If you have been a part of my life or followed my social media in any degree in the last six years, you will not be surprised by this statement: I have been raped. I have been raped more than once. I have been raped by more than one man. I have been raped by more than one man at the same time. I have PTSD. Men have irreversibly changed my life through violence. I have been raped.
If you follow me, you know I don’t like to say I have been sexually assaulted. It’s not specific enough. I have been raped. And I am so far passed giving a fuck if that makes you uncomfortable to hear.
Harvey Weinstein and his deplorable actions have finally lead some of Hollywood’s biggest names to come forward to tell their truths. Good for them! Social media is starting to explode with #MeToo to show how widespread rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment are.
Rape is not a socioeconomic issue. Rape is not a race issue. Race is not a cultural issue. Rape is not a political issue. Rape is not a women’s issue. Rape is an issue.
Women are taught to protect themselves. Men are not taught to ask for consent. Women are taught to keep quiet. Men are taught to boast about their conquests. Women are taught shame. Men are taught pride. Women are taught how to be slut shamed. Men are taught to slut shame. Women are taught to laugh. Men are taught rape jokes are funny. Women are taught to be kind. Men are taught to be ruthless. Women are taught to be weak. Men are taught to be strong. Women are taught to suck it up and keep on keeping-on. Men are continually reinforced with the fact they can do pretty much anything they want to women and face zero consequences.
The hard part about being a raped woman is you’re constantly surrounded by men acting out, in varying degrees, the same behavior which hurt you. Where is our safe space?
I met my first rapist in church. We grew up together. I met my second in college. I met my third in church. I met my fourth in middle school. Aren’t these supposed to be safe places? Some even sacred? Church is supposed to be safe and holy and the embodiment of Godliness. That’s the problem. Rapists are everywhere masquerading as friends and even family.
I don’t like working in an office. It’s hard because they usually only look at me as one thing: their next blow job. Or they think I’m stupid and only hired me because I am nice to look at. I found it easier to work in a bar because at least, there there was a lack of nicety about it. Those men were up front about their assholishness.
I work from home now as a freelancer and blogger. I try not to leave the house without my big dog or my even bigger boyfriend. Speaking of which, I like to date big men because they scare away the other men because men don’t actually respect women enough to leave them alone when they say no. If I go to the grocery store alone, someone either asks for my number or calls me a bitch, but usually it’s both. As a blogger and freelancer, I spend most of my time online or on social media to expand my business. There is no respite there either. My Instagram inbox is filled with older men bombarding me with dick pics, sexual come-ons, and more. It’s become a new hobby of mine to see how many white men don’t take “no” for an answer. The best insult I get is “blond,” which is funny because I’m not even blond. The worst is somewhere along the lines of I hope you get raped.
When I’ve told men I’ve been raped, too often I hear “Yeah, me too! Haha.” Then they realize I’m not joking, they’re usually a bit confused followed by “I guess, I shouldn’t make rape jokes around you then, huh?” Rape has become more of a punchline and less of a criminal offense.
In college, I remember reading essays on rape. The authors didn’t know how to charge the men because it is so he said she said, and unfortunately, the men have the power. The authors were angry and upset and frustrated because they didn’t know what to do. Their arguments were well thought out, but nothing ever came to fruition in court when prosecuting. The authors were alive and writing in fifteenth century France. I remember sitting at home on my couch in tears with the heaviness of the knowledge that not a single thing had changed in over six hundred years. If some of the greatest thinkers of Renaissance couldn’t encourage change in one of the most pervasive issues, how would I?
I have been incredibly open about my past. I have always believed it can help someone. There are days, I don’t know if it’s true. There are month long periods, I will go without writing or talking about it. It doesn’t mean it’s not there; it’s just too hard to go there.
I don’t like being known as the girl who got raped. It’s not a fun identity. I have been on the receiving end of many rape and death threats because of it. Why men think this is an appropriate response is beyond me. It’s amazing how many women have similar responses. I’ve heard everything from “if you would have gotten pregnant by your rapist, then you’d have something to talk about” to “I hope it happens again and they disfigure your face” to “maybe you should have fought harder.” When employers Google my name they find two things: I’ve been raped, and I’m vocal about it. So I don’t get many interviews… Actually, none.
I mentioned I wanted to try stand up comedy to a friend because I funny stories, I like to make people laugh. Their response was “like ‘I once got raped in this super funny way’? Yeah, funny.”
I am known as the girl who got raped. Even to those closest to me. I am not known by my triple degree or penchant for books or encyclopedic trivial knowledge or my musical talent or even my personality. I am known as the pretty girl who was raped. I am not defined by the achievements I have worked my entire life for. I am known by the actions of men. Moments have defined who I am in the eyes of others because I chose to speak out in order to create change in the world women inhabit.
Sexual harassment is rampant. Sexual assault is rampant. Rape is rampant. Sex trafficking is rampant. Every woman I have ever known has been sexually harassed, some don’t even know it. I know too many women who have been sexually assaulted. I know so many women and men who have been raped. I have worked alongside sex trafficked women. I am the keeper of so many people’s painful secrets because they have no safe place, no one to talk to. I keep my own secrets because some things are too hard to talk about.
I don’t want children. If I were to have children, I don’t want girls. I want boys. I want to raise boys to be good men who do not rape or perpetuate rape culture. I want to raise boys to be good men who call out sexist jokes and support women. I want to raise boys to be good men who raise the bar for all other men. Because I do not want any other woman to know a moment of the pain men have caused me.
I have also posted this on my book blog: Bookish Liaisons. Here’s some reading to expand your mind. Go unfuck yourselves.:
What Lies Between Us
Blueprints for Building Better Girls
The Handmaid’s Tale
Half of a Yellow Sun
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie