatic and I could move forward without feeling bad about myself. And this is a wonderful feeling.

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    (LOLASPELLTEMPLE@gmail.com) His await your urgent response

    ReplyDelete
  13. My Name is QUEEN.I will love to share my testimony to all the people in the forum cos i never thought i will have my girlfriend back and she means so much to me..The girl i want to get marry to left me 4 weeks to our wedding for another man..,When i called her she never picked my calls,She deleted me on her facebook and she changed her facebook status from married to Single...when i went to her to her place of work she told her boss she never want to see me..I lost my job as a result of this cos i cant get myself anymore,my life was upside down and everything did not go smooth with my life...I tried all i could do to have her back to all did not work out until i met a Man when i Travel to Africa to execute some business have been developing some years back..I told him my problem and all have passed through in getting her back and how i lost my job...he told me he gonna help me...i don't believe that in the first place.but he swore he will help me out and he told me the reason why my girlfriend left me and also told me some hidden secrets.i was amazed when i heard that from him..he said he will cast a spell for me and i will see the results in the next couple of days..then i travel back to US the following day and i called him when i got home and he said he's busy casting those spells and he has bought all the materials needed for the spells,he said am gonna see positive results in the next 2 days that is Thursday...My girlfriend called me at exactly 12:35pm on Thursday and apologies for all she had done ..she said,she never knew what she's doing and her sudden behavior was not intentional and she promised not to do that again.it was like am dreaming when i heard that from her and when we ended the call,i called the man and told him my wife called and he said i haven't seen anything yet... he said i will also get my job back in 3 days time..and when its Sunday,they called me at my place of work that i should resume working on Monday and they gonna compensate me for the time limit have spent at home without working..My life is back into shape,i have my girlfriend back and we are happily married now with kids and i have my job back too.This man is really powerful..if we have up to 20 people like him in the world,the world would have been a better place..he has also helped many of my friends to solve many problems and they are all happy now..Am posting this to the forum for anybody that is interested in meeting the man for help.you can mail him to shakesspear23@yahoo.com OR shakesspear23@gmail.com I cant give out his number cos he told me he don't want to be disturbed by many people across the world..he said his email is okay and he' will replied to any emails asap..hope he helped u out too..good luck:shakesspear23@yahoo.com OR shakesspear23@gmail.com.ONCE AGAIN HIS EMAIL ADDRESS IS: shakesspear23@yahoo.com OR shakesspear23@gmail.com

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  14. My Name is Racheal Vivian, I wish to share my testimonies with the general public about what this man called Dr Shakes spell temple, on what he has just done for me , this man has just brought back my lost Ex husband with his great spell, I was married to this man called Mathew we were together for a long time and we love each other but when I was unable to give him a child after 2 years, he left me and told me he can’t continue anymore then I was now looking for ways to get him back until a friend of mine told me about this man. My friend gave his email to me and asked me to contact him but I didn't want to because I doubted at first but later reconsidered because it's so rear for a man to be as powerful like she said. So I contacted her through this email ( shakesspear23@yahoo.com OR shakesspear23@gmail.com) You won’t believe this when I contacted this man and told him my problems he cast the spell and my ex came back begging on his knees and asking me to forgive him. Not only that after a month I miss my monthly flow, when I went to my doctor, he confirm that I am pregnant so I told myself that I will testify to the whole wide world about the wonders of the powerful man if I give birth successfully. I am so happy today because I am a mother of a bouncing baby girl, thank you once again the great Dr Shakes Spear for what you have done for me, if you are out there passing through any of the following situations :
    (1) If you want your ex-back.
    (2) If you always have bad dreams.
    (3) You want to be promoted in your office.
    (4) You want women/men to run after you.
    (5) If you want a child.
    (6) You want to be rich.
    (7) You want to tie your husband/wife to be yours forever.
    (8) If you need financial assistance.
    (9) Herbal care
    (10) if you are unable to satisfy your wife sex desire due to low err action.
    (11) If your menstruation refuse to come out the day it suppose or over flows.
    (12) If your work refuse to pay you, people owing you.
    (13) Solve a land issue and get it back.
    (14) Did your family Denny you of your right?
    (15) Do you have a low sperm count?
    (16) Are you contesting for any political position in your country?
    (17) Case solves E.T.C
    You are free to contact him at ( shakesspear23@yahoo.com OR shakesspear23@gmail.com ) ..... CONTACT HIM NOW FOR ALL ANSWERS TO ANY KIND OF PROBLEMS:shakesspear23@yahoo.com OR shakesspear23@gmail.com

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  15. An amazing testimony on a spell caster who brought my wife back to me.. My name is Dani Santo,i live in United Kngdom,and I'm happily married to a lovely and caring wife,with two kids.A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my wife.so terrible that she took the case to court for a divorce.she said that she never wanted to stay with me again,and that she didn't love me anymore.So she packed out of my house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail.and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my wife.So i explained every thing to her,so she told me that the only way i can get my wife back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for her too.So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow her advice. Then she gave me the email address of the spell caster whom she visited.{supremetemple@hotmail.com}. So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address she gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my wife back the next day.What an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my wife who didn't call me for the past seven {7}months,gave me a call to inform me that she was coming back.So Amazing!! So that was how she came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and she apologized for her mistake,and for the pain she caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster. So, i will advice you out there to kindly visit the same website {supremetemple@hotmail.com},if">{supremetemple@hotmail.comm},if you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to "bringing your ex back. So thanks to the Dr PAPAr for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family once again. {supremetemple@hotmail.com}, Thanks..

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  16. Thanks to Dr. IBUDU for saving my marriage!!! My names are Mary Hanson, I have been married to my Husband for 7 years, we have 2 kids together and our marriage was wonderful.Am very happy to tell every one my testimony Am sherry from united states,am a nurse, this story of my love life. Another woman had to take my lover away from me and my husband left me and the kids and we have suffered for 2years until i met a post where this man called Dr. IBUDU have helped many people and i decided to give him a reply on his Email if he can help me bring my lover back home and he ask me some information which i send to him and that of my husband and after 48hours as he have told me, i saw a car drove into the house and behold it was my husband and he have come to me and the kids crying and begging for forgiveness and that is why i am happy today He also set my friend free from HIV Dr. IBUDU really make the woman i am today for any one looking for how to get his or her ex back or any problem you are having i advice you Dr. IBUDU is the solution to all problem .You can contact him with this email address: tinalovespell@yahoo.com or call him on: +2348078467513

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  17. i want to testify to the general public how my relationship was restored back by the great power's of Dr Ekpiku after three months of loneliness, my ex-lover called me after my contact with Dr Ekpiku that he want us to come back and start a good home, now we are happily married with two kids. All thanks to Dr Ekpiku for his spiritual help. You can contact him on his email if you have similar problem, or any solution you may need, job, divorce, promotion in you place of work, healing,money spell, etc.you can Contact him via email:Ekpikuspelltemple@live.com

    ReplyDelete

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