TRIGGER WARNING – Adult content containing graphic depiction of sexual abuse. Read on with caution.
It’s not like in the movies. It’s not always violent, it’s not always obvious, but it’s still rape…
According to an article in The Guardian: “Just 1.5% of all rape cases lead to charge or summons, data reveals.” Is that because the accusers are lying or is there a deeper reason for this shocking statistic? Only 15% of rape cases are actually reported. Well it’s no wonder really is it? When you consider how few lead to charge or summons. But it’s not all about stats, I want to take this opportunity to look into the real reason so many rape cases are left unreported.
STORY ONE – Did I ask for it?
Why didn’t I fight back? Interestingly there’s another story on here that talks about fight, flight, freeze and ‘befriend’. No, it didn’t occur to me to scream. I was too afraid it could turn violent. Who would have heard me scream anyway? What would his reaction have been? It would have shocked and frightened him. He was stronger than me, by far. I befriended my attacker and I kept quiet until it was over.
He said to me “I know you want this.” Did I want it? Perhaps in my private life I have a leaning towards the submissive in a role play situation. Does that mean I was asking for it? Of course not. Role playing in the bedroom between two consenting adults is very different to what we are talking about. We are talking rape which is defined as:
“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.” That’s clear as crystal so why, when it goes to court, is it apparently so complicated. I suppose it’s one person’s word against another.
Of course there will be cases of ‘crying rape’ where a so called victim uses it against an innocent party but to let those, what I suspect are very few, cases ruin the lives of millions of actual victims is a disgrace of our modern society.
What about protecting the victims? No, not from the act of rape itself, it’s too late for that, but from the emotional turmoil and mental health issues an experience of rape can manifest. What if shame were the most damaging emotion we have the capacity to feel? Shame destroys lives, it takes away all that is good and transforms even the happiest times of our lives into unbearable nightmares. It leads to suicide.
As a victim of rape I can tell you the overriding emotion, for me at least, is shame, closely followed by guilt. How did I let it happen? I must be weak. Did I lead him on? Did I have it coming to me by wearing that dress. No, I may wear provocative clothing, I may even want to attract men. I’ll admit I like sex. But if I do, I want whatever happens to be consensual. Always consensual. Not forced physically or indeed emotionally, as is another way the attackers get their victims.
STORY TWO – No Case
I was raped a few years ago. I was battered and bruised but before the case could go to court I was visited by a police woman who told me not to go through with it, “You’ll be ripped apart in court,” she said. Funny use of language, hasn’t that already happened? Weren’t the bruises and tear in my labia enough to convince you that yes, I have already been “ripped apart.” Do I need to go through that again? I suppose she thought not.
I was a promiscuous teenager, into drugs and I had mental health issues, unfortunately all on file. The police woman explained that all this would have been used against me in court. But I’m not writing this to drag up the past, get pity or become a ‘strong survivor’ as seems fashionable since the Me Too campaign. I may have survived, but I’m not strong and I’m so filled with shame that coming out about it in any public way (hence I’m publishing this anonymously) would destroy me. I want to tell this story because there are millions of us rape victims who have no voice, who live with the shame, guilt and confusion. And it’s not right. It can lead to severe mental health issues and even suicide.
In the end, and shortly before I had a mental breakdown, I went back to the police officer and confessed it wasn’t rape. She said “I know.” Her words when she visited me about how many young men I had had back to my room and that I was obviously “that kind of girl” had convinced me so much that I was indeed asking for it. I told her I’d slept with four other people in the previous two weeks and she had tried to contact them – they were terrified obviously so she didn’t get far. One night stands only. Now, as I look back and as I battle through the task of getting over the shame I realise how horrendous that was. Yes, I had slept with others but the others hadn’t drugged me, didn’t tear me, didn’t force themselves on me. They were fun. This was different. They even found Rohypnol in my blood. “No case. Don’t take it to court.”
I was told that “luckily” there were no STIs as a result and I wasn’t pregnant. “Luckily” it just fathoms me that luck had anything to do with my situation. It was obviously such a normal thing for the nurse to test for these things that she was so blasé about the whole thing.
“Wow, he really did a number on you didn’t he,” was another choice phrase from the nurse that examined me the day after what I finally accept, years on, was rape. It was confusing at the time because I wasn’t conscious for most of it. I suppose I’m lucky that I have few memories of the actual event. The feelings that came with it however, are crystal clear in my mind and still plague me to this day. I will always be recovering, but never recovered. How can a person recover from another person entering them without consent? It’s disgusting. It makes you feel dirty and no amount of bathing can make you feel clean again.
A file of injuries and bruises, Rohypnol in my blood, CCTV of him following me home. No case. “They’ll rip you apart.” It made me think I was a liar. That my experience of the attack was in my head, a symptom of my depression. This stayed with me for years and it was only through having a very open conversation with my best friend about it eight years later that I have begun to come to terms with the fact that it was indeed rape. It’s always sounded so over the top until now. Until I got the whole story out in confidence with a fellow abuse victim.
For a long time I couldn’t have sober sex. Couldn’t let myself go. It wasn’t necessarily how you might imagine, with flash backs to the attack. I was out of it for most of the actual event. But I didn’t want it. Couldn’t handle the intimacy. Feared I would be judged if I enjoyed myself and the phrase “you’re clearly one of those girls” from the police woman kept creeping back to me. I was ashamed of my sexuality and I think that shame is the lasting mark of the attack. It seems bizarre now, as years on I seem to have finally processed and now I enjoy a healthy, loving and fun sex life with my long term partner. But for years I was crippled in that department and it not only affected me but also my partner. I couldn’t let go. That’s how powerful shame is and how utterly confusing the whole thing was. It took a lot to report it. It was only when I saw the guys friend in the street the day after that I broke down, became hysterical and when a friend tried to calm me down the police were called as onlookers thought my friend restraining me was actually him attacking me. Before then I was so confused and shocked I was planning not to tell a soul. Ashamed that my promiscuous behaviour had led to actual injury. It was embarrassing. I had asked for it.
I was swept up by a rape victim charity and taken to the police station to file a report. What was I going to say? “I went out (on the pull), got drunk (again) then woke up in agony and there was a guy inside me? I felt nauseous and dizzy and have no idea how this event transpired… I know he stole my laptop, left and I woke up throwing up. All I know is, I didn’t want it. I was after a good night on the town.” No case.
I’m doing well now. Having opened up about it with a close friend I feel a sense of release from the drama of the situation. I know now I wasn’t asking for it. Nobody asks for that. No matter how kinky your sexual proclivities are or what your fantasies are, I don’t believe any human wants non-consensual sex. There was a documentary on Netflix recently that stated that a high percentage of people fantasise about being raped. But they don’t actually want to be raped. They’re fantasying about being dominated. In a consenting situation. Nobody wants rape. The reality is it’s not always a violent experience, but that doesn’t make it any easier to get over. Rape ruins lives. The shame attached to it, I can tell you from experience, is so intense you find yourself not wanting to live. Forget the indignity of the whole thing, the confusion is worse. “Did I ask for it?” The conflicting emotions tell you that no, you didn’t’ ask for it. But when others tell you that you did, how do you live with that feeling that you might be crying rape incorrectly? It’s a terrible and utterly evil crime on another human to incorrectly cry rape. Which makes it even harder when you actually are raped. You have to be sure. And society, the courts, the police, will try and convince you otherwise. They’ll try and pick holes in your story, pick apart your previous sexual experiences and drag you through the mud until you submit once again and say it’s not true… They make you doubt yourself. But I’m telling you now. You know, without a doubt, when you’ve been raped.