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  1. Pteryxx says

    …it gives me no pleasure at all to add this one more to the count. Survivors are everywhere. We’re legion.

    Note: TW for Elyse’s story. It includes yet more discounting, shaming, and the bro culture kicking in immediately with the Patented Slut Defense.

    I can safely point to that one incident as the thing that fucked up my life for a long long time. And the fallout from that still affects me today.

    And that was the time I did it “right.” I did what I was supposed to do.

    And despite the incident not following my script for how my rape would go down, it follows a pretty standard template. Drunk -> assaulted -> reported -> not believed -> no investigation -> dismissed.

  2. peptron says

    This is something I never understood: Let’s suppose that she WAS promiscuous as hell, surely it doesn’t follow that she wants to be assaulted?
    Or an analogy: just because somebody likes to eat doesn’t mean that it’s ok to force-feed them with a pole.

  3. says

    Some days a scorched earth approach seems wonderful.

    I dislike humans so much that I declined to do my part in perpetuating the wretched species.

  4. Jacob Schmidt says

    This is something I never understood: Let’s suppose that she WAS promiscuous as hell, surely it doesn’t follow that she wants to be assaulted?

    If she’s promiscuous, it means she’s lying. Somehow. Because reasons.

    Trying to make sense of senseless, odious bullshit just isn’t going to happen.

  5. reinderdijkhuis says

    Marcus Ranum, you and me both. Between my wife and me, we’re at 2/3 replacement and want to keep it that way.

    Actually, I like most of the people I actually meet in every day life or on the net. But it’s enough to know that scum is out there…

  6. says

    When I began to understand rape culture, I started listening more carefully and discovered to my horror that – for all intents and purposes – every woman I know has either been raped or assaulted. Anecdotally, I’d put the rape rate among my acquaintances at around 75%. No kidding. This shit’s gotta fucking stop.

  7. Randomfactor says

    Of the women I know well enough to have had this discussion with, I don’t believe I know any who haven’t been.

  8. Jacob Schmidt says

    I can count 4 women and 1 man (well, teenager; he was a child at the time). I don’t ask around, either.

  9. Jacob Schmidt says

    Oop, make that 5 women. I left out a friend of mine I haven’t seen in a long time.

  10. Doug Hudson says

    My heart bleeds. Given how painful it was to read, I cannot even imagine how painful it was to write, and even less how terrible it must have been to experience.

    But I read it anyway, because I want to know, because standing witness is the only thing I can offer.

  11. Millicent says

    Most all the women I know have experienced harrassment at the very least. It’s part of the air we breathe.

    I did not report my rape. I knew exactly how it would go: “You were drinking? You were wearing a skirt? Why did you go with him to another room? Why did you kiss him? Are you sure you don’t just feel regret?” Yeah, fuck that noise. I was 17 years old and hadn’t actually conciously worked that all out yet, but I knew, nevertheless, that going to the cops would not help. So I bore it alone, and blamed myself for years for “letting him get away with it.” But that’s bullshit. None of it is my fault.

    Solidarity with Elyse, and with all the other survivors.

  12. Kale says

    I’m the only woman I know (of those I know well, of course) who hasn’t been raped. Every single woman close to me has – my mother, my sister, my partner, my closest female friends. Most of them have experienced it more than once.

    As a result, I spend much of my life alternating between feeling sick and feeling overwhelmingly angry/hopeless.

  13. anteprepro says

    Over the years, I’ve learned: my mother, three aunts, my ex, and possibly my grandmother. In addition to at least 5 of the 9 teenagers I oversaw in a residential program I once worked for.

    I really do hate the world we live in. Fucking despise it. If only there were a third option aside from living in it and being dead.

  14. says

    I think her for sharing it, but things like these give me nightmares in raising my daughter. She’s only 1 year old, and the world will be far scarier for her than it ever could be for me…

  15. says

    Randomfactor #9
    Likewise. Among those I know the rate is around 99% for women, and probably around 15-20% for men; note that this is only relating to people who have confided in me on the matter, and therefore may well be higher.

  16. Pteryxx says

    for what it’s worth, in these couple years that I’ve been keeping a count of survivors speaking up, I can only remember… three, maybe four, women who have spoken up and said specifically that they have NOT been raped. That includes Kale above.

  17. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    My general stance is that (unless I learn otherwise) I presume that every female-bodied person, every trans* person (of any variety), and most gay and bi cis men I meet has been raped at least once.

    This means (among other things) that I’m not blindsided by revelations, am prepared to offer sympathy/support immediately (without having to process my “but that person was raped?! Shock!” thoughts), and save myself from accidentally saying something boneheadedly stupid on the topic of rape to a victim.

    It also means that if I’m going to be surprised by the past victimization of someone, the surprise is positive.

  18. Pete Newell says

    Jacob Schmidt@6: In a really backwards and fucked-up way I found it comforting when I started reading reports of dolphins as bullies, murderers and even rapists. Because then it’s not so much shame and rage at my own species. It becomes a broader sentience issue rather than just the evil monkeys.

    Back in the real world, of course, that’s not actually comforting at all.

    I am both appalled at the experiences that are being revealed, and in awe of the courage it takes to carry on, rebuild, and goddamn well support other people from your own pain.

    This is one of the things that the Christians are so big on talking about, and that – there’s a theme here – the Largely Male Leadership so rarely actually practices. Hypocrisy R Us, in spades.

    Elyse MoFo Anderson is even more badass than I already thought.

  19. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    fffffffffff…. i don’t even. i can’t even read the whole thing right now.

  20. says

    So…enough of this tut-tutting.

    What can we DO about it?

    Already, I’m not a rapist, not someone who would protect or defend a rapist, not someone who condones sexual harassment (and who actively shuts it down when he sees it). I suspect for the vast majority of the men still hanging around FtB, that’s a description that fits us all.

    That’s not enough. Clearly not even close to being enough.

    What concrete actions can we take? What organizations can we support with our time/money? What can we do today to make it safer for women today?

    Someone please point me in the direction of a positive step I can take. I don’t have a lot of extraneous time (though a little less blog-commenting wouldn’t hurt me one bit), but I can volunteer. I also have money. I assume most of us probably have one or the other, if not both.

    Enough talking. What can we do about it?

  21. tashaturner says

    As I come more and more out of lurker mode. I was unable to login to her site to giver her my support.

    I share her pain. Her experiences are partly why I never went to the police. My mother and a teacher and reading about how rape victims are treated sealed the deal for me.

    My dad started sexually abusing me I believe by the time I was 3 and continued until my early teens when we broke off contact by his decision. My mom to this day does not believe me that the abuse could have happened prior to their separation even though my clearest memories are telling her about her what dad was doing & that it hurt. “I was misunderstanding, he was probably just cleaning me during bath time & I was confused as to where his fingers were going”. Lesson learned dad will hurt me mom won’t believe me. She also doesn’t believe that I was suicidal before I met a psychiatrist – the court ordered psychiatrist planted the idea in my head ” my memories of researching suicide and the time I almost did attempt it before ever seeing a psychiatrist is again “my being confused about my own memories”.

    In HS 2 guys tried to rape me. I got away. Reported it to a teacher who was supposedly a “feminist” but she would not believe these “nice boys” would do such a thing and arranged for me to find myself in a room alone with one of my attempted rapist. Needless to say I didn’t bother trying to take it further. I knew my mom never believed me on anything. If the feminist teacher didn’t believe me why would the male headmaster of the school?

    At 19 while using multiple forms if birth control I got pregnant the night my boyfriend broke up with me. 9+ weeks later a bunch of guys that regularly came into the restaurant I worked at asked me back to their place to watch a movie after my shift got over. One of the guys said he’d come back and give me a ride. He came back after my shift ended but instead of taking me to the apt he took me to an industrial park and raped me in the front seat of the car. I lay there repeating “you know this is rape I have not consented to this” the entire 15 minutes it went on. But I did not fight him off. I’m a small person & I didn’t want to do anything that might hurt the baby growing inside of me. The next day he and his friends came back to the restaurant and he proposed to me. It was surreal. I did not go to the police. I was unwilling to be raped by the system and given my pregnancy & having gotten in a car with a virtual stranger at night I was pretty sure the system would rape me worse than he did. I told a few co-workers & they made sure I never had to wait his table & kept him away from me. A couple weeks later I miscarried and found a new job. After Subbensville I realize all those friends of his knew what the plan was. None of them had expected to see me for “the movie” that was a freeing moment and I stopped blaming myself (20+ years later). I also realized that I did the right thing for me in not reporting. He never would have been found guilty. Nothing I did would have prevented him from raping other shirt if killing him.

    Go forward to age 30. I’m at a required attendance corporate party. The boyfriend I live with tells me minutes before we walk out the door he is not going with me. I do something I never do and I let a guy, co-worker, who I think is a friend get my drinks for me instead if going with. Everyone at the table thinks I’m just getting drunk, including me. Accept I didn’t have that much to drink, it was within my normal drinking with food. We decide I’m too drunk to drive home. “Nice guy” is designated to make sure I make it to my hotel room. I wake up to him inside of me. He claims we talked about it & he went home & got condoms. In the morning I wake up to him having sex with me again. I still feel very kinda drunk but decide I’m safe to drive (probably was wrong). Get home & blurt out to boyfriend I cheated on him. Move in with a friend for a few days & realize I was raped. Move back in with boyfriend but he can’t fully make transition from 1st words to “rape story”. We break up. Fast forward to 46 and reading about what women feel like & act like when given roofies. Realize I was drugged that night. Again never went to police as who would believe me & research into past would turn into total slut shaming & thank you but I’ve been raped enough.

    So it’s just been this year that I’ve realized I was set-up by a group of guys for the rape at 19 & probably drugged for rape at 30. In a way that has brought me great relief as I’ve stopped blaming myself. On the other-hand I feel really stupid for it to take this long to see both of those things and regardless I was not at fault either time & I tell other rape victims that all the time. Why can’t I treat myself as kindly as I tell others to treat themselves?

    Sorry for such a long post. I think this is the 1st time I’ve publicly documented my entered story with details. It’s usually told in a sentence at most. Thanks for reading and being a safe place to share.

  22. Jacob Schmidt says

    Pteryxx

    for what it’s worth, in these couple years that I’ve been keeping a count of survivors speaking up, I can only remember… three, maybe four, women who have spoken up and said specifically that they have NOT been raped. That includes Kale above.

    I’m beginning to question the statistics for sexual assault. They seem shockingly high at first, but from what I’ve seen, and from the experiences of others here, those statistics seem like a low ball.

    Esteleth

    This means (among other things) that I’m not blindsided by revelations, am prepared to offer sympathy/support immediately (without having to process my “but that person was raped?! Shock!” thoughts), and save myself from accidentally saying something boneheadedly stupid on the topic of rape to a victim.

    If there was ever something that I should thank the Horde for, I’d say it was teaching me empathy. In the several times I’ve had friends come to me for help with their assault, I’ve been able to respond with unconditional compassion. They’ve told me they are very thankful for that.

    To the Horde, that thanks is yours. Thank you.

  23. pHred says

    Could not read the whole thing either.

    I know for several people, just having a safe place to say something helps. There are not really that many of those.

    Theoretically I “did it the right way” and got “justice” (he got a couple of months with work release and hung out down the street – four door down from where I lived) and I still can’t talk about it.

    Sorry for the staccato writing.

  24. left0ver1under says

    I’m posting because silence might be seen as indifference. Better to say something than be seen as uncaring.

    Her report concerns me (in more than one meaning of the word), but I can’t think of anything useful or profound to say.

  25. says

    Elyse is a brave woman, and that was a needed essay even though she didn’t need to do it. She deserves much praise for writing something so difficult.

    (TW for description of rape)
    I grew up knowing the story of my mother’s rape that happened a few years before she had me. I learn more little bits and pieces over time about it and how it ultimate affect my mother’s and thus my life.

    He did eventually go to prison for rape, but the police did not prosecute in her case, despite this being what that judge in Billings would call a “rape-rape” involving a stranger and attempted strangulation. His other victims were treated as badly or worse (too horrible to describe here). I do know that he’s dead now many decades later and a male relative of ours pissed on his grave in good riddance. Small solace.

    While going through old letters found when a relative passed away we found an apology letter. An apology to a husband off at war about something that happened with a friend of his. From the description in the letter, it was an apology for being raped although the letter writer didn’t see it that way.

  26. gillt says

    Partner: [not enthusiastic]
    You: [moves on to a non-sexual activity]

    How remarkably radical and utterly reasonable. We need this on billboards, in manifestos, carved in stone, burned into our minds.

  27. tashaturner says

    @kevin

    Enough talking. What can we do about it?

    When you see men making inappropriate jokes or harassing a woman call them on it. If you are raising kids make sure that you are raising your son to respect women. Some of that means if your daughter is being taught to cook & clean than your son should be also. If your son is being taught to work on cars your daughter should be too. You need to be sharing the household chores & your kids should never hear you refer to watching them as “babysitting” or doing household chores as “women’s work”. Look at the language you use and the activities you encourage them – are you subconsciously enforcing sexist stereotypes?

  28. Millicent says

    tashaturner, thank you for sharing your experiences, and I am so sorry that these things happened to you. I know exactly what you mean, about it being hard to be kind to oneself. I figure the best we can do is try. :)

  29. Pteryxx says

    Kevin @25

    What concrete actions can we take? What organizations can we support with our time/money? What can we do today to make it safer for women today?

    What comes immediately to mind is helping rape crisis centers. They’re chronically underfunded and understaffed, and one of their tasks is to provide advocates who help victims navigate (often hostile) justice systems. See EEB’s story here where the police specifically prevented her advocate from interfering with their revictimization disguised as due process.

    Rape crisis centers and survivor organizations also have been pushing to be recognized assistants to police investigation, because by educating the police and watchdogging bad departments, they can greatly improve conviction rates. Some forward-thinking police departments are changing their policies to cooperate with advocates; see this report:

    PDF link

    sourced from here on the Virginia department changing its policies to support victims.

    and beyond that, rape crisis orgs are at the forefront of pushing for changes in the laws to allow expert testimony about rape (currently disallowed in most cases).

    Schwartzman had some suggestions for improving jurors’ understanding of rape and helping victims get fair treatment:

    If social workers and trauma psychologists were allowed to act as witnesses or experts on rape trials they could explain the complexities of PTSD and what are normal and common ways that victims respond to rape. They would explain how trauma effects memory, effects your freeze or flight response and seeps into the body. Instead we have juries who rely on CSI and SVU to dictate to them how rape “really” works, what victims and perpetrators look like, and how cases should play out in a court room.

    Schwartzman and Miller both mentioned the need to shift the emphasis in rape cases off the victim and onto the perpetrator. Says Schwartzman,

    [T]he other way to help victims get justice in rape cases is to scrutinize the past and present behavior of the perpetrator as closely as they do the victim. How did the perpetrator act before, during and after the attack? How has the perpetrator acted toward sexual partners in the past? How is the perpetrator’s lack of remorse, obsessive apologizing, stalking, blaming, shaming behaviors common for someone who has committed a rape? […] Time to shift the focus and the responsibility from victims, to those who commit acts of sexual violence, so we learn the behaviors and cease to tolerate them.

    From Jezebel in 2011 citing two organizations I’ll link below.

  30. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    My heart goes out to Elyse, other victims who have spoken up here, those who probably will in the following comments and especially to those who are still keeping their pain inside.

  31. fulfilleddeer says

    First post. I’ve lurked a while, but don’t know how much I’ll actually be commenting.

    This feels like the air has been sucked out of my lungs. To echo Kevin above, how can I, in my privileged position (W, M, etc.) help?

    I don’t know if this opens any options, but I’m in medical school now.

  32. says

    kevin:

    So…enough of this tut-tutting.

    Enough talking. What can we do about it?

    Well, first of all, you can realize that saying something like “So…enough of this tut-tutting” is a godsdamn stupid, offensive, shitty thing to say, something that would only come out of the keyboard of a privilege-blind asshole. People speaking up about their experiences is tut-tutting? Really? Do you think it is easy for us to talk about these things? Do you think we eagerly await any opportunity to relate our ‘drama’? Try using your brain more and your mouth and keyboard less, for a start.

    I’ll do the standard link dump, all of which you need to read, you fucking ass.

    Basic education links ahead. Be daring! Be different! Excite your brain with learning! Short form: click the pretty blue words and read.

    Part 1:

    Explainer: What’s an MRA?
    http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2007/10/explainer-whats-mra.html

    Rape Culture
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture

    Rape Culture 101
    https://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/rape-culture-101/

    http://victimblaming.tumblr.com/

    Excellent explanation of privilege
    https://sindeloke.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/37/

  33. Pteryxx says

    well, whenever this gets out of moderation, here are the organizations whose reps gave advice in this Jezebel article.

    Schwartzman had some suggestions for improving jurors’ understanding of rape and helping victims get fair treatment:

    If social workers and trauma psychologists were allowed to act as witnesses or experts on rape trials they could explain the complexities of PTSD and what are normal and common ways that victims respond to rape. They would explain how trauma effects memory, effects your freeze or flight response and seeps into the body. Instead we have juries who rely on CSI and SVU to dictate to them how rape “really” works, what victims and perpetrators look like, and how cases should play out in a court room.

    Schwartzman and Miller both mentioned the need to shift the emphasis in rape cases off the victim and onto the perpetrator. Says Schwartzman,

    [T]he other way to help victims get justice in rape cases is to scrutinize the past and present behavior of the perpetrator as closely as they do the victim. How did the perpetrator act before, during and after the attack? How has the perpetrator acted toward sexual partners in the past? How is the perpetrator’s lack of remorse, obsessive apologizing, stalking, blaming, shaming behaviors common for someone who has committed a rape? […] Time to shift the focus and the responsibility from victims, to those who commit acts of sexual violence, so we learn the behaviors and cease to tolerate them.

    From Jezebel in 2011 citing Karla Miller of the Rape Victim Advocacy Program in Iowa:

    http://www.rvap.org/home/

    and Nancy Schwartzman of the Line Campaign:

    http://whereisyourline.org/

  34. roro80 says

    So…enough of this tut-tutting.

    What can we DO about it?

    Please understand that “tut-tutting” (er, talking, commisserating, sharing) is for many victims an essential part of the healing process. It’s also awareness building. Your comment seems to come from a good place, but it also comes off as telling victims to shut up and take action. Speaking truth is one way that victims do take action.

  35. says

    kevin:

    So…enough of this tut-tutting.

    Enough talking. What can we do about it?

    Well, first of all, you can realize that saying something like “So…enough of this tut-tutting” is a godsdamn stupid, offensive, shitty thing to say, something that would only come out of the keyboard of a privilege-blind asshole. People speaking up about their experiences is tut-tutting? Really? Do you think it is easy for us to talk about these things? Do you think we eagerly await any opportunity to relate our ‘drama’? Try using your brain more and your mouth and keyboard less, for a start.

    Go to the Pharyngula wiki, and search for Sex Education 101. You’ll find all kinds of handy links to good reading.

  36. cicely says

    Pteryxx, make it four, maybe five. This whole, “If you know a woman, she’s almost certainly been raped” thing brings it home to me just how lucky, through no virtue of mine, I’ve been.
     
    *hugs* and/or *non-intrusive-and-refusable gestures of support and comfort* for Elyse…for tashaturner…for everyone who wants or needs them.
    -

  37. cicely says

    I’m awaiting moderation??? No linkies, can’t think of anything unacceptable I said.
    :(
    -

  38. badgersdaughter says

    My story: Tried to leave abusive husband to go to a battered women’s shelter take my kid. System saw I was suicidally depressed and took my kid, after which I no longer qualified for the social services that you get if you have a child. Kicked me out of the battered women’s shelter because they only allowed a certain number of days to stay. I was out on the street, where a police officer took me “back home” because I had no other place to go. After all that happening, forced sex seemed like the least of my worries, insofar as I was numb inside and trying to keep from being beaten again.

    But I never thought of myself as raped because I was married and I went along with it.

  39. Arete says

    I’ve never been raped. I mean, I have been groped, harassed, cat-called, cajoled to “C’mon, get in the van sweetheart, don’t you want a riiiiiiiide?”, flashed, and, as a pre/young teen, groomed by a predator who got caught and left my social circle before he got around to doing to me what he did to (at least, obviously) two other girls a couple years older than me (he didn’t go to jail or anything, he just got divorced from his wife). But I’ve never been raped. So that’s what I always think of when I hear about the statistics. I think way more people are raped than show up in the statistics, and since lots of people have more than one experience, if you count “rapes” instead of “people who are raped” the prevalence would be even higher, but you also have to consider what, exactly not-raped looks like living in a rape culture.

    @Kevin 25. While I appreciate your frustration and desire for action, a part of enabling rape culture is not listening to its victims talk about it. If everyone who was raped could freely discuss it and be believed, and its pervasiveness really be revealed, that would help. But, instead, survivors of rape are told to shut up about it, and stop being such victims all the time, and get over it already. So, while I totally get what you are trying to get at, one thing that would help would be to refrain from expressing your frustration by telling people who are talking about their experience that you’ve had “Enough talking.”

  40. badgersdaughter says

    I’m sure my latest comment is in moderation because I told my story too. But I wanted to let you know at least that I had a story.

  41. peptron says

    I once had a rape victim open to me, but I didn’t quite react the way I wished I did. I simply told her to take it to the authorities, because I really didn’t know how to react. Something seemed off with her story, since she was laughing a lot and seemed almost like she had won a prize. I somehow couldn’t take her word for it.

    However, a few years later it dawned on me that I react the same way when under stress… It also put me in trouble a few times… Not very good to laugh when learning about something horrible. And in retrospect I kinda hate myself for doubting.

  42. says

    Enough talking. What can we do about it?

    talking IS doing something. I went through a lot of the same feelings as elyse when I was raped the first time, I didn’t know what to call it because it wasn’t like anything I had heard of before. Sharing a story means someone else might recognize what is happening when it is going on.

    I really want to figure out some kind of project to fix the problems with police investigations. I know that it is impossible to make the courts more sympathetic to rape victims so it would be impossible to change the number of cases that are charged, but making sure that victims are treated with dignity is a reachable goal IMO.

  43. magistramarla says

    Wow, I guess that in my 56 years, I’ve been very, very lucky.
    My only sexual experience in college was with the young man that I was deeply in love with, and it was so consensual that I drove him to the drug store to buy condoms in preparation for our first time, which happened to be the first for both of us. I’ve been married to him for 37 years.

    As a teacher, I was lucky that I’ve worked with some fairly responsible men and women. I was never sexually harassed by co-workers, and I don’t think that any students were harassed or raped by any of our teachers. It was a different story for our gay students, though. Administrators, teachers and other students had no problems giving them a hard time. I often had to hold up for my GSA students.
    I’ve talked with students who have been raped by boyfriends and step-parents, and the only two cases that we knew happened in our school while I was there was a boy raping a girl in the restroom and one that did the same under a stairwell. The counselors and school police were on the ball about prosecuting the boys and counseling the girls. I don’t know how many cases were never reported.

    The worst that I’ve had to deal with personally have been misogynistic business people who didn’t want to deal with “the little lady” and wanted me to bring my husband in to make the deal. They didn’t get the deal at all.

    I know that my youngest daughter fought off a would-be rapist in the parking lot of a bar where she was filling in for a friend as bartender for the night. (She’s a damn good bartender) She gouged the guy with her keys, kicked him hard in the groin, jumped in her truck and drove away.
    I have four daughters. I’ll have to ask each of them if they have had any other experiences with this.
    The world is a dangerous place for women. We thought that we were going in the right direction when we fought for our rights back in the ’60s and ’70s. Sadly, we were wrong.

  44. says

    When you see men making inappropriate jokes or harassing a woman call them on it. If you are raising kids make sure that you are raising your son to respect women. Some of that means if your daughter is being taught to cook & clean than your son should be also. If your son is being taught to work on cars your daughter should be too. You need to be sharing the household chores & your kids should never hear you refer to watching them as “babysitting” or doing household chores as “women’s work”. Look at the language you use and the activities you encourage them – are you subconsciously enforcing sexist stereotypes?

    Also, what are you doing to reinforce the concept of consent?

    Do you ask if it’s OK before tickling or hugging children, whether they’re yours or not?

    You definitely shouldn’t be hitting children and telling them that it’s for their own good – that is how people learn that it’s OK to be hurt by people who are supposed to love and care for you.

    Let other people know that it isn’t OK to touch children without their permission. Throw a fucking fit when people claim that spanking is beneficial..

  45. Fern says

    This sentence from Elyse’s post jumped out at me:

    As the days went on, my 24-hour full-time job was rape-victim/witness.

    Those arguing that victims must always go to the police (and undermine their credibility if they don’t) don’t seem to understand this. Even if the police handle the situation appropriately – hell, maybe especially if they police handle the situation appropriately – a victim may have to put other important things on hold to comply with the investigation. It’s not easy, and may not even be an option, to take time off work or school. Maybe you have kids that you will need to find childcare for. If you get raped while you’re traveling, how and when will you be able to get home? These are all factors that you need to weigh at exactly the time when you’ve just experienced something traumatic, when you might just want a chance to get back to normal as quickly as possible.

    I get why people want more victims to report. But to treat reporting as if it’s no big deal, something that anyone would obviously do, is foolish. To treat a failure to report, given all the obstacles and complications that go along with it, as a sign that a victim lacks credibility, is fucking asinine.

  46. says

    I have tried to comment on several Pharyngula threads, but continue to get the “awaiting moderation” notice. Would one of the monitors please look into this? Thank you.

  47. twincats says

    I’ve done a whole lot of reading (here, feminist blogs, etc.) in the last 5 years; a big load of it just lately and I’ve been forced to admit a few things to my 53-year-old-woman self:

    I thought for decades that I’d only been raped once. It was actually three times. I’m lucky in that I only sustained injuries the first time.

    I now realize that I have also been on the other side. There’s no other way to say it – I, too am a rapist. I am deeply sorry for that and would never have realized it if not for some of the male rape victims whose stories I read on this blog over on the mother of all comment threads (all 4000+ of them).

    Both of these things are difficult and I find myself obsessively reading posts and threads like this lately. I think it helps, so thanks for not giving up and leaving it alone.

    Going back to lurking and processing now.

  48. efogoto says

    tashaturner, thank you for the long post. Those of us in ignorance or denial need it. Again, thanks.

  49. moongrrl says

    Delurking to say: tashaturner, I wish I could jump through cyberspace and give you the biggest hug. I’m sorry. I’m sorry all of that horrible shit happened to Elyse, too. I’m sorry it happens to anyone.

  50. says

    tashaturner, I am so sorry for your experiences. I know exactly what it feels like to really and truly grok that none of it is your fault, and yet live your life viciously beating yourself up over it in ways large and small. It’s as if some part of you that is deaf to reason and doesn’t speak in words *knows* it’s all your fault, and you deserve everything you got. And of course we live in a world full of voices that say exactly that. I just want to thank you and commend you for writing your stories here fearlessly, honestly and in such vivid detail. I may never get to that point myself, but it sure as hell helps to know there are others out there who get it, and can say the things that I can’t. That’s a huge part of what makes this space the safest space on the ‘net, for me.

  51. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    What Esteleth said @ #21.

    I’ve been raped repeatedly, and assaulted and harassed more times than I can count. and I consider myself among the luckier people. I once worked in an office where one colleague was trying to get out of an abusive relationship, and literally every one of us there ended up talking about the abusive relationships we’d left.

    @ tashaturner: Exactly.

  52. Grumps says

    I have a horrible feeling that I’m a rapist.
    I’ve been following all the recent threads on the topic and suddenly, reading this one I felt sick. I remembered the last couple of years of my marriage.
    I am an alcoholic and 12 years ago I was drinking heavily and taking a variety of other drugs. I was not coping with my job or my responsibilities as a father. My (ex) wife was struggling to keep everything together: looking after our son (who has a serious brain injury), looking after the house, finances, everything. She knew about my drinking although I lied and tried to keep it from her. She hated my drinking, hated the lies more and probably was beginning to hate me.
    Every night she would go to bed quite early. Exhausted from her day of looking after everything/one. I would sit up… just one more drink and another joint. Then sometimes, an hour or two after she’d gone to bed I would go up wanting sex. She didn’t say “no”, she didn’t resist, but it is quite clear in retrospect that all she wanted was to sleep. But she let me. Path of least resistance. Easier to lie there and let me than have a fight.
    I now realise that that was rape. And I am ashamed and sorry. We are still in touch and work together to help our son, so tomorrow I am going to talk to her about it and apologise.

    This blog and the horde have made me a better person. Thank you.

  53. says

    That was hard as hell to read. Hard, but necessary, for me. I didn’t even get to the end. Reading accounts like this slowly dissolves the faith I have in humanity. But it also lets me, and others like me, know that we are not alone.

    This reminds me that it is important to get our stories out there, if we are able. I have spoken several times to undergraduate and graduate psychology classes about my rape. Each time, I felt a sense of removal from my own body, an incredible weight that came with the enormity of what I was doing. And then, that same weight being lifted when I finished, looked up, and into the eyes of others who I knew had been assaulted. Or who knew someone who had been.

    Her words also reminded me that all of our stories are different. And that we all handle it in different ways. I didn’t report my rape until ten or so years after the fact. Because my rapist (also known as my step-father) had convinced me that what had happened was not rape.

    For my situations, reporting was the right decision. It was the right decision for me. It gave me the closure I needed. The feeling of great relief when he was finally sentenced. The calm that comes with being able to sleep at night, next to my husband’s warm, caring form, knowing that my abuser is sleeping, or not sleeping on a hard cot in a cold cell. But I am not naive enough to believe that this happens for everyone. I know that most cases are swept under the rug, not believed, and that a lot of victims are blamed.

    I say all of this to say that survivors are everywhere. We are your friends, your loved ones. We are you. We all have different stories. But our common trait is that not one of us deserved what happened.

  54. Seize says

    To paraphrase Cerberus on Sadly, No! and echo sentiments above: it’s hard for me to find members of my group haven’t been sexually assaulted. Most of my friends have been raped.

    I have never identified as a rape survivor and I do not feel like I will ever claim that as a part of my identity. That said, while I don’t remember what happened, I think it’s logical to assume I’ve been raped. I’d like to share this story with y’all because I think it perfectly illustrates the sheer ubiquity of sexual assault. Here is a vista into the thoughts of a young woman who, as a victim, looked at rape as ordinary.

    I was 20 and I was in another country. I was with people I’d never met before, and we got extremely drunk. I woke up the next morning on the floor of a house. I was not wearing pants or underwear, and someone had thrown a light blanket thrown over me. When I woke up my primary concern was my hangover, and locating my pants. When I found them it was strange – they were damp, as though I had ran through high grass after rain. It had rained the night before, but I couldn’t remember being outside, much less walking through tall grass. Upon inspection my feet were dirty. I felt awful but I didn’t have any obvious injuries.

    For context, I was, at that moment, at the nadir of my young life. I was battling substance abuse and mental illness. I didn’t have any respect for myself, and it didn’t even occur to me that I hadn’t deserved what had apparently been done to me. It was what happened to bad girls, and I was bad. So I sat around and watched TV in the house where I’d been sexually assaulted until the tenants awoke, and then I cooked breakfast with them. No one mentioned the night before, and so I didn’t ask. I left that afternoon for a distant city as per my itinerary.

    Now I feel worlds apart and I think in completely different ways, so I know what happened to me wasn’t normal. Based on the way I think and feel now, it kind of boggles my mind that I didn’t think to flee the house – that I didn’t even ask questions. I just accepted what had happened. That’s the banality of evil.

  55. Rabidtreeweasel says

    For the longest time I thought it was just me. I invited trouble; there was something wrong with me; I was a sinner. All but one of my rapes had religious undertones to them. The one that wasn’t was the inly time I was held down and physically held in the house for a few hours. That one was easy for me to get o er. It came closest to matching the narrative.

    And I didn’t report it. And his Mom was in the next room. And it was all kinds of fucked up.

    My girl friends and I talk about our rapes now. We talk about trying to find new ways to talk about it. That rape prevention isn’t a can of mace and avoiding back alleys; it is teaching everyone what consent actually is so we can identify the times it isn’t given. That No means No but silence does not mean yes.

    We talk about Dear Muslima and the use of the suffering of others to minimize our own. How there ate other methods besides acid to silence conversations on rape. That the weapon of choice herd is passive aggression.

    If you tell a child the sky is green enough times they’ll eventually come to believe you.

  56. says

    kevin:

    So…enough of this tut-tutting.

    Enough talking. What can we do about it?

    Well, first of all, you can realize that saying something like “So…enough of this tut-tutting” is a godsdamn stupid, offensive, shitty thing to say. People speaking up about their experiences is tut-tutting? Really? Do you think it is easy for us to talk about these things? Do you think we eagerly await any opportunity to relate our ‘drama’? Try using your brain more and your mouth and keyboard less, for a start.

    Go to the Pharyngula wiki, and search for Sex Education 101. You’ll find all kinds of handy links to good reading.

  57. Gregory Greenwood says

    The article was difficult to read, but we can’t simply turn away from the epidemic of rape and the spreading blight of rape culture in our society as if ignoring it will somehow make it stop. The fact that people find it hard to talk about rape is one of the things that gives rapists cover. This has to be faced, and men like me need to remember that our male privilege is contributing to this problem. Every sexist joke, every idiot opining some variant of the notion that a rape victim ‘probably asked for it’, every misogynist, ‘wot about teh menz’ bigot whining about some imagined plague of false rape claims, further reinforces a status quo that ensures that the horrors that people like Elyse and many of the commenters on this thread have gone through will keep happening, and society will keep on at best ignoring the problem, and at worst blaming the victims – because that is so much more comfortable for the privileged and powerful than it is to admit that our culture does not merely have a problem with rape, but effectively works to facilitate it by persecuting the victims while shielding their attackers.

    I stand in awe of the people who have the strength to relate such traumatic experiences on an open forum like this in order to help educate people and convey to other victims that they are not alone. I also agree with the sentiment exspressed by Jacob Schmidt @ 27; that the more I hear about just how pervasive rape culture is, and the more I realise just how many women I know personally or have heard of have been raped, the more I think that the statistics for rape rates that so anger MRA arseholes are in fact extremely conservative. Given the attitude of society in general, and law enforcement in particular, to rape victims there are many compelling reasons why women (and men) would not want to report their rapes, and as related in the linked peice may even try to convince themselves that they were never raped at all. As a result we have no real idea how high the true figures for rape really are.

    This has to stop. We can’t go one living in a world that is structured as if the bodies of one segment the population exist principally for the gratification of the another segment. Until the basic humanity of all people – whatever they happen to keep or not keep in their trousers/other items of abdominal garb, and whether or not this happens to match up with their physical sex at birth – is recognised, and with it the inalienable right of all people to bodily autonomy whatever they may or may not have been drinking, wherever they may or may not have gone at whatever time, whoever they may or may not have flirted with, and however they may or may not have been dressed at the time, then we cannot begin to claim to live in an ethical society.

  58. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    Grumps @ #62: I’ll admit that this was a lot harder to read for me than when I learn that yet another person I know is a survivor, if only because I more or less expect it, as I said. But there are people who perpetrate it, so I suppose I shouldn’t actually be surprised? I mean, the numbers are 1 in 6, and most of those are serial rapists.

    I hope that you work things out. I hope that she’s okay. I’m glad that you’re trying to be better. I’m sorry that I am a bit afraid now.

  59. Rabidtreeweasel says

    Grumps- my ex husband did that to me. I can’t make you feel better about it. You will have to go to someone else for that. All I can say is yes you raped her. In my experience, the times my husband raped me were the worst. I am out of words now. I’ll be shaking uncontrollably in the corner if anyone needs me.

  60. Jacob Schmidt says

    twincats

    There’s no other way to say it – I, too am a rapist.

    Grumps

    I now realise that that was rape. And I am ashamed and sorry. We are still in touch and work together to help our son, so tomorrow I am going to talk to her about it and apologise.

    Thank you for talking responsibility. I have no idea what your situation is, but you might be able to contact a local helpline or crisis centre to see what you can do to make amends.

  61. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    Rabidtreeweasel: For me, it was an ex-boyfriend, but yeah, those cut especially deep.

    I hope you’re safe now, and please take care of yourself. *hugs if wanted*

  62. Pteryxx says

    Grumps @62 – I was also raped by my ex-partner, and genders aside, for basically the same reason… it was easier to endure than to put up a huge fight. So far I still don’t feel particularly bad about the rapes compared to the continuous abuse that went on. From this distance of years and comments from random strangers on the net, there’s no telling how your ex-partner may feel about bringing it up, but I do agree that you should. My advice is to make sure, as best you can, that she has someone supportive to speak to about it who is not you. Maybe that would be family, or a trusted friend, or a counselor. At the very least I suggest that you make a point of saying directly to her that it’s okay for her to seek help about this. She may need the help to process what this apology means.

    I make a point of suggesting the National Domestic Violence Hotline, who are prepared to have anonymous, confidential discussions about questions like “I think I may have raped someone” and “I think I may have been raped in the past”. Grumps, you can speak to them, also.

    http://www.thehotline.org/2013/03/what-to-expect-when-you-call/

  63. says

    Rabidtreeweasel: please take very, very good care of yourself, and know that you are believed. I am so sorry you were triggered so badly. It sucks.

    *offers of hugs if wanted* My tears, unfortunately, are not optional.

  64. says

    I read her post. That’s all I’ve got for tonight. i can’t even read this thread. i got like twenty comments in and have to raegquit.

    But briefly and for the record (TW, somewhat graphic):

    – @ 10, by a bus driver who liked to wear masks
    – @ 12, while pushing wheelchairs as a scout, when the “grabby guy” came to visit the Ex
    – @ 21, by a date; I burned his hand with a car lighter to get away, staggering drunk and bleeding into a Tim Horton’s, then bailed when I realized they were calling the police
    – @ 26, on the street; his mistake, though he put me down briefly and started his business, the last time I saw him he was spitting blood as my boot thumped into his ribs again…and again…and again. Yay being a soldier.

    And I never reported anyone. Because I knew what Elyse knows, what most women and other trans* folk know: that reporting makes it worse. Because as a trans woman, and one who’d gotten away twice by seriously injuring my attacker before he’d gotten much damage to me, I had a more than strong suspicion that reporting it was going to end up with me in the boy jail, charged with aggravated assault, because you know those deceiving tranny freaks. This was 1992.

    With that, let me bid you a goodnight. I think I’m going to go play a whole BUNCH of Mass Effect, and my gorgeous Black woman Shep is going to make me feel better by killing a LOT of faceless things. My thanks to the awesome people who are going to stand up and defend against the inevitable rape apologists coming by to tell us how these are all not “real rapes” because we didn’t tell their frat buddies in blue.

  65. Jackie: The COLOSSAL TOWERING VAGINA! says

    Caine @#40,
    Thank you. I wanted to say something about that to Kevin, but I just couldn’t muster it.

  66. billingtondev says

    My words aren’t working.
    I read it – I didn’t cry.
    Then bit at the bottom – the little bio thing about who Elyse is and what she does.
    And Wham! I’m still crying.
    Would you LOOK at that? I mean just fucking look at that! Those two things next each other like that.
    A-fucking-mazing! She is amazing. An awesome woman. In our world.
    My words aren’t working… hope it makes sense…

  67. No One says

    We were both 15. Both naked in my bed, with only a condom between us. Just as we were about to she said “Please don’t fuck me.”. We didn’t.

    Guys… It’s very basic. No means stop. If your not sure if it’s “No” ask. If you don’t get an affirmation, bail.

  68. Nick Gotts says

    Nothing useful to say, except more or less what I said on Elyse’s thread: thanks for the courage of all those giving accounts of the rapes they suffered; the more of these there are, the harder it is for the rape apologists to pretend there’s no serious problem.

  69. Pteryxx says

    Jacob Schmidt @74, no problemo. Some years ago, I lurked on a survivor forum (gone now) and saw a regular there pass the Hotline on to someone else questioning what had happened to her. They have never known how they helped me. Pass it forward.

  70. says

    Oh, crap, I forgot one. Seriously. You get enough, sometimes they don’t all come up at once when you think about it.

    Ponder that for a minute, guys. Just for a minute.

    About ten years after I left the troop, my unit in Toronto was raided by Vice, and several of the scout leaders (the same ones I’d had) were arrested.

    So the next time you hear someone making a joke about scout leaders who sexually assault kids? Yeah, they’re laughing at me. You know someone. The next time you think about making a casual ha-ha at the expense of the Catholic Church and its constant history of child-raping? You’re talking about kids like me. You’re not just hitting the church. You’re hitting its victims. And this shits happens even here, all the time.

    So just…think about it for a minute. Look at my last post. Look at tashaturner’s, at all the others coming forward just in a few hours on this one tiny thread in this one tiny corner of the internet.

    Now extrapolate.

    Mad yet? Good. Get mad. Stay mad. Take it out on rapists, by taking away their freedom to get away with it. I don’t mean by the law, I mean by having our backs.

    Believe us, when we say it happened. Defend us, when they say it didn’t. Know, from what you’ve read, what we know about how we’re treated if we report. And be fierce the next time the apologists come by with their bullshit about 50/50 false allegations.

    Now, off to Shepland.

  71. omnicrom says

    I don’t know what to say or do. And reading something like this makes me feel like I should say or do SOMETHING. I wish I knew what to do, because this problem is a problem that burns me up inside and I don’t have a clue how to do SOMETHING.

  72. Anthony K says

    I don’t want to take up valuable blog time, but I wanted to offer my support and sympathy for Elyse and other victims of rape, whether they share their stories or not.

    Thank you, and I’m so sorry. Now back to reading, listening, crying.

  73. Grumps says

    @71 Jacob and 73 Pteryxx
    Thank you.
    She now has a partner who she is about to marry. I am prepared to talk to her and apologise and I will suggest she talks about it with him.

    Pteryxx thanks for that link I’m going there now.

  74. Ogvorbis: Purveyor of Mediocre Humours! says

    I tried to read Elyse’s post. And couldn’t. I wanted to comment and express my support but I couldn’t read through it.

    CaitieCat:

    You have my profound sympathy. I’m glad your scout leaders did get caught.

  75. says

    Echoing CaitieCat.

    3 to 9 years old, raped at least once a week by a family member. Said family member was an upstanding member of the community, his church, yada, yada, yada. Never said one fucking word about it to anyone.

    14 years old, sexually assaulted by said family member. Didn’t report.

    16 years old, coshed on the back of the head in a parking lot, restrained, beaten, raped multiple times, strangled repeatedly, knifed. One of three survivors of a serial rapist/killer. Went to trial, two years worth. Conviction on murder, not rape. Endured a wealth of shit from cops and attorneys for two years.

    18.5 years old, sexually assaulted while sleeping at a house party. Didn’t report, never talked about it until the time in the link; talked to my partner of over 30 years about it that night.

    19.5 years old, raped twice by my partner. Never talked about those, first time is right now. Didn’t report.

  76. Jackie: The COLOSSAL TOWERING VAGINA! says

    Peptron,
    *Trigger warning*
    A friend of mine laughed about her rape. That isn’t because she thought it was funny. She had been 13 at the time the two men with guns broke in and raped her and a family member. I didn’t understand so I asked her what that was about. Here is what she said:

    “It was so out of place and unexpected. There was even a loaded rifle in the living room, but we didn’t think to get it. It was unbelievable. It was like opening your front door and finding a dead dog, but you don’t own a dog.”

    Only one of the rapists went away for any significant amount of time and my friend lived with the fear that the rapists would seek revenge if the ever found her. She was nearly 40 when I met her, strong and independent, but she had to live with that fear. Laughter doesn’t mean you aren’t traumatized or afraid.

    I’d like to say that I’ve never handled someone telling me about being raped poorly. But, I have. I fucked up royally when I was younger. (I file that under: Internalized misogyny happens.) When I was more mature and informed enough to know what I had done, I felt so guilty. That was nearly 20 years ago. Recently that woman I was a shit to contacted me out of the blue and I was able to apologize for what a shitty friend I’d been. What she told me makes my tear up just writing it. She laughed, told me she loved me and that I was the best support she had at the time.
    She still suffers from severe PTSD.
    I know I was a stupid asshole.
    It is beyond kind of her to forgive me, but I don’t feel any better because knowing I was the best support she had feels like an icicle in my gut.
    When she talks about all of the health issues she’s had because of what she went through, she laughs. We have to sometimes, don’t we? We have to laugh at how absurd and wrong things are to keep going.

  77. says

    CatieCat: take care. You are believed, and respected, and loved for who you are – at least by me, and I’m sure I’m not alone. <3

    I gotta step away now, before I join Rabidtreeweasel.

  78. standard says

    Oh, Elyse… I’m so sorry.

    He was a friend over four years my senior, and Experienced. I was fourteen, and Inexperienced. I keep trying to fit the word “just” into the sentence “I was sexually harassed for months via instant messaging.”

    “Just” because I was Not Like The Other Girls He’d Dated and Age Is Just a Number and I didn’t say no, exactly, and I loved him, so I wanted it. He had just broken up with his girlfriend and I was just sort of… there. It’s not like he Liked Children. I had seemed Physically Mature to him. (His words, when I confronted him years later. He also basically called me masturbation material.)

    I’ve read more about sexual violence during the last three weeks than my whole life before put together. It feels like fire. I call the fire Agency, and it keeps me angry, angry enough to want to pursue what little justice I can, and to keep myself healthy. I would like to thank those of you who make the fire burn for those of us with so little of our own to spare.

  79. Seize says

    “Everything in moderation” they say. Not as good for comments as for other things! My first post makes way less at #67 then it did 20 comments in.

    For context: shared that anecdote because I felt it was a good thematic fit with Elyse’s heartbreaking post about how rape is not only ubiquitous, but that, according to rape culture, there is no right response. Trying every “right” response and getting nowhere is a similar, futile process to not even understanding that you have a right to not be assaulted. Many sexually discriminated against people throughout the world genuinely are raised to think that they cause rape. They don’t “respond” to their rape with any sort of action.

  80. D-Dave says

    Jacob Schmidt @27 wrote:

    If there was ever something that I should thank the Horde for, I’d say it was teaching me empathy. In the several times I’ve had friends come to me for help with their assault, I’ve been able to respond with unconditional compassion. They’ve told me they are very thankful for that.

    To the Horde, that thanks is yours. Thank you.

    I’d like to thank the Horde and the bloggers here at the FTB-Skepchik-Hivemind for raising my empathy score as well. Huge props to all the people like Elyse, tashaturner, and all the others who’ve had the strength to speak up about what they’ve lived through. Had you all kept quiet I’d still be just as clueless and in the dark as I used to be.

  81. says

    Jesus. :places shaking fingers on keyboard: To every single person who finds themselves part of the legion, my heart and my never ending fury, Always. Every day, I will try to make the world better, to make people better, to raise awareness in every way I can. Sorry isn’t enough. Never enough. I am so sorry. Gonna go cry now.

  82. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    I’m with Caine and CatieCat. I’ve stopped talking about all of the times because it sounds fucking absurd, and I was SO young and I remember almost nothing, I only remember remembering, if that makes sense, but I’ll try for this thread.

    * Don’t know age, younger than 5 years till about 8 years old: sexually abused and eventually raped by an uncle
    * During that same time, starting when I was about 7 and continuing until I was 14 or 15, sexually abused and eventually raped by an uncle on the other side of the family

    Stopping now.

    FUN FACT! Both uncles were the youngest and both were late babies (don’t know the English for it, when a baby is born MUCH later than their siblings and when the mother’s a bit older?). They even have the same fucking name.

    It’s so fucking bizarre, *I* don’t believe that shit and it happened to me.

    Never heard from the first one after the death of my father, but I still have a continuing brother-sister type relationship with the second one.

    His daughter (who I loved like a little sister) committed suicide at age 17 almost two years ago now. (Can’t believe it’s that long already). I never even THOUGHT that he might be abusing her until she hung herself, at which point it became obvious.

    Besides the Horde, I have only told my husband about this, and only after my cousin’s suicide. Her death caused my entire family to tear apart, and now I feel so very guilty, first for not SEEING it and then for not TELLING anyone about what happened to me.

    I was just so sure that it was me, somehow, that it was something about me that caused all that. I mean, I was so convinced that it was somehow something intrinsic to me that invited that sort of abuse that I never even considered the possibility, and now I can’t believe I missed all the signals.

    So yeah, that’s my story. Add it to the pile.

  83. tashaturner says

    Want to say thanks to those who not only supported me but shared your stories also. It amazes me how many of us have gone through multiple rapes or have had it take us years to figure out what really happened.

    Big thanks to @Caine for having helped me see that this was a safe place. your courage is amazing. I love the CCC guidelines everyones been putting together. Would you mind if I pointed Jim C Hines at them to add to his websites rape resources once they are a bit more settled?

    Thanks @Elesye for sharing such a painful history and coming as far as you have.

    To the men who have realized you’ve raped that is a big step. Don’t be afraid to go into therapy as you are going to need support to help you come to terms with what you’ve done and rebuild yourself.

    And of course thanks to PZ for devoting part of his blog to us and not letting rape apologist harm us.

  84. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    And ALL the hugs and love to everyone else brave enough to speak up. I can’t fully, even now.

  85. tashaturner says

    Gen hugs to you. How hard that must be. Are abusers are so good at shifting the blame and society too. Why would it occur to you it was happening to her? Please try not to blame yourself for not seeing it. He & society was at fault NOT you.

  86. says

    Tashaturner:

    Would you mind if I pointed Jim C Hines at them to add to his websites rape resources once they are a bit more settled?

    No, not at all! The further it gets spread, the better. The ongoing discussion and refinement is going on here:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/22/if-dr-phil-is-a-fraudulent-hack-is-it-ok-to-respect-his-opinions/comment-page-1/#comment-680933

    This is what we have as of now:

    CCC (Crystal Clear Consent)

    * First of all: Understand that if you go forward with initiating sexual activity not knowing if consent exists, you may or may not be raping someone, but you have proved beyond a shadow of doubt that you are willing to rape someone. Black areas make you a rapist, grey areas make you willing to rape.

    * Making absolutely sure that consent is obtained and mutually agreed on. This does not include trying for consent when a person is not in condition to grant consent.

    * No doubts as to whether consent was obtained.

    * No guesses as to whether consent was obtained.

    * No assumptions as to whether consent was obtained.

    * No doubt as to whether any partner was capable of giving consent at the time.

    Crystal Clear Consent includes Fully Informed Consent. Consent granted under deception is not CCC, it is manufactured consent.

    * If you use deception to gain sex–impersonating another person, lying about contraceptive use, failing to disclose STDs–you are denying your partner the right to fully informed consent.

    * If you are not sure whether or not you have an STD, disclose this uncertainty. If consent is granted, take responsibility and use protection. Just because you didn’t know for sure is not a defense.

    * If you whine and wheedle about using protection a/o contraception, you are not in CCC territory. You are willing to rape.

    * Lying about or withholding information that, if known, would’ve resulted in dissent is rape.

    * If you consent to X activity under Y conditions and the other party changes those conditions to Z, then you have not consented to what is happening.

    Crystal Clear Consent Practices:

    * Understanding that consent may be withdrawn, by any involved party, at any time. Initial consent does not mean you get to carry on if consent has been withdrawn. In other words, people are allowed to change their mind at any point.

    * If you have not had sex with a given person before, mutually understood language with confirmation is the best way to attain Crystal Clear Consent. Relying on body language or assuming consent without clarification is nearly always insufficient with a new partner. As you get to know your partner(s) better, you will get better at reading nonverbal / nonlingual cues, but clear communication is still absolutely necessary. It is important to remember that rape can still be committed within the confines of a relationship, at any stage. Consent that is not communicated is not CCC.

    * If your partner is communicating something, do not assume that it has nothing to do with consent.

    * If you initiate or offer and are declined in the context of a specifically romantic, sexual, or flirtations setting, do not initiate or offer again until one of the following four occur:

    1. the other party has taken a turn initiating/offering and been declined by you.

    2. the other party has taken a turn initiating/offering, was accepted by you, but after the activity lapsed you wish to restart.

    3. it is an entirely new romantic, sexual, or flirtatious setting.

    4. An amount of time has passed that is inverse to the number of times they have accepted your offer before. While it may be acceptable when dating to offer again in a week or in a closer relationship to initiate again after, say, one day [or whatever is the negotiated norm in said relationship] it’s not acceptable to ask someone again if you’ve just met them.

    * If you initiate or offer and are declined in a context that is not specifically romantic, sexual, or flirtatious, do not initiate or offer again. Seriously.

    * If you’re beginning a new relationship or going for a casual hookup, enthusiasm is key! Your new partner should be enthusiastically and happily involved with you. If no enthusiasm is present, it’s best to go for more communication and put off sex for a while.

    * A person who wants consensual sex doesn’t want to commit or experience rape, and a person who rapes does. Whether a given rapist wants their victim(s) drugged, unconscious, frightened, intimidated, trapped, manipulated or tricked, or just pestered until they give in, the rapist wants the end result to be that a rape happens. That includes being forced to penetrate someone else.

    * Contrary to what is often thought, consent is not difficult. If you still aren’t clear at this point, read this: http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2011/09/20/consent-is-hard/ and this: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/02/06/if-consent-was-really-that-hard-whiny-dudes-would-fail-at-every-aspect-of-life/

    * Don’t want to listen to us? How about MIT:

    Effective Consent is:

    – informed;

    – freely and actively given;

    – mutually understandable words or actions;

    – which indicate a willingness to participate in
    – mutually agreed upon sexual activity.

  87. Jackie: The COLOSSAL TOWERING VAGINA! says

    Rabidtreeweasel,
    You are not alone. Alot of the survivors I have known blamed themselves at one time or another or thought that because their rape wasn’t as grisly as someone else’s /was done by a boyfriend or husband /they initially consented but then wanted to stop, etc. that they didn’t have the right to be troubled by it or even tell about it. I want you and anyone else reading this to know that they do, they really do have that right.

  88. besomyka says

    I couldn’t log in over at skepchick when I first read this. I don’t have much to say other than I wanted to express my sympathy and I didn’t want to lurk. I guess this is a comment version of screaming into the sky just because it has to be acknowledged in some way.

  89. says

    Gen:

    I feel so very guilty, first for not SEEING it and then for not TELLING anyone about what happened to me.

    Oh, Gen. I have that guilt too. Not just because of upstanding family member rapist, but because of another childhood incident, which I conveniently forgot to put in my list. I didn’t get raped or sexually assaulted that time…

    When I was around 9, 9.5, I had to go live with a different family member. A neighbour took an interest in me, and there were things I didn’t realize the significance of at the time, like him having a gorgeous butterfly patch on the crotch of his jeans, so it wasn’t visible until he sat down, cross-legged. One day, he was sitting in his garage, on a huge pile of clothes, and kept trying to get me to come in and sit by him. My internal radar was screaming at me – I kept refusing, and found an excuse to get the fuck out of there. What I didn’t do was tell anyone.

    I can barely tolerate the guilt, because I know this man was rapist, and I know he went on to rape others. Thinking about this tears me the fuck apart.

  90. says

    @99 jakie

    a friend in highschool told me “well, one time these guys in a park held me down and made me give them blowjobs, but it wasn’t like what happened to you.” she meant it like what happened to her wasn’t as serious as what happened to me. I wish I had said something but I didnt know what to say.

  91. says

    Nothing new to say, just dropping in to offer*Safehugs* and/or other desired gestures of support for all those who’ve been sharing their stories, and all those reading who have stories but haven’t shared them as well.

  92. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    I was just so sure that it was me, somehow, that it was something about me that caused all that. I mean, I was so convinced that it was somehow something intrinsic to me that invited that sort of abuse that I never even considered the possibility, and now I can’t believe I missed all the signals.

    Oh Gen. Whatever sympathy I can offer through the internet, it is yours. That was my exact thought process for so many years, too. It still is in the back of my head.

    TW for rape and assault

    When I was eight, the molestation by a family member began. I’m not entirely sure of when it ended. For years, I’d sleep with elaborate traps made out of LEGO bricks or Lincoln Logs on the floor so that no one could sneak in on me and then I’d be paranoid every time I woke up and found they had been moved. The fact that I have a terrible time falling asleep now and wake up at the slightest noise with my heart pounding is probably a holdover from that time period.

    When I was seventeen, a young man I didn’t know well (maybe 21-23 years old) showed up at a party and began rubbing his naked penis on my leg where my shorts exposed my skin. This was in the middle of the party, in front of people. No one would help. They looked embarrassed and disgusted at me and looked away. He cornered me in the kitchen and wouldn’t let me leave until I showed him my breasts. A boy there who was a friend of mine agreed that this was something all girls at these parties were required to do, but claimed the high ground in that he didn’t want to see my breasts. He just turned his back while I was assaulted instead.

    When I was twenty-seven, I was at a bar on NYE with a group of friends. A man stuck his hands under my shirt on the dance floor and began pawing at my breasts. I pushed him away and yelled at him and he said I was a whore for going out without a bra on. He continued to harass and threaten me throughout the night and I couldn’t find my friends to help me.

    Three months after that I was raped by the man who worked at the crisis center. He choked me and left bruises all over my body. That time, something snapped inside of me and I started fighting back. It was a cold, methodical self-defense that I find hard to describe. I simply came to the realization that it might be me or him, and I was going to make damn fucking sure it was him. When I left, he was curled up in the fetal position. For a long time, I felt a strange sort of guilt that I didn’t kill him. Knowing that sort of violence is bottled up inside of me terrifies me.

    A year after that, while I was still in the acute stages of recovering from that assault, a friend came to my house. He dragged me away from my computer and insisted I drink with him to unwind and have fun after all the woe and angst. He made the drinks. Other than getting pinned to the floor at one point, some pain, nearly throwing up and being ordered to do various things, I don’t really remember it well. There’s no sense of narrative or connection between events. I’m fairly certain I was unconscious for some of it. Had I not found a condom in my bedroom, I could have written it off as a particularly vivid dream. That one–the not remembering and the violation from a trusted friend who knew exactly what I had been through–is the one that haunts me the most.

    Last year, an ex-girlfriend and I were hanging out while on vacation and she got a little extra drunk. She started groping me and talking about how I needed to get drunk enough to have sex with her. She mocked me and accused me of “going straight” because my partner identifies as male. She pushed and pushed, insisting the only way I could really be bisexual is if I was currently having sex with women. That night she crawled into bed with me and wrapped her arms around me and I laid there frozen in terror. The rest of that vacation was ruined after that as I spent far too much of the time having panic attacks and flashbacks. It took me weeks before I could get up the courage to tell my ex how badly she had upset and violated me. She got angry and accused me of gaslighting her by hiding my lack of consent.

    My hugs and love and support to everyone else who’s surviving.

  93. Rabidtreeweasel says

    I’ve had a bit of time (thank you guys for the support(. I wanted to recommend to Grumps the book “Why Does He Do That,”I a copy for you and your ex.. it brought me a lot of clarity.

  94. Pteryxx says

    *offers extra hugs to Caine* honestly, what could you have done back then, as a 9 year old? It wasn’t your fault. Nor any of ours. They don’t even believe grown-ass adults with evidence and corroboration most of the time.

    —TW for a similar story—

    I got creeped on by two adults and a couple of young teens during my childhood, and now thanks to all this discussion, I KNOW those adults were predators attempting to groom me. The classic one was a neighbor who tried to “accidentally” slip me a soda filled with alcohol, and followed it up with “games” involving him putting his hands down my pants. (I played rough even then. I told him if he did that again I’d break his nose.) I wasn’t ashamed back then, just angry and pissed off that they tried sneaky shit on me, but I still didn’t tell anyone because it simply didn’t occur to me that something major had happened, even though I refused to ever go back to that house. A year or two ago I attempted to follow up, but he left that town decades back and nobody remembers who he was. I’d never met him before or since that day and I never knew his name.

    What really makes me furious is that his daughter, the same age as me (seven? eight?) tried to warn me. “Don’t play any games with him, you won’t like it.” How did she know what he was going to do? Only one way. That child-raping scumbag.

  95. tashaturner says

    I remind my friends its not a competition for who had it worst. Each of us was badly scarred by what happened. This is not a place where we are trying to play one-up-manship that is what our rapist might do. I have friends who were “mildly sexually abused” who have more severe problems than I do with a more abusive background. Each of us has been hurt. We each need love, support, understanding, and to accept what happened to us, not downplay it because it “wasn’t as bad as x”.

    The 1st step to getting better is accepting it happened & it was bad (don’t compare)

    The 2nd step is coming to believe it really is not our fault and to stop blaming ourselves

    I have no clue what comes after this.

  96. says

    Pteryxx:

    *offers extra hugs to Caine* honestly, what could you have done back then, as a 9 year old?

    I could have told someone. Anyone. Lots of someones. I can see that day, so vividly. The way the sun was shining, the cool dimness of the garage, the sheen on the pile of clothes, what I was wearing, what he was wearing, his voice, I CAN SEE HIS FACE.

    There are people walking around about my age who were raped because I didn’t say anything. I just ran. This haunts me so.

  97. Nightjar says

    Reading Elyse’s post and this comment thread (and all the ones before it). There are no words. I feel like I don’t even know the right words to express how sorry I am, how much support and sympathy I want to give.

    Me, I am one of the lucky few who haven’t been raped. And I mean, lucky. I always knew that, but reading these stories just drives the message home so much more strongly than anything else. And then… it’s frightening. Because I feel like I’m the outlier, and it should be the other way around. Or rather, it shouldn’t happen at all. It’s frightening because I’m still pretty young, and I can’t help but thinking, if things don’t change, fast, and if my luck does, well. Some years from now, I could be telling a very different story. It’s just frightening all around.

    There’s just one more thing I want to say: you people are amazingly brave. Never mind Kevin above: speaking up, talking about it… it’s damn important, and I can’t thank you enough for doing it.

  98. Pteryxx says

    Caine: you know well the system’s stacked against victims, but once again, all of us got raped because a rapist raped us. HE did that. Not you.

    You’re speaking up about it NOW. You’re telling people NOW. And that’s part of pounding daylight into the whole rotten edifice that’s sheltered all the rapists, all this time.

  99. says

    Nightjar:

    Me, I am one of the lucky few who haven’t been raped.

    There’s always one corner of my brain that hopes one of these threads will be full of people saying “I’m one of the lucky ones, I haven’t been raped or sexually assaulted”, but it never turns out that way.

  100. Jacob Schmidt says

    TW
    .
    .
    .
    .

    Three months after that I was raped by the man who worked at the crisis center.

    That’s fucking terrifying.

    Hugs and support to anyone that wants it. You’re all awesome.

  101. carlie says

    Caine – you were 9. You were a baby. Remember all the things we told Oggie about how what happened wasn’t his fault? I know you do, you said so many of them. It applies to you, too. I know it’s just as hard for you to accept as it has been for him, but it’s still just as true. And you’re looking at it with the knowledge that you now have about what kind of person he was – at the time, all you would have known was that he was kind of creepy, and your experience with adults to that point had taught you not to trust any of them, so the idea of telling an adult that you thought another one was creepy would have been something you rightfully discarded as useless based on what you knew. You didn’t do anything wrong.

  102. says

    Pteryxx:

    You’re speaking up about it NOW. You’re telling people NOW. And that’s part of pounding daylight into the whole rotten edifice that’s sheltered all the rapists, all this time.

    I know. Same goes for you. It’s bad being haunted, you just want to be able to go back, to fix it, to stop it, to make it better. We end up being the bearers of all the shame and guilt and hurt that should be on other shoulders.

  103. John Horstman says

    I hate that rape is so common, so normalized, so prone to being blamed on the victim, even by the victim hirself who has internalized rape culture narratives. My sympathies are with all of you whom someone attacked.

    As ill-phrased as Kevin’s question was, I’d like to respond by saying that talking about rape, making it clear how varied it can be, how it doesn’t fit the ready-made narratives, what actual and active consent looks like, and especially SallyStrange’s comment that we must respect the bodily autonomy of children so they learn and internalize the idea that they have a right to bodily autonomy are what we can do. The near-universal-among-women nature of sexual assault demonstrates how widespread the problem is. It’s an endemic cultural problem, and we can address it by changing the culture; talking and modeling by action are the most direct ways to do this, as far as I can tell.

    We also need to address the idea that sex is something we “get” from other people – this frames it as oppositional even when it’s consensual, and it’s not an entirely gendered idea, either. One of the most common questions to relationship/sex advice writers is, “How do I get X to like me?” (and it’s asked by men and women). That this question is ever asked at all is a problem – the question ought to be, “How can I move past a crush on someone who isn’t into me?” We need to re-frame sex as a shared activity and quash any notion that trying to change someone’s mind about it is okay.

  104. says

    John:

    The near-universal-among-women nature of sexual assault demonstrates how widespread the problem is.

    That’s better phrased as “The near-universal-among-people nature of sexual assault demonstrates how widespread the problem is.”, because men and boys get raped, too, more often than one is prone to think. For every thread we have like this, more men who have been raped speak up, and it’s not fair to disappear them. As you say, this is an endemic cultural problem, which is not confined to women.

  105. Jackie Papercuts says

    skeptifem,
    I still do that to myself. It really wasn’t that bad compared to what so many people have been through. Maybe I didn’t dodge the molestation bullet entirely, but it only grazed me. I know I had it easy compared to others. I suspect strongly that I had it alot easier than the perpetrater did. My feelings there tend more toward pity than anger due to our ages. I was only 7, the perpetrater was only a few years older. My anger is for the people who shamed and blamed me.

    I’ve written and re-written my story, but I can’t hit submit. The truth is, I’ve never even told my therapists or doctors, of which there have been a few. My fear of their reaction is more than I can stand up to. I have told what I could to certain folks, with varying results. I’ve regretted trusting certain people. I don’t think I will do that again. I’d rather fight a grizzly bear. I think that those of you who can speak your truth and trust any of us to understand are so brave. Thank you so much.

    …I have the world’s worst cryface. So now I look like I’ve been stung by bees. I’m going to ice my face and stay away for a little bit.
    *warmest hugs*

  106. Feats of Cats says

    TW, just like the rest of this thread.

    I didn’t think it was abuse because he never hit me. Sometimes I wished he would hit me, because then it could be abuse and I could leave him. Instead, he told me I wasn’t allowed to break up with him and said horrible derogatory things about me and encouraged every fear I had in order to control me. He emotionally blackmailed me, he gaslighted me, and he told me he was more important than things like school. He isolated me and then when I broke down, there was nobody there to comfort me but him. He told me I was crazy and it was a good thing he was crazy too, because then normal people didn’t have to deal with us.

    He raped me. I didn’t think it was rape because sometimes I said yes. Because when I didn’t want to, he would beg and whine and say manipulative things and not let me sleep until I said “okay fine.” He’d make me be an active participant, so I didn’t think it was rape. At least once, just as an experiment, I didn’t say okay. I just stopped saying no to see if he would go ahead. He did.

    I thought I deserved it. I wrote heartbreaking things in my diary dreaming of a world where sex was only when you wanted it.

    I didn’t recognize it as rape until long after I recognized the abuse, which was years after I escaped. I didn’t recognize it as rape until I was mostly done dealing with the emotional fallout, so I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to call it rape since I wasn’t a crying mess all the time anymore.

    It was rape. I’ve never told anyone but the internet.

  107. says

    I could’ve wept reading first Elyse’s story – then I did, reading the rest. It’s horrific. That she’s come through such a strong person is a credit to her, and I’m in awe. I thank her for sharing.

    I must thank the other survivors who’ve shared their stories on this thread and elsewhere for their courage. The more such accounts I read, the more it becomes clear that there’s no such thing as The Proper Response™ to being raped or assaulted. While I’m sure it’s painful to recount their attacks I must again thank the survivors here, because collectively they’ve made it clear that there’s also more than one way to rape somebody and more than one way to give or remove consent – as we’ve learned recently via visits from various clueless JAQ-offs and flat-out apologists, that particular lesson needs to be hammered home nice and firmly into a few peoples’ skulls.

    As I’m on life’s lowest difficulty setting (hetero-cis-Caucasian-male, Australian, middle-class) I’ve not had any experiences remotely like those shared, so I cannot empathise, no matter how much sympathy I feel for the survivors. But I’ve not been completely insulated: the first time I heard a female friend’s rape survival story was when I was 16, and that was by no means the last. Two other friends were groped by a teacher at our school, two girls I dated just after high school related being raped by their boyfriends, two later relationships in my 20s were clouded by my partners’ difficulties with intimacy following their very different past experiences with rape. Many of my other female friends, while not victims of attacks, have suffered the usual (god I fucking hate that it’s “the usual”) grotty comments about their bodies or too-long chest-stares at the office; my wife even got felt up by some drunk teenager while I was standing right next to her.

    The point? We live in a culture, even on this distant, mostly-peaceful (for white people) island, where women are still seen as property, as things, as fucking scratching posts and catnip for entitled boys and men. They’re taught it by their dads (and their mums, siblings, teachers, priests, goddamn magazines and TV commercials and movies and shows and what-have-you) and they pass that “wisdom” on to their own children. It’s little goddamn wonder we have an endless legion of men and boy-men who feel so entitled to womens’ attention that they’ll just take it, and construe any friendly reaction as a backstage pass. This is rape culture. It’s a culture of entitlement to other peoples’ attention, and to their bodies, for one’s own pleasure. It’s our culture. And it stinks.

    My daughter is nearly three and I know she’ll encounter it at some point in some form. A lot. From school to the office to the grave. All her mother and I can do, I guess, is try and teach her to be strong, assertive, to not take any crap and to be unequivocal in all her personal dealings. It frightens me that we simply won’t be able to protect her as she grows older and more independent. It concerns me that we’ll have to teach her to Be Careful™, even with people she’ll consider her close friends.

    And so every time some ignorant, entitled, “that isn’t rape” dudebropologist invites himself into one of these threads to argue the semantics of rape with actual, real-life survivors of rape, I just want to grab their lapels through my flaptop screen and shout “YOU HAVE NOT BEEN PAYING ATTENTION.”

  108. says

    Caine #109

    There are people walking around about my age who were raped because I didn’t say anything. I just ran. This haunts me so.

    We were so young! All we knew how to do, all we could handle at the time, was to run. It’s only later that the self-recriminations start up. Later, when we would have had enough experience to know that warning someone might be possible.

    You did the best you knew how, back then. And anyone who was raped later owes their suffering to the rapist, not to you. YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME.

    (At one time, as an adult, I tried to warn a friend. It didn’t take; she didn’t believe me, or thought it couldn’t be that bad, or something. She later married the guy I was telling her about, shortly before he raped a 16-year-old.)

  109. says

    Jackie:

    …I have the world’s worst cryface. So now I look like I’ve been stung by bees. I’m going to ice my face and stay away for a little bit.

    Wanna bet? I’m no picture of pretty right now. I have to get out for a bit too, there’s only so much crying and rocking one can do, and the monsters dogs start howling every time I cry.

    Love to all in this thread (except the asses). Stay strong, stay angry, know you are believed and loved and cared about.

  110. Arete says

    @Caine– I feel like I have read enough of your writing to think that if a grown up victim couldn’t publicly accuse their rapist, or couldn’t talk about it at all, and blamed themselves for the predator’s actions toward later victims, you would be the first to stand up for them and say it was the rapist’s fault, not theirs, and they would never, ever bear the guilt for what that person did. So I really hope you can find it in your heart to offer the same absolution to a little kid, even if that kid happened to be you. It wasn’t your fault. Little kids aren’t in charge of making grown-up predators not be horrible people. Hug for your inner kid. She did just right.

  111. tashaturner says

    Snugs Jackie. I can’t imagine being afraid to tell my therapist. Even though sharing my suicidal feelings at 10 with one was disastrous… Who tells a kid that they will probably successfully kill themselves? If I couldn’t trust my therapist as an adult I find another.

    Know this group is here for you, from what I’ve seen or I wouldn’t have gone public.

    Don’t compare what happened to you to others. Obviously it’s affected you based on your comments while I’ve lurked this month. It was bad. It hurt you. You have a right to hurt/anger/whatever you feel.

  112. says

    I know I’ve told my story here before, and I think I’m just too triggered to do so again atm. I remember what happened with me trying to report and hearing these stories makes me realize that I got off so easy as far as the cops were concerned. To this day I still fall asleep imagining squeezing the life out of him, and I am the least violent person I know. I wish I had at least tried. . . a few bruises from him would have at least supported my story, but as we’ve seen that makes no difference*. I do know that if it ever happens again I will do my level best to cut his balls off** do bodily harm so that at least if nothing else, he’ll think twice before doing it to anyone else. I’m past caring that it’s not the right thing to do, because apparently nothing is. I don’t care if I get arrested for assault. They always ask if you fought back in any way, like if you didn’t it’s your fault, so I will. There won’t be a justice system involved. Don’t like it? Sue me. I don’t care anymore.

    *this is of course assuming he wouldn’t have killed me outright. I knew he was capable of it, and I didn’t want to get hurt. I wanted to live and escape. Complying seemed to be the best way to do that at the time :P

    **Cue MRAs claiming that feminists really hate men and want to castrate all of them. Not all of you, just the rapists. Not my fault if you identify with one

  113. says

    Tashaturner:

    Even though sharing my suicidal feelings at 10 with one was disastrous… Who tells a kid that they will probably successfully kill themselves?

    Oh for…

    I attempted suicide when I was 8 years old. I was subsequently parked in a child psychiatrist’s office for about 5 months. Never said one single word. Now I’m glad I didn’t.

  114. says

    Caine
    What Carlie said, with bells on. You were a child, with limited agency, limited knowledge, and no power whatsoever, and the knowledge you did already have told you that you had good reason to believe that adults weren’t to be trusted anyhow, so why would it have occurred to you that telling anyone would help?

  115. carlie says

    Caine – you are such an amazing person. Love you so much.

    And everyone else sharing stories – I don’t know if everyone reading along realize how strong you are, how much courage it takes to write it down, to share with people, especially so many doing it for the first time, but you so are all that. I keep quiet in these things because I’m also one of the ones who just somehow haven’t been raped – sure, peer school harassment, stranger phone harassment, boyfriend coercion into things I didn’t really want to do, ex-boyfriend stalking, but nothing I’d ever compare to any of this, and I only mention my experiences to show that even those of us who haven’t been raped still haven’t escaped the physical effects of rape culture entirely. Thank you all so much for shining a spotlight on what really happens in the world, to shake people out of their complacency and prevent them from feigning ignorance.

  116. tashaturner says

    Caine

    I attempted suicide when I was 8 years old. I was subsequently parked in a child psychiatrist’s office for about 5 months. Never said one single word. Now I’m glad I didn’t.

    I’m sorry to hear about your attempt. Why do I suspect our suicidal feelings had to do with abuse we were dealing with?

    It did make me realize how stupid adults were. Men even more so, not just my dad. And I think I stayed alive for a number of years to prove the jerk wrong. I didn’t want him to be able to gloat that he was “right again”. But I do wonder how many kids died because of this court appointed idiot.

  117. Jacob Schmidt says

    ladyh42

    My partner also feels violent towards the person who raped her. I can certainly understand such anger; my partner understands that far better.

  118. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Following Caine @118 reminding us of men and boys who have been raped,

    this is not a problem to which a person is immune merely because one falls outside the two most common genders.

  119. Nightjar says

    Carlie,

    even those of us who haven’t been raped still haven’t escaped the physical effects of rape culture entirely.

    Indeed. I’ve had my own share of good old “leave me alone you creep”-type of harassment. Nothing that even begins to compare to any of these testimonies.

    I can’t be said often enough: you people are amazingly strong.

  120. says

    Dalillama, thank you.

    Carlie, I love you so much back. Your experiences aren’t to be dismissed either. As Tasha said, this isn’t a game of one-upsmanship, every story, every experience is from one end of the continuum to the other. If anything, it shows how deep and pervasive the roots of misogynistic thinking has been, throughout history, and just how much blatant rape culture affects us all.

    ladyh42, you’re fine.

    Tashaturner:

    Why do I suspect our suicidal feelings had to do with abuse we were dealing with?

    Oh, it had everything to do with my attempt. My family was one of those “wow, what a great family, privileged, together, aaaaaw” from the outside. The intense dysfunction was kept internal and quiet. It’s why I would never talk to anyone. Talking might have ended up with me dead, or permanently institutionalized. Anyway, seriously, you’d think that any adult, when faced with a suicidal child, might have a smidge of a clue. Attempting suicide, or entertaining suicidal thoughts 10 years and under is rare. If anything is a big, huge, cluebat, that would be it.

    It did make me realize how stupid adults were. Men even more so, not just my dad. And I think I stayed alive for a number of years to prove the jerk wrong. I didn’t want him to be able to gloat that he was “right again”. But I do wonder how many kids died because of this court appointed idiot.

    I know the feeling. Anger is gift. It really is. As for court appointed idiot, I don’t know. Those things come back at you years later.

  121. says

    My heart goes out to all of you survivors. I’m another of the lucky ones (so far). Though I’ve been sexually assaulted on multiple occasions, I’ve not been raped. But really, it is just luck* and sadly, I know from the experiences of every woman I’ve spoken to about the subject it’s really rare–those stats on unreported rape are vast underestimates. Hugs to all who need ‘em and IT WASN’T YOUR FAULT.

    TW for sexual assault and harassment
    *(In addition to stranger and family member gropings both as a kid and as an adult, a stranger exposing himself to me and putting my hand on his penis when I was about 12 and walking home from school by myself, being coerced to let a stranger shove his tongue in my mouth while I was in a car alone with him etc., I’ve been credibly threatened with rape by a trusted friend (this guy also has a very compromising photo of me (naked, bound, gagged) that he pressured me to pose for and let him take); a close family member of my generation was raped repeatedly over an extended period by another close family member–I could easily have been his next victim had circumstances been different; one of my best friends and I were on vacation together with my family when we were sixteen and we got “involved” with a couple of men who worked at the resort and she was raped by “her” bloke–coulda been me–instead, I was her outcry witness, but I didn’t know what to do. And so on.)

  122. says

    Thanks Chigau, Jacob. I just hate that I’m brought to feeling this way. It’s been years now, and it’s as if it was fucking yesterday. I’ve ‘moved on’, whatever that means but I won’t forgive and I certainly will never forget.

  123. says

    Ibis3, Jesus. That’s a lot. What’s happened to Carlie and Nightjar is a lot, too. It’s all one, all on the same line, just different ends. Some people are on one end, some people are on the other end, and whole lot of people in the middle.

    All the hugs.

  124. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    I am filled with so many emotions right now. I am at work (on break) so for the moment all the words I want to say must wait.

    What can NOT wait:
    – To every single victim of sexual assault, I believe you. Thank you for sharing your stories. My utmost sympathies to each and every one of you. The strength you display in speaking up is fantastic.
    (I sometimes feel like saying the above implies that those who do not speak up are not courageous and I absolutely do not believe that. How each person copes is their decision.)

    – To every single victim of sexual assault, It. Is. Not. Your. Fault.. You bear 0% responsibility. Everything that happened to you and others is the fault of the rapist.

    – I echo the sentiments of those who want to do more. The links provided by so many people have been so helpful. I have read and re-read most of the links Caine has consolidated.

    – The tears I am desperately trying to hold back at the moment are tears of anger, rage and sadness. Sadness that so many people have been assaulted. Rage at the rapists and predators. Anger at the system & the culture.

  125. says

    I’ve been asked to post this for someone who is afraid that it might get back to her.

    I don’t think I can put this online even under a pseudonym. But I thought it an important contribution to the discussions we’ve been having. I am a rape victim. My first rape happened at the hands of my sister. The details aren’t important to this story. What is is that she was about 4 years older, just old enough to babysit, and I was in her care.

    Fuck it. The details are important. Parents trusted her with me a number of times during the day, but this was the first time over night. She had her best friend over to somehow make it safer – two older children instead of one. They offered to show me how tampons worked. I was curious and felt weird – I should have listened to the alarm bells, but I was 9 ish. Things escalated. They stopped asking for consent and started ordering. To receive penetration. To perform penetration. I said no. The orders kept coming. My parents had told me to comply. After long enough, I did.

    I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t know it was rape.

    It’s what happened later that devastated me. I touched the underwear of a child I was babysitting – about 4 years later, the child was about the same age I was when my sister raped me. I only touched the outside of the underwear, but I knew it was wrong when I did it.

    I have nearly taken my life on a number of different occasions, and this is the #1 thing I think about when I want to shoot myself.

    My experience is unfortunately common. I don’t know what damage I did or didn’t do to that child in my care. I hope it was little. It was during active play. I deliberately chose a moment when it would almost certainly have been perceived as accidental by the child in my care. That may have minimized any damage to the child, but it certainly cements that my act was intended. Also that I knew it was wrong.

    I say this because demonizing rapists makes it easier for rapists to get away with rape. If we don’t see a demon, we don’t see a rapist.

    But it also results in people like me, who repeated our abuse, got sick as soon as we did, and never ever repeated it, believing we are demons.

    And can we even tell the stories that illustrate how kids who commit so much abuse against each other, but don’t necessarily have the character of someone who will grow up to rape, are not demons. Because making rapists demons has been so effective that we don’t feel we can tell this part of our stories.

    I have participated in some of the Pharyngula threads on rape. I’ve even said that I was a survivor. But the best of sympathies always rolls off my back because I always think, If you only knew.

  126. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Fuuuuuck.
    After reading that comment @ 143, I am just stunned.

  127. says

    To J. Doe @ 143, I am so sorry you were raped. I am so sorry you didn’t have the support necessary to cope well. Your reaction and subsequent actions were not unusual and they do not make you a monster or a demon of any sort.

    Most of us here refuse to other rapists, refuse to let people get away with calling them monsters, because they aren’t monsters. They are people, they are family members, friends, acquaintances, neighbours, co-workers. Human beings can be capable of doing bad things, however, in the end, we are all just that: human beings.

    When I was a child, I often had the desire to hurt other children. I never acted on it, and thankfully, that desire faded out eventually. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was a demon, or a monster, or a terrible pervert or anything like that. I’ve worked very hard to be a person with empathy. That’s what we can all do, regardless of our experiences in life.

    I hope you have support and people who care about you. I offer my support, my care, and anything else you might need.

  128. sharkjack says

    To Elyse and everyone who have told their stories in this and previous threads, you have my sympathy and thanks. You don’t owe me your stories in any way, but reading through them has helped me see through the rape script and made the realisation of how common rape is really sink in. But this isn’t about me, so I’ll just repeat, to all of you who have shared your stories, you have all of my sympathy and where I can offer it, you have my support.

  129. Jacob Schmidt says

    I deliberately chose a moment when it would almost certainly have been perceived as accidental by the child in my care.

    I have felt the urge to do similar things. Sometimes out of curiosity. Sometimes for no reason I could think of. I never quite did anything, but the urge was always there. I’ve felt ashamed ever since. That desire is no longer their. Sometimes I’m afraid the urge will come back.

    You’re no demon, 143.

  130. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    To Anonymous @ 143

    There are no demons. There are no monsters. Only people. We all have the capacity to do terrible things. Many of us are aware of desires to do those terrible things. This does not make us demons.

    I was ready and willing to kill my rapist. Not “prepared to defend myself.” I very clearly and calmly thought “well, this hipster fucker has to die” when I began fighting back. If I’d had a weapon, he would be dead and I’d be in prison for murder. It would have been an easy, calculated thing to do. When I tell people about how I fought him off, I usually get “you go girl!” type of reactions. However, it wasn’t something empowering at all. I was just giving in to the violent urges I’ve always had.

    No one moment defines us. None of us are demons, regardless of what darker impulses we might struggle with. I second what Caine said and hope you have support now.

  131. says

    @Jane Doe 143

    It’s not unusual or even unexpected for someone who’s been violated the way you were to want to reenact the violation–out of a feeling of helplessness and a desire to be the one in charge, out of anger, out of guilt (e.g. with muddled thinking that if you’re now a perpetrator, somehow you were bad enough to deserve what happened to you then), or even just out of aroused curiosity–or a mixture of any of the above. How much more difficult all that stuff is to work out when you’re still a kid yourself, with an non-fully developed brain. You’re no monster. You’re no demon. You don’t deserve what happened to you. And you still have my support and sympathy.

    @Caine Thanks. All the hugs back.

  132. says

    Jacob:

    I have felt the urge to do similar things. Sometimes out of curiosity. Sometimes for no reason I could think of. I never quite did anything, but the urge was always there. I’ve felt ashamed ever since. That desire is no longer their. Sometimes I’m afraid the urge will come back.

    Yeah. J. Doe isn’t a demon, I’m not a demon, and neither are you, Jacob. The problems is, and J. Doe had this right, that we still can’t really talk about such urges or actions, even if we didn’t do anything terrible to anyone, because there is a howling mob out there, ready to slap labels on you and burn you at the stake.

  133. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    Caine

    …we still can’t really talk about such urges or actions, even if we didn’t do anything terrible to anyone, because there is a howling mob out there, ready to slap labels on you and burn you at the stake.

    And this, quite frankly, makes rape culture a lot worse. Because finding help, finding support, getting to talk things out and figure out what the problem is before doing something is all really difficult.

    People scoff at things like the Don’t Be That Guy campaign because they view rapists as some monolithic, monstrous horde that twirls mustaches and hide out in dark alleys. The truth is that I’d wager the majority of people have the capacity to Be That Guy in one way or another. And facing that down and getting rid of the othering is a huge step we can take to ensure that there aren’t quite so many of That Guy.

  134. says

    MM:

    People scoff at things like the Don’t Be That Guy campaign because they view rapists as some monolithic, monstrous horde that twirls mustaches and hide out in dark alleys. The truth is that I’d wager the majority of people have the capacity to Be That Guy in one way or another. And facing that down and getting rid of the othering is a huge step we can take to ensure that there aren’t quite so many of That Guy.

    Quoted For Shiny, Shiny Truth.

  135. pHred says

    Sorry if this is a bit tangental – I can’t read the whole thread but I am skimming what I can. I wanted to add that one of the worst part of the whole experience was the psychologists that they made me see. It was a pair – a man and a woman and they were some most horrible people I have met in my life. They kept asking sick questions over and over – did he do this ? Did he do that ? And you can’t get mad at them because it means there is ‘something wrong with you.’ It had nothing to do with the case either. They were just collecting data. That’s me – just some data.

    The jerks that come into these threads jaqing off remind me of those psychologists so much.

    Going back to my corner now.

  136. says

    pHred:

    They were just collecting data. That’s me – just some data.

    It’s bad. Really bad. I went through that, time and time again before and during the trial. It’s absolute shit. To this day, my first reaction to anyone who thinks they are entitled to details is a snarl and a threat.

  137. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    Jane Doe #143

    And now I know. And I don’t think one little bit less of you for it. None of us are perfect. We all have bad urges from time to time. Even those of us who have not suffered the abuse you have.

    I once stood with a sharp kitchen knife in my hand and contemplated stabbing my girlfriend with it. Not because we were fighting, we were doing the dishes together, not because I hated her, I was very much in love. It was a sudden moment of realisation that I had this power, and that awareness had a attraction to it that frightened me. I could do this awful thing and there was nothing she could do to stop me. It freaked me the fuck out. I ran away and refused to explain what was wrong.

    I’ve never once raised my hand in anger against anyone I loved. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve raised my voice. And yet I have this blackness inside me, this dire potential. It still scares me even though I now know that we all have it. And that, I think, is the one difference between a good person and a bad one: that fear of the darkness.

    I do not think you’re a demon Jane Doe. You are human, only human, and there is no crime in that.

  138. Jacob Schmidt says

    Caine

    The problems is, and J. Doe had this right, that we still can’t really talk about such urges or actions, even if we didn’t do anything terrible to anyone, because there is a howling mob out there, ready to slap labels on you and burn you at the stake.

    Sexual experimentation in children is very common, especially among siblings. Given that and the fact that our culture seems to teach consent very poorly, sexual abuse or urges to abuse are going to be common. Teaching consent, I think, is the key to avoiding this.

    I did hold a girl several years younger than me with the pretext of playing. I held her there for a few seconds. She referred to it as “snuggling” and I realized what I had done. I guess I did quite do something. I’m nearly certain she thought it was just play, so I’m pretty sure I didn’t hurt her.

    Normally I’m scared of admitting that, but given Grumps, twincats, and 143 above, well… I dunno. If they can admit to it, I can.

  139. pHred says

    Caine:

    Yes – it is bad. It’s horrible. Before the trial, during it and afterwards too for me. As far as I am concerned it was a form of torture. With no purpose either. He wasn’t ashamed of what he did at all and actually ended up confessing. He “did it for my own good.” The whole thing was twisted.

  140. Jacob Schmidt says

    pHred

    I wanted to add that one of the worst part of the whole experience was the psychologists that they made me see.

    I’ve come to thoroughly distrust psychologists and councilors. Some are good; some are terrible, and their patient won’t know until they’ve tried. Worse, the patient is likely in a bad place to recognize and abusive councilor in the first place.

    TW

    One of my partner’s councilors blamed her for still being mad at her rapist. Her councilor blamed her for not getting over the fact that she has to share a classroom with the man who took advantage of her, emotionally abused her and raped her twice. FUCK THAT.

    My partner doesn’t see her anymore, thank god.

  141. pHred says

    I am actually still scared of policemen to this day too. Which is rather awkward considering I am now doing research in forensic science.

  142. says

    I’ve related this before here, once, and reluctantly at that. From the time I was around 10 to 12, I spent almost all of my time trying to figure out how to commit two murders and not have any consequences, as I felt those murders would be fully justified. What stopped those murders from happening was the fact that I couldn’t figure out a way to get away with it, and by that point, my survival was all I cared about. I didn’t consider being locked up to be survival, so those two people lived, and kept on making my life a living hell for another 7 years.

    If I had committed those murders, I wouldn’t have regretted it. Not in the least.

  143. pHred says

    @Jacob

    I’ve come to thoroughly distrust psychologists and councilors

    Absolutely. They can do terrible things to the most vulnerable people. It is terrifying.

  144. kittehserf says

    I couldn’t read much past Elyse’s second rape. It was so horrible, so terrible.

  145. says

    Teaching consent, I think, is the key to avoiding this.

    It’s amazing to me looking back at my childhood how much of “play” actually instills the opposite, for example:

    *I was the youngest sibling (by a lot) and was continually being tickled against my will; I still hate it with a passion
    *through grades 4 to 6 it was a game for the boys our age to assault girls and tackle them in the snow and rub their faces in it and put snow down their tops or in their mittens etc. — they would swarm us unexpectedly and though we anticipated it, the boys couldn’t have known if any of us weren’t consenting
    *games like spin the bottle where you had to kiss each other whether you wanted to or not, due to peer pressure
    *being pushed in the pool
    *having one’s bra strap snapped
    *truth or dare (again, using peer pressure to make one do or say things one doesn’t want to)

    etc.

  146. says

    I should add to mine, at 161, that part of what came out of that hellish forge of childhood is a healthy part of me now. A part which is utterly cold. I could kill without a second thought. I am a dangerous person, and I have been a dangerous person for many decades now. It’s possible to be a dangerous person and still be a decent person.

  147. pHred says

    I spent years praying for some people to die. Wishing for them to wrap their trucks around a telephone pole. The only time I expressed this hate and despair I was told that I was a horrible person. If I had the means I would have worked on planning murder myself. I understand.

  148. deoridhe says

    *stocks the corners up with tissues, blankets for snuggling in or hiding under, and treats*

    I think what enrages me most is the reality that people who have been raped are so vulnerable to being targeted for rape again, because rape culture teaches us that multiple rapes is some sort of fucking “Crying Wolf” not rapists targeting vulnerable people.

    What pushed me to begin talking about my rape was actually my brother spouting rape apologia at me on a vacation. One in four was too much, he said, and I all I could think was that I knew 50% of the women in the room were raped. I brought up multiple rapes, and he actually said, “At a certain point a person (meaning the fucking rape victim) has to take responsibility…” and I saw red. I verbally shut him down so fast, and it took me twelve hours to speak civilly to him after that.

    I still haven’t followed up on the email to him where I said, “Yes, I do believe in the at least a quarter of women being raped because I’m the lucky number four for my set” to explain that all of his fantasies about what my rape was like are wrong, but it’s so hard to talk about the decade where I blamed myself for my not-rape and was so happy I was one of the lucky three in four.

    I hate how people are blamed when they’re targeted multiple times, but the rapists are just… It makes me want to smash things.

    For what it’s worth, my rapist was a victim of rape / molestation, but he never considered it that. He thought he was “lucky” his teenage babysitter “taught him about sex” when he was prepubescent. I won’t say knowing that makes dealing with my rape easier or harder, but in a way it makes it easier for me to understand how we started in love and ended with him raping me, and why it took me years to call it rape.

  149. cicely says

    “If I knew then what I know now….”
    But you didn’t. You couldn’t. Nobody can.
    No blame rightfully attaches.
    Hard as it is to believe it.
    -

  150. deoridhe says

    People may know this already / may not want to attempt anyway, but one way to test a therapist / counselor is to say you don’t trust them and see what they do. With many of my clients, I bring up how they don’t trust me, and that’s ok, and talk about how I need to prove myself as being trustworthy before they can trust me, and I consider openly discussing the level of trust and if I did something wrong, so I can apologize and do better, to be central to building a therapeutic relationship. Any care giver who isn’t willing to discuss the power dynamics inherent in giving care as a profession needs to, in my opinion, go back to school for some refreshers. Just because we want to help people, doesn’t mean our trying to help them can’t harm them. Intent – not magic.

  151. says

    pHred:

    If I had the means I would have worked on planning murder myself. I understand.

    Yeah, I understand too. I imagine too many of us do, we just don’t talk about it.

  152. says

    Deoridhe:

    With many of my clients, I bring up how they don’t trust me, and that’s ok, and talk about how I need to prove myself as being trustworthy before they can trust me, and I consider openly discussing the level of trust and if I did something wrong, so I can apologize and do better, to be central to building a therapeutic relationship.

    I wish they were all like you. The people you help are very lucky.

  153. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    Caine

    I should add to mine, at 161, that part of what came out of that hellish forge of childhood is a healthy part of me now. A part which is utterly cold. I could kill without a second thought. I am a dangerous person, and I have been a dangerous person for many decades now. It’s possible to be a dangerous person and still be a decent person.

    I agree and, as fucked up as it might sound, I think being prepared to kill my rapist and knowing I wanted to kill him has made me a better person. Knowing what you’re capable of–even if it’s horrifying–and dealing with that head on can take away a lot of blinders. I’m a better person specifically because I know I could not be. I don’t just take it for granted that I’m decent and therefore everything I do is decent. I watch myself to make sure I stick to my own standards and then I double-check my standards to be sure they’re right.

    I can shut down emotionally if I need to so that I don’t feel a thing and I can also be so overcome with empathy that words on my monitor from a person thousands of miles away that I’ll never meet often leave me in tears. Who I am today may be the product of the shit I’ve been through, but it’s also given me many valuable tools.

  154. pHred says

    Caine:
    Yes we are taught to feel terrible for even thinking about lashing out, much less talking about it. Meanwhile the people causing the harm seem to go through life sure that they didn’t do anything wrong. It makes me crazy just thinking about it.

  155. magistramarla says

    I’ve written about it before here that my mother was very physically abusive to me. She seemed to take a perverse pleasure in beating me. One that I remember very vividly was a beating with a flyswatter. She was also very emotionally abusive. She seemed to be extremely afraid of all men and was very, very silent about anything having to do with sex. She made me afraid of men and sex, too.
    She told me that my father was dead, but I found him, alive and well, when I was 35. I found out from him that she had been physically and emotionally abusive to him, too. That’s why he disappeared.

    My husband and I think that she might have been abused by her older brother. There were eight children in that family, seven who lived to adulthood. Her mother died when she was 14 and her father when she was 15. My mother and the other two youngest kids were farmed out to the older, married ones. As I found out as an adult, my mother ran away from her brother’s home after only a couple of years. She always spoke of that brother with hate and would never let me even meet him. When my aunt told her that he had died, I remember her commenting that the only reason that she would have for attending the funeral would be to spit on his grave. We think that he must have physically and sexually abused her, and then she took that out on me when I was a kid.

    I am very, very lucky that my sweet husband was very patient with me and gently taught me what love is all about, because I certainly didn’t have an understanding of it when I met him. We were both young – 17 and 18, but he was wise beyond his years. He was also patient with me in those early years of our marriage as I worked through what I had dealt with and tried very hard to not repeat her abusive ways toward him and our children. He’s one of the Horde and I hope that he reads this!

    Sometimes one doesn’t have to be personally the victim of a rape to suffer from the consequences.

  156. says

    FossilFishy

    And now I know. And I don’t think one little bit less of you for it. None of us are perfect. We all have bad urges from time to time. Even those of us who have not suffered the abuse you have.

    I once stood with a sharp kitchen knife in my hand and contemplated stabbing my girlfriend with it.

    That sort of thing goes through my head routinely, for no reason I’ve ever been able to work out; I’ve learned to tune it out, basically.
    Caine

    Yeah, I understand too. I imagine too many of us do, we just don’t talk about it.

    I certainly consider that a perfectly understandable state of mind, at least to the intellectualized degree that I can mentally model what a situation like that would be like. Certainly there’s nothing blameworthy in such thoughts.

  157. says

    MM:

    I watch myself to make sure I stick to my own standards and then I double-check my standards to be sure they’re right.

    Yep, same here. Self control can be a wonderful thing, even if the way you learned it was a universal shit show.

    I can shut down emotionally if I need to so that I don’t feel a thing and I can also be so overcome with empathy that words on my monitor from a person thousands of miles away that I’ll never meet often leave me in tears.

    Same thing again. On top of that, I can also go cold in an instant. That’s when it all gets dangerous. This is where I say three cheers for the internet, because it gave me back the ability to be with people without the danger of unleashing the cold.

    pHred:

    Yes we are taught to feel terrible for even thinking about lashing out, much less talking about it. Meanwhile the people causing the harm seem to go through life sure that they didn’t do anything wrong. It makes me crazy just thinking about it.

    You know what it sometimes feels like to me? Like I’m stuck in Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.

  158. otrame says

    I have been very lucky. I was raped by my grandfather when I was 13. I had no intention of ever telling, but my younger sister (she was 11) asked me about it because it had happened to her too, and when I said yes, she insisted on telling our parents. That wasn’t the lucky part.

    This is the lucky part: There was never a moment when they acted as if they didn’t believe us. They called the police where my grandfather lived, but he never went on trial because my parents decided it would be too traumatic. We lived nearly a thousand miles away so my parents didn’t feel we were in danger of being attacked again. This was long enough ago that they had NO social support at all. They did not know for another decade how common such molestation is. They thought it was just our family. I won’t say it wasn’t horrifically damaging, both to me and to our whole family, but it could have been so much worse. Because they believed us. They believed us. It made all the difference in how much damage there was.

    I was almost raped by an acquaintance of my husband many years later, but when I told him “If you don’t stop you better kill me because otherwise I will see you in prison for rape.” He was offended that I claimed he was in the process of raping me. I reminded him I was saying no, no, stop it, no. He said “Girls say no when they mean yes all the time.” He believed that.

    That is why I know there are a lot of rapists out there who do no accept that they raped. I suspect that most of the outrage and rape apology out there is not because they don’t think rape is bad, but because if they are forced to accept the narrative that “Without unambiguous enthusiastic consent it is RAPE” then they have to admit that they are rapists, too. They understandably don’t like that. Which is just too damned bad.

    I agree that demonizing rapists is wrong. They are not inhuman. They are very very human. It is very import to understand that, as Mellow Monkey said, there is not this monolith horde of rapists. The stranger raper are one kind and the rapers of children are different But there are other kinds of rapists. The ones like I described above. They are not necessarily evil in actual intention. They live in a culture where they are not considered Real Men unless they have a bedpost with lots of notches and they want to be admired. So they get the girl drunk. Or they decide that the girl being friendly is asking for it and when she says no it’s because that is what girls do.

    We use the word cancer to describe what is actually a wide range of different diseases. We use the word rape for an act that has a wide range of causes.

    And this and many other threads make it clear how much work we have ahead of us.

  159. says

    jackie
    kind of late replying-sorry!

    I’ve written and re-written my story, but I can’t hit submit. The truth is, I’ve never even told my therapists or doctors, of which there have been a few. My fear of their reaction is more than I can stand up to. I have told what I could to certain folks, with varying results. I’ve regretted trusting certain people. I don’t think I will do that again. I’d rather fight a grizzly bear. I think that those of you who can speak your truth and trust any of us to understand are so brave. Thank you so much.

    just write it for yourself for now. I’ve done that a lot of times and it really does help. Your mind has to re-integrate all the traumatic shit into other parts of your brain. Exposing yourself in a way that feels relatively safe for you is the way to go about it. If it means writing about it alone then that is how you have to do it. Some people paint or draw or whatnot. You’ll tell someone when you are ready, and I am betting they will understand. It is really amazing when you trust someone and it works out. I’m down with lending a listening (and confidential) ear if you ever need one. I’m skeptifemblog at gmail. Take care darling.

  160. Jacob Schmidt says

    deoridhe

    With many of my clients, I bring up how they don’t trust me, and that’s ok, and talk about how I need to prove myself as being trustworthy before they can trust me, and I consider openly discussing the level of trust and if I did something wrong, so I can apologize and do better, to be central to building a therapeutic relationship.

    You. I really like you. Your patients are indeed very lucky.

  161. says

    magistratamarla:

    He’s one of the Horde and I hope that he reads this!

    That’s a wonderful person you have there!

    Sometimes one doesn’t have to be personally the victim of a rape to suffer from the consequences.

    So true. Rape doesn’t just affect the direct victim, it ripples out, and often affects other people badly, as it did you.

  162. otrame says

    I have been very lucky. I was raped by my grandfather when I was 13. I had no intention of ever telling, but my younger sister (she was 11) asked me about it because it had happened to her too, and when I said yes, she insisted on telling our parents. That wasn’t the lucky part.

    This is the lucky part: There was never a moment when they acted as if they didn’t believe us. They called the police where my grandfather lived, but he never went on trial because my parents decided it would be too traumatic. We lived nearly a thousand miles away so my parents didn’t feel we were in danger of being attacked again. This was long enough ago that they had NO social support at all. They did not know for another decade how common such molestation is. They thought it was just our family. I won’t say it wasn’t horrifically damaging, both to me and to our whole family, but it could have been so much worse. Because they believed us. They believed us and never once was was it ever suggested that it was anyone’s fault but his. It made all the difference in how much damage there was.

    I was almost raped by an acquaintance of my husband seven years later, but when I told him “If you don’t stop you better kill me because otherwise I will see you in prison for rape.” He was offended that I claimed he was in the process of raping me. I reminded him I was saying no, no, stop it, no. He said “Girls say no when they mean yes all the time.” He believed that.

    That is why I know there are a lot of rapists out there who do no accept that they raped. I suspect that most of the outrage and rape apology out there is not because they don’t think rape is bad, but because if they are forced to accept the narrative that “Without unambiguous enthusiastic consent it is RAPE” then they have to admit that they are rapists, too. They understandably don’t like that. Which is just too damned bad.

    I agree that demonizing rapists is wrong. They are not inhuman. They are very very human. It is very import to understand that, as Mellow Monkey said, there is not this monolith horde of rapists. The stranger raper are one kind and the rapers of children are different But there are other kinds of rapists. The ones like I described above. They are not necessarily evil in actual intention. They live in a culture where they are not considered Real Men unless they have a bedpost with lots of notches and they want to be admired. So they get the girl drunk. Or they decide that the girl being friendly is asking for it and when she says no it’s because that is what girls do.

    We use the word cancer to describe what is actually a wide range of different diseases. We use the word rape for an act that has a wide range of causes.

    And this and many other threads make it clear how much work we have ahead of us.

  163. says

    This thread seems to be moving in the direction of “rape doesn’t fit into the pattern we expect.” I think it’s probably time I told my stories more fully. I am gradually learning how much of what I experienced was rape, and how much was just not my fault, so maybe this will be relevant.

    And it touches on another reason for not recognizing rape, and for not reporting it, that I don’t think has been mentioned in these threads.

    (And maybe I’ll dare to hit “submit” when I’m done.)

    The story starts off mildly enough; in some respects, I had a relatively protected childhood.

    The first incident (and this was a NotRape) happened when I was somewhere between 2 and 3. I have vague memories of it, but Mom told me the story again when I was a bit older. A man was hiding in the bushes outside our yard, and tried to entice me over to talk to him. I remember a brown paper bag that supposedly held candy; Mom never mentioned that. She happened to look out and saw what was happening and brought me inside.

    So far, so good. But then, it was decided that they would trap the trapper, using me as bait. I was instructed to play in the yard again, and talk to the man if he showed up, but not to go near him. He came, called me again, and was promptly arrested by the policemen hiding in the house. All that was scary, and I remember the emotions; scared of what’s in the bushes, feeling so alone out there.

    A year or so later, in another place, a neighbour made me and my kid brother (about 3) watch him masturbating. (Second NotRape.) Then he threatened us, saying that he’d get us if we told. I didn’t understand what he had done, but I was frightened, as much about my parents’ reaction as of him. I worried about it for years. I never told anyone, and never discussed it with my brother. And somehow, I felt guilty; I knew I shouldn’t have seen that, and I knew I should have told, so I saw myself as partly to blame.

    We moved, then moved again. When I was 11, visiting the town we’d moved from, (and I’ve told this story before) a boy from my previous school invited me to see his comic books, which I was not allowed to read. I should have known he was up to no good; back when we were in the same school, he’d given me two black eyes in retaliation for my standing up for a kid he was bullying. But I guess I thought (I don’t really remember) that he was offering an olive branch. So I went into the back shed where he supposedly had his stash. And a bunch of boys jumped on me, threw me down onto a grimy cot, and started to take my panties off. When I protested, my “friend” said that my boyfriend had told them I did that “all the time”, so what was I complaining about?

    Before they got any further along, three or four older teenagers or young men walked in the door, wanting to know what was going on. The kids scattered. The older guys left, without saying anything to me, ignoring me completely. I got my panties back on and got out of there. (NotGangRape)

    This time, I knew I could never tell. I would be in trouble for wanting to read comic books. I would be questioned about my activities (entirely innocent) with my now ex-boyfriend, and I would not be believed. And I was ashamed; to the older guys, I was a non-person, of no account. What did they think of me? Probably the worst.

    Teen years. Another city. Mom and Dad brought home a soldier on leave, for a home-cooked meal. As soon as their back was turned, he was at me, grabbing me as I went by setting the table, coming up behind me at the stove, to turn me around and kiss me. I pushed him away, but never said anything. What good would it do? (NotRape #3.)

    Ditto, a guy from school that I found waiting for me in my bedroom, reading my diary while he waited. The contents of which he told around the school. So funny! Hahaha! (NR #4)

    First work experience: men thought I was the newest virgin on their altar. Just pinches and feels copped. (I blacked a guy’s eye! Yay, me! Did wonders for my self-esteem.)

    All this was routine harassment, stuff to be expected if you were a girl. I tried to take it in stride, but I felt soiled and guilty. I should have been more careful!

    And the pattern was well established now. What happened, happened. I said nothing, told no-one, kept my own counsel. And blamed myself for all but the first incident and the blacked eye.

    I grew up, got engaged to a guy from my college. And there, the real trouble started.

    It’s important, here, to note that I was extremely religious. My parents were fundamentalist Christian missionaries, and I intended to follow their footsteps. The college I graduated from was affiliated with a seminary; my fiance was studying for the ministry.

    We had sex. I didn’t want to, but he begged so much that I finally relented. (My fault, again!) And now, I was “damaged goods”; I was “lucky” that he still wanted to marry me.

    And now, he owned me. I was, in the eyes of God, according to the Bible, his wife. I had to submit, to obey him. I owed him sexual fulfillment, whether I was interested or not. I got pregnant.

    He raped me, then. I owed him, but not in my Dad’s storeroom, on the cold cement floor, with Dad in the office next door! Please, no! He went ahead anyhow. He hurt me, as I struggled to stop him.

    I told no-one. Who would I tell? He owned me, anyhow.

    We were married, and for a year, things were ok, except that I learned early on never to cross him; he could be violent.

    After my first son was born, I was tired and my back ached. I tried to ask him to let me sleep instead of the nightly sex. He punched me in the stomach, and sulked until I gave in. I knew very well that sulking was a precursor to worse violence.

    Things went on that way. The violent episodes became worse, and more frequent. He broke bones, knocked out teeth, then demanded sex. I couldn’t leave; my Christianity forbade it. Sometimes I begged for a little leeway, a time-out while I rested; either he retaliated violently, or he just ignored me. The beatings went on. I eventually realized that they were an essential part of the sex act for him. I stopped trying to talk to him about it.

    I told no-one; the Bible said I was to respect my husband.

    When I finally decided that God couldn’t want what he was doing to me and the kids, so I should leave, he told me that if I did, I would never see the kids again. And there was no way I was going to leave them with him! So I stayed, talking to nobody.

    17 years. When my oldest son was 16, and I was in a sort of safe place (Oklahoma!!) I ran, piling the kids into the van. My family helped, after some initial not believing me, asking him what I was doing wrong, etc. I was a mass of bruises from my last beating, all under my clothing. He was smart that way, but my sister-in-law saw them and vouched for me.

    The church where I worked? The ministerial association? Silence. One pastor did say, casually, to me, “So he was slapping you around a bit?” Years later, I heard from another pastor’s wife that there had been a rumor of “some kind of trouble” around that time. That was it.

    (I left the church, then Christianity, then religion entirely, in that order, some 20 years later, for other reasons.)

    Not until years later did I see those 17 years as a series of rapes. I never said no, I never put him off or pushed him away. It would have been more than my life was worth. So, not Rape-rape.

    While I was with him, I was abducted once, by a plausible neighbour, who offered me a ride, then took off in another direction. When, after a frightening ride, he realized who I was related to (oops!) he turned around, and dropped me off near home. I never told my husband; he would have killed me outright, for attempted adultery. (NR #5)

    And a year after I left, frightened and alone, in hiding, because I knew what my ex was capable of, I became suicidal. After an afternoon when I kept attempting suicide, and chickening out at the last minute, I called a good friend. He spent the afternoon with me, talking me down, then raped me.

    And I still had the feeling that I was guilty! I told nobody for 10 years, then told one friend, who changed the subject. So much for that.

    And all along, and up until fairly recently, there have been the usual matters: a job I loved lost because I protested my sexual harassment, seniority and abilities ignored while a position went to some unqualified male, outright challenges to my right to speak because female, snide remarks, sexist jokes by neighbours, friends, even relatives, butt pinches, breast brushes . . .

    I still have nightmares. It’s always him, trying to get at me, to break my door down, to set fire to my house to make me come out, to attack me with an axe or a knife. I still startle when someone steps out of an elevator, or rounds a corner in front of me. I still freeze when I’m afraid or angry. I still cringe inside talking to men taller than I am. (And I’m small.)

    I still can barely stand to be touched. Even by my bestest friend in the whole world. Even by my kids and grandkids. I don’t tell them, but I have to control my reflex action of shrinking away when they hug me.

    And I’m still clearing away old guilts. I don’t know where I’d be without the Horde; still carrying that load, probably.

    (To submit, or not to submit: that is the question.)

  164. pHred says

    Caine

    Yeah, it is, isn’t it.

    It is getting really late here and I have to go to sleep but I wanted to say it helps enormously to know that other people have the same feelings. Our culture spends so much time othering rape victims it makes you feel so isolated and alone.

    Strength and thanks.

  165. deoridhe says

    I wish they were all like you. The people you help are very lucky.

    Honestly, I feel like the lucky one. They teach me so much and bring such joy into my life. I have been welcomed into so many peoples’ worlds, and each one is precious.

  166. says

    I haven’t read Elyse’s story yet (need to prepare myself), but I want to thank her for sharing. I don’t need to know the details to believe she was raped. Thanks to tashahunter and others in this thread too for sharing your stories.

    I’m up to about comment 118, but I felt compelled to mention to Caine that I’m another lucky one who has *not* been raped (or even close to it). The worst I’ve experienced was a boy touching my butt as I was drinking from a water fountain when I was nine. Other than that, I’ve lived fairly free from harassment as well. Maybe there’s hope for us yet.

    I want to echo the importance of all of you sharing your experiences. It’s terrifying for me to know this (rape, sexual assault, harassment, etc.) is a reality, but it highlights signs we need to look out for. (I had to ponder a good few minutes on what Caine meant by the butterfly pattern on the crotch of some pants. I’m a bit naive, so bear with me. Did that mean they were crotchless?) I also appreciate things people suggested that can combat rape culture: teaching consent as part of sex ed, getting kids’ consent for hugging/tickling/being touched, and discouraging spanking (because I had never even considered that spanking would reinforce the idea that it’s okay for loved ones to hurt you sometimes).

    I’m grateful for those of you who take it upon yourselves to educate/raise awareness/fight the good fight.

    Now, to dive in to Elyse’s story…

  167. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    Susannah, my heart breaks for you. That is so, so much for one person to have to take.

  168. kittehserf says

    I’ve never been raped, and the only physical assault I’ve had was in high school (middle school in US parlance): one of the boys made a habit for a while of grabbing my backside, trying, iirc, to shove his hand in further. There was no suggestion of “he likes you” because I knew full well he didn’t; none of the boys liked me, and I despised them all. After a short while of trying to belt him with a metal ruler and finding it didn’t work, I reported it, and it stopped. Never happened again.

    Similarly, as an adult, I’ve had two instances of harassment in nearly thirty years’ work, and in each case, the minute I reported it, it was dealt with. No repercussions for me, amazingly enough. The first time is striking: it was a jerk in a section I had to walk through, wolf-whistling when I went past and ignoring requests to stop. It was my first job and I was twenty-one. After a while I went to my manager in tears, and he went out then and there to the creep’s manager. Five minutes later my manager was back, saying “It will not happen again,” and it never did. Now this was in the early 1980s, and it strikes me how fucking lucky I was to have managers taking it seriously. And then I get angry that I’m lucky – LUCKY – to never have been raped, only had one sexual assault, minimal harassment whether at work or in public, and have my reports taken seriously.

    Why the hell should that be lucky?

  169. says

    Jamie:

    (I had to ponder a good few minutes on what Caine meant by the butterfly pattern on the crotch of some pants. I’m a bit naive, so bear with me. Did that mean they were crotchless?)

    No, he was wearing regular type jeans (white levis, it was a long time ago!), with a large and very beautiful butterfly patch on the center of the jeans crotch. It wasn’t visible much when he was standing, but when he sat down cross-legged, voila, beautiful butterfly, just the sort of thing which would attract a good number of little girls, right there on his crotch. Yep. I was around 12 when it hit me, what that butterfly was all about.

  170. anteprepro says

    I really don’t know what to say aside from echoing Alexandra, and to especially note the incredible recent contributions by both otrame and Susannah. You are all fucking incredible and I can’t help but get tears in my eyes from these stories. I wish I could be as strong as some of you, and I hope that you all are well and stay way. Always remember that our rule of not blaming the victim includes yourself . Never forget that you aren’t at fault for someone abusing you.

    That’s all I can really contribute without just cursing incoherently or crying profusely. I thought I loved Pharyngula before, but this is really the most simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking I’ve seen it. The Safe Space come to full fruition.

  171. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Susannah:
    My heart goes out to you. You have my greatest sympathies.

  172. cicely says

    Susannah, I’m so sorry.

    What anteprepro said:

    Always remember that our rule of not blaming the victim includes yourself . Never forget that you aren’t at fault for someone abusing you.

    cannot be repeated enough.
    -

  173. yazikus says

    Wow. This thread ought to be re-named The Survivor Thread. Because this is some powerful shit. I’m another ‘lucky one’. I had all of the random harassment that women get, flashings, gropings, weird propositions by adults when I was a young teen.

    One instance stands out for me here, however. There was one instance where I was at a party with a guy I had a huge crush on, I was flirting heavily, drinking, sitting on his lap, etc. We were in my room, making out, clothes came off, I was scared, I was not sure this was what I wanted, but still was going along. Penetration happened. I freaked out and I said No. Please stop. And he did. He was kind of angry, but he did. And he got dressed and left. And that is the rare story we aren’t hearing about, and it is the story we should be hearing more often. He totally did the right thing. He might have been embarrassed that my consent was revoked, maybe his feelings were hurt, but he still listened.

    So thank you Joel. Wherever you are. You didn’t rape me. Thank you.

  174. yazikus says

    My post ought to have been prefaced with thanks. Thanks for the bravery, honesty, and resilience of those who have commented here today. You are all amazing. Thank you. Your stories are teaching us to be better people. They are telling us about the people we are, were. Thank you.

  175. jenniferphillips says

    At age 4 or 5, my teenage male babysitter tucked me in, caressed me and asked me to ‘be his little girlfriend’.

    At age 9, some friends and I were at the beach at night. A young man joined our games on the dunes, but soon disappeared behind one, complaining of sand in his bathing suit. We discovered him lying nude in the sand with an erection, to which he gestured and said “see my fine specimen?”

    By age 13 or 14 I was officially “on the radar” of cis hetero males ranging in age from my own to geriatric. I knew this because I literally could not go anywhere outside my house without being whistled or howled at, propositioned, grabbed, stroked, or propositioned.

    In 8th grade, my science class made cameras out of Quaker Oats canisters. Mine was too damaged to use. When a friend raised her hand to let the (male) teacher know I had no camera, he responded “That’s ok, Jenny and I can work in the dark room together” and chuckled. The whole class laughed uproariously, and then trooped outside for the rest of the class period, exposing their film. Nothing happened—I suspect the teacher realized he’d gone too far, as I was clearly terrified of being alone with him.

    When I was 15, two boys from my French class came over to my house to practice a skit for class. They started horsing around and wrestling with eachother. One of them suddenly picked me up, flung me over his shoulder and thrust his fingers into my vagina while the other one hooted in disbelief.

    When I was 16, I traveled alone across country on a bus to serve as a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding. I was harassed and groped on the bus by a 30-something year old man. While at the wedding, an adult male friend of the bride tried to get me to take a day trip with him alone the day after the ceremony, and became publicly hostile and insulting when I declined. Other male wedding guests warned me that I’d better not come around again until I was over 18, because I was just too tempting.

    When I was 17, I joined the army reserves and went to basic training the summer after high school. While there, a man broke into my barracks in the middle of the night and woke me up by massaging my ass. I asked him to leave (I thought I was dreaming). He then hid under someone else’s bunk and watched us all get dressed in the morning until he was discovered. Later during my training I was groped by one of the obstacle course instructors when he caught me alone in the CS Gas cave.

    As a college Freshman that fall, I wound up in the dorm room of the friend of my friend’s date. With little preamble (we had just met), he asked “Will you fuck me?” Shocked, I said “no!” Indignantly, he countered “Well, will you at least suck me?” He was outraged, verging on scary–incredulous that I had turned him down, so I gave him a blowjob.

    My roommate (a woman) for my first two years of college used to encourage me to drink a lot and then grope me whenever possible. I fought her off strenuously on every occasion. She would contrive ways for the two of us to share a bed (when on road trips, etc.) so she could have access to my sleeping and/or drunk body. When I confronted her and told her this behavior was unwelcome, she became angry and defensive and accused me of making it up. She confessed much of this to me several years later when she came out as gay.

    When I was 19, a stranger broke into my house and entered my bedroom while I was sleeping. He clearly intended rape, but apparently knew enough about the comings and goings of my roommates (all men) to fear getting caught in the act. He physically overpowered me, dragged me, naked, by my hair from my bedroom to the living room, and threw me on the couch. I gasped “my husband will be home any minute” (I didn’t have a husband, but he didn’t know that) and it spooked him enough to leave the house. I locked myself in the bathroom and called 911. While on the phone with them, my attacker picked up the extension, having reentered the house. He left again quickly because a roommate returned home. The first question the roommate asked me when I emerged, sobbing from my room: “Did you do anything with him?”. The police arrived 45 minutes later.

    When I was 24, I went out drinking with my new-ish boyfriend and a friend of his who was visiting from out of town. We all got shitty drunk. The out of town friend kept trying to catch me alone and kiss me when boyfriend was out of the room. I resisted his advances. I went to bed with my boyfriend. The next morning I woke up stark naked on the living room couch, next to the out of town friend. The boyfriend was furious—at me. I had no idea what had happened, but I apologized profusely and begged him to forgive me.

    The common denominator is that I blamed myself for every single one of these events—and more. My fault for leading people on, my fault for not fighting harder, my fault for making myself an easy target.

    This is what Rape Culture taught me.

  176. says

    Yazikus:

    One instance stands out for me here, however. There was one instance where I was at a party with a guy I had a huge crush on, I was flirting heavily, drinking, sitting on his lap, etc. We were in my room, making out, clothes came off, I was scared, I was not sure this was what I wanted, but still was going along. Penetration happened. I freaked out and I said No. Please stop. And he did. He was kind of angry, but he did. And he got dressed and left. And that is the rare story we aren’t hearing about, and it is the story we should be hearing more often. He totally did the right thing. He might have been embarrassed that my consent was revoked, maybe his feelings were hurt, but he still listened.

    So thank you Joel. Wherever you are. You didn’t rape me. Thank you.

    That’s the kind of story I would like to hear. All the time, by the hundreds, the thousands. Thank you, Yazikus. And thank you Joel, for being one of the good guys and a decent human being.

  177. says

    Jenniferphillips, I am sorry. I give you the only things I have to offer: My heart, my anger, my belief, my compassion, it is yours.

    And for you and everyone else, I have one other thing to offer, Rats. I know it seem silly, but they are so good for the heart. One of them, Amelia, has specifically helped me out after nights like this, more than once. She’s special.

  178. ashley L says

    I was molested and later on raped by my mother’s three brothers throughout my childhood and teen years since before I was even old enough to remember, I don’t know how old I was when they first started. So were some of my cousins but I didn’t know I wasn’t the only one until I was 19 and one my uncles made the mistake of telling my cousin that he couldn’t wait to start getting his hands on her newborn niece. To protect her niece she spoke up and then a few others did too, but I stayed quiet and even when directly questioned because one of my uncles named me as one of their victims I completely denied it. I was “lucky” that my rapists saw a couple years of prison, but it was other people who did the emotional work and went through all the humiliation to get them there. I still feel very cowardly about that.

  179. ekwhite says

    Wow. This was hard to read. I usually restrict myself to short comments, but Elyse’s story and the posts on this thread have opened my eyes and really made me think. I am a lucky ones. I was born in easy mode – white and male. I have never been raped and have never been a rapist, but I realize that I have been swimming in rape culture all of my life, and have never even realized it.

    Trigger Warning

    My grandfather died when I was 12 years old. One of the stories I remember about him was that one day my mother walked in on him beating my grandmother. My mother grabbed a gun threatened to kill my grandfather if she caught him hitting her again. My grandfather had eight children, including my father. How many of those children were the product of rape? He was certainly abusive – I have to wonder know if he was also a rapist.

    I also have reason to believe that at least one of his children – not my father – may have sexually molested his daughters. My mother took them in and practically raised them for a while – I did not realize what was going on at the time.
    Caine’s comment about how men can be raped also reminds me of my nephew, who is a registered sex offender and until recently a chronic alcoholic and drug abuser. He was raped as a child by a neighbor, and never told anyone about it until he was arrested for exposing himself.

    I also have to wonder about all the guys I knew in high school and college who bragged about all the sex they had. I was painfully shy and could hardly even talk to women. I envied these guys who were so glib and popular. I have to wonder after all the reading if my envy wasn’t directed towards serial rapists.
    I am amazed by the courage of each woman and man who have spoken out about their rapes, or even about being a rapist. The sheer number of women (and men) who have been raped is depressing, and the treatment of rape victims in this country is beyond disgusting. These stories have affected me much more than the statistics about rape. Thank all of you for having the courage to speak out.

    Jane Doe@143: Oh my God – how horrible a childhood you must have had. I have tears in my eyes right about now. I was so damned lucky to have a strong and wonderful mother and a protective sister. I am so lucky I didn’t end up as abused or an abuser.

  180. Rob says

    Wow, just wow. This OP and comment thread has been gut wrenching to read. I’m shaking, my chest is tight, my head hurts and I can’t breath. The thing is none of that rape, beating or harassment has happened to me, but anyone with even an microgram of empathy has to feel this stuff as a physical assault.

    To all of you who have shared your stories thank you. To all of you who have shared, and also those who have not, you have my respect, my sympathy, my best wishes and moral support. Without exception you are brave and fiercely human (in the best sense of the word).

    I can only offer you two things over the internet. You inspire me to be better than I am and to make a difference to the world around me. I have also left a bag full of hugs of various types sitting just here, please take the one that you want/need, or not as the case may be.

    Be well and take care of yourselves.

  181. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    I can talk about the “friend” who assaulted me, and my actual friend whom he assaulted after me. I didn’t report, she did. I’ve posted the story before and we all know how it ends.

    I still can’t quite wrap my head around the stuff that happened in my marriage. I still can’t bring myself to call it rape, because I didn’t resist hard enough, I ended up saying yes to avoid consequences, I gritted my teeth and bore the pain because it was easier that way. I still feel it was my fault for not fighting, but when you’re so depressed you’re suicidal, isolated away from family and friends and have no transport or nearby lifelines, you don’t tend to struggle. Just think of ways to get out. Of life, not the situation. You’ve pretty much given up on things getting better at that point.

  182. says

    Sophia, your strength, courage and determination have been an inspiration, to say the very least. As always, here, you have every support we can muster, every bit of strength we can lend, all the love and empathy and understanding in our hearts. Always.

  183. anteprepro says

    I still feel very cowardly about that.

    You shouldn’t. The others were incredibly brave, but just because you weren’t willing to make the same sacrifices doesn’t make you a coward. If I were in your position, I would have done the same thing, and I’m sure most people would too. I would have been too afraid of making myself a target and to admit publicly that I was raped. You aren’t a coward: you are a human being dealing with an incredibly shitty situation. You are a victim who is pressured by an unjust system to sacrifice even more in order to make sure that the system will actually get off of its ass and clean up your victimizer’s fucking mess. You shouldn’t beat yourself up over the fact that you weren’t able to be the hero. You and everyone else in positions like yours need to do what is best for themselves first. Physically, socially, mentally, emotionally. You shouldn’t be a martyr, giving up everything in the name of the greater good. Nor should you be expected to be a cop, personally ensuring that your abusers see justice. You are entitled to live your life, and you are not obliged to give up chunks of it in order to make sure that the justice system actually does it’s fucking job.

  184. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    Caine, I don’t feel strong. I’m still scared to talk about it, because there aren’t any safe spaces for me. I can’t call it rape not because it wasn’t, or I don’t believe it wasn’t, but because if I do, it’s ammunition. It’s “evidence” that I’m an exaggerating liar who’s out to destroy my ex husband’s reputation.

    Doesn’t matter what actually happened, it’s still all my fault and I need to be made to feel bad about it. Speaking up is dangerous, and nobody close to me seems to understand who or how, even the people being most supportive.

    People here understand. People here have been through so much worse than I have, and they’re speaking up. It makes me feel ashamed sometimes for not speaking so freely, but I can’t ignore the consequences after so much pain. Though I haven’t officially been diagnosed, I’m pretty sure I have PTSD related to the trauma of abuse, through childhood (not sexual, emotional) and through the marriage, both emotional and sexual. That, combined with the random gropings in shopping centres, expectations that since I’m not particularly attractive I’d be lucky to have people proposition me or grope me or show any interest whatsoever, the sexual assault by someone I saw as a friend and all the legal nonsense I’ll be stuck with until my child is grown (at least)… It’s not pretty, and it’s not good for me. It’s not good for anyone.

    And I’m one of the lucky ones. I survived. I wasn’t raped violently. Heck, I didn’t think I was raped at all until I found out what rape was.

    Now, I just count the days until this passage is found and accusations made, if it’s not simply being collected for future blackmail. It makes me wonder how many of us have these fears, further compounding the incentive not to report anything, even to family or friends. People talk, and the victim of abuse is, without fail, the one that loses.

  185. mildlymagnificent says

    Shitty therapists. Not my story, but I was standing at my front door as one of our neighbours told me about his recent experience. He’s a heroin addict and has been making outstanding efforts to get himself sorted out. He was even allowed to have his son come and stay with him for a weekend a while ago. Thrilled to bits.

    So he saved up some money to get himself to one of those live-in rehab places in the countryside. Basically you move in and stay there for as many months as it takes, it’s not one of those where you’re chucked out after a set program. He thought they’d be good people – because they were Christians. Arrives there and gets to see his “therapist” for the first time. He’s quite accurately identified the fact that he was regularly sexually abused as a child as a big contributing factor in his addiction and bad life choices. And he talks about it fairly readily.

    So he did this with the therapist. Who promptly told him that there was no way he or they could do anything about his addiction – Until. He. Forgave. His. Abuser. Rapist. He said, No way. A couple more sessions with the therapist insisting that this was the only possible way to go. Eventually he cracked, lost his temper at a meal time and physically lashed out at someone. Then he was kicked out and can never go back because he “failed to comply” with the requirements for rehab. Which means that he probably won’t be eligible for any assistance to get into any other programs.

    I couldn’t do or say anything other than he was absolutely right (with a mild seasoning of you can’t trust people just because they say they’re super duper good christians). But when I finally closed the door, I just sat down and let a few tears trickle. How many people have they abused this way? We know the proportion of child sexual abuse sufferers among addicts is much, much higher than in the general population. I suppose this way they can weed out those who really need serious care and attention.

    So sad.

  186. says

    Jenniferphillips, Ashley L, Sophia, et al
    You all have my sympathies; and also my unqualified belief. My heart goes out to all of you.

    Ashley L

    I still feel very cowardly about that.

    There’s no reason to do so; self-preservation is not cowardice, nor is it blameworthy.

    That’s the kind of story I would like to hear. All the time, by the hundreds, the thousands.

    If it helps, I’ve been on the other side of that story a few times. I just don’t go making a big thing of it because I consider that to be the basic minimum level of being a functioning moral agent and member of society. Meeting that standard is what I consider the bare minimum for living among other humans, and one of the things that always strikes me about these conversations is how many people not just don’t meet that standard but actively fucking refuse to and how many other people become enraged at the suggestion that they should be held to it by outside forces if they won’t meet it themselves. That, in turn, fills me with a mixture of rage and despair.

  187. anteprepro says

    Who promptly told him that there was no way he or they could do anything about his addiction – Until. He. Forgave. His. Abuser. Rapist

    What. The. Fuck.

    What a nice little buddy for Rape Culture to have: The Christianity-flavored Forgiveness Fetish.

  188. says

    Sophia:

    Caine, I don’t feel strong. I’m still scared to talk about it, because there aren’t any safe spaces for me. I can’t call it rape not because it wasn’t, or I don’t believe it wasn’t, but because if I do, it’s ammunition. It’s “evidence” that I’m an exaggerating liar who’s out to destroy my ex husband’s reputation.

    Doesn’t matter what actually happened, it’s still all my fault and I need to be made to feel bad about it. Speaking up is dangerous, and nobody close to me seems to understand who or how, even the people being most supportive.

    I know, and it both breaks my heart and infuriates me that I cannot do more. I want to, please believe that. And what you are going through right now, and what you have been dealing with, is every bit as fucking bad as what others have been through. It takes immense courage to do what you are doing.

    It’s not enough, but please hold on to the knowledge that the Horde believes you. We stand with you. We support you. We will help you in any way we can.

  189. cicely says

    Sophia, your situation is your situation, not to be mistaken for anyone else’s, however similar or disimilar. You have to do what’s right for you.
    -

  190. says

    mildlymagnificent:

    So he did this with the therapist. Who promptly told him that there was no way he or they could do anything about his addiction – Until. He. Forgave. His. Abuser. Rapist.

    :Howl of Rage:

  191. cicely says

    […] self-preservation is not cowardice, nor is it blameworthy.

    Aha! This is what I was clumsily trying to say. Thank you, Dalillama!
    -

  192. says

    Dalillama:

    If it helps, I’ve been on the other side of that story a few times. I just don’t go making a big thing of it because I consider that to be the basic minimum level of being a functioning moral agent and member of society. Meeting that standard is what I consider the bare minimum for living among other humans, and one of the things that always strikes me about these conversations is how many people not just don’t meet that standard but actively fucking refuse to and how many other people become enraged at the suggestion that they should be held to it by outside forces if they won’t meet it themselves. That, in turn, fills me with a mixture of rage and despair.

    I understand that you and others don’t share such stories, because you don’t consider them special in any way. However, I make a plea for such stories to be related, not only because we need to know that most people are decent, good people, but it’s even more important for all the privilege-blind, the deliberate assholes, and apologists of all flavours to see and hear these stories, so that they have something which is concrete and unmovable right in front of their face: this is how a decent human being acts.

  193. says

    mildlymagnificent:

    So he did this with the therapist. Who promptly told him that there was no way he or they could do anything about his addiction – Until. He. Forgave. His. Abuser. Rapist.

    This kind of thing initially fills me with a wordless rage. Once I can form coherent sentences again, it fills me with the desire to see religious based counseling of all sorts abolished immediately. Also that we need much better standards for the mental health professions in general, per some of the other stories about therapists, but we really need to get rid of this kind of bullshit posthaste.

    Also, I realized I forgot to tag the second blockquote in my #214, that was Caine

  194. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    Thankyou.

    I just wanted to add my little drop to the ocean of horrors, I didn’t mean to make it about me in any way. It’s not me, it’s society. It’s what people teach their kids, it’s what we learn through the actions of others.

    I learned very quickly in my childhood that the moment I showed weakness, vulnerability or pain that it would be exploited, and that I should expect it to be exploited. So anything bad that happened to me was at least partly, if not entirely, my fault. I think most people internalise this. It might not have been as blatant as my own childhood, in which whenever I was suffering I was mocked, laughed at and left to suffer more – but it’s there. It’s insidious and terrifying, and when you finally see it you realise you’ve been living in a world that actively wants you to suffer and then compound that suffering with blame, guilt, shame and fear.

    To everyone on this thread that has shared their own stories, or those of people they know – thankyou. Thanks so much for the gift you’ve given to the survivors and the lucky alike; the knowledge that we’re everywhere, and that we’re not responsible for our own suffering.
    To everyone whose eyes have been opened to the realities of abuse, thankyou for caring. It means more to me knowing that there are people out there who possess empathy than anyone can know, and I doubt I’m alone in that feeling.

    To the tireless warriors that have the strength to speak up, to directly engage the vile rubbish that the rest of us don’t have the spoons to combat – thank you especially. Every time I see a fierce rebuttal to the nastiness I see one extra reason to keep struggling on.

    Thankyou, everyone.

  195. anteprepro says

    Actually, now that I think about it, I take issue with the entire concept of “cowardice” anyway. It seems that it is largely used to shame people into recklessness or self-sacrifice. It is based upon the assumption that being a violent warrior type is ideal and shying away from combat is worthy of shame. Predicated upon the idea that self-preservation is only valid if done through direct confrontation. It is truly a marvel of our language that non-violence and caution are so frequently scorned and stigmatized.

  196. jenniferphillips says

    Thank you Caine and <Dalillama–you are a big part of what makes Pharyngula a safe space for this kind of conversation.

    I’m grateful to Elyse for being brave enough to open the way for everything else that has followed today. For me, it has been the exact opposite of Stunned Silence.

    And, Dalillama, I agree with Caine that stories like yours need to be told. This thread should make it quite clear that your behavior has NOT been the norm for a number of us. It helps more than you can imagine to know that men like you are out there too.

  197. says

    Cicely:

    Oh, yes, please. Good examples would be so awesome to read!

    If only because it would give the lie to the excuse, “But everybody does it!”.

    And, more than that. We’ve seen, way too much, in just the last two weeks alone, let alone the years we’ve been doing this, that the privilege-blind, the clueless, the deliberate doucheweasels and assorted apologists do not respond to stories of rape or assault. They simply absorb them, sometimes tossing a sorry in before continuing with their apologetics.

    As they don’t care about our stories, they simply cannot apply any one of our experiences to anything they or their buds might do, let’s have an approach from the other side, hopefully with the power of a sledgehammer to the head.

    I’m reminded of the Meet the Predators study, in which, rapists admitted raping, as long as the dreaded ‘R’ word was not used. Stories of people doing the right thing, like Joel in Yazikus’s story, might get through where stories of rape and assault do not.

  198. Rabidtreeweasel says

    This may sound unrelated but stay with me.

    When I was 13 I was hit by a car. I was bike riding home from a friends. We’d been swimming. I usually left earlier in the day but it was a Friday night. Since I left after dark my sandals were wet. Because they were wet, my shoe slipped, caught on the peddle, and in trying to right myself I veered into traffic. I could hear the horn but couldn’t stop the snow ball. Instinctively I tucked myself into a ball after performing an elegant arabesque and rolled myself up the wind shield.

    This is the part of the story I usually tell; the part where I am a ninja bad ass. I never talk about what happened next. My bike was totalled. The man who hit me drove me home. He carried my bike, even knocked on the door. I had a cut on my shoulder and face and a bruise on my side. The sandal had torn off and my foot was bloody.

    My father thanked the man for bringing me home. He sent the confused but relieved looking man away. We didn’t take any of his information down. My father did not take me to the hospital. He grounded me (because reasons). I was made to clean myself up and then dropped me off at youth group where I had to stand and sit during the evening since it was a concert of prayer (google it. It’s fucking strange). My back was hurting so badly by the end of the night I was in tears (yes, I have back problems now).

    At the time I was angry about the injustice of being punished for getting hit by a car. But I see now it wasn’t just unfair. I see him thanking a stranger for returning his damaged property and then deciding that property wasn’t worth repairing. I get that he then refused me medical treatment. I fathom now that had I called CPS it would have been a red flag. That red flag might have lead to the discovery of other unsavory behaviors.

    My ex was a lot like my Dad. This is something my mom doesn’t fathom but all the problems she saw in my marriage had existed between my Dad and I as well. So going home to them wasn’t an option but even if it had been I didn’t recognise that my his and was abusive. We get treated like property in so many ways that it doesn’t occur to us to see it any other way.

    This was problematic. I just realized I had to add that to the list of abuse in my home life. I am 31, and have just had this epiphany. It happens at least once a year that something like this dawns on me. Because abuse is normalized. And it fucking teaches us how we should expect to be treated. And it makes me so fucking mad when they say shit about my ex because they don’t even know half of it.

    My mother told me, the day I left him, that she didn’t want to know.
    Isn’t that always the way?
    Shit.

  199. says

    Anteprepro:

    Actually, now that I think about it, I take issue with the entire concept of “cowardice” anyway. It seems that it is largely used to shame people into recklessness or self-sacrifice. It is based upon the assumption that being a violent warrior type is ideal and shying away from combat is worthy of shame. Predicated upon the idea that self-preservation is only valid if done through direct confrontation.

    I agree with all that. And yet, it doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty that I didn’t tell anyone about the neighbour rapist when I was nine. It doesn’t stop me from feeling like I was a selfish, self-absorbed coward. That’s the thing, you see – on an intellectual level, we know all the things, that it’s not our fault, we shouldn’t be ashamed, we shouldn’t feel guilty, we shouldn’t feel cowardly, all of it. We know. It doesn’t stop that fucking track running around your brain. That’s what all the conditioning does to you, that’s why we all have to scream and yell and jump up and down and do whatever the fuck we have to do, to make a dent in societal mores.

  200. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    Anteprepro, Caine, that’s it. I know that it’s irrational to feel responsible for what happened to me, because people tell me that it wasn’t my fault and that it’s rational to place the blame where it actually lies.

    What people -show- me , on the other hand, is the direct opposite. What we hear and what we experience are so dissonant that we end up thinking and feeling two very different things. It’s distressing and dangerous, but entirely normal and understandable considering how society functions.

    The worst part is that people treat things as though they work on the principles that people are told, rather than how they actually operate. That’s where victim-blaming comes from. The just-world fallacy – that what people say/teach is true, how they act must therefore be consistent with what they say, and anyone who clashes with that is therefore wrong.

  201. says

    Rabidtreeweasel:

    We get treated like property in so many ways that it doesn’t occur to us to see it any other way.

    That’s a fuckin’ fact. I was not only treated as property, but I was property that had damn well better not embarrass the family! It can cave your head in, all the shit.

    My mother told me, the day I left him, that she didn’t want to know.

    How nice. Very fucking nice. Jesus.

  202. says

    Oh, yes, please. Good examples would be so awesome to read!

    On one occasion, I was in bed with a young woman of my acquaintance, and this evening the intermittent flirting had evolved to the point where we had agreed (verbally) that we should have sex. Partway into the proceedings, she declared that some occurrence (I no longer recall the details) was a sign from Jesus that he disapproved. So we went back to watching movies until I went home.
    On another occasion (with a different woman), I noticed that after initial enthusiasm, she had become unresponsive. I asked what was wrong, she told me that the situation was triggering her (three guesses what events in her past led to that). So we stopped what we were doing and I spent the rest of the evening doing what I could to help her through it.

    Also another occasion, but I can’t recall the specifics; my normally poor episodic memory is not helped by the fact that I had been drinking on that occasion. I don’t recall how much. What I can recall is that making out had got to the stage of mutual nudity, and ended around that time with both of us going to bed alone.

  203. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Many thanks and *safe hugs* to everyone who shared, from a lucky one.

    I am a bit reluctant to share a story from a friend who almost wasn’t the lucky one (and considering that the experiences left consequences on her ability to try any sort of beyond friendly relationship with men, I’m not sure how lucky she was after all).

    It took us years to realize she was being groomed by an abuser. It started as friendly hanging out with her and me, until he started being very hostile to me. We couldn’t figure out why. They started to spend more time together, talking alone. He was badmouthing me. He started to badmouth her family. Only much later have we realized that it was a technique to isolate her. She still hasn’t told me everything that has happened, but I now that she freaked out at him once, when he followed her home (he already knew where she lived, this was just creepy stalking). They had some very public arguments after he told her some “horrible things”. I already know he was a scary fat-hating Hitler-admiring guy (what the hell were we doing with him anyway?! I have no idea, we went to the same high school class and he started going home with us, when we realized how bad he was the ball was already rolling), so who knows what topic it was that made her freak out at him.

    Since it takes us about half a decade to share some things, and I’ve been learning the story in parts, I’m afraid of what I will still find out about what happened. I think it never got physical beyond him grabbing her arm hard enough to leave bruises (and I got that too, at the time we thought he just didn’t realize his own strength – the hell he didn’t!). I really really hope that was all. Since she told me she made sure only to be alone with him in public places, once she realized he was interested, I’m hoping nothing worse happened.

    If I ever had to bet on a man I know being a (hopefully just potential) rapist, then it’s him. I know there’s nothing I can do about it except hope that I am wrong, but I am almost entirely sure he went on to rape. There are no monsters, but there is sometimes a “that sort of guy”. And you know it, and you can’t do anything about it.

  204. lindsay says

    I wish I could be shocked at all these stories, but I’m not. I can’t be. Starting when I was about twelve, my father started telling me stories about how he and his high school friends would lure girls into a car and then gang rape them. He told these stories with an impish twinkle in his eye–he thought they were funny. When he heard stories about rapes on the news, it would start him reminiscing all over again. Of course, he waited until my mom wasn’t around to tell his stories.

    When I was sexually harassed and assaulted, I didn’t even think to tell anyone. I had already been educated in how it was just something that women and girls had to put up with.

  205. says

    Beatrice, I’m very happy you avoided the grooming asshole. I hope nothing worse happened to your friend, and she is lucky to have you as a friend. You are helping, don’t ever mistake that. As for the grooming asshole, you can warn people. It matters.

  206. jenniferphillips says

    That’s where victim-blaming comes from. The just-world fallacy – that what people say/teach is true, how they act must therefore be consistent with what they say, and anyone who clashes with that is therefore wrong.

    QFT. After my home invasion assault, my mother told me that I carried myself with an air of vulnerability and that this kind of thing would keep happening to me if I didn’t start broadcasting more confidence.

    A number of other people helpfully told me what they would have done in my place (which, invariably, would have had a better outcome than my actual experience). My recovery was protracted and utterly lonely.

  207. says

    I’ve been reading this all day. As little as it helps, anyone who’s suffered (Even if it ‘wasn’t as bad’ as the worst cases here), has my support as an incredibly lucky woman. I hope folks feel better, and I have nothing more to add.

  208. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Caine,
    I don’t think she’s lucky to have me, just lucky in general. Neither of us realized what was happening until quite some time into the whole mess. Hell, I haven’t realized the extent of the thing until a couple of years ago.

    He went off to study in US, so I’m afraid he’s being a danger to women far away from my warnings. I am at the same time glad he’s far away from my friend, if he stayed to work in US and I think he did, and ashamed that it means I’m wishing him on some unknown women over the pond. Fingers crossed that he realized he was wrong and went on to be a decent guy, or at least a guy who stays the hell away from women.

  209. says

    I was away. I’m back. Thank you, all; Mellow Monkey, Caine, Dalillama, deoridhe, etc., for your kind words, which I want to pass on. I am amazed at how many strong, courageous people we have here. You’re an inspiration to me.

    About that oh-so-Christian requirement to forgive. That, for some people I have worked with, people from a Christian missionary background, is maybe the hardest thing to take. Because once an injury has been forgiven, it can be forgotten, erased, as if it had never been. It works out as, YOU forgive your perp, WE accept him/her back into society, no questions asked. Leaving YOU on the outside, if you find it difficult to interact on friendly terms with him/her.

    I have seen it in my own family. My ex once sent me an apology, only because my son publicly read him the riot act and demanded it. The apology read, more or less, “If you feel that I have done anything to hurt you, I hope you find it in your heart to forgive.” And when I gave that the response it deserved, another family member was offended. At me. Because if I would only say the words, all the hurt would be healed.

    Toxic BS.

  210. says

    Beatrice:

    I am at the same time glad he’s far away from my friend, if he stayed to work in US and I think he did, and ashamed that it means I’m wishing him on some unknown women over the pond.

    Oh, we all share that shame. That’s what the conditioning does, that’s what rape culture does, that’s what all those little handy dandy rape prevention lists do – teach us to avoid being raped, and as long as we remain “good girls/boys”, the rapist will go after someone else, and that’s how it should be, because people who do get raped did something to deserve it. Yep. *spits*

    And your friend is lucky to have you, Beatrice. I’m lucky to have you as friend.

  211. says

    Susannah:

    “If you feel that I have done anything to hurt you, I hope you find it in your heart to forgive.”

    Classic notpology, a manipulation made to put the blame on you. Gods, I loathe that sort of shit.

  212. says

    Lindsay:

    Starting when I was about twelve, my father started telling me stories about how he and his high school friends would lure girls into a car and then gang rape them. He told these stories with an impish twinkle in his eye–he thought they were funny. When he heard stories about rapes on the news, it would start him reminiscing all over again. Of course, he waited until my mom wasn’t around to tell his stories.

    That’s fucking awful. And all too common.

  213. piegasm says

    Not much I can say except thank you to those who’ve shared their stories as well as those who have stories but are unable to share. I believe you.

  214. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Caine, thank you, I feel very lucky to know you and have you as a friend too.

  215. says

    Cross posting at Caine’s request, I hadn’t read this thread or the requests for similar stories when I wrote it, great minds and all that I guess ;)

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/29/all-these-rape-flavors/comment-page-1/#comment-681181

    Let me tell a little story that might help elucidate what people are talking about when it comes to drunkenness and consent.

    I was about 23 years old and gave my number to a woman at a bar who asked me for it. The next day she called me and asked me out on a date. I of course accepted as she was very attractive and we had hit it off the night before.

    I took her to a nice dinner where we shared a bottle of wine. Afterwards we went to a bar where she continued drinking but I stopped because I was driving. She had 3 more drinks, then offered me ecstasy which I declined, but took some herself.

    At some point she asked to go back to my place. I agreed, we continued drinking there, and dancing, and making out, things were getting pretty hot and heavy. She was the aggressor throughout, I had little doubt about her willingness to have sex, but at some point I realized she was trashed.

    Her speech was slurred, she was wobbling to and fro, so I stopped. She wasn’t happy about it, but after I convinced her it wouldn’t be a good idea, I gave her a blanket and led her to the couch. The next morning I drove her home and that was the last we ever spoke.

    There wasn’t a definitive moment where I knew we were getting in to date rape territory. By all accounts she was enthusiastically consenting, but to me it didn’t matter, she had passed the point of being able to continue to consent.

    I’d never had any formal education about consent, I just knew that having sex with a super drunk woman was a creepy thing to do, especially when I was sober enough to notice how drunk she was. The word “consent” never occurred to me but my gut feeling was that she, or I, or both of us would regret it in the morning if we continued.

    She didn’t remember the next morning exactly what had happened, but I was happy to inform her that nothing beyond making out and some petting had occurred. I told her to call me and we could go out again, but she never did.

    I’ve had some great buzzed sex when it was clear that both parties were in control of themselves. You can’t put a number on it, .08 or any other number, but a decent person who gives a damn about the person they are with knows when it’s time to put on the breaks. It’s not difficult.

    I knew this as a young man and no one had to teach me or lecture me, so when I see these creeps in here trying to analyze some gray area, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt they are trying to justify their own amoral behavior and history of date rape. I know this because I have always known instinctively where to draw the line, so I’ve never had to worry about being accused of being a rapist, because I’m a decent fucking person who doesn’t put my sexual needs before the wishes or right to bodily autonomy of my potential partner.

    I’m always looking for signs that my partner isn’t feeling it, or isn’t 100% on board with where a physical interaction is going. Many times I have stopped and said “Are you sure you’re comfortable with this? If you aren’t I have no problem stopping” Sometimes they say yes, and sometimes they say no, and sometimes, they just hesitate long enough for me to know the answer is “No but I’m not comfortable saying so” for any number of reasons.

    This is not rocket science. If you think it’s complicated, then you really need to do some deep soul searching about what kind of person you think you are, versus the type of person you actually are.

  216. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    I wasn’t going to share this because it felt wrong in a thread where so many have come forward with their experiences of rape and sexual assault. It felt too much like a ‘nice guy’ rationalisation. Caine and cicely have convinced me otherwise.

    The first time I slept with the first big love of my life we just slept. We’d gone to a gig together and ended up back at her share house drinking and talking with her housemates. At 3am or so she said to me “I’m going to bed now, if you want to come, just to sleep, it’s down here.”

    I followed. We lay, pretty much clothed, in a single bed together and talked for another hour or so before she drifted off. At one point she rolled over on my hand and I wondered if it was better to let it fall asleep or to pull it out and risk being seen as making some kind of unwanted advance.

    Years later we were telling first date stories with another couple and when I related that night my girlfriend asked “Why didn’t you make a move on me?” “Because you said: Just to sleep.” and everyone, her included, laughed at me.

    I felt embarrassed at the time, no one likes to be laughed at, but knowing what I know now I’m very happy and comfortable with my decision that night.

    On another occasion I was at a gig and was flirting with a woman with whom I had an acquaintance. We were getting along famously. At the end of the evening she was too drunk to get in her car. I called her a cab. She wanted me to come with her, with a pretty clear implication that sex was on offer. I politely turned her down and went home alone. We had a couple more dates after that and nothing came of that relationship. Despite being pretty sure that that refusal to go home with her was a factor in our inability to connect I’m also very comfortable with that decision.

    Please be clear, I had no formal understanding of consent at that time. It was just who I was and I acknowledge that I was lucky to end up with a set of beliefs that didn’t include rape enabling ones. I don’t take too much credit for this.

  217. says

    Caught up as much as I can. My apologies to those whose stories I just can’t read right yet.

    I can speak to the feeling of conflict about wanting to inflict damage upon one’s attacker, because I did it, twice. Both times in the course of fighting off the attack, as I noted way up there somewhere ^.

    It’s taken me a long, long time to become okay with knowing I was capable of that sort of rage. I’ve felt guilty about it for years: did I kill that guy, the one on the street? I know I was trying to, when the red mist faded enough for me to notice what shape he was in, I had to seriously grab myself hard to make myself stop from finishing the job.

    I don’t think he died. I checked the newspapers pretty assiduously, and this isn’t a big town, and we have Canadian crime levels: with a population of half a million or so, we get maybe three or four murders a year, and that’s up from what it was twenty years ago. I needed to know whether I had to worry about the police looking for me.

    It took a long time – is taking a long time – for me to come to some compromise with my conscience. This, along with a couple of other incidences when I was a teen and full of rage from both the attacks I’d suffered already and the fact I couldn’t be me yet (I started Grade 9 in 1979; transitioning at school simply Did Not Happen in those days, and trying would have had me committed for much longer than I ever actually was at the time for my police troubles).

    I’ve had to come to terms with knowing I’m capable of that level of violence. Yes, provoked, but still: me. Capable of that level. Yes. I haven’t just thought about it, contemplated it, cuddled up to the idea when I was feeling powerless. I’ve done it.

    It’s been very hard, and has been one of the spurs for me toward social justice ends, to be okay with knowing I have that potential, and coming to a place where I can recognize that…what?…potential psychosis?…for what it was: necessary.

    But still, and probably forever, the quickest way to shut me down is to accuse me of being deliberately hurtful, because it reaches into that place of guilt and shame about having that capacity and shakes me by it. And I don’t get to feel worthy for not unleashing it; I just have to remember that it’s not safe for other people for me to get that angry.

    I’m not actually sure I’m making any sense here. I feel like I’m rambling.

    I think the worst effect of it is that it makes me feel like a monster inside, and if I’m a monster inside, how can I blame someone else whose monster made them attack me? Maybe they could see that monster in me, and…I don’t even know how to finish that.

    But to say I’m sixty-three kinds of fucked up is probably a keen-edged understatement. And there are very few places I’ve ever felt able to say that out loud, because it’s probably the thing about me I’m most ashamed of, knowing that I’m capable of a frankly homicidal rage. I can do so here, I think, because there have been a number of us here on this thread admitting that we’re hardly free of monster-feeling ourselves. I’m sorry if I’ve busted anyone’s ideas of me being a good person. :/

    So…yeah. All the hugs to those as can accept ‘em, and I totally get every bit of anyone having hard-edged retributive ideas.

  218. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    Thanks again for being there, Horde. I think I would have ended up institutionalized two years ago if it wasn’t for y’all. That sounds like hyperbole, but I promise you it isn’t.

    Caine, I hear what you’re saying about the blame, but in your case it’s totally unwarranted. Like totally. And I’m sure that if anyone else told a story like that to you, you’d be the first to tell them “It’s not your fault, you were a child and he wasn’t. He had the minimal social obligation not to rape people which he didn’t fulfill and that’s NOT on you.”

    So, Caine, it’s not on you. At all.

    It’s weird how these threads make me feel sometimes, I don’t often comment on them, because what is there to say, really? ‘Sorry’ just doesn’t describe it. So I read each story one after the other, because our stories deserve to be known. WE deserve for them to be known, to be recognized, to just be heard. So in these threads, even though I seldom participate, I read each and every post, part as some kind of penance for what I failed to hear before, but mostly to just bear witness.

    I’m always reminded of this piece by Andrea Dworkin (please don’t knee-jerk dismiss it because of Dworkin’s reputation) and I’ve been thinking of it a lot these past few weeks:

    Letters from a War Zone: I want a 24 Hour truce.

    And we are inside a system of humiliation from which there is no escape for us. We use statistics not to try to quantify the injuries, but to convince the world that those injuries even exist. Those statistics are not abstractions. It is easy to say, “Ah, the statistics, somebody writes them up one way and somebody writes them up another way.” That’s true. But I hear about the rapes one by one by one by one by one, which is also how they happen. Those statistics are not abstract to me.

    It is astonishing that in all our worlds of feminism and antisexism we never talk seriously about ending rape. Ending it. Stopping it. No more. No more rape. In the back of our minds, are we holding on to its inevitability as the last preserve of the biological? Do we think that it is always going to exist no matter what we do? All of our political actions are lies if we don’t make a commitment to ending the practice of rape. This commitment has to be political. It has to be serious. It has to be systematic. It has to be public.

    As a feminist, I carry the rape of all the women I’ve talked to over the last ten years personally with me. As a woman, I carry my own rape with me.

    I speak for many feminists, not only myself, when I tell you that I am tired of what I know and sad beyond any words I have about what has already been done to women up to this point, now, up to 2:24pm on this day, here in this place.

    So yeah. Even though I mostly don’t know what to say, I’m here and I see and I hear and I carry these stories with me because they matter.

    I’m going to hit “Submit” now before I delete this, like I usually do.

  219. says

    CaitieCat:

    I’m sorry if I’ve busted anyone’s ideas of me being a good person. :/

    I don’t think you’ve done that. You haven’t with me. Then again, I’m at least 63 kinds of fucked up m’self.

    Erik and FossilFishy, thank you.

  220. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Ugh.

    This thread – on my birthday – is so hard to read.

    All the hugs to, well, everyone. Jane Doe deserves hugs, I want to call that out, and Jacob Schmidt, and Caine, and Mellow Monkey, and FossilFishy. You spoke about really hard things, everyone, but I just want to take the extra time to send extra hugs to those who might not believe that they deserve them.

    I haven’t read the whole thread, but I’ve read a lot. It’s so dense. I’ll come back to it and try to contribute in a more worthwhile fashion, but for now this is what I have. I have read your stories. Your stories matter. You are not demons. All of us, from Elyse to Jane Doe, deserve so much more from your families and your society and your culture. We can do better and I hope I’m adequately carrying my part of that load.

    Thank you again for your stories. Things we don’t recognize or understand we cannot make better. These stories are absolutely crucial in creating the world you all deserved the moment you were born.

  221. says

    Thanks, Caine. Seriously.

    Also, the next time someone tells me humans were “Intelligently Designed”, I’m going to confront them with how awful a choice it is that bad feelings make us cry. Crying is such an inefficient, horrible response, having your nose all stuffed up and eyes sore and finding it hard to talk and breathe while it’s happening Big Big and…fuck that noise, that’s not intelligent design, it’s COMPLETELY not user-friendly.

  222. says

    not even 30 comments in and I can’t deal with this. Why do we live in a world where women have to worry about this shit all the time? goddammit

  223. says

    CaitieCat:

    Crying is such an inefficient, horrible response, having your nose all stuffed up and eyes sore and finding it hard to talk and breathe while it’s happening Big Big and…fuck that noise, that’s not intelligent design, it’s COMPLETELY not user-friendly.

    Agreed. It’s still difficult for me to cry, I have this automatic cut off that operates whether I want it to or not, thanks to my mother. One time, when I was around 4, 5, I was upset and crying. She took me into the hall, made me stand in front of a full length mirror and kept telling me to look at myself, how ugly I was when I cried. It took me a lot of years to learn to cry, and there’s still a tendency to simply shut it off. One good thing about this thread? I cried, a lot. Yes, the cut off switch kicked in a bunch of times, but I kept crying. It’s a good thing, because it lets me know that I am still human, that I can feel, and I need to be reminded of that now and then.

  224. says

    Crip Dyke:

    This thread – on my birthday – is so hard to read.

    Fuck, I’m sorry. Happy Birthday, Crip Dyke. You make my life better for being a part of it, so I thank you and I’m very, very happy you’re here. The world would be a poorer place without you.

  225. Azuma Hazuki says

    …Jesus. Reading this thread makes it seem like this happens to everyone, like none of us can escape this. The entire world isn’t this way is it? Because, horrible thought just occurred, if it’s this bad in the western world, how much worse is it in India, Africa, and other half-feral shitholes full of Islamic rot and tribal violence?

    I am one of the lucky ones, never having been raped, nothing worse than a few catcalls. I was always taller than even most of the guys in my class anyway, and apparently “weird” (they have NO idea…). It hurt to be thought of that way then, but given what I now know the alternatives can be, well, would take “weird” over that any day.

    But my sister…oh gods, my poor sister. Harassed from age 6 on, violently raped at 14, never told anyone but our mother, and when she finally told our father his reaction was “What did you do to provoke him?” That just broke my brain when she told me he said this, since (despite much evidence to the contrary I now realize, in hindsight) we considered him a fairly evolved specimen of Y-chromosome-bearage. Unfuckingbelievable. My sister is far stronger than I gave her credit for until only a few years ago, and with everything else that’s happened to us over the years on top of it the amazing thing is how stable and healthy she is.

    I don’t think the feelings of anger and rage are unhealthy. Fuck “forgive him and move on.” If I ever catch the scumbag who did this, he will die slowly and horribly, and it will damn well involve a castration. With my keys.

  226. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Going back to read what I missed while typing and CatieCat’s was right there.

    Oh, CC. I’ve talked with so many trans* folk who have been assaulted or raped and I can tell you that your feelings are common whether people fight back or not.

    This:

    I think the worst effect of it is that it makes me feel like a monster inside, and if I’m a monster inside, how can I blame someone else whose monster made them attack me? Maybe they could see that monster in me, and…I don’t even know how to finish that.

    I’ve heard expressed by quite a number of trans folk, and few of them drew an attacker’s blood. We hate ourselves and see ourselves as monstrous and as blameworthy for our own attacks because of things as violent – though morally blameless – as self-defense or as simple as coming out, when a transphobic relative insists that our coming out caused that relative anguish. When we do something truly unethical – and no one gets through life doing nothing unethical – then even if we have lived lives much closer to an ethical ideal than some average (or median) person, we latch onto those few unethical things. Those, then, become proof of how monstrous we are.

    I’ve seen it so many times. You are no more monstrous than me or than any other trans* person to whose story I’ve listened. This doesn’t define you. To stab in self defense is not illegal. To go overboard in one’s self-defense out of terror, even when illegal, is not a monstrous thing.

    CatieCat, all the hugs.

  227. Azuma Hazuki says

    Ugh, never having BEEN raped. What an awful typo…

    And hugs if needed for anyone who needs them. What can we do in the face of such pain but offer support?

  228. says

    What can you do?

    Work with young men. Speak up online when they act abusive of women and each other. Talk to them directly about what consent meants (young women too.. )

    Work on campaigns directed at men….ensure that rape is not relegated to the “women’s issues” segment of the brain – for everyone.

    Keep it on the front page until the discussion is shifted away from victim blaming at at rape-stopping.

    Do not let up.
    Do not tire.
    Do not stop.
    Do not let us take all the heat for fighting online and off…
    Work to make the world a place worthy of your daughters and grand daughters…and sons.

    Do not stop.

  229. says

    CripDyke…I have no words for how much that comment meant to me. I really had no idea this was something that happened to other trans* people. Thank you, so much. (Nice tradition, of giving presents to others on your birthday. Speaking of which, may you have as many more happy birthdays as you desire, nor more nor less, and may each find you happier and more loved than the last).

    I was so terrified both times when I was an adult, because I know what the numbers are like: if we’re ‘found out’ while being raped, we end up dead, and our murderers get away with it because trans-panic. I knew that I didn’t dare let either of them get close enough to ‘find out’, or I’d be a statistic, misgendered and discarded in the press, for a final indignity on top of being killed.

    The only other time I was that ferocious was when I kicked my way into an apartment to retrieve my teenage son from the hard-drug-using people he was hanging out with, which is a more fun story, for another time. I didn’t hurt anyone that time, unless you’re the sort who anthropomorphizes doors and locks and the like.

  230. Azuma Hazuki says

    What is it that drives people to do this, though? That’s what I can’t figure out. This is incomprehensible. Even leaving aside empathy, what is the point of harming another human being, especially one who is not harming you, and especially in a way that spirals and feeds back into itself and creates an eonian vortex of fear and traumas in them? What can they possibly gain from a few brief moments of satisfaction and ego-feeding that is worth the living death they call down on their marks?

  231. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Azuma:

    For a huge number of rapes, I don’t know. For them, I might never know. But I don’t think it’s incomprehensible. It’s hard to tell from 143, but it sounds like she was “trained” in a sense – she was repeating what was done to her (even it not exactly in the same form). The success of “Don’t be that guy” campaigns also tend to indicate that people are “trained” in a sense to do this. To rape. If it wasn’t a matter of learning, it would be unlearnable.

  232. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Argh. If it wasn’t a matter of learning, it would NOT be unlearnable.

    Sheesh.

  233. Dani Wells says

    I found it really hard to read Elyse’s accounts. I found myself skipping over it because I didn’t want to absorb it. I was also raped, twice. Also, I have to say this and I don’t know if anyone else has. For the man who came forth and said he was a rapist, I really did not want to read that on this thread. One of the things you can do is educate MRA’s and slymepitters about what you did and not come onto a thread where women are talking about being raped and announcing you are a rapist. I find that smacking of privilege and looking for fucking sympathy when the focus here is on rape VICTIMS, not fucking rapists.

    I’m angry your comment even made it through moderation. It’s co-opting. For fucks sake can we have ONE thread where people can talk about rape without a rapist coming on and acting all ‘oh poor me, look what I did to my ex wife?’

    I’m so fucking angry.

  234. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Susannah, Yazikus, Jenniferphillips, & Ashely L –

    Thank you. I’m sorry for your trauma and tears. I’m glad that Yazikus’ – however stressful – could share a conclusion that moves a bit of hope to the forefront of the thread.

    Having said that, I am stunned (though not to silence) with how much hope there is here.

    We don’t think of telling our stories as a hopeful act, but with how long rape culture has persisted and how badly our stories have been received, it takes a mighty high hunk of hope – bigger than the piece of chocolate cake I ate earlier – to support a story-telling survivor’s voice.

    So there: even where least appreciated, even in the midst of what the MRAs would call whinging, we have created a community of hope. This spontaneous telling of stories is the best evidence of that hope for which anyone could ask.

  235. Great American Satan says

    I could have been (statutory) raped at YMCA summer camp when I was 11, but the lady was shy about what she was intending to do and basically asked permission. I wasn’t gonna get no lady cooties so I said no. Now that’s lucky.

    Only sexual assault my partner had to face was an unwanted & intimidating kiss in middle school. That’s a little less lucky. Plus creepy attention over the years that was successfully rebuffed or evaded.

    Here we are, barely scratched in a world full of the wounded. I mentioned this elsewhere and I’ll say it again. I really hope the article by Elyse and threads like this help some Slymers to see the error of their ways and come correct. They don’t even have to eat crow.

    If you’re reading this and realize you’ve been a rape apologist, just tell your fellow villains that you are done, and quit. No one will be able to thank you, but you will be putting that much less pain into the world. It’s better than nothing.
    -

  236. says

    Pteryxx

    I can only remember… three, maybe four, women who have spoken up and said specifically that they have NOT been raped.

    I’m one of them. And I know quite well that it’s not because I’m oviously smarter, more careful, less attractive, less slutty, less X, more Y than those who have been raped.
    95% of the time some survivor here tells about his or her rape, I know I’ve been there, done that, did not get raped. The remaining 5% are some very specific circumstances that simply don’t apply to me.

    +++
    Pierce G.

    Elyse is a brave woman, and that was a needed essay even though she didn’t need to do it. She deserves much praise for writing something so difficult.

    QFMFT
    Because we all know what the slyme will do with that information.

    tashaturner, bagersdaughter, Seize, Rabidtreeweasel, Catiecat, Feats of Cats, Ladyh42, deoridhe, otrame, Susannah, jenniferphillips, ashley L
    I am sorry. Thank you for writing.

    Gen and to you, Caine
    Big hugs.
    I didn’t report the guy who tried to get at me in the carpark either. I told a friend. I got chastized for having been so stupid to park there. I didn’t even think about ever telling anybody else in meatspace. I don’t know if he raped somebody later. And I was a grown woman and you were kids.

    Caine
    I have an addition for CCC:
    -If you initiate in a romantic setting, and your offer gets turned down, do not act hurt or disappointed. It sets up emotional blackmail for the next occasion.

    There’s always one corner of my brain that hopes one of these threads will be full of people saying “I’m one of the lucky ones, I haven’t been raped or sexually assaulted”, but it never turns out that way.

    No sorry, while I can do the “not raped”, not assaulted is clearly not on the list. I don’t think there is a woman who was never sexually assaulted, but I think that there are many who wouldn’t call it that. He just groped them, he just kissed them, well, men well pinch an ass, he rubbed his dick against them in a bus/train….

    +++
    Thank you, all of you who are coming out and who tell your stories. They are important, and I’m honoured by your trust.

    anonymous #143
    I am sorry. I am sorry this happened to you, and I am glad that you realized that what you were doing was wrong, and that you stopped. That makes you a much bogger person than your sister ever was.

    magistramarla
    It’s a tangent, but I understand how the things that went wrong in my mother’s childhood, including the State ordered abuse contributed to her being abusive. I helps me in dealing with it, it helps me in not repeating it. It just doesn’t mitigate damage, or hurt, or responsibility.

    ekwhite
    I’m pretty sure my grandma would never call it rape, and I’m very sure she doesn’t call his violence abuse, but I quite know that my grandfather raped and beat my grandma, too.

    CripDyke
    *safe birthdayhugs*

  237. mildlymagnificent says

    What is it that drives people to do this, though? That’s what I can’t figure out. This is incomprehensible. Even leaving aside empathy, what is the point of harming another human being, especially one who is not harming you, and especially in a way that spirals and feeds back into itself and creates an eonian vortex of fear and traumas in them? What can they possibly gain from a few brief moments of satisfaction and ego-feeding that is worth the living death they call down on their marks?

    I might turn into a killjoy right in front of everyone, but I personally believe it’s all down to what people think is “acceptable” or even right to do, to children especially – teasing, bullying, tickling – and to weaker people generally. Ignoring the violence and power differentials in so-called rough-house play. Not even knowing that there are other ways for vigorous and sporting activity to be anything other than an opportunity for the strong to take advantage and for the weak to learn to toughen up.

    Teaching kids that it’s their lot in life to put up with bigger and stronger people violating their physical boundaries. Teaching people that violence in the form of spanking is all done “for your own good”. Schools ignoring the bullied and reinforcing the bullies. Workplaces ignoring or sacking the bullied and encouraging or promoting the bullies.

    And all this baggage gets carried into discussions of sex and relationships, by which time it doesn’t need to be spoken aloud. It’s part of the air that’s breathed by everyone involved.

  238. Nick Gotts says

    Surely both the most horrifying and the most inspiring thread I’ve read on Pharyngula. The accounts of many of those who have spoken up are horrifying, their courage inspiring. That more and more people are speaking up, particularly in the atheosphere, gives me hope. For this thread at least, I think the silencers have themselves been silenced.

  239. Nick Gotts says

    mildlymagnificent@269,

    I very much agree with that – and another thing that gives me hope is that, at least in the circles I move in, few parents seem to hit their children, and bullying between children is taken seriously – very different from half a century ago, when I was a child. But of course, my experience may not be typical.

  240. tami says

    TRIGGER WARNING

    I was raped…in high school and then again in college. The first time, in high school, I was the new girl, and the rapist — a fellow student — threatened my life and threatened to tell my aunt (who I went to live with after my parents died) that I was a slut. I was too afraid to go to the hospital, to the police or to a trusted adult. Plus, even though I was new I had “a reputation” and knew that no one would believe that I hadn’t “asked for it.”

    In college I was at a party…too much to drink. I didn’t realize at the time that if you’re raped while your drunk its still rape.

    I’m in my mid 30s now, and have learned that I was the one wronged. I have learned that you don’t give up your rights to your personal security just because you’ve had too much to drink. I’ve learned that even if you have given consent to more than one person previously, when you say “no” and you are ignored its still rape. I’ve learned that fear is often the rapist’s tool.

    I learned all that in the years of therapy following the incidents. Depression, PTSD, anxiety disorders, and a f*cked up sex-life which even now threatens my marriage, are not just the result of being female, careless and afraid. They are also the result of a culture that devalues the worth of women…and winks in that “boys will be boys” attitude while it looks the other way.

    I have a daughter who is approaching the age when I was raped the first time…and I feel myself getting more and more anxious about her. I know that she is better informed than I was…better prepared to defend herself…but the fear that froze me 20 years ago is still very powerful.

    I’m not sure why I wanted to write this…my therapists have always told me to “let go of the victim thinking” and to not let the “past control my life.” But I’ve never been completely successful with that.

    Maybe my reason for commenting has been just to add my voice to the chorus of objections to our rape culture. Maybe it has been to remind everyone that rape doesn’t end when the actual event is over.

  241. says

    Crip Dyke # 266

    This spontaneous telling of stories is the best evidence of that hope for which anyone could ask.

    Yes! I know that, for me, although I have found a few safe havens on the web, I haven’t shared more than tidbits of my story, because, what was the point? No-one was going to listen, nobody would believe me; I’d just be told to shut up again. Nothing was going to change, ever. Why should I make the effort, when I was a lonely voice in the void?

    Now, there’s momentum. I can add my feeble push to the wheel. We’re going to accomplish something good, I know it!

  242. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    mildlymagnificent – Not so much killjoy as simple truth. We’re soaked in rape culture because rape culture is the one we live in. Not even just rape culture – it’s OUR culture. One where we say we’re past “might makes right” but in practice it’s still the rule of law. We say we’re past sexism and racism but we’re nowhere near there. We say we’re moving away from feudalism and dictatorships but the conservatives are pushing us closer and closer whilst we’re told we’re getting more progressive and “tolerant”.

    Same old, same old. Keep everything the same whilst telling people it’s all in the past. It creates a system whereby criminal activity is tolerated whilst victims aren’t believed… because we’re “past that”. We must be compassionate – because people accused of crimes are human too and we must give them the benefit of the doubt, because it’s so difficult to believe that someone could commit horrible crimes in this “enlightened age”. Of course, that also means we must treat victims with suspicion because of that exact belief.
    Just world fallacy + argument from incredulity = victim blaming.

    In short, people who claim to be race-blind, deny rape culture, think we’re past sexism, are libertarian (past classism, equality of opportunity), think that slurs can’t offend because they’re just words – those people have bought the claim over the truth. It’s propaganda, obfuscating the brutal reality that we’re as racist, sexist, rape-enabling, poverty-promoting, ableist and as obsessed with retaining inequality as we always were. It’s just taboo to talk about it now, because we don’t have those problems any more. If you’ve experienced it, you’re lying or exaggerating, or just a troublemaking shit-stirrer.

    If you’ve ever wondered why calling attention to crimes seems to be worse than the crime itself, I believe it’s because of this. People don’t believe that those crimes actually happen any more. Or that they do, but they’re committed by another species called “criminal” rather than people, because people are enlightened and progressive and simply don’t DO that sort of thing these days. So calling out a criminal is a horrible thing to do… they can’t possibly be a criminal! Since they obviously did nothing, calling them out is a LIE. and LYING is BAD. So you get squashed and threatened and called a liar, because doing those things aren’t bad now (because people aren’t really like that any more, words don’t have real meanings like they used to and it’s only the internet, not real life, etc.) – and even if those things were bad, you’re a liar! You deserve to be hurt because you hurt a poor innocent person by saying they did something bad! You’re worse than them.

    I hate. HATE. the myth that we’re an enlightened species. It’s bullshit, and possibly one of the most destructive ideas we’ve ever come up with. I’d say we need to move past it, but he whole system is set up so that it’s almost impossible to, because convincing people that they’re not wonderful is incredibly difficult when they think they’re past all that.

    Fuck.
    Sorry, rant over. I just hate this.

  243. says

    tami
    *safe hugs* if you want them.

    I’m not sure why I wanted to write this…my therapists have always told me to “let go of the victim thinking” and to not let the “past control my life.” But I’ve never been completely successful with that.

    Why do therapists insist on using those quite obviously useless stockphrases?
    And did I manage to find the only therapist in the world who doesn’t do so? Or is it OK to be hooked up on your fucked-up mother but not on a traumatizing event?% of
    This makes me so angry, because you’re not the first person who has made that experience with a therapist.

    ++++
    I re-post this from the Lounge where I posted it a few days ago, because it’s relevant to the topic:

    And so it begins. Today #1 told me that her classmate B. is really in love with her. I asked her how so and she told me that he often kisses her. I asked her “do you like that?” “Well, not really…”
    I told her again that she can say no and stop and that nobody is allowed to kiss her if she doesn’t want t be kissed. She then said she likes it a little but I’m afraid that she doesn’t want to say no because she likes the rest of being liked and being paid attention to.
    So, fuck. I’m not freaking out about some schoolyard puppy love. She can have all the schoolyard puppy love she wants. I’m angry and worried that at the age of 6 both participants have already learned the script about “boy kisses girl, girl gets kissed, who gives a fuck about whether she likes it or not”

    And this is a kid who had her bodily autonomy respected. There is no “give granny a kiss” in our family and not even a “oh please give mummy a kiss”. “I don’t want that” is the clear signal to stop and has to be respected, but still this is happening. And I’m pretty sure that 99% of people would not understand my concerns.

  244. sonderval says

    I was trying to write something helpful, but I am at a loss. To all those of you who told your stories: Thanks for being so brave and for increasing awareness by sharing your stories (I keep thinking “so many??” while reading these threads).

    And to Caine, untiring hero und support-giver: You are making this world a better place. Thank you.

  245. tami says

    @275 Giliell,

    There’s a difference between letting go of the past and ignoring what happened. Maybe I’ve been brainwashed by my therapists, but I understand “letting go of the past” to mean that I stop giving someone from 20 years ago power over my life. This doesn’t mean that I forget what happened…as if that were even possible…or forgive those who hurt me. Forgetting is, like I said, not possible, and forgiving is just something I’m not ready to do yet — if ever.

    But letting go means that I can function in the world. It means that I stop giving those people permission to keep hurting me…to keep scaring me…after all this time. They aren’t part of my real life any more…so why should I let them continue to influence me?

    Letting go means I can finally go through my day without a trigger reminding me of what happened. It means I start identifying myself as a mom, a teacher, and a valuable human being as opposed to “someone who was raped.”

    I might not ever be able to “let go” but it sounds pretty good to me. I’m tired of living with all this stuff…tired of being depressed, tired of nightmares, tired of flashbacks and body memories.

    Letting it go sounds like a good idea.

  246. Lofty says

    As a male of 52 I count myself extremely lucky to never have to deal with rape and its consquences with anyone I know. Yet I know I have acted poorly towards women, scared them, but my conscious brain has always stopped me at the first sign of fright. I have learnt what unacceptable behaviour is. I know how thin the veneer over a sexual predator is. I hope to remain in control for the rest of my life, always learning more.
    .
    My most heartfelt sympathies for all of you who have suffered. Go the Horde.

  247. tami says

    Giliell, no one has ever suggested that I stop talking…or dealing with the issues. On the contrary, I have always been encouraged to talk about it. It took me quite a few years and a lot of struggle to actually get my story out in the open.

    I agree with you…if someone defines “letting go” as never facing the issues then that’s just adding more damage to the situation. That’s a prescription for disaster.

    One of my therapists once told me that the goal of my therapy should be twofold: to stop and to start…
    stop being ashamed
    stop blaming myself
    stop lashing out in misplaced anger towards those who I love and myself
    And…
    start feeling more comfortable in my body
    start focusing on my positive attributes
    start telling my flashbacks and nightmares, “you no longer have any power over me”

    There are more, but you get the point. Letting go is a process…I get frustrated when I get stuck and can’t stop myself from doing stupid things to sabotage my career or relationships. The pent up rage is hard to control sometimes. But there’s much more to healing than just saying…”well, that’s over with. Now I can move on.” I wish it was that easy.

    Anyway, I think we were just working from different definitions of “letting go” because I agree with you completely.

  248. anonymous says

    Right. Been agonising over whether to do this. Here we go.

    Firstly, if any of this is too graphic, I’m really sorry and please delete. I don’t want to upset anyone but most of this I’ve never really talked about to anyone before.

    I just tried to re-register with a different name, because even though I lurk and have only posted a handful of times with this account, I’m paranoid as hell that this will be traced back to me and somehow used against me. It’s irrational and stupid, but there’s a lot about me that’s irrational these days. I can’t seem to do that though, and now I’ve gotten myself all geared up to talk about this so here we go.

    The first time I was about 13. I got bullied at school and a lot of that was related to me developing quite late compared to other girls in my class. At 13 I was completely flat chested and the running joke was that I was actually a boy. One day, one of the boys in my class decided to see for himself, pinned me between the wall and him and stuck his hand between my legs. In a classroom full of other kids and a teacher, who either was so inept she didn’t notice, or more realistically, saw and decided to ignore what was happening. I felt stupid for being upset, becuase if all these people saw and didn’t say anything, it can’t have been a big deal. Some weeks later, I complained to the same teacher because kids sat behind me were chewing up food and spitting it into my hair, and got told that I provoked the bullying and maybe I should try being less weird.

    The most harrassment I ever received was when I was walking home in my school uniform. The most people shouting and honking and suggesting I do things to or for them was when I was quite obviously a child. I used to pretend to be happy about it, because it meant that I was desirable, and not so ugly that nobody would ever want me. A classmate when I was around 16 grabbed my breasts and told me that it was so I could know what it was like, since nobody would ever want to do it for real.

    My first serious boyfriend, when I was 17, wanted to have a baby with me. I didn’t want a baby, but he badgered me into sex without a condom, promised he’d pull out before orgasm, but didn’t (yeah, I know this wouldn’t have worked, even if he’d kept his word). He did this repeatedly, and he thought it was hilarious. He’d also messed with my oral contraceptives (thrown some away and swore that he saw me take them) and after a few months of this I was pregnant. Thing is, this is the one I still really can’t convince myself wasn’t my fault. I knew what was happening and I went along with it. I can’t seem to get past blaming myself. On the morning I was due to go and get the pregnancy terminated, he had sex with me. I apologised to him and asked his forgiveness for ‘killing his baby’ and he winked and said it was ok, because he’d always wanted to have sex with a pregnant woman, and now he had. That night, he tried to have anal sex with me, because he had to have sex and the doctors had told me not to for two weeks to let my cervix heal. After a while of trying, and me crying and asking him to stop, he told me that he’d just have to do it the normal way, and I let him. I don’t think I healed properly, because what followed was several months of pain and bleeding that the doctors had never mentioned might happen, and I never sought medical attention because that would mean having to explain what had happened.

    A few years later at university there were several occasions when I ended up having sex/sexual activity with someone just because they made it clear it was expected after the way I’d been acting – dancing with them/drinking/going home with them etc. One time, woke up next to someone else after I definitely remember going to bed alone. Not sure what exactly happened – I was still fully clothed and for all I know he’d just stumbled in and slept there, but the man I was seeing at the time broke up with me for cheating on him.

    Got involved with a student sports club where it was common knowledge that a single woman was ‘fair game’. Got harrassed and groped by one of the other members. Told my ‘friend’ who was involved in running the club. Got told that he wasn’t prepared to do anything about it – despite it not being the first complaint about this particular guy – becuase he was so helpful when it came to other things in the club. Then got told that it was ‘bullying’ for me to complain about this guy. Stopped going to the club. Several months later, overhear a couple of club members wondering why there were so few women.

    Boyfriend used to come to bed really late, hours after I had. He’d want to have sex. Sometimes he’d wake me up and ask, but since saying no resulted in a three hour row and a three day cold shoulder, couldn’t really say no. Sometimes he wouldn’t bother to wake me up. Lost count of how many times this happened. It was actually easier like that because if I was awake, I had to act like I was enjoying it or he’d get angry. I couldn’t orgasm with this man. He used to hurt me badly in his efforts to try and make me, but I couldn’t say how much he was hurting me because he’d get angry. Had to pretend I was enjoying it. He scared me so much when he was angry. I realised how easily he could kill me. Used to make me do other things but I don’t think I can talk about it, even on the internet.

    It’s over, but I’m scared all the time. I barricade my door at night and I wake up feeling like someone’s sitting on top of me. I can’t talk to people. I’ve elevated shyness to an art form. I’m paranoid. Paranoid that someone’s listening to me or reading my email. Scared that one of the people I’ve mentioned in here will see this, know it was me and come after me. It’s irrational and I know it is, but I can’t get past it. All I do is work and sit in my flat. Last time I went out to socialise, I was there for five minutes before someone I’d never met before asked me if I’d be ‘special friends’ with him (his term, not mine!). I said no. I fucking APOLOGISED to him for saying no. I felt like I needed an excuse, which I didn’t have, and saying no without an excuse warranted an apology. I can’t stop blaming myself, because this shit has happened so many times now that I think something about me must be attracting these guys to me. I know that’s wrong but it’s in my head, it’s what my mind is saying to me, just like it’s also saying that nobody who reads this will believe it. And I know that’s crap, but I can’t stop thinking it, like what I know intellectually is different from what my mind will let me believe.

    So yeah, sorry for the essay. I wish I could say something useful to the others here.

  249. carlie says

    It’s weird how these threads make me feel sometimes, I don’t often comment on them, because what is there to say, really? ‘Sorry’ just doesn’t describe it. So I read each story one after the other, because our stories deserve to be known. WE deserve for them to be known, to be recognized, to just be heard. So in these threads, even though I seldom participate, I read each and every post, part as some kind of penance for what I failed to hear before, but mostly to just bear witness.

    Me too. In these threads, I sit as long as it takes to read each one, internalize each one, try to file them away as best as I can in my mind so when it ever comes up when arguing with someone about how it’s “not that bad”, I can pull them up as examples of people I know who have had this done to them. So that I can have every angle of “this is what you don’t do” covered for my boys, who are fast appro

  250. peptidix says

    Reading this thread, the linked post by Elyse, other similar threads around here; it hurts. But it feels like witnessing and listening is the least I can do.

    But a thanks to all who are capable of sharing their stories, no matter how long the essays get.
    And a big thanks to the people who are it possible that those stories are shared.

  251. Ogvorbis: Purveyor of Mediocre Humours! says

    Sorry isn’t enough. Never enough. I am so sorry. Gonna go cry now.

    There is no need to apologize. Ever. Caine, as you, and others, have said to me, repeatedly, you are not responsible for your rapist’s actions. Ever.

    And why is it so much easier to write that to someone else but, if I try to convince myself, it sounds like bullshit?

    There are people walking around about my age who were raped because I didn’t say anything. I just ran. This haunts me so.

    I know. It hurts. But would telling anyone have actually helped? Or would it have hurt you more? The one time I told a person face to face, he didn’t believe me. And then he sent me in to apologize to my rapist. Who then raped me to punish me for lying about him. And I never said anything again. And that haunts me, too.

    Feats of Cats:

    It was rape. I’ve never told anyone but the internet.

    I have told exactly one person outside of the internet. Then I forgot for 30+ years. Or buried it. Or tried to cope by ignoring it. Hugs to you. Safe hugs.

    I do know that if it ever happens again I will do my level best to cut his balls off** do bodily harm so that at least if nothing else, he’ll think twice before doing it to anyone else.

    One of the things that scares me most about myself is I wonder what I would be capable of doing if I lost control of who I think I am. I feel like I pretend to be a good person. I pretend to be a nonviolent person. I pretend I am in control. And I am scared to death about losing that control.

    Deep breath

    I keep remembering more and more and more. Details. Nothing earth shattering.

    Many of you know of my history. Some don’t.

    I was raped, repeatedly, by my cub scout leader for a period of about two or two-and-a-half years. I was forced to rape others (including a toddler girl (and I still feel like shit for doing that (yes, I know it wasn’t my fault . . . ))). I was used for child porn. I told once and was informed that I was a liar and then sent to my rapist to apologize and he raped me again to punish me.

    The new memories include being forced to ask, forced to beg, for rape. I remember being forced beg to be allowed to hurt others. I remember the scout leader that I told, the one who told me I was lying, walking through a room to pick up something from a desk and seeing me, and another boy, doing things to the rapist. And ignoring what was going on — no comment, just a glance and a smile.

    And I just realized that the time that I tried to kill myself was the same time that Boy, my son, was in Cub Scouts. Shit. Even then I knew. I was successfully lying to myself, denying what I did, but, in some way, I knew. Shit.

    =======

    Thank you to all who stand witness to humanity’s inhumanity. I detest the way that rape is accepted as something sort of bad, but for a survivor to actually tell what happened is absolutely taboo.

    Safe hugs to all of you.

  252. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    I wanted to come back here with a nice story today. A story about how crystal clear consent can be fun and sweet. It doesn’t ruin spontaneity or romance or any of the other stupid things I’ve heard. You don’t need a contract signed in triplicate. You just need to treat your partner as another human being whom you are sharing a physically intimate and vulnerable experience with.

    When my partner and I first began our physical relationship–my first consensual one in my life–we talked. A lot. He’d say things like, “I want to touch you like this. Is that okay?” And if I didn’t want him to or I’d prefer something else, I could tell him. Explicitly, in plain English. There was no relying on body language. There was no trying to figure out intent and desires. We just said it. It might be in a sweet whisper in my ear in the middle of lovemaking or it might just be a quick check in. But everything was said and verified. Everything was guided by mutually understood consent.

    Now we’ve been together long enough that it’s not necessary with every step. We can read each other well enough to know and we both feel comfortable enough from all that time of clear verbal communication that we can always start speaking up again. If something is new or one of us doesn’t respond like normal, we can still talk. Sometimes we do just for fun, because the anticipation of laying out every step makes it feel sexier. I guess you could say that consent is our kink.

    That first time he asked me “is this okay?” is burned into my memory, though. That is the moment that defines him in my mind. The moment I knew this was a person I really, truly could trust. It might sound silly to anyone else, but just writing this has me in tears now.

    To everyone who truly cares about consent, who listens to their partners, who backs off when things don’t feel right: thank you. I wish it was so common and unremarkable that it wasn’t necessary to even comment on it, but thank you.

  253. Ogvorbis: Purveyor of Mediocre Humours! says

    Mellow Monkey:

    Thanks. That is nice.

    Wife (well, protoWife at the time) got frustrated with me because I kept asking each time our shared intimacy went up a notch. Trust is important.

  254. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Caine @253:
    I understand what you mean about a cut off.

    I have watched-increasingly-over the years, as you support other victims. As you display empathy to so many individuals. I have seen you get pissed off. I have seen you joyful. I ave not met you in person, but interacting with you online and seing you interact with others…reading the tales of how YOU personally have helped people (including me)…you have my deepest respect and love.

    Tears or no tears, you are such an amazing human being.

  255. shawn says

    I am crying, shaking and feel ill from all the stories from those who have spoken and from thinking of those who have not or can not share theirs. I want to say more but I am at a loss.

  256. carlie says

    A Surprise to Many (formerly Mattir), I’ve always been really impressed by you, for what that’s worth. When I think of strong women, you’re way up there on that list.

  257. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Mellow Monkey:
    ‘is this ok?’ does not sound silly. Not at all. So glad your partner is a good person and so happy that you have him in your life. You deserve it.

  258. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    I am one of the lucky ones. To the best of my knowledge I have never been raped, and I don’t remember having as many sexual harassment situations as many others have. I do know however that I am lucky, and that my situation is probably not the standard one.

    Reading Elyse’s post made me sad, and scared and angry. Reading the comments here made me cry, made me terrified, and made me furious.

    Because it is not fucking alright that this happened to so many people. And I do believe you all. And it so should not have happened. I know that some of my friends have experienced assault. I don’t know the details. I don’t know whether this is because I’m not insensitive enough to push, or too cowardly to ask. It could be both I guess. But that it mucks up the lives of so many people, both those that have been attacked and raped, and the ripple effect beyond had me in tears.

    That I know that I’ve only been lucky so far, and there’s no guarantee that in this world where it’s so much a part of the background culture that I will avoid it in the future scares me.

    And that it is likely to keep on happening to many people due to the aforesaid culture fills me with fury.

    Thank you to those who have shared, and may you find the strength you need.

  259. Ogvorbis: Purveyor of Mediocre Humours! says

    And it so should not have happened.

    One of the scary and pernicious things about rape culture is that victims do blame themselves. I remember the first time he raped me — on a blanket near a stock pond out in the Coconino National Forest, with two of my friends and his wife there — and he told me, whispering it in my ear, that he was teaching me to be a man and that since I was still a girl I deserved every second of it as it would help me decide to be a man rather than spend my life as a girl. And I believed him. I still, in weak moments, let that meme loose in my head and it is so easy to believe. So, yes, it should not have happened. But, at the same time, I still remember knowing that it had to happen. And accepting that.

    =====

    I am so sorry that I was so silent for so long up thread. I needed some time to get my thoughts in order. So much pain and suffering and guilt and anger. I felt a little overloaded yesterday and last night. keeping the panic at bay and trying to support the survivors.

  260. mildlymagnificent says

    keeping the panic at bay and trying to support the survivors.

    Your prime responsibility is to comfort and support the survivor you know best – the little boy you carry around inside you. We do what we can, the best we can, whenever we can. The most important thing you see here is that it’s a safe space for all victims and survivors. If you need to take time out to deal with your own particular problem, others here will hold the line in the meantime.

    Take care.

  261. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Ogvorbis:
    There is no need to apologize my friend. I cannot imagine how tough threads like this are for sexual assault victims.

    As always, you have my sympathy and respect.

  262. mephit says

    As a teenager, I remember a number of incidents where it was easier for me to say yes: to frame it as consensual, rather than to resist/confront what was happening and face the consequences. Knowing a no wouldn’t stop things.

    In school, some of the boys used to rub up against me and think it was a great joke to declare their desire for me (I was very shy).

    I also used to get a lot of cat-calls out of cars & vans when I walked home in my school uniform. Although sometimes I used to feel kind of proud I was attracting attention, at the same time I remember planning how to evade if anyone stopped and tried to drag me into their car, so I must have been afraid as well.

    I remember my friend telling me she had been sexually assaulted in her bed by a man we knew (he climbed in her window after we’d been out clubbing). I wasn’t really a good friend, I questioned what she did and tried to pressure her to tell. Her parents didn’t believe her, they slut-shamed her – although they did let her swap rooms with her brother, taking the small room instead.

    I’m sorry.

    An older girl I knew used to play sexually with me and her brother as children. Looking back, I think she had been abused herself and she has never been able to put her life together even now 30 years on.

    I’m sorry.

  263. says

    Disclaimor: I know this is a bit off topic but the quoted comment below really changed my thinking about somethings. The personal stories told here are heartbreaking and I’m glad that people have this safe space to discuss them.

    so to Sophia @ 274

    In short, people who claim to be race-blind, deny rape culture, think we’re past sexism, are libertarian (past classism, equality of opportunity), think that slurs can’t offend because they’re just words – those people have bought the claim over the truth. It’s propaganda, obfuscating the brutal reality that we’re as racist, sexist, rape-enabling, poverty-promoting, ableist and as obsessed with retaining inequality as we always were. It’s just taboo to talk about it now, because we don’t have those problems any more. If you’ve experienced it, you’re lying or exaggerating, or just a troublemaking shit-stirrer.

    qft – and I think a rather deep insight in to the libertarian mind that I hadn’t considered before. I thought of libertarianism as greed and malice but here you posit that it’s about denial. I find it ironic that a cultural and political POV that claims to be all about personal responsibility may be, at the end of the day, based on the denial of (or refusal to accept) any responsibility for anyone or anything other than themselves.

    Next time a libertarian spouts off about personal responsibility to me, I might have to bring this up. Thank you.

  264. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    erikthebassist – Thanks :)
    I want to post a reply but I’ll take it to the lounge for being off-topicy.

  265. Pteryxx says

    I wanted to address Ariaflame (who I’m quoting) and Ogvorbis and everyone else reading who feels like this all might be too much; that they might not be up to taking on this burden.

    I know that some of my friends have experienced assault. I don’t know the details. I don’t know whether this is because I’m not insensitive enough to push, or too cowardly to ask. It could be both I guess. But that it mucks up the lives of so many people, both those that have been attacked and raped, and the ripple effect beyond had me in tears.

    It is NOT easy to bear witness to stories like this, especially from people you know. I hope that it’s somewhat easier for you all reading here to encounter them in text, when you’re able to take breaks and walk away, to pause after sentences (and names) that shock you to your core; when the only tears you have to feel are your own. Offering to listen to someone close to you in person takes bravery, too. You won’t walk away unscathed. But it’s okay to be aware that you have limits, like any first responder. Always see to your own oxygen mask first, lest you compromise your ability to help others.

    So it’s okay to say to the people in your lives, “I’ve been learning about being pushed into sex when you don’t want it,” if saying the R-word out loud is too much. Or “I’ve been listening to survivors coming forward, and I want you to know I’m here for you.” It’s okay to say “I don’t know if I can handle the details but I believe you and I have your back.” It’s okay to say “I’ve got my own issues but I’m willing to help you find the support you need to talk about this.” The sexual assault hotlines run by RAINN, the NDVH hotline I linked above, and local crisis center hotlines all serve for people to call and give voice to their experiences, and for bystanders and friends to contact for support, too.

    You don’t have to be This Tough To Ride to bear witness, either. Talking about this will take all of us.

  266. Jacob Schmidt says

    I’m not done catching up. I’m reading some of them twice, to make sure I miss nothing.

    On this note:

    However, I make a plea for such stories to be related, not only because we need to know that most people are decent, good people, but it’s even more important for all the privilege-blind, the deliberate assholes, and apologists of all flavours to see and hear these stories, so that they have something which is concrete and unmovable right in front of their face: this is how a decent human being acts.
    Caine

    I’m very perplexed at the resistance I get when I tell people to make sure they have enthusiastic consent. I had one asshole tell me the other day that I was hurting their freedom by demanding such requirements (apparently freedom is only given to men; women don’t get freedom to decide or themselves*). Here’s the thing: I suspect I have a much harder time making sure I have consent with my partner than many. Of my partner’s past romances, only one wasn’t a total asshole about sex. Only one didn’t push and emotionally blackmail for sex. One of them threatened to commit suicide when she did’t put out. He then didn’t come to school for a week immediately after. Her lasted partner raped her twice.

    This left her scared of saying no. She says “yes” when she doesn’t mean it. She says yes because her past experiences have lead her to think that “yes” was mandatory; that she has no course to say “no”. What does that mean for me? It means I’m careful. All throughout our relationship, I’m careful to emphasis that sex is a mutual choice. Even when she says yes, I pay attention to her body language. Is she hesitant? Is she stalling? I ask her if this is really what she wants. Sometimes she’s just nervous about other things, and isn’t really in the mood. Sometimes she just wants to wait till later in the evening. Sometimes she’s had a nightmare or flashback to her assaults. So we move on to something else.

    She’s careful with my consent as well. She’s experienced enough abuse to know that consent is something mandatory. And after a year of being together, she says no far more readily than she did before.

    And really? It’s not hard. All it requires of me is noticing my partner as a person I interact with rather than something I fuck. That’s it.

    *Not that men can’t be raped or women can’t rape. He just always talked about rape as something only women experience and men do.

  267. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    Jacob Schmidt

    And really? It’s not hard. All it requires of me is noticing my partner as a person I interact with rather than something I fuck. That’s it.

    Absolutely. Our cultural programming can lead us to treating people as objects there for our pleasure, but we can also change the program. We can treat our partners as people who deserve equal consideration with ourselves. It’s not hard. It’s a basic aspect of empathy and one we must encourage and nurture. In ourselves, in other adults around us and especially in children.

  268. lumi says

    I’ve been reading, and crying, and trying to push down the memories that come up. Nobody knows all of this, not even my husband, but here I’m anonymous. Warning for triggers,

    Age 6: My aunt’s boyfriend liked to wear cut-offs so short that you could see his genitals when he sat down. Whenever we stayed over, he’d “play games” with my older sister and I. Somehow those games always ended up with his hand down our underwear. We didn’t tell. For years after they broke up, my grandmother invited him to our big family Xmas meal.

    Age 10: My uncle was a menopause baby, only 6 years older than me. I did whatever he told me to. He only wanted to look, not touch. He’s the only one I was ever able to forgive.

    Age 13: Two older boys on the school bus. Sometimes one would snatch the omnipresent paperback from my hands, stick it down his pants, and dare me to retrieve it. Sometimes one of them would force his way into my seat and grope me for the ride. The bus driver never noticed.

    Age 15: At a slumber party, of the ~6 girls there, every single one had a story of sexual abuse and/or assault. Every goddamn one of us.

    Age 16: Another slumber party. I was trying to go to sleep when the birthday girl’s cousin wandered in and started grabbing at my breasts. He was drunk, I was angry, I stopped him but never stayed over there again.

    Age 18: I was passed out on the couch at a friend’s house, very drunk. I woke to her much-older brother removing my pants. I got him to go away somehow. When I woke in the morning, I remembered everything and marched into his bedroom and punched him in the nose as he was sleeping. I might have broken it; I hope so. Their mom said I wasn’t allowed to come over anymore.

    Age 19-27: If I just gave in, he wouldn’t hurt me. It took a long time for me to call it rape, because I always said yes, but I didn’t want to. I just wanted to get through the night without waking/upsetting the kid(s) and without getting hit. When I left him, he said he would kill himself. I left anyway. He’s still alive, to my knowledge, and hasn’t seen my daughters once in the ensuing 11 years.

    My heart goes out to all who have suffered. And I thank you all for giving me the courage to speak up.

  269. says

    Dani Wells:

    I’m angry your comment even made it through moderation. It’s co-opting. For fucks sake can we have ONE thread where people can talk about rape without a rapist coming on and acting all ‘oh poor me, look what I did to my ex wife?’

    I’m so fucking angry.

    I disagree with you that it is co-opting. It’s a rape story, from the other side. People who have committed a rape in the past, who didn’t realize that until many years later, aren’t that different from people who realize that, yes, they were raped x amount of years ago. It’s extremely difficult information to process, it’s frightening and beyond difficult to come out and say.

    I get being angry, but don’t be angry with people have realized they have done someone a terrible, egregious wrong. They are admitting that because they are appalled at something they did. These are rape stories too, and they have the same right to tell them. I think it’s important, because for every person who learns, they will go on to help make changes in the world.

    Please, give post #143 a read, and see why demonizing someone isn’t going to help. It won’t help us, it won’t help them, it won’t help anyone.

  270. opposablethumbs says

    Just so as not to be silent, even though I don’t have any words for this – to all those who have had the amazing courage to tell their stories here, and to all those who may be reading silently and who can’t tell their own stories yet: I know it’s true, I thank you for speaking out or for coming here to read; I am so fucking sorry that rapists have hurt you; I hate them for what they did and I hate their enablers, and I am so sorry for what they did; I hope with all my heart that you have other support too as well as the support of the people here; I wish you strong and well. I’m reading.

  271. says

    twist #281

    I believe you. So sorry; no-one deserves such pain.

    It’s over, but I’m scared all the time. … Scared that one of the people I’ve mentioned in here will see this, know it was me and come after me. It’s irrational and I know it is, but I can’t get past it.

    What can I say? I’ve been scared, too. It’s an awful way to have to live, watching your back, listening for that footstep, always on alert. I weep with you.

    I felt like I needed an excuse, which I didn’t have …

    No excuses needed. You belong to yourself, not to the world.

    . . . like what I know intellectually is different from what my mind will let me believe.

    I know. What proved helpful to me was a book title. Not the contents, just the title; “Telling yourself the Truth.” And one thing in the book; every time I catch myself repeating these lies to myself, I stop and tell myself the truth again. “It’s not my fault, I don’t deserve this, I have the right to choose, I can say no, I belong to myself, I am not anyone’s slave.” Repetition helps, given time.

    Thank you for writing your story. That took courage.

  272. Taemon says

    I read all of the comments. I can’t do anything but bear witness, so that is what I do. My heart goes out to you.

    Here’s a good story: I once was at a good friend’s place. We were goofing around, one thing led to another, we started to have sex. But in the heat of things we hadn’t used a condom, and I started to freak out. I cried, no, stop! And he stopped. We were actually fucking; he must have had some terribly blue balls.

    It didn’t occur to me that he wouldn’t comply with me asking him to stop. It actually didn’t occur to me. I know better now, of course.

    Love and hugs to you all.

  273. carlie says

    twist, I hope that being able to share this brings you some measure of feeling power over it, of wresting control of the narrative that yes, they treated you badly and it was never your fault. They are the bad ones, and you deserve so much better.

  274. says

    Giliell:

    Caine
    I have an addition for CCC:
    -If you initiate in a romantic setting, and your offer gets turned down, do not act hurt or disappointed. It sets up emotional blackmail for the next occasion.

    Great! I’ll take this to the Doctah Phil thread, and we’ll get it included.

    Tami, all the hugs. Always. I believe you and you have my support.

    Twist, you have my heart, my fury, my support, my belief, my empathy.

    Mattir:

    I was raped several times in my teens and twenties, with the same “weapons” of imprisonment and intoxication. I did not call my experiences rape for many years. And yet this summer, when I discussed this with a group of ardent A+ members (mostly met on Pharyngula) I was told that to discuss this change in understandjng was repeating rape tropes, specifically “bitchez be lyin’” and “bitchez be crazy,” because my saying “sometimes it takes time to understand what happened” was invalidating the experiences of rape survivors and thus silencing them. A regular commenter here told that insisting that “changing one’s mind” happens (and, more to the point, failing to shut up when told that I had to shut up because I was “spewing rape apologetics”) made me very close to Vox Day in terms of mala fides and deserving of the sorts of responses one would give his bullshit.

    Jesus Fucking Christ. :mass amounts of fury: I am beyond sorry, Mattir. You have my heart, always.

    Ogvorbis:

    And why is it so much easier to write that to someone else but, if I try to convince myself, it sounds like bullshit?

    Damned if I know, but it works that way with me too. I think because it’s harder to get around the guilt and shame in my own head, while it’s easier to focus on someone else having those feelings.

    The one time I told a person face to face, he didn’t believe me. And then he sent me in to apologize to my rapist. Who then raped me to punish me for lying about him. And I never said anything again. And that haunts me, too.

    My heart breaks for you. And for me. For all of us.

    Tony, all the love. Always. I’m so very lucky to be able to count you as a friend.

    Mephit, so many hugs to you. All we can do is learn and help change things.

    Jacob @ 301, thank you, a thousand times. Your partner is lucky to have you.

    Lumi, oh such heartbreak. You have my belief, my support, my compassion. Whatever you need. Thank you for adding your voice.

  275. says

    Twist:

    It’s over, but I’m scared all the time.

    I have different fears, however, there’s been one good thing for me – the internet. Yep. It has allowed me the ability to be social again, as social as I can handle, I can always walk away, quietly, if I like, and it has allowed me the wonder and joy of having friends without all the fear.

    And no, it’s not like going out to the pub for a night out, but I really can’t handle bars. I never have been able to, at least not well. I used to go them often, decades ago, to meet up with my partner (we weren’t married then), and it about killed me when he was late (he’s a chronically late person, too). I’d be so tightly wrapped in fear that I have no way to describe it. I was fully prepared to kill, and willing to do so, so no, hanging out in bars, not my thing. They scare the hell out of me, and the way I am while at one scares the hell out of me too.

  276. says

    CaitieCat
    You’re not a monster either; this is the flipside of sef-preservation: in your case, it meant doing something rather than not doing something, but that makes it no more blameworthy, and just as not reporting doesn’t make someone a coward, meeting violence with violence doesn’t make you a monster. Even if he had died (Which he didn’t; someone being kicked to death is newsworthy even here in the States, and you’d have heard), no blame would attatch to you. Not even legally in many jurisdictions, if the law were to be evenly applied (which we all know it wouldn’t be, but bear with me here): around here, if someone is committing a felony, and someone dies in the course of said felony, the murder charge attaches to the felon, no matter who or what actually caused the death. i.e. if the law wasn’t an ass about these issues, his death would have legally (and morally) been on his own head. As things stand, the law might disagree, but I see no problem with your actions.
    Ogvorbis
    *hugs* You need to take care of supporting yourself first.
    mildlymagnificent

    Not even knowing that there are other ways for vigorous and sporting activity to be anything other than an opportunity for the strong to take advantage and for the weak to learn to toughen up.

    I think I was lucky that my athletic activity took place in a very different sort of context. I was never really much on team sports, but I studied an assortment of martial arts, and both of the dojos I went to had very firm policies on appropriate behaiviour. Very big on using your showing discipline, not starting fights, etc.
    Sophia

    It’s propaganda, obfuscating the brutal reality that we’re as racist, sexist, rape-enabling, poverty-promoting, ableist and as obsessed with retaining inequality as we always were. It’s just taboo to talk about it now, because we don’t have those problems any more.

    QFMTF; getting white people to acknowledge that there are still racial issues, let alone talk about them, is like pulling fucking teeth, because we fixed all that back in the 60s, didn’t we? *spits*

  277. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    Reading the stories here have dredged up further memories that I had buried well. They’re about the family member who molested me when I was a child.

    I was twelve. I’d been sent on a trip with him to visit a relative who was dying of cancer. I don’t recall details now, but I vividly remember being woken up in the guest room at the aunt’s house where I was staying. We had to go to the hospital. I had on a t-shirt, but he had taken off my underwear and boxer shorts in the night. I didn’t want to get out from under the blanket and let the aunt see. I just felt ashamed and guilty. Later, he touched my leg to get my attention and I spun and punched him in the face as hard as I could. I think that might have been the last time he touched me.

    I was ten. I’d been warned that oleander was poisonous and to be careful around the tree in our yard. I brewed some in tea and fed it to my abuser. It was not as poisonous as I had been warned. It didn’t even upset his stomach. Earlier that same year I had gone to a trusted neighbor with bruises around my neck and told her about how he had picked me up by the throat and thrown me on the bed. She got angry at me for gossiping and trying to cause problems. I’d learned that no adult was going to rescue me. I thought the only hope I had was for one of us to die.

  278. says

    Dalilama @311…I hadn’t ever thought of it that way, only in the practical sense (if I report this, given the visible evidence and my trans-ness, I’ll end up sent down over it). It’s weird to think the law might nominally have been on my side. I think it’s also true that nominally does not equal functionally, but I’d never thought of it in that legitimizing sense.

    Thank you.

    Yeah. Just…thank you.

  279. tami says

    @303, Lumi, I would never have written anything here if I weren’t anonymous. I understand. As far as telling things for the first time…I’m glad you did. Those things need to be told…you don’t need to go through this alone…there are people who can help. It’s a long, hard road, but trust me, you will survive and become stronger.

    @307 Taemon…my husband stops whenever I ask him to. Yes, I know he’s a gem, and I’m very lucky. It IS hard for him, but he loves me.

    But he has moved out. We own a duplex…he has one side…I have the other. One thing I have learned about sexual abuse/assault, is that many times their loved ones also need support…they are “secondary survivors” of the assault. We have some serious marital issues…almost all of them stemming from the fact that I’m a rape survivor. He has been the target of my out of control rage more than once…and as proof, has a scar along his jawline where I slashed at him with my finger nails which ended us up at the emergency room. An overnight stay for me “under observation” (not the first or last time that happened) and a dozen stitches for him.

    We spend a lot of time together…and spent a year in couples therapy…and we still do share a bed sometimes. When we do he is always very careful with me..as if I was breakable. He always stops when tell him I need to…and blue balls or not, will hold me if I need that as well. There have been times when I made him stop moments before he was done…other times I was able to recognize my inability to continue after five minutes of kissing.

    The point is, though, that none of this is his fault. We are both trying to work through this personal difficulty and it was caused by people who I haven’t seen in 15-20 years.

    This thread has been so therapeutic. All the explosions of stories…all the empathy.

    Thank you all!

  280. says

    To those who shared their stories while I was writing the above post, or in the nigth while I was asleep, you too have all my support and sympathies.

    Taemon

    We were actually fucking; he must have had some terribly blue balls.

    Nah. Urban myth to the contrary, that’s actually a pretty difficult state to achieve.

  281. says

    MM:

    I’d learned that no adult was going to rescue me. I thought the only hope I had was for one of us to die.

    :feels gut punched: I know that feeling, inside, outside, and upside down. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for you, for me, for every one of us who reached such a conclusion at such a young age.

  282. lumi says

    Caine, Thank you. I read every post, every comment here, and I’ve seen your tireless advocacy for victims. You are a true hero.

    It’s weird to reread what I wrote and see how dispassionate it was, how I avoided the emotional details. The facts are easy; processing what they did to my head is hard. But I’m in a pretty good place now, a lot of that came out when I was hospitalized twice for being suicidal – even though it turns out that they’ll still wrestle you to your bed to sedate you even when you’re in just a gown and screaming about how it’s triggering because of being a rape victim, that experience is the reason I never voice my suicidal urges anymore.

    I think it’s actually valuable to hear from people who have raped but didn’t know it at the time, but only when they have learned better. At the same time, I understand how that can hurt other victims.

  283. says

    lumi
    I’m glad you could get out and get yourself and your daughters safe.
    Thank you for sharing

    tami
    Oh we’re on the same leaf there, definetly. Learning to cope is definetly good (again, my story is not about sexual abuse, but I think I can relate to the process of learning to manage your life)

    +++
    Saying no.
    Saying no is not easy. There are a number of occasions when I definetly didn’t want to have sex but nevertheless said yes. I must stress that there is no blame on my husband. I know that he respects and accepts a no and that it would pain him horribly if he knew that I faked enthusiastic consent when all I wanted was for him to finish.
    But my head has been messed with. It has been messed with by a mother whose love was conditional and depended on me being a “good girl” and doing what she wanted me and on me admitting to being wrong and asking for forgiveness. For years I didn’t trust my own judgement about my own needs. They were always secondary to everyone else’s.
    And my head has been messed with by culture. By a culture that tells us that guys need sex so much more, that sex is so much more important for them than love, that a woman who doesn’t satisfy her partner sexually is to blame for him going astray and leaving her. And since I thought of myself as such a horrible failure anyway, I thought that I had, had, had to keep him sexually happy so he wouldn’t leave me.
    That’s probably the part where I have the most luck: an abusive partner culd have gotten everything from me. I wouldn’t have put up any resistance, I would have believed him.

  284. says

    Lumi:

    even though it turns out that they’ll still wrestle you to your bed to sedate you even when you’re in just a gown and screaming about how it’s triggering because of being a rape victim, that experience is the reason I never voice my suicidal urges anymore.

    Oh gods, yes. This is another thing which is not understood at all, by a host of people who are supposed to be professionals. Just how triggering it is to be in a situation where you have lost all control. Being in a dentist’s chair gives me a panic attack like you would not believe.

    I think it’s actually valuable to hear from people who have raped but didn’t know it at the time, but only when they have learned better. At the same time, I understand how that can hurt other victims.

    It’s very difficult to read, to say the least. It hurts and it’s frightening. That said, it takes tremendous courage to realize that you have raped someone, and even more to come out and say it. That’s a terrible burden to carry too. When someone does have the courage to come forward with such a story, it has great value for us, I think, in that we can see, in a concrete way, that we have helped to cause a change. One person here, one person there, it counts.

  285. Taemon says

    Tami, your husband sounds fantastic. He deserves you. I hope the two of you can make it work. Dalillama, thanks :-) I felt a tiny bit of guilt over it.

  286. Jacob Schmidt says

    A Surprise To Many

    And yet this summer, when I discussed this with a group of ardent A+ members (mostly met on Pharyngula) I was told that to discuss this change in understandjng was repeating rape tropes, specifically “bitchez be lyin’” and “bitchez be crazy,” because my saying “sometimes it takes time to understand what happened” was invalidating the experiences of rape survivors and thus silencing them.

    Fuck. I’m sorry. That’s disgusting.

  287. says

    Mattir:

    because my saying “sometimes it takes time to understand what happened” was invalidating the experiences of rape survivors and thus silencing them.

    Coming back to this, because I want to emphasize, loudly and obnoxiously, that it does take time for many, many people, to understand what they experienced was rape, and those people are also rape survivors and they do not, in any way, ever, invalidate the experience of other rape survivors.

    Godsdamn, shaking in anger here.

  288. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    Caine

    Coming back to this, because I want to emphasize, loudly and obnoxiously, that it does take time for many, many people, to understand what they experienced was rape, and those people are also rape survivors and they do not, in any way, ever, invalidate the experience of other rape survivors.

    QFMFT.

    There is a narrative we’re all fed. When our experience differs from that narrative, it can take time to realize what happened. Rape survivors have a little internal rape apologist screaming in their ears, same as everybody else. If the police and my friends and my mother don’t recognize what happened to me as rape, why the fuck should I have my experience invalidated because it took me time to recognize it as well?

    Not recognizing what happened as rape until hours, days, months or decades later happens. It doesn’t silence anyone to recognize that, but it silences a lot of survivors to refuse to recognize that. Victims of childhood sexual abuse have a real problem with this, because our rape was often there before we even knew what rape was. Victims of partner abuse are also especially vulnerable to this. But, really, it could happen to anyone. The combination of a confusing, traumatic experience and drowning in rape culture can make it incredibly hard to recognize what’s going on. In the midst of being violently raped by the guy who worked at the crisis center, I still didn’t fully grasp what was going on until he started choking me.

    It happens. It’s not about “bitchez lying.” It’s about coming to grips with an event we weren’t prepared for.

    I am so sorry, Mattir.

  289. says

    MM:

    Not recognizing what happened as rape until hours, days, months or decades later happens. It doesn’t silence anyone to recognize that, but it silences a lot of survivors to refuse to recognize that. Victims of childhood sexual abuse have a real problem with this, because our rape was often there before we even knew what rape was. Victims of partner abuse are also especially vulnerable to this. But, really, it could happen to anyone. The combination of a confusing, traumatic experience and drowning in rape culture can make it incredibly hard to recognize what’s going on. In the midst of being violently raped by the guy who worked at the crisis center, I still didn’t fully grasp what was going on until he started choking me.

    It happens. It’s not about “bitchez lying.” It’s about coming to grips with an event we weren’t prepared for.

    Shiny Truth. The more people understand this the better, however, I am seriously distressed that we find a need to say this at all.

  290. says

    A Surprise/Mattir:

    And yet this summer, when I discussed this with a group of ardent A+ members (mostly met on Pharyngula) I was told that to discuss this change in understandjng was repeating rape tropes, specifically “bitchez be lyin’” and “bitchez be crazy,” because my saying “sometimes it takes time to understand what happened” was invalidating the experiences of rape survivors and thus silencing them. A regular commenter here told that insisting that “changing one’s mind” happens (and, more to the point, failing to shut up when told that I had to shut up because I was “spewing rape apologetics”) made me very close to Vox Day in terms of mala fides and deserving of the sorts of responses one would give his bullshit.

    I’ve gotten a lot of notpologies (I’m sorry you felt hurt by what I said, that was never my intent), several demands that I have to completely (and sincerely) recant my story in order to remain part of that particular private fan group (I didn’t), and been pronounced “unforgivable” for my rape apologetics.

    Mattir, you continue to impress me with your courage. And this is a valuable reminder that rape culture twists all of us, including avowed Social Justice Warriors who see nothing wrong with lecturing a woman about her reaction to her rape in private while they posture in public.

  291. alexbrookes says

    Reading Elyse’s article, I’m struck by this concept of our own stories not following the script. Reading some of the stories here – tashaturner, badgersdaughter, Seize, Rabidtreeweasel, Catiecat, Feats of Cats, Ladyh42, deoridhe, otrame, Susannah, jenniferphillips, ashley L, tami, twist, lumi, Ogvorbis, Caine, Mattor, and everyone else – I’ve definitely been lucky. But just like Mattir has just mentioned, it seems that every year, every month, I’m remembering times and events that didn’t follow society’s ‘rape script’, but I can’t now call anything else. And I’m now 34 and some of these things happened over a decade ago.

    Trigger warning

    Such as the time when I was 18 and my boyfriend came to visit me after going away on holiday for a week, and I was still so mad at him because of an argument we’d had before he went away, but he laughed at me and told me to stop kidding around, he’d missed me, and he pushed me down on the bed and I sulked and was unco-operative to spite him, but I didn’t actually say no, right?

    Such as the time when I was 19 and the same boyfriend started groping me while I was asleep, and I woke up but pretended to still be sleeping, because I wanted to see if there was a point at which he’d stop if he thought I wasn’t for waking up, and there wasn’t, but you see he THOUGHT I was awake, so again, how could it be rape?

    Such as the time when I was 26 and had been enthusiastically having fun times with this cool guy for a couple of weeks, testing my boundaries and consensually experimenting with more ‘rough play'; so I went to his house and drank far too much and passed out on his bed fully clothed, and woke up in the morning with a hangover from hell, with far fewer clothes on than I’d remembered taking off the night before, finger pattern bruises on my upper arms, and (once I crawled to the toilet to throw up) a newly discovered used condom still inside me… But how could that be rape when I’d gone round to his house specifically with the intention of having sex with him? It my fault for getting so drunk, can’t blame him for assuming consent can I?

    And then there was the ex. The one who- when I was willing and even, god forbid initiating sex – used to huff and cry and say I didn’t really love him, I clearly only wanted him for sex… yet when he was ready and I’d say I was tired, or not really in the mood, would then throw a tantrum and cry and tell me he knew I didn’t love him, and I didn’t find him attractive, and it was because he was so ugly wasn’t it… and I’d give in for the sake of his goddamn feelings. And again – I didn’t say no, so how could it have been anything but consensual?

    Finally, one nice story. I’d been seeing my current boyfriend for a couple of months, we were in bed at my flat, getting a little frisky first thing in the morning, and then I heard my flatmate get up. I started feeling uncomfortable – I didn’t want her to hear us, and the walls were VERY thin – and he noticed, and asked if I was ok. ‘Um, do you mind if, like, we don’t do this right now?’ ‘Yeah, no problem’ (goes back to cuddling. I actually cried. I didn’t realise that that’s how the the script is supposed to play out.

    I’m sorry if I’ve taken up too much space here, I really didn’t mean to make it all about me. But I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of all of you other brave, inspirational people, who get it, and don’t look at me funny, and say ‘of fucking COURSE it was rape and it wasn’t your fault’… you’re all amazing and even though I very rarely comment, I value this space so much. THANK YOU!

  292. says

    Chris:

    Mattir, you continue to impress me with your courage. And this is a valuable reminder that rape culture twists all of us, including avowed Social Justice Warriors who see nothing wrong with lecturing a woman about her reaction to her rape in private while they posture in public.

    QFMFT. I’m well aware that we are all capable of seriously fucking up, I did it myself with Azkyroth in a different rape thread the other day. I’ll be kicking myself over that for some time to come. However, I fucked up in public, and I apologized in public.

    To me, people who say one thing privately and another publicly are much, much worse than those of us who fuck up now and then, and say incredibly stupid things. As much as I don’t want to own my words when I fuck up, that’s part and parcel of being an adult, taking responsibility and being a decent human being. When people decide to say one thing privately and another publicly, they are setting out to be deceitful, and they are yet another reason that trust issues, which *abound* with those who have been raped a/o assaulted, keep being a major issue. If someone offers me support and comfort in public, then turns around and says horrible things, like those said to Mattir, in private, then I become even more wary. This also has the effect of making other survivors wary of me, when I offer what I can to them.

    It’s absolute shit, all the way around, and anyone who does this should hang their head in shame. Don’t do that.

  293. Taemon says

    alexbrookes:
    [blockquote]I’m sorry if I’ve taken up too much space here, I really didn’t mean to make it all about me. [/blockquote]
    You could never take up too much space! You’re adding your voice to the others and that is valuable. Thank you for your story. We all learn from it.

  294. says

    alexbrookes:

    ‘Um, do you mind if, like, we don’t do this right now?’ ‘Yeah, no problem’ (goes back to cuddling. I actually cried. I didn’t realise that that’s how the the script is supposed to play out.

    Oh, Alex. I’m so happy for you, that you have a good partner now. You deserve one.

    I’m sorry if I’ve taken up too much space here, I really didn’t mean to make it all about me.

    You’ve taken up very little space, and yes, it’s about you. It’s about me. It’s about all of us. Thank you for your voice, your strength, and your courage. All the hugs.

  295. katybe says

    I’ve lurked here for years, but don’t remember the last time I commented on Pharyngula, although have recently tried to become more vocal on other blogs around here. So delurking, rather than remaining silent, to bear witness, and thank everyone in the 329 comments above mine so far for having the strength to share their stories and do what they can to help other survivors. If you’ll accept internet hugs from a total stranger, I’ll leave a pile in a corner. You’re all amazing people.

    And I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve not been raped, but it’s taken this thread to help me realise that yes, these incidents that I’d pretty much forgotten about were actually sexual assualt, not just some guy trying to show me how interested he was, and coming across as creepy. I was lucky – looking back, there were two occasions where I can see now, thanks to the education I’ve got from lurking here, that I could also have been unlucky, as they certainly showed no signs of being interested in my consent.

  296. says

    #285:

    t s th hght f nttlmnt t ct s thgh y r llwd t mk whtvr clms y wsh bt n ctvst grp, jst bcs tht grp hs vwpnts y dm “t rdcl”.

    dn’t knw wh t ws tht wrngd y. Mnly bcs n n n th fckng frm hs sd jck sht bt nythng y’v mntnd thr. Myb knw sm f th ppl y’r tlkng bt, bt mst lkly knw thm frm bfr + — mstly frm hr, prbbly.

    + hs nthng t d wth yr prsnl dspts. ndrstnd f y dsgr wth + n sm wy, bt tht’s nt fckng lcnc t tss s ndr th bs nd blm s fr whtvr bd sht hppns t y whn lt f s prbbly dn’t vn knw y mr thn s nm n th cmmnts. S <>lv s th fck t f ths, pls.

    [And please, would you stop making it difficult to support Atheism+? –pzm]

  297. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    In 2004, I was struggling. I knew I liked women, but some bit of me didn’t want to admit that I didn’t like men. I thought that my issues with men were because I had heard stories of rape and molestation as a kid and I was thus somehow scared of men.

    So what I did is approach a man who I knew, who was a good friend, who I trusted, and who had an excellent reputation. I asked him for sex. Basically, I fell for the myth that what a lesbian needed was a “good fucking.”

    He, ignorant of my inner wrestlings, agreed.

    It was awkward, it didn’t do anything for me, and I was deeply uncomfortable. So I asked him to stop.

    And he did. Immediately.

    He didn’t complain, didn’t grouse. He stopped, offered me tea, and then we watched Reefer Madness.

  298. Ogvorbis: Purveyor of Mediocre Humours! says

    because my saying “sometimes it takes time to understand what happened” was invalidating the experiences of rape survivors and thus silencing them.

    Mattir:

    It took me more than 30 years to even remember what happened, much less admit that I was raped. Time and education changes who we are and how we view what happened. It doesn’t alter what happened — rape — but it does alter our perceptions.

    Safe hugs to you.

    =======

    It is odd but I find these threads therapeutic. Profoundly disturbing, frightening, scary, horrifying, sad, rage-inducing, but still they help me. Thank you all for creating a safe space for me, for Mattir, for Caine, for every other person who has been able to share their story. And for those who can’t share yet, I understand. Sort of. Maybe not the specifics, but in general (if that makes sense).

  299. lumi says

    @alexbrookes: The space you’re taking up is the space that’s meant for you to tell your story. Please don’t apologize.

  300. alexbrookes says

    Lumi, Taemon and Caine, thank you, and all the hugs back! Caine:

    I’m so happy for you, that you have a good partner now.

    Heh, he is a good ‘un!

    It’s funny, the incident I mentioned actually got me thinking a lot about my previous partners and sexual encounters, and it struck me like a lightning bolt how fucked up my previous assumptions were. In all serious, I actually had some emotional issues for a little while related to that. Mattir said

    sometimes it takes time to understand what happened.

    It certainly does, and no, it’s not ‘bitchez be lying’, it’s self-preservation. It’s being steeped in rape culture: where getting drunk with someone you’re attracted to basically means consent is a given; stopping after sexual activities have started makes you a evil frigid cocktease; where ‘blue balls’ is the worst thing someone can suffer ever, and it’s your responsibility to take care to either never cause it or take care of it if you do; it’s suppressing that skeevy feeling and the urge to vomit afterwards becaus even though you froze up and stayed quiet, you didn’t actually say no? and he didn’t hurt you, and shouldn’t you be feeling a lot worse if it really had been rape-rape? and OMG accusing someone of being a rapist is like the worst thing ever (shades of the grenade thread) so shouldn’t you be 100% certain it was before you go throwing accusations around? Hmm, best just keep yourself buttoned up (literally and metaphorically) and avoid drinking and dating for a while…

    Well, it’s all crystal clear in my head now, and I won’t keep quiet anymore. My work colleagues, friends and family now all know better than to pull any of that culture-perpetuating bullshit around me. I’ve now got a little baby nephew, and although he’s got a bit of growing to do, the least I can do is do my part to make sure he’s not That Guy!

  301. Taemon says

    Esteleth, thanks! Great story! Alexbrookes, you’re so right and I’m glad you (seem to) feel better now.

  302. says

    Setar:

    #285:

    It is the height of entitlement to act as though you are allowed to make whatever claims you wish about an activist group, just because that group has viewpoints you deem “too radical”.

    #285’s name is MATTIR. Don’t you dare come into this thread, and start whining about how she is entitled. You are doing something extremely shitty here, and if you even think about posting again about this, I will sent an alert. People did a serious disservice to Mattir, and it is not your fucking place to smack her down for relating what happened to her. You want to defend such shit behaviour, don’t you dare do it here. Final word.

    I am shaking so hard with anger right now, I can barely type. Don’t Fucking Push It. Just Shut the Fuck Up and Get The Fuck Out of This Thread.

  303. says

    Alexbrookes:

    Well, it’s all crystal clear in my head now, and I won’t keep quiet anymore. My work colleagues, friends and family now all know better than to pull any of that culture-perpetuating bullshit around me. I’ve now got a little baby nephew, and although he’s got a bit of growing to do, the least I can do is do my part to make sure he’s not That Guy!

    Yay! for you. You get all the cookies.

  304. jenniferphillips says

    Alexbrooks @ 341:
    Well said. I completely agree. It’s been an eye opening 24 hours or so, from the time that I first read Elyse’s post and started to process the idea that ‘oh yeah, I have a story like that’. And then I started writing it all down, not sure if I would ever post it publicly, but just wanting to get it out of my head in some organized fashion, and I found that I had to keep going back and adding things to the chronology, because I would remember *yet another* thing that qualified for the topic. Seems I’ve done a fabulous job of compartmentalizing a lot of shit over the years!

    Even so, I was conservative, and I stopped my list at age 24 (I’m closing in on twice that old now). There is always more. As I’m reading these brave stories, seeing my own experiences reflected in the eloquent words of others, I’m keeping that in mind. There is far more unwritten and unspoken that what is already out there.

    I’m coming fully awake about this for my own sake, but also for my kids, who are technically still children but speeding toward adolescence at an alarming rate. I can’t control all the big scary life that’s out there waiting for them, but I can try to help them understand what’s coming and let them know that they will always be believed and valued.

  305. says

    Setar:

    A+ has nothing to do with your personal disputes. I understand if you disagree with A+ in some way, but that’s not a fucking licence to toss us under the bus and blame us for whatever bad shit happens to you when a lot of us probably don’t even know you more than as a name in the comments. So leave us the fuck out of this, please.

    I thought better of you than this. How is this response to Mattir’s statement any different from Ron Lindsay defending CFI?

    Many of the people reading this know precisely what and who Mattir is talking about. It is clear you do not. (That’s fine: it just shows Mattir has some sense about whom she can trust with sensitive issues.) Your rush to defend A+ when a woman implicates some of its regulars in obnoxious behavior, about which you state up front youo haven’t heard?

    Like I said. I thought better of you.

  306. says

    Jenniferphillips:

    I can’t control all the big scary life that’s out there waiting for them, but I can try to help them understand what’s coming and let them know that they will always be believed and valued.

    That, right there, makes all the difference.

  307. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    jenniferphillips :

    I can’t control all the big scary life that’s out there waiting for them, but I can try to help them understand what’s coming and let them know that they will always be believed and valued.

    Even if you can’t change the whole world, you are changing their world. That security you’re offering is something that would have changed a lot of lives in this thread.

  308. says

    s smn wh ws nvlvd n tht dscssn n tht FB grp, mm…n. Ths s nt wht hppnd.

    Y’r lvng t HG mnts f mprtnt cntxt, sch s th fct tht w wr dscssng nthr mmbr’s sn bng ccsd f rp, nd svrl ppl n th grp brngng p rp cltr trps sch s “btchz b lyn'” nd “btchz b crzy” gnst th ccsr, n n ffrt t cmfrt tht mmbr. nmbr f mmbrs wh wr rp srvvrs flt vry ncmfrtbl wth ths, nd tk t pn myslf t pnt t t th grp tht ths ws hppnng, nd t ndd t chng.

    Whr y, Mttr, wr bng crtczd ws n tkng yr xprncs, <>whch w ll cknwldgd s vld fr y, nd nsstng tht bcs y hd xprncd rp n tht wy, tht mnt tht t ws ntrly rsnbl t ssm th ccsr n ths thr cs ws hvng th sm xprnc. Y ls nggd n grt dl f rsng thr mmbrs’ xprncs whch cntrdctd yrs, t tms smng t stt tht yr xprnc ws wht y knw nd tht nyn wh dnd tht tht ws hw t ws fr vryn, ws rsng yr xprnc. t lst, tht’s hw t lkd n vry fst-rnnng thrd tht bcm hrd t fllw.

    Thn y dltd th thrd, whch mns th vdnc f wht rlly ws sd s ll gn nw. nd nw y’r rspnnng th pst t frm t s “vrybdy tld Mttr tht hr xprncs r nvld nd tht sh ws rp plgst bcs sh sd t hppnd ths wy fr hrslf”, whch s NT th cs. t ws lt mr cmplctd thn tht, nd nvlvd lt f thr rp srvvrs bng trggrd by wht y wr syng, nd tryng t xpln tht thy flt thr xprncs wr bng rsd by yr pprnt nsstnc tht yr xprnc ws th nly vld n.

    Tht whl dscssn ws shtfst f hrt flngs nd msndrstndngs n ll sds, nd wll nt clm fr mmnt tht ‘m prd f vrythng sd n t, bt knw tht fr n nvr clld y rp plgst. clld t svrl mmbrs f th grp (ncldng y) fr fllng nt rp cltr trps, bt md t clr (r thght) tht flt ths ws ccdntl n yr prts, nd tht xpctd t ws nntndd.

    Th prsn wh sd y wr sndng lk Vx Dy (tht prt dd hppn) ws VRY MCH t f ln, gr, nd shld plgz. (Tht ws nt m.)

    BT. thnk t’s vry mprtnt tht t b knwn t th grp hr tht wht Mttr dscrbd s nt n ccrt rcntng f wht tk plc. Nt tht mst f y knw m vry wll; m nt frqnt cmmntr hr. Bt ws prsnt fr wht Mttr dscrbd, nd cnnt lt t g nchllngd.

    [And please, would you stop making it difficult to support Atheism+? –pzm]

  309. tami says

    I have to say this again…only louder. THANK YOU ALL…those who have shared their stories…and those who have offered support. One of the most difficult things about being a sexual abuse/assault survivor is the feeling of being alone. This is not the place where I expected to get this kind of support, but like triggers, I guess support can appear anywhere.

    TRIGGER WARNING AHEAD

    Hearing other’s stories made me cry…and relive some awful memories…but it also made me feel proud. It’s been a little over two years since I told my aunt that I had been raped while living with her…and the PTSD of being raped fell upon the PTSD of losing both my parents as well as my home less than a year earlier. Instead of telling her I struggled emotionally on my own for 15 years, getting pregnant, dropping out of school (college), going from one partner to the next, and finally pulling myself together when my baby (who is now 14) was born.

    I went through the flashbacks, still have the nightmares, and I still feel the physical pain of getting raped. There are days when I hurt…and I look down at myself to see if there is bruising, or if I’m bleeding. The rapist also did a good job of beating me too…kicking and hitting. I only found out just a year ago that he had given me two cracked ribs. He also humiliated me by exposing me in public after he was through with me…

    Then it happened again a few years later when I was in college…but I have shared enough for now.

    I have survived two suicide attempts, and many incidents of sabotaging my relationships with friends and lovers. The feeling that somehow this was my fault, while I know that it wasn’t, still hovers right below the surface. The shame I feel that i was the type of girl this would happen to, is often overwhelming. There are days when I look around and just KNOW that others are disgusted by me…because I’m damaged and dirty.

    Oh, I know those things aren’t true…but it’s so hard to keep those thoughts at bay. I know it wasnt my fault. I know that I’m not ugly or disgusting. I know that I am essentially a good person. But some days it’s hard to remember to affirm that to myself.

    Yet, in the last two years I have confronted the flashbacks and defeated them. I have spoken my story out loud…and felt the support of my friends, my aunt, my child, and my husband…and now, on this list, complete strangers. It hasn’t been easy…and I still have very difficult days and weeks. But I am surviving.

    Thank you again. I am going to share this with my therapist next week…

    Tami <– *goes back to lurking.

  310. says

    Flewellyn, I will not tolerate a rehash of something which took place elsewhere, nor will I tolerate any attempt, whatsoever, to smack Mattir. Understand this, now.

    This thread is stuffed full of people who have been raped, who have been sexually assaulted. This thread is for *us*, a place to relate our stories, a place where we can derive support, belief and strength.

    The mere fact that Setar and you feel that this thread is an appropriate place for you to hijack and go on a “hey, don’t mean to invalidate your feelings, Mattir, buuuuuuuuuuuut…” speaks volumes.

    Stop. Right now. Not one more word. I am *this* close to sending an alert about this, because what you are doing is unconscionable. You are both making this space unsafe. Go away.

  311. says

    Tami:

    Oh, I know those things aren’t true…but it’s so hard to keep those thoughts at bay. I know it wasnt my fault. I know that I’m not ugly or disgusting. I know that I am essentially a good person. But some days it’s hard to remember to affirm that to myself.

    Yet, in the last two years I have confronted the flashbacks and defeated them. I have spoken my story out loud…and felt the support of my friends, my aunt, my child, and my husband…and now, on this list, complete strangers. It hasn’t been easy…and I still have very difficult days and weeks. But I am surviving.

    Oh…All the Love, Tami. Always.

  312. Shriketastic says

    I mostly lurk here and haven’t commented in a few years.

    Reading this entire thread has made me feel a bit sick to my stomach… Just the sheer amount of it, and some of them specifically just made me feel like vomitting (The Crisis Councelor, for example). And the reactions of people who are supposed to be there and help the healing is just obscene.
    So thank you to everyone who shared, I may have a modicum of an idea of how hard it can be.

    When I was younger (Maybe… seven, or eight? It was before I hit third grade anyway) my older brother (By six years) would do some sexual play. We were playing “cowboys” once and I got knocked out so he pulled down my underwear and played with my penis, going “How peculiar”.
    Once, we were alone in a hotel room, he kept asking me to come over and give him oral sex. I made up a few excuses to say no… And I honestly don’t remember if I did or not. If I did, it was for barely a couple seconds.
    I’ve never told anyone this, ever. I don’t know where on the scale it would rate, or if it does… but it’s my story.

  313. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    tami

    Yet, in the last two years I have confronted the flashbacks and defeated them. I have spoken my story out loud…and felt the support of my friends, my aunt, my child, and my husband…and now, on this list, complete strangers. It hasn’t been easy…and I still have very difficult days and weeks. But I am surviving.

    I’m thrilled for you that you’ve made this progress. There are difficult times, but surviving is good. Being able to talk about your story is good, too, if you’re comfortable doing so. I’ve found it to be incredibly therapeutic to be able to talk in a safe space and know that I’m being heard and understood. Here, you are being heard and understood. ♥

  314. Quercus Rubra says

    And I. I’m not sure how much I want to talk about my story today, I’m in a good place now, with a good, loving husband and I’m expecting our first child, but I wanted to say: heard, and witnessed, y’all. So many of us, and that is depressing, rage-inducing and reassuring all at once. I spent so long thinking I was the only one, and then thinking that it was normal, and therefore OK. It is far too common, but not one bit OK.

    Caine, thank you. For your work on consent, for your anger, for your defending these threads for us.

    Caine and CaitieCat, MellowMonkey and others, I know that cold. CaitieCat, I don’t think it makes any of us monsters, and I think that those who know what they are capable of tend to be more responsible with it than those who prefer to believe that they could never harm anyone.

    Survivors all, thank you for speaking up. Thank you for showing I’m not alone in this. Blankets, warm drinks, hugs, whatever comforts are wished, to you all.

    Trigger warning, as with the rest of the thread:

    It started for me before I was 2, I think with my dad, but I’m not sure. Some bits are crystal clear, like the blanket I was on, the rage from him, and the pain, most is not. I know that there’s quite a bit I don’t remember, like when it stopped. I think it was a number of years later. I don’t know if I’ll remember more, but I have got to the point where new stuff coming up only incapacitates me for a week or so, instead of being permanently incapacitated or needing months for a new bit.

    When I was 12 a boy in my class got my phone number off of a list for a field trip, and started calling. At first, he asked me out, but when I said no, he started calling, first pretending to be a cop threatening to arrest me if I didn’t go out with him (I knew that was BS, and thought he was funny), and then more threateningly, promising to rape me, and a bunch of other, vile stuff. It escalated to 10 calls or more per afternoon, and my parents made me take every one, because I wasn’t being nice to this poor boy who had worked up all the nerve to call me. I said he wasn’t nice, but apparently that didn’t matter. Long story short, I told the school, and after trying to convince me that the boy just liked me, they said “boys will be boys” and it wasn’t their jurisdiction. My parents found me hysterical one night: he’d started up again after a 4 month break, and I finally told them exactly what he had been saying. They told me it was hearsay and nothing the cops could do. They got a crank call that night and talked to the cops themselves, got almost every damn detail wrong, and didn’t even wake me up. They got his name right, though, and so he came after me in school for ratting him out. My mum had a long chat with me about what I did to make him call, after all “nothing comes from nothing”. That’s the last time I’ve bothered trying to report anything. I was in the same classes as this person for the next 6 years.

    I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been groped, but am fiercely proud of the time I broke the hand of a persistent groper.

    My first serious girlfriend raped me the first time we were going to have sex. We had planned it, you see, but I woke up with a cold and really didn’t want to. I couldn’t breathe, and that triggers me, and I said no, but she just didn’t stop and I didn’t want to hurt her. It took me 6 years to realise that it was rape.

    I was raped in the darkroom at a party, and that took longer. It took longer because when I actually started thinking it was off, the friends I told said that the guy was sweet, and just “socially awkward” and I just had to be more clear and there would be no problem. I was finding I got sick to my stomach any time I saw or heard of him. It took me a few years to remember that the rules for the darkroom were on the DOOR in 32 fucking point type, and he was in clear violation, not “awkward”. I asked them not to invite him to stuff they were inviting me to. Each of them stopped inviting me, period. Fine, I have better friends now.

    For the good: when I met my husband, he was a virgin. At 40, because unlike Nice Guys, he had decided that an absence of enthusiastic consent meant no, and felt that the potential of proceeding in a grey area was just not ever even worth considering.

    Also for the good: we talked a lot about sex, about what we wanted, how we wanted before we ever had sex. He wanted to wait until things were really solid first, so we did. I wanted to be able to sleep with him, just sleep (if my subconscious lets me sleep in someone else’s presence, it’s a good sign), so we did. One night, we were making out rather intensely, and he made a proposition so steamy and so up my alley that my knees buckled. And then I thought: he had said he wanted to wait, this was not waiting, did I misunderstand? And I checked. He had meant sometime in the future, not right then. I stopped. He later told me that he was glad I had checked: he wasn’t sure he’d would have been OK stopping me if I had tried to act on the proposition. I am beyond glad that I checked. We are both the better for Crystal Clear Consent.

  315. says

    Shriketastic:

    When I was younger (Maybe… seven, or eight? It was before I hit third grade anyway) my older brother (By six years) would do some sexual play. We were playing “cowboys” once and I got knocked out so he pulled down my underwear and played with my penis, going “How peculiar”.
    Once, we were alone in a hotel room, he kept asking me to come over and give him oral sex. I made up a few excuses to say no… And I honestly don’t remember if I did or not. If I did, it was for barely a couple seconds.

    I’ve never told anyone this, ever. I don’t know where on the scale it would rate, or if it does… but it’s my story.

    Thank you for sharing. You were sexually assaulted. As for ‘the scale’? Doesn’t matter, we are all on it, one way or another. What happened to you was wrong, and it shouldn’t have happened.

  316. Shriketastic says

    [blockquote]Thank you for sharing. You were sexually assaulted. As for ‘the scale’? Doesn’t matter, we are all on it, one way or another. What happened to you was wrong, and it shouldn’t have happened.[/quote]

    Thank you.

    I am reasonably sure it didn’t leave any emotional or mental scars on me. Like I am telling a friend (as I posted that), it’s not really a major part of what I remember from my childhood, just another event or memory that did happen.
    The emotional and minor physical abuse from my father was worse, all told -_-

  317. says

    Quercus Rubra, :deep breath: I am so sorry all that happened to you. You have my heart, my belief, my support, and always, my anger. Thank you for adding your voice and your strength.

  318. alexbrookes says

    Tami:

    I know it wasnt my fault. I know that I’m not ugly or disgusting. I know that I am essentially a good person. But some days it’s hard to remember to affirm that to myself.

    It wasn’t your fault. You are not ugly or disgusting. You are a good person. You’re a fucking survivor, and I truly wish you all the best in the world. Be kind to yourself.

    Quercus Rubra:

    I spent so long thinking I was the only one, and then thinking that it was normal, and therefore OK. It is far too common, but not one bit OK.

    You’re not the only one, and it’s godsdamned not OK! I am so happy that you are in a good place now, and congrats to you and your husband about the little one you’re expecting!

    Threads like this one, and so many like it in the past: when does anecdote after anecdote start becoming data?!

  319. says

    Shriketastic:

    The emotional and minor physical abuse from my father was worse, all told -_-

    Yeah, a lot of us got the full package, on the abuse front. It’s all bad.

  320. sarah00 says

    I’m normally a lurker here and really want to say that I’m one of the lucky ones who’ve never been raped, that all the sex I’ve had (and to be honest there hasn’t been that much as I like being single and have never really felt the need/desire for a boyfriend) has been consensual but the more I read here the more I realise that I can’t say that in good conscience, because while I’ve never experienced anything on the level of many of the stories posted here (and my heart goes out to everyone who’s written about their experiences, I am in awe of your courage) I have been, if not raped, then used.

    My trivial story:
    I went out for drinks after work with some co-workers/friends one night. We all drank a lot and by the time we left the bar it was very late. I lived in the centre of the city, only 5 minutes walk from the bar, so said to a co-worker/friend (who, I admit, I’d been flirting with a bit) that he could stay at my place (you know, because friends offer friends a place to crash when they need it, and he was looking at an expensive taxi ride if I hadn’t made the offer). I had a big bed, plenty of space, it was very late and I had no intention of doing anything other than sleeping (which I made clear). At first he was a gentleman, but soon he’d moved closer and was touching me and asking for sex. It was getting on for close to 3am by this time and eventually I just said ok because I knew if I didn’t he’d just keep on whereas if I said ok he’d get it done and I could go to sleep. So I said ‘ok’, but not because I wanted sex, because I wanted to sleep and saying ‘ok’ was the quickest way to achieve this. I can’t say it was rape because compared to the stories told here it was nothing of the sort, but it was the one time I ever felt used, that my feelings were of no consequence, and I was nothing but a vagina to him.

    I’m in two minds about posting this. It’s so trivial that it seems hardly worth anyone’s time, and it hasn’t scarred me, but this feeling of being used has hung over me ever since, and that makes me feel ashamed (though mostly ashamed at feeling I had no other option, that it would be impolite to kick him out of my room at that time of night and the most courteous thing was to just let him have his way with me). But the more I think about it the more I realise that that feeling of not wanting to be impolite is one of the problems. Being polite seemed more important than my own autonomy. I knew all about ‘stranger rape’ but as this wasn’t that I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to stop this without hurting his feelings! How f’d up is that? The woman who posted a video about her assault at TAM (I’m sorry, I can’t remember her name) said about how she didn’t want to cause a scene and that really resonated with me. We’re told as women we should stand up for ourselves and are fed all this ‘empowerment’ crap but at the same time we’re given all these societal cues and intimations that ‘good girls’ don’t cause a fuss. So when standing up for ourselves means causing a fuss this horrible dissonance sets in and all the new empowerment gets subsumed by the lessons we’ve been taught since we were little to not cause a fuss. It’s infuriating, and I don’t know how we get past it.

    I’m really sorry for the length of this, especially given the trivial nature of my story, but I felt myself getting angry and thought posting might be cathartic (or the stupidest thing I’ve done in a while :) )

  321. says

    Thank you all for sharing. When you all tell your stories, the least people like me, who are lucky and privileged enough to never have encountered any of this, can do, is not turn away and listen. I never had any idea that rape was so common. I mean, I knew the statistics, but this drives it home, brutally. I am so sorry.

  322. Shriketastic says

    So I said ‘ok’, but not because I wanted sex, because I wanted to sleep and saying ‘ok’ was the quickest way to achieve this. I can’t say it was rape because compared to the stories told here it was nothing of the sort, but it was the one time I ever felt used, that my feelings were of no consequence, and I was nothing but a vagina to him.

    The bolded part here is why it is rape. Rape is sex without consent.
    And don’t feel sorry for taking up space, and don’t say it’s trivial. It’s not, nor should it be.

  323. says

    Sarah00, that is not trivial! Yes, your experience counts as rape. What might he have done if you did tell him to leave, and that you were definitely not there for him to use for sex? Being co-erced may not be violent, however, force is force. And rapists know how to use the way we’ve been conditioned and they use it shamelessly.

  324. jenniferphillips says

    Sarah00

    It’s so trivial that it seems hardly worth anyone’s time, and it hasn’t scarred me, but this feeling of being used has hung over me ever since, and that makes me feel ashamed…

    NOT trivial. Not by a long shot. There is no yardstick here, only a large tent called “This behavior is not ok”. There are some harrowing stories here, for sure–ones that describe events that are so obviously rape-y they leave little room for doubt, even from the haters. It’s stories like yours that help expand what ‘not ok’ means, and, even more importantly, help other people feel empowered enough to recognize that this behavior isn’t normal, or kind, or tolerable.

    It is the absolute fucking opposite of trivial, and I am grateful to you for sharing.

  325. says

    Tami, Quercus Rubra, Shriketastic
    You have all my sympathies, and it was in no way your fault.

    sarah00
    What you describe was rape, and as has been said about other people’s stories, it is not trivial.

  326. alexbrookes says

    Sarah00:

    It’s so trivial that it seems hardly worth anyone’s time, and it hasn’t scarred me, but this feeling of being used has hung over me ever since, and that makes me feel ashamed

    YES THIS. Out of the stories I posted above, the only one that (to me) seems ‘legit’ is the one where that guy had sex with me while I was unconscious, because I was completely incapable of giving consent. But do you know what? The morning after, when I realised what had happened, I actually asked him ‘did we have sex last night? And was I, like, AWAKE?’ and he looked extremely sheepish and admitted that yes, ‘we’ had had sex. And I felt really squicked out, and sick, and annoyed, and yes, used and I put my clothes on, and got my stuff together, and left shortly afterwards. And then I went home and convinced myself it was ok because I had gone round expecting to sleep with him, and I was totally irresponsible for getting so drunk, so hadn’t I better just vow off dating for a while if I couldn’t handle it?

    And I guess that’s just a long-winded way of saying I hear ya. And your story is not trivial, and your post makes some awesome points about social conditioning. You have every right to feel angry, and I hope shouting about it here helps even a little!

  327. Shriketastic says

    I’m in two minds about posting this. It’s so trivial that it seems hardly worth anyone’s time, and it hasn’t scarred me, but this feeling of being used has hung over me ever since, and that makes me feel ashamed (though mostly ashamed at feeling I had no other option, that it would be impolite to kick him out of my room at that time of night and the most courteous thing was to just let him have his way with me). But the more I think about it the more I realise that that feeling of not wanting to be impolite is one of the problems. Being polite seemed more important than my own autonomy. I knew all about ‘stranger rape’ but as this wasn’t that I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to stop this without hurting his feelings! How f’d up is that? The woman who posted a video about her assault at TAM (I’m sorry, I can’t remember her name) said about how she didn’t want to cause a scene and that really resonated with me. We’re told as women we should stand up for ourselves and are fed all this ‘empowerment’ crap but at the same time we’re given all these societal cues and intimations that ‘good girls’ don’t cause a fuss. So when standing up for ourselves means causing a fuss this horrible dissonance sets in and all the new empowerment gets subsumed by the lessons we’ve been taught since we were little to not cause a fuss. It’s infuriating, and I don’t know how we get past it.

    I also want to get back to this and quote it and make it glow in giant letters that can be seen from space. Because it is part of what rape culture does; “don’t make a fuss, don’t be a bitch, if you don’t put out you’re frigid”. All of this to make it harder for women to say no, to speak up, and to complain when they’ve been raped or assaulted.
    Because women are like children; seen but never heard.

  328. says

    Also, in the same vein as my earlier stories of providing a counterexample, I cannot count the number of times that I have shared a bed with a friend (or casual acquaintance, or occasionally total stranger), with the understanding that it was so that no-one had to sleep on the floor, and then we have slept quietly (usually; I’ve been in bed with some pretty impressive snorers) though the night. This is not hard, and there is no fucking excuse for not doing it.

  329. Pteryxx says

    What everyone else said. A great deal of my ex-partner sex was this.

    So I said ‘ok’, but not because I wanted sex, because I wanted to sleep and saying ‘ok’ was the quickest way to achieve this. I can’t say it was rape because compared to the stories told here it was nothing of the sort, but it was the one time I ever felt used, that my feelings were of no consequence, and I was nothing but a vagina to him.

    And it is absolutely relevant to all those “real”, “worse”, “legitimate”, “rape-rape” rapes.

    —–

    (TW for really f’n frank discussion of what the absence of consent really means, also gender-binary framing)

    —–

    http://www.fugitivus.net/2009/06/26/another-post-about-rape-3/

    People wonder why women don’t “fight back,” but they don’t wonder about it when women back down in arguments, are interrupted, purposefully lower and modulate their voices to express less emotion, make obvious signals that they are uninterested in conversation or being in closer physical proximity and are ignored. They don’t wonder about all those daily social interactions in which women are quieter, ignored, or invisible, because those social interactions seem normal. They seem normal to women, and they seem normal to men, because we were all raised in the same cultural pond, drinking the same Kool-Aid.

    And then, all of a sudden, when women are raped, all these natural and invisible social interactions become evidence that the woman wasn’t truly raped. Because she didn’t fight back, or yell loudly, or run, or kick, or punch. She let him into her room when it was obvious what he wanted. She flirted with him, she kissed him. She stopped saying no, after a while.

    These rules for social interactions that women are taught to obey are more than grease for the patriarchy wheel. Women are taught both that these rules will protect them, and that disobeying these rules results in punishment.

    […]

    Nobody obtains the superpower to behave dramatically differently during a frightening confrontation. Women will behave the same way they have been taught to behave in all social, professional, and sexual interactions. And they will be pretty goddamned surprised to come out the other end and find out that means they can legally be raped at any time, by just about anybody.

  330. keithm says

    And then I went home and convinced myself it was ok because I had gone round expecting to sleep with him, and I was totally irresponsible for getting so drunk, so hadn’t I better just vow off dating for a while if I couldn’t handle it?

    And according to a number of douchenozzles I’ve seen over the last week or so, that clearly didn’t count.

    What’s killing me is the number of people who say the equivalent of “Of course I’d never do that sort of thing myself”, and there’s no reason to doubt them, yet they’re unwilling to hold other men to the same basic, absolutely minimal, standard that their own (good) behaviour represents.

  331. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    On another thread (I think the grenade thread) I posted about someone I know who was raped repeatedly by her own father for years.

    She told her husband, years later, when she realized that her eldest daughter was approaching the age that she was when the rapes started.

    He believed her.

    He supported her efforts to deny him access to the children.

    He supported her when she confronted her family and was met with a stone wall of denial, scorn, and being disinherited for lying.

    She said to me once that she heard that her mother called her mother-in-law, asking for help. This was around the time of the allegations surfacing of shrinks digging up repressed memories that later turned out to be false, and her mother said that this obviously what was going on and wanted support from the other side of the family in establishing how she was lying/deluded.

    Her mother-in-law replied, “I don’t know about those other cases. But [name] has never lied to me.”

    Believing a victim who asks for help can make a difference. A huge one.

  332. says

    Shriketastic

    but daliiiii what about bluueeeebaaaallllllsssssss

    Realizing the snark, but if you’re getting blue balls in your sleep, I seriously recommend seeing a doctor about it. If not, then the problem should be solved by going to sleep. On that topic, based on my own experience I’m going to say that it’s pretty damn rare to happen at all, in the sense of causing serious pain or discomfort. I’ve had it happen all of once, and that was after several (as in more than 5) hours of lying in bed making out with my then girlfriend, followed by the realization that we both actually had other places we needed to be. It takes a fair amount to get there, and the problem can be solved by a quick trip to the bathroom to masturbate, so I’ve really got zero patience with people who whine about it.

  333. says

    Dalillama:

    the problem can be solved by a quick trip to the bathroom to masturbate, so I’ve really got zero patience with people who whine about it.

    This is really all that needs to be said about this particular situation. A man whining about the full state of his testicles is one who is using societal conditioning to get their way, given how easy it is to deal with full testicles. Take a few minutes, go empty them. Problem solved. Many men won’t do that, however, because they think if there is a vagina in the room, it’s demeaning for them to empty their testicles manually.

  334. lumi says

    All these people coming forth, and yet so many others in the world deny the existence of rape culture. Thank you to every man and woman (I’m sorry, there are too many names for me to keep track of) who has shared their story and made me feel less alone.

  335. twist says

    Thank you for the kind responses to my earlier post. I’m grateful that this place exists and that decent people exist here. The real world sometimes seems desperately short of them. I’m overwhelmed by the courage of the people here. I don’t have a lot of courage, but I’m trying to fight back. You’re all amazing.

  336. Shriketastic says

    Yeah, blueballs does exist. But the rarity, I think, depends on the individual.

    And while they may suck, it’s the pain equivalent of a low grade cramp. A cramp that can be solved with five minutes of privacy. So yeah, it’s a bullshit claim from anyone really.

  337. Shriketastic says

    Twist

    Thank you for the kind responses to my earlier post. I’m grateful that this place exists and that decent people exist here. The real world sometimes seems desperately short of them. I’m overwhelmed by the courage of the people here. I don’t have a lot of courage, but I’m trying to fight back. You’re all amazing.

    Everyone here has your back :D

  338. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    I have read the OP, Elyse’s story and every single post in this thread. How can I adequately express my sorrow and my pain at being part, a male part at that, of such a hateful, power-obssessed, cruel culture as we have now? And such sadness that in many, many cultures around the world it is much worse! My support and thanks to all those who have shared and will share their stories, the better to purge themselves and this culture of that evil!

    But it’s not just about you people — it’s about me, too. As a physically and emotionally abused, but high-functioning autistic bisexual person, my issues around sexuality, boundaries, and intimacy are a complex web of denial, pain, fear, and slowly-growing self-awareness. I am currently in a terrible personal/sexual relationship right now, trapped by legalities and the absolute necessity to protect my son. I can’t go more into that right now.

    But I can go into something else: so many of the terrible stories here have begged the question: why would otherwise reasonable-seeming, intelligent, adult people commit such horrible acts? I cannot read the minds of others, but I can report on my own thoughts.

    I have a deep bond with my son. I know this, not just from internal feelings, but from the remarks of strangers. Dozens of time over the last fourteen years, women, and even men on the street have made note of the loving relationship between us. I have worked hard to build this, as my son is also on the autistic spectrum and has a number of emotional, intellectual, and physical challenges.

    Trigger Warning for hypotheticals

    To get to the point: one day while he was about six, I was thinking about how to protect him from sexual predators, how to get him to name and know what was happening to him, and how to respond to it. And the thought popped into my mind: After all, it would be so easy for me to do that to him. He loves me and he trusts me and he wants to please me. And I’m five times his size.

    And I went cold. Not because I had any desire to do that to him, but because I suddenly realized, deep down, how EASY it would be, and, therefore, how difficult it would be/is for many people living now to resist abusing, when there are so many, many reasons for people to be fucked-up inside.

    Parents who beat you and rendered you powerless leaving you needing to exercise power; people who raped you, leaving you needing to revenge those rapes on someone else; religious teachers who taught you to hate your own body, so that you needed someone’s else’s body to practice on, rather than your own; and on and on my imagination conjured up these backstories of abuse which would lead to abuse. And note that among all these plausible reasons for people to abuse, I haven’t even mentioned our existing fucked-up sexist, racist, and ageist social power structures which encourage, support, and excuse abuse.

    How do we get to a point where rape truly is a rare and aberrant act? I hope this isn’t too fatuous, but every action we take to eliminating rape should also be part of a campaign to subvert and destroy all these old power-dynamics which are inappropriate for a twenty-first century society. As an atheist I might add: Religious power-dynamics first.

    I apologize if I don’t express myself well.

  339. says

    Hairhead:

    Trigger Warning for hypotheticals

    To get to the point: one day while he was about six, I was thinking about how to protect him from sexual predators, how to get him to name and know what was happening to him, and how to respond to it. And the thought popped into my mind: After all, it would be so easy for me to do that to him. He loves me and he trusts me and he wants to please me. And I’m five times his size.

    And I went cold. Not because I had any desire to do that to him, but because I suddenly realized, deep down, how EASY it would be, and, therefore, how difficult it would be/is for many people living now to resist abusing, when there are so many, many reasons for people to be fucked-up inside.

    Parents who beat you and rendered you powerless leaving you needing to exercise power; people who raped you, leaving you needing to revenge those rapes on someone else; religious teachers who taught you to hate your own body, so that you needed someone’s else’s body to practice on, rather than your own; and on and on my imagination conjured up these backstories of abuse which would lead to abuse. And note that among all these plausible reasons for people to abuse, I haven’t even mentioned our existing fucked-up sexist, racist, and ageist social power structures which encourage, support, and excuse abuse.

    Thank you for this. You understand and you were quite eloquent.

  340. anonymous1 says

    Thanks to the people here who are trying to make a world where things like this aren’t so damn commonplace. It’s an uphill battle but things are a bit better than when I was a kid, thanks to the enormous amount of work that many people have done over the decades. Thanks to Elyse to each person who told your story or offered support.

    I’d planned on listing all the ages when I was sexually abused (like several others have done on this thread) but I ran out of steam after the first set. If it’s ok, I may post some stuff that happened when I was older later (if this gets posted at all). Sorry for all the typos and grammatical mistakes; if they make it too hard to read or if the post is too long or poorly worded, please just skip it.

    TW:

    2 – 9 my much older brother and many of his (all male and all teen or young adult) friends and acquaintances abused me. Sex and sadism plus selling me to acquaintances and taking pics. Only the vanilla stuff here, though. (Note: not sure on ages, I may have been younger or may have been three when the sexual abuse started. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t sexually abused. My brother later told me I was around 1 ½ or two: “fresh meat” in his words. But he liked to mess with my head so he may have been exaggerating.)

    I remember being caught twice. Once was in the back of a grocery store. I was around 7 or 8. I don’t think he (my brother? one of his friends? they were taking turns) was actually fucking me at the time we were caught. Digital penetration? Starting to fuck me penis to vagina? My memory is very fuzzy. The man who caught us seemed more angry at me than at the two or three teens who were assaulting me. Though that could have just been me not understanding how the clerk/manager could be mad at me at all since these guys made me go back there and were assaulting me, definitely without my permission, rather than that the clerk/manager was, in fact, more angry at me than the teens. He was definitely angry at all of us (bc he yelled at me specifically about why I was back there and why I was “doing that” and that I should stay home, I should not let this happen, and that I could be arrested but he also yelled at the teens so maybe I remember him yelling at me more than at them when, in reality, he yelled at us all equally or maybe even them more). I know he seemed much more concerned with us stealing or ruining some of the stuff back there than with them assaulting me. He didn’t seem to care at all about them assaulting me. At the time, that seemed normal. I already felt immensely guilty for the abuse (both from my mother and brother, though the abuse from my mother was not sexual).

    Another time (around age 5 or 6??) a cop caught us at some public park. (Much later, I realized that the cop may have been a security guard. But, for years, I believed it was a cop. And it may have been.) We were near a small building of some kind, probably a bathroom. I think we were in the shadows and behind some bushes. There weren’t many people in eyesight and they were all barely visible. This time, I was on the ground but I’m not sure how far things had progressed. The cop who saw what was going on yelled at all of us. I think he yelled more at the teens but still yelled at me for “letting” them do this, as if I had any choice in the matter, and for being a “bad girl” who would end up in jail if I kept doing things like this. (It was only recently that I’ve realized that even if I had said yes, which I did sometimes because I knew it would happen anyway, it was still rape because I was too young to consent.) He also fingered me as he was “investigating” and told me that I should know better and if he caught me again that he’d throw me in jail. He said I was lucky he was such a nice guy. (He told my brother and his friends that, too, to be fair, which I don’t want to be because he was an asshole, not a nice guy. He was protecting the perps, not me.)

    One of the things my brother and his friends liked to do was give me quarters afterward and call me a two bit whore. I didn’t know what that was but I hated their money bc I was old enough to realize that they were using it to make me the bad person, not them. And they told me that bc they’d given me money, if I went to the cops, I’d be the one who was arrested bc I was a whore. So, at first, I didn’t take their money. But they’d still taunt me and say it didn’t matter if I took the money or not, only that they’d given it to me (sometimes by putting it in my vagina, sometimes forcefully, e.g., pushing it up with a stick). Then they’d say I was a stupid whore because I didn’t take their money. I was a whore either way, I could be a stupid whore or just a whore. So I understood that I was bad and that my badness came from things that they did to me, things that I had no control over. And that no matter what I did, I would be bad because all my choices led to the same result: I was bad because I was a girl whom they’d decided to abuse. Once I was abused, especially sexually, I was the bad person, the one who’d always wear a scarlet letter regardless of my desires or my actions. And, although I didn’t understand it, I knew that it was mostly because I was a girl. (I knew a few other girls who were similarly abused. Boys might get raped, and I knew a few who did, but that was usually a one-off or at least rare occurence. And, even then, when I saw or learned about it, the boys who were raped were equated with something feminine, something inherently bad. And their tragedy and shame was that they were now like girls. Which kept them quiet and led at least two of them to abuse women later. The constant was that boys and male masculinity were inherently good, inherently worth protecting – even when a boy was abused, the masculine was protected and exalted- inherently to be believed and upheld against girls and the feminine, who were inherently bad, inherently degraded so that if men used them, there was nothing of value lost.)

    No hugs, please. They’re extremely triggering.

  341. Nepenthe says

    I’ve told the story here a number of times and it’s so much the same.

    Fear of Cats @120 I hope you don’t mind, but I’m just going to quote you, minorly edited, since the man who abused and raped me did precisely the same thing and I had the same feelings about it. Abusers are nothing if not predictable, no?

    I didn’t think it was abuse because he never hit me. Sometimes I wished he would hit me, because then it could be abuse and I could leave him. Instead, he told me I wasn’t allowed to break up with him and said horrible derogatory things about me and encouraged every fear I had in order to control me. He emotionally blackmailed me, he gaslighted me, and he told me he was more important than things like school. He isolated me and then when I broke down, there was nobody there to comfort me but him. He told me I was crazy and it was a good thing he was crazy too, because then normal people didn’t have to deal with us.

    He raped me. I didn’t think it was rape because sometimes I said yes. Because when I didn’t want to, he would beg and whine and say manipulative things and not let me sleep until I said “okay fine.” He’d make me be an active participant, so I didn’t think it was rape. At least once, just as an experiment, I didn’t say okay. I just stopped saying no to see if he would go ahead. He did.

    I thought I deserved it. I wrote heartbreaking things in my diary dreaming of a world where sex was only when you wanted it.

    I didn’t recognize it as rape until long after I recognized the abuse, which was years after I escaped. I didn’t recognize it as rape until I was mostly done dealing with the emotional fallout, so I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to call it rape since I wasn’t a crying mess all the time anymore.

    It was rape. I’ve never told anyone but the internet.


    Caine, if you want positive stories of stopping:

    My Beloved and I had sex maybe two or three times in our first few meetings. She is trans and her feelings about her body had been changing. Maybe the third time we met, she asked for us to stop during the act. We did, she told me about how she was feeling, I thanked her for telling me, for trusting me enough to tell me, held her and we fell asleep. Maybe two months later, we started having sex again, she went silent, we stopped. I told her that I love her and that I never want to do anything she’s uncomfortable with. And so we don’t have sex now. If she feels differently after she starts medical interventions, that’s good. If not, that’s also fine (not good because she has expressed disappointment that she isn’t able to enjoy sex). The end. I hope that my Beloved would agree that ours is a positive story.

    (Please do not compliment me on this. I am, hopefully, meeting minimal decent-human-being standards. I also pee in the potty.)

  342. onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork says

    This is too long to post here; I wrote it about a year ago, talking about both my story and the importance of remembering faces behind the statistics. And many hugs (if desired) and admiration for everyone here adding more faces (metaphorically speaking) to the numbers.

    I’d also just like to repeat the emphasis on teaching consent early–‘bodily autonomy’ is a concept I discussed over and over with multiple clients over the years. Honestly–sometimes the kids get it better than the parents do. When I worked foster care, I had to repeatedly tell parents that they could not *force* their child to hug or kiss them goodbye if they didn’t want to (and of course, a lot of the foster kids had legitimate reasons to be angry at mom or dad, and refusing physical affection was one of the few ways they still had power).

    There’s a bit going through my head from that old song from South Pacific: “You’ve got to be taught from year to year / It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear”

    It’s just as true for the good as the bad–this isn’t instinctual human behavior, this is a radical shift and change in human behavior that *has* to be taught. And like anything we learn, we won’t learn it overnight, and we won’t always get it right. So we have to keep trying.

    I will also say, that as many horror stories as I have read today and seen over the years, I am reading this thread and Elyse’s post and seeing, over and over again, incredible amounts of courage and strength from survivors and non-survivors alike that are speaking up, that are speaking out, that are taking action, that are giving their time, money, and talents to teach, educate, prevent, and bring hope*. And I refuse to walk away from this thread with anything but the belief that there is hope as well as horror out there, even when it sometimes feels like the horror is always the strongest. (and now I’m going to find something silly and comforting to watch on Netflix)

    *which is not to say, by any means, that being overwhelmed by the pain or unable to speak up or out of spoons for coping makes any survivor any less deserving of support, love, sympathy, or their victimization any less horrific. Sometimes surviving is just waking up in the morning. And that’s absolutely ok.

  343. lumi says

    No hugs, anonymous1, just a whole lot of sympathy. I hope you’ve found a better place now.

  344. cicely says

    Twisted Humor Alert, subcategory: Deliberately Misquoting a Pratchett Book (specifically, Interesting Times):
     
    “Perhaps comedians here got big laughs with lines like: “I say, I say, I say, I met a man on the way to the theater and he didn’t rape me, urinating dog, urinating dog—”

    What is it that drives people to do this, though? That’s what I can’t figure out. This is incomprehensible. Even leaving aside empathy, what is the point of harming another human being, especially one who is not harming you, and especially in a way that spirals and feeds back into itself and creates an eonian vortex of fear and traumas in them? What can they possibly gain from a few brief moments of satisfaction and ego-feeding that is worth the living death they call down on their marks?

    A feeling of power, of control, with the sexual pleasure “hit” as reinforcement; plus, of course, societal approval/acceptance. All of that cultural conditioning we’ve been talking about. I don’t know that there’s an added warm, fuzzy feeling of fitting in, of having done the “right”, the “expected” thing, or not (not having ever been in that position), but I wouldn’t be surprised.
    I’m sure that this is an Important Part of the Unbalanced Breakfast that is generational transmission of abuse.
    -

  345. lumi says

    How do we prevent this? I have three young girls who have been very lucky so far, but also very well protected. Then there are their friends who are so close they might as well be my own kids. When do we start to teach men to not hurt women?

  346. says

    Nepenthe:

    My Beloved and I had sex maybe two or three times in our first few meetings. She is trans and her feelings about her body had been changing. Maybe the third time we met, she asked for us to stop during the act. We did, she told me about how she was feeling, I thanked her for telling me, for trusting me enough to tell me, held her and we fell asleep. Maybe two months later, we started having sex again, she went silent, we stopped. I told her that I love her and that I never want to do anything she’s uncomfortable with. And so we don’t have sex now. If she feels differently after she starts medical interventions, that’s good. If not, that’s also fine (not good because she has expressed disappointment that she isn’t able to enjoy sex). The end. I hope that my Beloved would agree that ours is a positive story.

    That is a positive story, and I thank you for it. You and your Beloved get a plate of cookies anyway, and you know All the Hugs are yours.

    Onion Girl, as always, All the Love and Hugs there are.

  347. Physics or Stamp Collecting says

    Delurking here. Thanks, and so much support, to everyone who has shared their story here. Giliell @319, I hear you especially.

    Here’s my corner of the tent-of-not-ok, which I feel is almost as close to the edge as it gets. My longterm partner, for the couple of years after we moved in together, would routinely assume continued consent during PiV sex that we would start having just before sleep. He’d stop if I asked him to, but he would often not be happy about it. If I was tired and tried to hint–stuff like me saying “I’m falling asleep here”, or just stopping moving, he’d keep going until he was done. (He says he is bad at nonverbal cues. I still think that he would have gotten the picture if I did the same things while we’d been deciding whether to watch another episode of a TV show.)

    It feels like it’s in this fuzzy, fuzzy not-quite-ok area that is partly my fault, or at least not entirely his fault. He would stop (or at least stop with me, and take care of himself), if I asked him to stop. He would be unhappy and obviously feel rejected, and I often just wanted to sleep instead of dealing with his feelings, even though it wasn’t like he was nagging. So if I wasn’t asking him to stop because I wanted to avoid making him unhappy… it’s hard for me to unpack that. I do know that I have recently been recognizing how very violated I feel from all this that happened 5-ish years ago, to the point of curling up on the bed and sobbing uncontrollably and feeling so damn used.

    Our couples therapist, and I think his therapist, want to talk about this and some other facets of our relationship that are similar in spirit in terms of “dynamics” that we both contribute to. On the one hand, sure, interactions take two people. On the other hand, I think that there’s a difference between making yourself easy to take advantage of and taking advantage of someone even if they don’t stop you, and I think a lot of people don’t see this. I am hunting for a new therapist right now and am kind of terrified that they will think I am trying to dodge responsibility for my part in our relationship.

  348. says

    Physics or Stamp Collecting:

    I do know that I have recently been recognizing how very violated I feel from all this that happened 5-ish years ago, to the point of curling up on the bed and sobbing uncontrollably and feeling so damn used.

    I am so sorry. You have my support and my belief.

    I am hunting for a new therapist right now and am kind of terrified that they will think I am trying to dodge responsibility for my part in our relationship.

    All the best in the therapist hunt, and don’t let that bit of nastiness pass. This is not about you dodging responsibility. This is about you being denied agency, and your partner not respecting your autonomy. Responsibility does need to be taken, by your partner.

  349. alexbrookes says

    Anonymous1, no hugs, but sympathy and support in whatever way you feel comfortable with.

  350. Physics or Stamp Collecting says

    A positive set of interactions in my life: pretty much all of my relatively casual cuddling, sleeping, and sexing has involved consent. Things ranging from cuddling with tons of people, to tickle fights (even ones that end up in awkward and suggestive positions), to casual sleeping in the same bed/couch/space (there has been a lot of that in my life and a relatively small part of it has even been intended to relate to sex) and making out, to actual FWB or casual sex–they’ve been fine.

  351. says

    Physics or Stamp Collecting

    It feels like it’s in this fuzzy, fuzzy not-quite-ok area that is partly my fault,

    Not fuzzy, not ok, and not your fault in any way. Such support as I can offer through the interwebs is yours if desired.

    Our couples therapist, and I think his therapist, want to talk about this and some other facets of our relationship that are similar in spirit in terms of “dynamics” that we both contribute to.

    And the Asshole Therapist rears their ugly head again. Seriously, who the hell trains these jackasses? What the living fuck are they thinking? These are supposed to be fucking professionals, aren’t they?

  352. mildlymagnificent says

    When do we start to teach men to not hurt women?

    We start when we teach preschoolers that it’s not okay to hit or hurt other people, nor is it okay to make them do anything they don’t want to do – like hugging or kissing. If we tickle them, we stop as soon as they say so. And we teach them to do the same.

    When they’re a bit older, films and television provide ample opportunities (far too many) for casual remarks that some behaviour is a bit creepy. All those romantic, pushy, silly behaviours may be funny in a film but they are no-nos in real life. No need to be serious or portentous about this, it’s better for the most part to be casual and matter-of-fact about indicating your preferences for good behaviour.

    Most importantly, take anything they say about bullying – whether they’re being bullied, they’ve seen it or heard about it, or they’re participating in it – really seriously. Seriously. You’ll undo all your previous good work if you let the toxic memes of “boys will be boys” or “girls are cliquey” and their various toxic friends slip by you. Read up about bullies and bystanders, you’ll need it either to deal with it directly or to help your children get a good framework for thinking about it. (What they do will depend on the culture of the schools and groups they happen to be in. Going to get an adult is not the best plan when you know they’ll pull the don’t be a tattle tale or kids will be kids routine. But kids need to have a mental and ethical framework regardless.)

    With that background, they’ll be well set to discuss and to deal with sexual stuff more appropriately.

  353. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Jebus.

    A thought I had just now.

    A few months ago, there was a patient. A woman with an ordinary sort of complaint. Nothing really stuck out one way or the other. She faded into the background, so to speak. She was hospitalized, was there for a few days, was discharged.

    But one thing I remember. When I arrived one day, the nurses were chatting. There had been a shift change, and her new nurse hand gone to introduce himself to all his patients. And she’d said, very bluntly, that she was not going to be attended by a male nurse. He retreated. The nurses talked. It was concluded that she was a “religious type” and that her request was going to be honored. Her nurse swapped patients with a different (female) nurse, whose care she accepted.

    Someone had glanced at her file – her attending physician was a woman. The patient, it seemed, had a history of seeing only female providers. The staff chuckled briefly at “dogma,” shook their heads a few times, then moved on.

    But now, I wonder. What if her issue was not (or not just) that she was a “religious type”?

  354. twincats says

    Before I continue with this comment, my heartfelt thanks to all here for their stories and FTB, PZ, the Horde, and the Ilk for being the safest space I’ve ever seen on all the internets!

    The truth is that I’d wager the majority of people have the capacity to Be That Guy in one way or another. And facing that down and getting rid of the othering is a huge step we can take to ensure that there aren’t quite so many of That Guy.

    Or That Gal. I know I’m a bit of an outlier, but I can’t be the only one. Can I? This is what happened:

    (obligatory TW goes here)

    Fooling around with BF in his dorm room (not school, we were both active duty military) clothes came off. After a while, he got kind of distant; he never said he wanted to stop, but the change in activity/attitude/body language was not unnoticed by me. I pressed on anyway (as if I hadn’t noticed) and eventually he gave in and we had sex. It wasn’t great and he actually apologized to me for that (!)

    Now I know that was not OK. He did NOT owe me an apology, I owe him one. I raped him.

    Doesn’t matter that we had lots of sex after that. Doesn’t matter that he got overly possessive after we moved in together. Doesn’t matter that he stalked me after I moved out. But because of those last two things, I won’t be seeking him out to give him the apology that I owe him. After almost 30 years, the thought of talking to him still scares me.

    That’s the kind of story I would like to hear. All the time, by the hundreds, the thousands. Thank you, Yazikus. And thank you Joel, for being one of the good guys and a decent human being.

    I actually have one of those stories! Rape #3 was technically rape, but ended up okay. I had met a guy while stationed overseas who was at my base on temporary duty and I took him back to my apt. We had consensual sex and went to sleep. Some hours later, I awoke in the middle of another sexual encounter which, naturally, freaked me out. Upon noticing my freakout, the guy immediately stopped having sex with me. The. Exact. Right. Thing. To. Do. When I told him I had been asleep, he freaked out and swore up and down that he didn’t know; I had been responsive to his overtures. Then I swore up and down that I had been asleep and remembered none of that. He apologized and held me until we both calmed down and decided to go back to sleep. We had more consensual sex in the morning. I felt safe in trusting him and it was a good feeling.

  355. yazikus says

    We start when we teach preschoolers that it’s not okay to hit or hurt other people, nor is it okay to make them do anything they don’t want to do – like hugging or kissing. If we tickle them, we stop as soon as they say so. And we teach them to do the same.

    What I told my preschooler after he had wanted to play football with his dad, his dad was busy and didn’t respond so the little fella just chucked the football, hitting his dad.

    “Little Fella, I know that playing football is fun. When you want to play ball with someone, ask them first. If they don’t say they want to, go find something else to do. If you throw the ball to them and they haven’t said they want to, you aren’t throwing the ball to them, you are throwing the ball at them. And that is no fun for anyone.”

    My version of Consent 101

  356. anonymous1 says

    “Physics or Stamp Collecting”

    On the one hand, sure, interactions take two people. On the other hand, I think that there’s a difference between making yourself easy to take advantage of and taking advantage of someone even if they don’t stop you, and I think a lot of people don’t see this.

    agree completely. IMO it’s even more aggravating because women (and minorities/poor/those with less status wrt their dealings with higher status ppl) are trained to “allow” those with more status and power (e.g., men cf women, blacks/middle eastern/asians/hispanics cf whites, poor cf wealthier, trans cf cis) to “take advantage” of them. they’re punished (via scorn, loss of jobs, loss of opportunities, etc.) if they don’t. so it’s a no-win situation. if you say “no” or call ppl out on the myriad ways that they take advantage of you (often in ways that are not only socially accepted but are the expected norm), you’re wrong, bad, over-reacting, pushy, etc. but somehow, you’re supposed to overcome all of the training, societal expectations, and social enforcement mechanisms in certain situations – and only those situations – that often can only be determined in hindsight.

    shorter version: the post Pteryxx linked to @375 with a bit of Schrodinger’s rapist (or its analogues) thrown in

  357. says

    So. I have not been raped. I have been groped by a boss at age 16. I have been abused in a domestic situation by 2 “nice” guys that everyone loved… and would never believe were abusive jackasses. I have had my life threatened by a boyfriend driving my car by speeding up 0-90 in a residential area – while he was glaring at me – not looking at the road. I don’t even remember what that fight was about…there were so many. He threw things at me because I wouldn’t yell and scream like he did.

    I used to run when I was in middle school for the fun of it, along the levy until the day some grown men threw things out of their moving car at me while screaming about my “big tits”…. I stopped running.

    There are a long list of things that do not qualify as rape. But there is a reason I don’t trust men up close and personal. I stopped trying to find someone a decade ago. I don’t want to be derailed again, as it’s taken years in some cases to recover from things which were not rape but happened to me nonetheless.

    So I bow low to all the survivors who managed to move ahead…and some instances – to thrive.

  358. anonymous1 says

    twincats:

    Or That Gal. I know I’m a bit of an outlier, but I can’t be the only one. Can I?

    i’m pretty sure i was that gal too. i don’t remember anything specifically (like your example) but, given how i understood consent, i’m almost certain that i have done something similar, probably more than once and probably to more than one person. IOW, i’m almost certain that i have raped. and i don’t even remember whom i raped. (OTOH, i don’t remember when things like that were done to me bc, at the time, i thought that the person who did not want sex needed to be clear about that. and i’m sure that kind of rape – and i now know it was rape – happened to me quite often as well.)

  359. says

    On the topic of how common it is, in retrospect I am reasonably sure that on a number of occasions someone plied me with drink for the purpose of inveigling me into sexual activity. This is in retrospect, because it wouldn’t have occurred to me at the time that that was what was happening, or that is was problematic, given that I did not think I would have acted differently had I been sober (still don’t, in fact). Nevertheless, it does constitute another example of just how prevalent the lack of concern for proper consent actually is.

  360. says

    …I should have said groped and repeatedly propositioned by my boss who was 40 to my 16….this was at an icecream parlour famous for kids parties as well….so around all this I was expected to sing day in day out as well…not knowing better – I just did…sing I mean. All the while feeling shittier and shittier about my body which he felt was his to comment upon. I had forgotten that year in suck…

  361. says

    I’ve said elsewhere too but it bears repeating, people very close to me have been raped. Both males and females. It’s not my story to tell so I don’t tell it… but the impact on me was life long. Rape doesn’t impact only the primary victim. It impacts their lovers, friends, mothers, sons, daughters, husbands, fathers, brothers, wives, mothers… It is the kind of violence that reverberates down. In my domestic violence situation I was victimized by a man who was victimized by people in his family of origin.

    This horror flows outward like radiation and buries it deep in our tissues….for generations.

  362. carlie says

    oniongirl – this

    I cannot deny wondering what I could have been, what I could have done, what I could have made, if I had the luxury to spend my life focusing on my place in the weaving instead of unknotting my twisted thread.

    is such an exquisite and heart-rending sentence. All my hugs to you.

  363. Marc Abian says

    When I was around 9, 9.5, I had to go live with a different family member. A neighbour took an interest in me, and there were things I didn’t realize the significance of at the time, like him having a gorgeous butterfly patch on the crotch of his jeans, so it wasn’t visible until he sat down, cross-legged. One day, he was sitting in his garage, on a huge pile of clothes, and kept trying to get me to come in and sit by him. My internal radar was screaming at me – I kept refusing, and found an excuse to get the fuck out of there. What I didn’t do was tell anyone.

    I can barely tolerate the guilt, because I know this man was rapist, and I know he went on to rape others. Thinking about this tears me the fuck apart.

    Caine, you’re way too smart to actually think this. You may as well blame yourself for all the deaths that are happening because you haven’t cured cancer.

    I’m a little hazy, but when I was 9-10 I think we were learning division at school, and some were finding it a bit difficult. That’s about the level 9 year olds are at. How are you supposed to able to deal with this neighbour in the perfect manner? One of the things that’s becoming glaringly obvious to me reading through these kinds of thread is that there’s so often no satisfactory way to deal with these people and these incidents, even when it’s happening to educated and intelligent adults, let alone children.
    If someone else posted the above you’d tell them it wasn’t at all their fault and be completely genuine. I know you would. You know you would. People raised by wolves probably know it too. That isn’t your fault. It simply isn’t.

  364. says

    Twincats, thank you so much for sharing your stories. An extra special thank you for making the point that it is important to have Don’t Be That Gal, too. There is a tendency to reduce situations of rape and sexual assault into binary, exclusively along the lines of men raping women.

    Rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone, at any age. And anyone is capable of committing rape, including women. When it comes to consent, we all need to be very aware of what we have done and what we will do.

  365. says

    Marc:

    If someone else posted the above you’d tell them it wasn’t at all their fault and be completely genuine. I know you would. You know you would. People raised by wolves probably know it too. That isn’t your fault. It simply isn’t.

    I know. Thank you, Marc. As Ogvorbis and I remarked, yes, we know on an intellectual level that such things aren’t our fault. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop the brain whispers of bad! your fault! shameful! and all the rest. It’s one of the uglier aspects of what happens to us, because all our lives we have been conditioned to think a certain way.

    Thank you again though. A Big Damn Hero I am not. Today, I’ve been a puddle of tears and feeling more than a little lost. Reinforcement helps to slap those brain whispers away. On that note, I’m off to spend some time in self care. See you all tomorrow.

  366. cicely says

    *non-intrusive-and-refusable hugs* and romping kittens. For everyone.
    Not in belittlement of anyone’s experiences, but because it seems possible that I may not be the only one that could use a kitten break.
     
    Romping kittens.
    *smile*

    It certainly does, and no, it’s not ‘bitchez be lying’, it’s self-preservation. It’s being steeped in rape culture:

    And adapting for survival within that culture.
    Humans are very adaptable.
    That’s not always a good thing.

    sarah00, it’s not trivial.
    None of it is trivial.
     
    (And each and everytime someone says something is trivial, meaning, “it could have been so much worse”, in my mind’s eye I see, “Dear Muslima….”)

    anonymous1: *kitten*?
    -

  367. anonymous1 says

    cityzenjane:

    …I should have said groped and repeatedly propositioned by my boss who was 40 to my 16….this was at an icecream parlour famous for kids parties as well….so around all this I was expected to sing day in day out as well…not knowing better – I just did…sing I mean. All the while feeling shittier and shittier about my body which he felt was his to comment upon. I had forgotten that year in suck…

    this, to me, is the worst part of the whole shitty situation. it’s awful to be groped or raped or used or abused. there are no words to express how bad it is. but the part where you are expected to make it invisible – to erase your self, your feelings, your experiences – and act as if nothing happened bc what happened to you is not important compared to the reputation or honor of the perp or to the regular functioning of the rest of the world (whether that be a job, a family, a school, whatever) is maddening.

    it’s society telling you, over and over in myriad and numerous ways, that you don’t count, that you’re less important than the man who did this or than making money/keeping customers happy or than the smooth running of a conference or whatever that is really distressing and enraging to me. it’s society telling you not to talk about it, it’s society not acknowledging what is commonplace, just the whole denial of certain ppl and certain experiences to keep the status quo running that bothers me the most.

    that’s why i shared the bit about the clerk/manager being worried about me and my perps stealing or harming the stuff in the storage room, not that some kid was being sexually assaulted. it sends such a loud message that what is important is not the kid who’s being abused (or even, when i’m being charitable, trying to help the teens who are molesting a kid, who surely had some problems that were not being addressed in any way), it’s the merchandise/profits/time of the important, worthy ppl that counts, not the victim of abuse. so you can’t talk or are ignored. YOU’RE the problem bc you’re disrupting the normal functioning of the business/society/the family/whatever. so you have to deny what happened or pretend (and internalize) that it wasn’t important or worthy of attention: that you and your problems are nothing compared to the damn ice cream.

    you should just shut up about it and continue to sing/act like nothing happened so that the rest of the world can ignore it and continue to deny that any of this exists (or, if it does, it’s really rare and only happens somewhere else, to other ppl, ppl you don’t know and that only ppl you don’t know do things like that because if they did, you’d know about it even though you and society keep putting your fingers in your ears and telling ppl who have the temerity to talk about it that they’re the ones who are messed up.)

    sorry, i’m not wording this well. i get really upset when this happens and lose my train of thought. but i think you having to go out and sing is just like the damn clerk/manager in the situation i described. i hate being made invisible or having my experiences made invisible (and having you go out and sing so that it looks to the rest of the world like nothing happened is exactly that IMO). i hate that more than any of the rest of the incredibly shitty stuff that’s all wrapped up in this problem.

  368. Socio-gen, something something... says

    To Elyse and all those who’ve shared their stories, in this thread and many others: thank you. Thank you for your courage and for helping me realize that I am not alone. I offer *hugs* *soft fluffy blankets* and/or *other expressions of comfort*

    To those who have, fiercely and viciously, fought against the victim-blaming and rape culture, who taught me that righteous anger is the proper response to all of it: there aren’t words strong enough to express my gratitude. To know that here, in this place, no one will ask “Why didn’t you…?” or say, “Well, what did you expect?” without being shouted down. That I will have unreserved support, that all of you whom I so admire will believe me and believe I did nothing to cause this or to encourage those who hurt me (even if, sometimes, I still think that). It means more than you can know. Thank you.

    By the time I was 10 years old, I stopped bothering with trying to say no, or even trying to avoid the situations where it was likely to happen again. What was the point? All the blame was mine; there was something so intrinsically wrong with me that I deserved it.

    For years, decades, I pushed my experiences into a little compartment and built thicker and thicker walls around it. If a memory came up, I threw it into that dark hole with an “I’m NOT going to think about that.” If I kept pretending they didn’t happen and they’ve had no effect…I’d be fine, right? Keep calling them “my experiences” and they aren’t rape, right? Rape is what happens to other people, people who don’t deserve it, not people like me who did.

    But, because of the bravery of so many here who’ve shared their stories over the past…two? years, I stopped thinking I was the only one, and very slowly, began to believe that none of it was my fault either. I finally began saying the words out loud. I began writing the stories of my rapes. Only to myself, at first, but today… I will push “submit” and tell the Horde because you are, literally, the only people I would trust with this.

    Caine: throughout this process, you have been my greatest source of strength. That sounds weird, I’m sure, from someone you’ve never met in person, but over and over in my head I kept hearing your “voice” saying, “We are legion, motherfucker, and we will not be silenced.” Someday, I really am going to have that printed on a t-shirt.

    (Sorry for the length of this.)

    **MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNINGS**

    age 7-10 (approximately) along with a cousin and my younger sister, molested by three slightly older (male) cousins who told us we were playing “the sex game.” Warned not to tell because I would get in trouble (again) for being a tattle-tale.

    age 9-12 molested by an adult family member (#1). Warned not to tell because no one would believe a “dirty girl” like me and I would end up in foster care.

    age 10, molested by a different adult family member (#2) who was visiting from out of state.

    age 10.5, molested by a counselor-in-training at camp. Caught by a senior counselor who yelled at me and told me to pray for forgiveness from God for “being a bad girl and tempting men.”

    age 12.5-15, vaginally and anally raped by #1, who said he was “training me for marriage.”

    age 13, digitally raped by a deacon at a church camp while I was recovering from heat stroke in the infirmary.

    age 14, forced to perform oral sex on the church member who gave me a ride home after confirmation lessons. Twice a week for six weeks.

    age 15, not-raped by a 17yo boy on our first date, during “Flashdance,” who, because I didn’t say “yes” (or no) begged and nagged until I said fine, whatever. Told my best friend, who said, “that’s why people go to the drive-in. Guys expect you to put out if you agree to go there, so you can’t make them think you’re going to and then not go through with it.” I still hate that movie and the theme song makes me physically ill.

    age 16, sexually assaulted, possibly raped, by two members of the basketball team at a party at the home of a “friend”. Not-rape because I shouldn’t have been so wasted, even though I thought I’d only been drinking fruit punch.

    ages 16-17, constant harassment and sexual assaults on the school bus (breast groping, shoving hands down my pants, butt pinches, etc.) because everyone knew what had happened to me at the party because the guys bragged about it to everyone. When I finally fought back (breaking one boy’s nose) I was sent to the principal’s office and told, “That’s what you get when you whore around” and given 6 weeks’ detention. Also, I wasn’t allowed to go on my senior trip or walk for graduation because I was a “bad example.”

    age 17.5-28, not-rape because we were married and I was “lucky” to have a “good Christian man” like him because otherwise I’d have to sell myself on the streets. In addition to numerous physical assaults and emotional abuse, I was expected to “earn” grocery money and such by performing various acts on/for him.

    age 33, attempted not-rape by a “friend” I’d invited over for supper while his wife was in the hospital after having their son. Stopped only because my brother came by unexpectedly to drop off some stuff for one of my kids.

    age 41, groped on Amtrak by my (male) seatmate. (First time I ever tried to stop an assault.) When I yelled and jumped up, I was told by the train steward that it was my fault for sitting there (in the only available seat). When I protested, I was told I would be taken off at the next station if I continued to cause a scene. Spent the rest of the trip into Chicago in the observation car so I wouldn’t be thrown off a train in the middle of Minnesota. Numerous people stopped to tell me how “inconsiderate” I was to cause trouble while they were trying to sleep.

    *deep breath* And…submit.

  369. dustbunny says

    I lurked through the grenade thread and other discussions of rape here, and two emotions overwhelmed me: very deep sympathy for all those sharing their stories of abuse, and feeling damn lucky (and then guilty about feeling lucky…) for not being among them. Oh, and then angry that ‘not raped’ means I am in the minority…

    Years ago, despite thinking of myself as emotionally strong and independent, I ended up in an emotionally abusive relationship. I just didn’t know it for almost two out of the three years it lasted, and I spent the last year of it mainly in denial finding excuses not to leave. He was never physically abusive but there were instances of sulking, getting angry, and/or ignoring me for a while when I said ‘no’ to sex. But I can’t recall ever feeling like I was going along with it because it was easier than saying ‘no.’ Now that I read these heartbreaking stories, I realize how close I came and I feel fortunate that didn’t happen to me.

    Still…the relationship and break-up was traumatic enough for me to keep myself alone (and celibate) for almost 7 years. I tried and had a few first dates, found that trusting people had become incredibly difficult, and decided to remain alone. I think I also sort of assumed that I would probably not find a romantic partner who would share my strong views (or at least respect them – and, by the way, how sad is it that I felt this way about my fellow humans?!) and was just living my life, building a new career in the US after moving here from the UK.

    A few months ago I met someone new at a party. We had a short but really interesting conversation, and about two weeks later he contacted me and asked me out for coffee. I hesitated but agreed and we spent that afternoon talking about anything and everything for almost 5 hours.

    Two of those not-quite-yet-dates later, he made a comment about “getting naked” that was supposed to be a joke. I knew that, but didn’t laugh and made it very clear that such a comment was not appreciated. He apologized and acknowledged he shouldn’t have said it.

    Several actual dates later, I arrived at his place carrying a few things so I didn’t hug him right when I got there. We then got in a conversation about a project he was working on, and about half an hour later he turned to me and asked “may I please give you a hug?” We had already had sex a few times by then (he knew I had been alone for a long time but didn’t (and still doesn’t) know it had been several years), and I had made it clear I totally trusted him, and still he asked that. All I could think was “wow, he really understands consent…”

    I think two things were crucial in making this the case: he is a decent and kind person, for which all credit goes to him; and I was empowered enough to set clear boundaries and not afraid to very clearly state what I thought of consent, for which quite a bit of the credit must go to the commenters here. I have learned so much here from reading people’s stories and from people relentlessly shouting down the apologists.

    To everyone who shared their story, here or in other threads – thank you! I admire your bravery greatly and I hope you all find comfort and healing. In the dark moments, when you may think it makes no difference, I can tell you that it does. It matters. You matter. Thank you all.

    To the person upthread who called for ‘less talk and more action’ – please understand that talking IS action in this case. Armed with what these amazing people here have taught me, I have been able to come to a much better understanding of rape culture, and along the way have been able to help educate friends of mine too. All this talking and sharing is part of helping people to take the red pill.

  370. chigau (違う) says

    dustbunny #419

    …‘not raped’ means I am in the minority…

    Odd.
    I’ve been reading everything and mostly just getting angrier and angrier and tooth-grinding angrier
    and taking breaks to go weed the living shit out of the garden or make bread so I could punch something
    and that was the one that made me cry

  371. Portia says

    I don’t have very many words, and none of the right ones are coming to mind. I offer support and belief and whatever else I can offer to all the survivors who have spoken up here.

    TW

    The only speck of my own story I can bring myself to relate is what my very best friend said to me when I told him. “Well, it doesn’t sound like you really made yourself clear about not wanting to do it.”

    There was one person who believed me at the time, though…two if you count the actual perpetrator. I’m sure to everyone else (gossip got around fast) I was just lying. Thankfully I had a therapist who looked me in the eye and said “You have to call that what it was. It was rape.”

    This isn’t even counting multiple times I’ve been groped or assaulted in less serious ways. On one occasion, I busted a lip open after I was bent over and thrust at by a 25 year old man who was all over a drunk 16 year old at a party. The only reason I got away with that (punching him in the mouth), I think, was my Marine then-boyfriend across the room who was ready to help me if I needed it. I was 19 then…it was a few months after above incident.

    Even posting this much of my story has me all nervous and shaky. I am in awe of all of you and your bravery in relating so much and just putting one foot in front of the other. Thank you so much for the example, and the community.

    Socio-gen, it’s great to see you, though I wish it was under better circumstances. I am amazed at your strength.

    On the topic of women realizing when the man they are fooling around with is no longer exhibiting enthusiasm…I once picked up on this with a long time partner and stopped what we were doing. While we just laid there, I told him that just like I sometimes back out of it, it’s ok if he does too, and that just because he’s The Man doesn’t mean he has to always want it or continue to want it. I hope he really believed me, but I guess I can’t know.

    This got longer than I intended. *hugs* if anyone would like some.

  372. A. R says

    I work in an ER, and in acute/critical care inpatient psychiatry. In my position, I’ve dealt with domestic violence (going both ways), child abuse (Ever thought you really wanted to punch someone? Try having to listen to a child abuser/rapist tell “their story” for twenty minutes.), “rape-rape” (No, rape kits don’t “clean a woman out you fucking arsepimple.), and domestic rape (Yes, police numbskull, I’m still going to collect evidence, even if you refuse to accept it. I’ll just send it directly to the fucking state crime lab.) The fact is that these cases are rarely open an shut, getting police departments to even consider investigating is fighting uphill in a fucking shitstorm most of the time, and when they do interview the victim, half of the time it’s a torrent of rape apologia, “are you sure xe did it?” and “are you sure you didn’t say yes?” Once we had a male victim of heterosexual rape (of the “drink them under the table” variety), he was clearly traumatized, but he couldn’t show it, and he refused treatment (for alcohol poisoning) for several hours until I was able to convince him that what happened to him was not his fault, and that he did not deserve, want or “ask for” it in any way. Of course, there was no way in hell that there would be a conviction, because men can’t be raped by women. He showed up a few months later in the acute care psych unit with major depression and had made several suicide attempts. The point here is that everything is so fucked up that I think the only chance we have is to stop teaching children to rape, because we sure as hell aren’t going to be able to fix it anytime soon, as much as it needs to be fixed… Feel free to ignore my frustration ranting or scream at me as you deem necessary. Oh, and I’m a monitor, so if someone gets out of hand, email me at adotrtzt(at sign here)gmail.com

  373. Rabidtreeweasel says

    I used to teach preschool and am now a nanny. I teach my kids consent 101. It is very simple. If you want to enter someone’s space you need permission. If you enter without their permission they have every right to tell you no. If they tell you no and you persist you will be physically removed from the interaction. I feel like I am shoveling against the tide though when I later see their parents tickle without permission or force them to give a relative a hug. Parent education is part of my job but most ignore my advice. I have to wonder how many of my lessons impact them. I must do all I can but all I can is minimal. In fact it was those lessons which made me realize the problems in my own house. Teaching basic human decency keyed me in to my husband’s violence in a way that made it leaving a easy choice.

  374. Ogvorbis: Purveyor of Mediocre Humours! says

    Okay.

    I have been trying to decide whether or not to write this but, just as I remember what happened to me, I also remember what I did. I realize that this is burning a bridge as I am admitting something that, as others have pointed out, is not, in any way, shape or form, acceptable.

    The last year that I lived out west, I was offered a summer job babysitting two girls (aged about 4 and 7 (?)). Divorced father who worked with my dad. Good job for a twelve-year-old — $6.00 a day. Big money. I watched them from 7:00am to 4:00pm and had lunch with the girls and their dad when he came home for lunch. We had fun. Hikes in the woods (found a prehistoric midden one day, went for a hike to Dripping Springs another day, sometimes watched TV and played Chutes and Ladders.

    One day, he asked if I could watch a third girl who was 6 years old. I said, sure. There was extra money involved. She was dropped off on Friday morning and would be staying with the family until Sunday night.

    When she got there, all three disappeared into the girl’s bedroom for about an hour. I knocked and asked if they were okay. They said they were.

    Fuck. I started this, I need to finish it. Deep breaths. Shit.

    After anhour, I knocked again and heard the third girl say to come in. I went in.

    They were

    I was invited to jointhe sex play. TThe third girl had the 3 year old tied up. The tow older ones were taking turns doing things to her and I joined in. THey didn’t invite me but or maybe they did but that doesn’t matter. I joined in. And we sent the day, except for when their dad was home for lunch, doing everything. The things I already knew what to do. And all I could thnk was that this was normal.

    This was the only day it happendd. And I remember thinking that I had become a man. THese were girls and I had done what I was supposed to do and told myself I would never do that again that I was a man now and didnt have to do it again and I remember deciding this didn’t happen. None of it happend.

    This was lurking in the back of my mind until I read commnt 143 and realized that this

    It’s what happened later that devastated me. I touched the underwear of a child I was babysitting – about 4 years later, the child was about the same age I was when my sister raped me. I only touched the outside of the underwear, but I knew it was wrong when I did it.

    was me doint things to three little girls and that I really am a rapist.

    I am so sorry. I feel like i’ve let down everyone who thilngs I am a nice person. I;m not. Im sorry.

    Four little girls. One little boy. Plus the ones who were scouts with me. I;m so sorry.

  375. Portia says

    Ogvorbis:

    You are not only a nice person, you are still the wonderful person we all care very much about. I am not eloquent, but you have my support, what little consolation that may be.

  376. says

    Ogvorbis
    Everything that we said to the the anonymous contributor at #143 applies to you as well. Whatever you may have thought at the time, you were not an adult; you were a child, with a child’s understanding. It doesn’t make you a monster, it doesn’t make you a demon, it just made you a child doing what you had been taught you must. And even at that, you still made the decision ‘never again.’ You are a good person, and we still love and care about you.

  377. mildlymagnificent says

    Funny, I had quite a different initial response to Ogvorbis’ post. I instantly went into school committee, married to a school teacher mode, meaning my first thought about those girls “playing” those sorts of games was that this would trigger a Mandatory Report if it had been observed in a school or childcare setting.

    Inappropriate overt sexual play like this is a huge, flashing, red, purple and lurid yellow sign that something is sadly amiss with one or more of these children. I have a horrible feeling that there were shadows of other adults in that room, not just the ones who abused/ignored you, Ogvorbis.

  378. Portia says

    Inappropriate overt sexual play like this is a huge, flashing, red, purple and lurid yellow sign that something is sadly amiss with one or more of these children. I have a horrible feeling that there were shadows of other adults in that room, not just the ones who abused/ignored you, Ogvorbis.

    Insightful, if devastatingly sad, point.

  379. Jacob Schmidt says

    Ogvorbis

    Four little girls. One little boy. Plus the ones who were scouts with me. I;m so sorry.

    See that? That part in bold? That tells me that you are not a terrible person. That tells me that you have the kind heart it takes to recognize that it was wrong, the strength to admit to your mistakes, and the courage to admit it to your friends.

  380. yazikus says

    Ogvorbis,
    I need to chime in and say what others are saying. You were a child. Mimicking actions that you had been forced to normalize. You are not doing those things now. You, the person, the adult, Ogvorbis, are a good person. You are doing so much good in the world! Your posts are helping other people, your real life actions are saving lives! You are making the world a better place!

    You were a child. Mimicking what you were taught. The only ones at fault were the teachers.

    I have a horrible feeling that there were shadows of other adults in that room, not just the ones who abused/ignored you, Ogvorbis.

    This is so true. You were all victims.

    Someone I hold very dear was raised in a family with generational abuse issues. He is one of 11, his father one of 16. Sibling/cousin/aunt/uncle abuse/incest was fairly normalized/ignored/shamed. Relatives kept on teaching. Many of his generation are lovely adults, so haunted by their childhood actions. Things they were taught were normal. Things they did. They know now that they were wrong. Many have tried to make amends. Some are total sleaze bags, who seem to not have learned. Some were crushed, and in their middle age still trying to come to grips with having done what they did. And they are good people.

    So thank you, Ogvorbis, for being the good man you are, despite what was done to you.

  381. yazikus says

    I was not clear, the sleaze baggy ones are not good people. The one’s who aren’t sleaze bags are. Sorry for not being clear.

  382. Socio-gen, something something... says

    Thank you, Dalillama.

    Portia: Thank you, and good to see you too. I know exactly what you mean — I had to run away from the thread for a bit after I hit submit and watch cute animal videos.

    Ogvorbis: You are still a nice person, one who was terribly abused and taught to normalize that abuse. You did what you did as a reenactment of what happened to you.

    The things I already knew what to do. And all I could thnk was that this was normal.

    The only people I have ever forgiven were my cousins. They were barely older than I was. (9yo twins and their 10yo brother, when it started.) Someone taught them this was normal. Someone did this with/to them and made them think this is how you “play” with other children and each other.*

    Just like you, they were children with limited understanding of what was happening, who did not know what they doing. Not really. They were repeating actions taught to them by others, the same way those same cousins taught me how to build a campfire and play go-fish and catch frogs. I truly believe this.

    And I truly believe that you too are a good person who repeated an action that adults — who did know better — taught you was right and normal. *safehugs*

    * I have often wondered who/when, how long this had been occurring — was it only us, or were there other, even older cousins who’d been abused and passed on this “game”? That side of the family is huge, and my parent and their 8 siblings all lived within a 25 mile radius, so potentially, all 41 of their children may have been affected, but wherever and whenever it began, there was an adult who started it.

  383. leftwingfox says

    Thank you all for sharing your stories. It’s heartbreaking.

    Half-way through this, I had to take a break. There was a local event outside my apartment, and by coincidence, the local women’s shelter was promoting the “Walk a mile in her heels” event that makes up much of their annual fundraiser. Atheist or not, when the universe gives a smack like this, I’m not going to ignore it.

  384. Physics or Stamp Collecting says

    Caine, Dalillama, anonymous1–thank you so much for the unconditional support. Thank you. I am crying because of your absolute lack of hesitation. I don’t expect support like that from pretty much anyone who hasn’t thought hard about what makes real consent because: it was done repeatedly(1) by my long-term, live-in partner(2) who has been very supportive about other things(3) after I had consented to start having sex(4), and he stopped at a verbal no(5) but I often didn’t say no(6)–not because I was afraid(7) (not that I realized at the time, I dunno), but because I didn’t want to deal with him being disappointed.

    None of the numbered points fit the mainstream definition of rape. A fair number of them don’t fit nice liberal people’s definition. Hell, a handful of them don’t fit my gut-level definition even if I intellectually understand that there’s a pretty good case for calling it that. I can see that he was playing fast and loose with consent at the very least. I experienced it as a violation. There’s just so much room for “yes but” for people to take. Anonymous1, I think you hit the nail on the head.

  385. Rabidtreeweasel says

    This is hard. Hard because I don’t know where to start. Hard because I feel like I’ve already taken up too much space here.
    But I always feel that way.
    So maybe it’s hard because I’m afraid. I’m afraid to think about my trauma or anyone elses. I resolve to read each story but I can’t so I feel weak and
    disjointed.
    But I feel like maybe I’m not a whimp, a jerk, a bitch. I don’t think of any of you that way, so why feel that way about myself?
    My stories have a lot of intersecionality. It feels so complicated, overwhelming, and the abuse has an intrensic quality to my life. I try not to dwell on it or bring it up so when I do I feel rotten or like I’m milking the sympathy.
    But if that’s the case people can skip this. No one has to read or listen. That makes this easier.
    So. TW.

    My family are fundy xtians. I was sent to fundy xtian school and camp. My parents did not spare the rod. We were given a choice between the belt or spoon. Unless we weren’t. When we were in Big Trouble ™ we were sent to the basement. Dad administered with a ruler that had verses on it. We had to recite the verses between licks. We did not have clothes on. Unless Mom just blew her top. That was the scariest. My earliest memory is wetting myself while she yelled at me and the feet of my pajamas getting wet because I did not turn in my spelling list. She then took off my clothes to use them to clean up the spill. The list was in her car. It had fallen out of my bag. We got swats with no pants on our privates in front of guests. We stopped having guests after awhile.
    This, to me, was pretty normal. It still feels normal now. They didn’t make us bleed or invade us in any other way. We talk now. They want me to stay with them for a couple of months. I have trouble reconciling where we are now because of the direction my life went in next.
    Xtian fundy camps are notorious. I will spare graphic details. I was made to perform on an adult female counselor. This was not actually as bad as what came after. Due to my changed attitude, lack of appetite and fear of Sunday school I was presumed possessed and given an exorcism.
    I stopped acting abused.
    In middle school I had problems with harassment from male teachers and boys my age. The worst was the highschool boy who kept putting my hand on his crotch in music my sophmoref year and squeazing my breasts in the hallway. I got an in school suspensions for screaming at him.
    A year after a senior invited ke to his house during his afternoon break to watch a movie. I felt special. I later told my best friend I had sex. But that wasn’t accurate. He took me in the master bedroom. I thought maybe we might talk or watch the movie and foold around a little. He started taking off my clothes, I said no, he proceeded. He raped me twice, once in the bed and again on the bathroom counter. His mom was in the next room so I was eembarassed and didn’t make any sounds.
    My husband was sexually aggressive. He knew my past so rape became his weapon of choice. He would wake me up at night demanding sex. I pleased him so I could go back to sleep. After he was asleep I would lock myself in the office, sleep a couple of hours, then sneak into our bed. When he found out he broke the day bed in the office. I still snuck in there. I just curled up on the slat that wasn’t broken.
    In the 3 years we were together we had two sexual encounters which were not rape.
    I do not have sex now in the traditional sense. It is physically painful due to previous injury. I have difficulty orgasming. Iam afraid of unlocked doors, open spaces, my feet being touched, and movies about demons.
    I wish Icould end this on a positive note. I’m sorry.

  386. heather Ferguson says

    The name attached to this is not mine, it’s from a gmail account I made so I had an anonymized account available if I ever needed one. The name is not mine, if you know a heather ferguson, this is not them posting. I suppose I should have set it up with a more obscure name. My regular posting name would be very trivial to connect to me offsite. Anyways, I’m a bi cis male.

    When I was 4, a new family moved in next door. Over the years me, my sister, and my brother became friends with the son who was a couple years older than us.

    Eventually, he was showing us some playboys his dad had, some sex toy catalogs. Eventually, he had us all playing “fort games” with my sister. Mostly oral, and some rubbing of crtoches.

    I’m not sure if my part in this was rape victim, rapist, or tool of a rapist. Or maybe all of the above. It did stop after we stopped hanging out with him, so there’s that. It’s odd… I don’t have a disconnect with this in the sense that it feels like someone else involved, nor do I think it was somehow ok, but it’s something that I think of as essentially just a biographical fact devoid of emotional or moral implications. I’m not saying it has no moral implications- thinking rationally, of course it does. Not sure if that’s how I really feel or if I have just walled it off so heavily over the years. This hasn’t really been directly addressed, though various discussions on crappy things in our childhood have basically lead to “you were a kid, what could you have done” and forgiveness and all. Sometimes I think it should be directly addressed, sometimes I think things should stay as they are.

    I sometimes wonder how much of my attitude towards sex was tainted by this. And sometimes I’m terrified of trying to break through my shyness because I’m worried if I was more socially forward I might carry on the cycle. If I could be sure I could keep my terror of perpetuating the cycle while I got rid of my shyness I’d be ok, but I don’t know if I would.

    Looking at the last couple paragraphs, I kind of sound like an inconsistent mess with it affecting me but not affecting me but oh wait there it is again. Some other peoples stories seem to tell me that this is normal, or at least close enough to normal that I don’t have to worry that I’m *too* broken.

    Then, at a bar, a guy comes on to me. Keep in mind that I’m closeted, except to a few very well trusted friends. Also, I was a Marine and this was in 2001, what with all the getting kicked out if I got caught doing anything. I tried to say I wasn’t interested, he pushed, it ended with exchanging blowjobs in his car. I’m not sure where he was on the drunkenness scale, but I was very far along and he was the initiator, so… Some of the posts here have helped me on this one especially… if I was in a better position to come out(that’s going to happen someday- right?), I’d probably have consented in a heartbeat even sober. But “consent likely under conditions Y” doesn’t mean consent given under condition Z is valid. Or that consent would even be given in conditions Y once that actually came up. It seems so obvious in retrospect. I don’t think I’d have reported it even if I saw it for what it was, that whole don’t ask, don’t tell thing going on… but I sort of feel like an idiot for not putting two and two together and getting four.

    This might take a bit of time to process.

  387. Rabidtreeweasel says

    Oh. There was also the time in college a guy gave a drink. I hadn’t had anything but I passed out before it was empty. I woke up in my be no pants, no memory.

  388. says

    So many horrendous stories. I feel pretty amazingly lucky to be one of the women who has never been raped. Oh, of course I’ve been sexually assaulted a few times, but groping hands don’t carry the same degree of trauma. Not even the ones when I was eleven.

    I can only call it luck, though. I have had some dodgy relationship times where the price of saying no was a day-long sulk from the boyfriend. But it could have been worse, and never was for me.

  389. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Reading all these comments is heartbreaking. I wish I could suck away some of the pain so many of you have experienced. None of you did anything wrong. You were violated and and abused and I just…FUCK.
    Just know that I fully believe each and every one of you.

    ****

    I find myself poring over all my sexual interactions over the years. I have not had any relationship last more than 3 months. so the vast majority of my sexual interactions have been one night stands. I’ve been with a fair amount of guys but I did not come to understand consent until the last few years . Have I been raped ? Have I raped someone ? Crystal Clear Consent has never been something that’s been clarified in any of my sexual interactions. Part of me thinks “no way did I rape anybody, because sexually I am the receiver “. Then everything that I have learned in the last few years smacked me across the head and says “yes you can rape someone even if you are a bottom. “. I hate thinking that so much of the sexual interaction I have had was not explicitly consensual. Often, it has involved alcohol. Neither myself nor anyone I have been with has asked for permission. There has been no talk about anything. Fuck, the most communication I have had was working up the nerve to tell one guy I did not like being spanked or having my back scratched during sex (he had long-ish nails). He never did either again. I have not communicated much in the way of my desires, nor had the same in return.

    I do not like this grey area. I do not want to have sex unless it is clear between myself and any partner(s) that consent is granted. I will not.

    ****
    Thank you all so much for sharing your stories. I hope this thread remains open for some time to allow others the chance to tell their tale if they desire. If and when they do, I will bear witness, and I shall not be alone.

  390. says

    This thread is… a lot to take in. First, I would like to thank everyone who shared their stories, I cannot even begin to comprehend the strength that took. I offer hugs or, if hugs are unwanted, delicious cookies and tea.

    I have been one of the lucky ones, I suppose. I have never been raped. Just, you know, “normal” stuff. Like men driving by yelling obscene stuff at me – when I was 11. I had big breasts for my age, maybe it made me look like a woman, but that wouldn’t make that acceptable, would it?

    When I was 14 I moved to a city and every morning took the subway to school. Lots of creeps there, but they, too, were “normal”, weren’t they? Just background noise, not worth getting upset about, even when those 40-year-old men reached out to grope a child’s breasts.

    I remember… I had a friend. She was so fierce, so self-confident. And I remember getting into subway with her and there were the usual creeps there, and they were staring at us, talking to us. And then one of them came to sit next to us – her, specifically – and she just started yelling “NO. NO.” everytime he reached out to touch her (which successfully deterred him). And I remember thinking “God, why is she making such a scene? Why isn’t she staying quiet? They leave you alone…after a while…when you stay quiet…”

    As we got older, this friend and I often went clubbing, she more than I since I was shy and a tad anti-social. And one day she was visiting me, we were just talking, and she told me while she was clubbing, a guy had drugged and raped her. I don’t remember what we were talking about, how it came up, I just remember her saying it very casually and very suddenly. She was smiling. And she kept smiling as she recounted that she’d seen that guy again, in the club, and that she nearly had a panic attack then, and she was still smiling when she said she was scared.

    I am so ashamed of the way I acted that day. I know she needed something – reassurance, a hug, something – and I gave her nothing. I was just so stunned, disoriented by her nonchalant behaviour (which I know recognize as the way traumatized people act when they’re disassociating) I think I made some noises along the lines of “Oh no, how awful” and then we got interrupted by my mother coming up offering us food. I didn’t bring it up again. Neither did she.

    I am ashamed. I know I was a horrible friend, and I don’t ever want to let someone down like this again. I like to think that, if this happened today, I would tell her I love her, that if she wanted to talk more I would listen – anytime, anyday – that none of this was her fault, and that I would come clubbing more often so she never had to be alone if she saw him again.

    Many places have contributed to my education in this matter, this one in particular. This is a special place, and I thank each and every one of you.

  391. Dello says

    This comment thread is both horrifying and heartbreaking. So many people have suffered such painful experiences; reading about them is so hard and makes me both very sad and very angry.

    I’m one of the “lucky” ones who haven’t been raped. But I know a few of my own and other people’s experiences of rape and sexual assault – far too many:

    TW

    Age 5: At school a boy who is a year or two older than me takes a fancy to me. He hangs around pestering me to “show me yours and I’ll show you mine”. He’s annoying and scary to the shy 5 year old me. One day during the lunch break, he wrestles me to the ground and straddles my head with his legs, thrusting his (clothed) groin into my face repeatedly. He wouldn’t let me get up despite my struggling and crying. A teacher eventually broke it up as we were late back to class. It scared me at the time and I didn’t understand but looking back with an adult mind, this is not normal childhood behaviour and I have no doubt he was being sexually abused and was acting out what being done to him. My heart goes out to him.

    Age 10: My friend M who lives a few houses down from me, confesses that she and my other friend (B) and B’s younger sister are being sexually abused by B’s two older brothers. M describes the brothers forcing the girls to perform oral sex on them. I don’t really understand this but instinctively know it is wrong. The family are deeply religious. I don’t tell anyone until years later as an adult I tell my mother. She is horrified and dismayed that I didn’t tell her. But back in the 70s no one talked about this sort of thing.

    Age 11: Riding my horse one day, a man pulls over in his car to tell me he he bets “that’s the biggest piece of meat you’ve had between your thighs”. Yuk. He invites me into his car. I was 11 years old FFS.

    Age 12-15: I get my bum slapped one day while riding my bike by a guy hanging out of the window of a car as it drives past. Shocked, I almost fall off. All the guys in the car laugh and yell at me it’s my fault for wearing shorts. Various other occasions of being whistled at and propositioned and yelled at to “show my growler”(how I hate that expression). When I complain about this to my mother she tells me this is just what men do. The message in not so many words is that I just have to suck up this kind of shit because it’s just part of the experience of growing up female.

    Age 17: The absolute worst one. At a party, everyone is drinking. One girl I know but is not a close friend gets blind drunk. She collapses on a couch and a bunch of guys dog-pile on her, groping and worse. The guy I was with, stands shielding me from the sight of it, telling me not to look. I get the impression he is embarrassed about how the men are behaving. I am mortified for her but do nothing. Everyone else is laughing about what a slut she is. Again, looking back with adult eyes I now know she was being sexually assaulted and I feel so ashamed I did nothing to stop it.

    Age 21: I’m at a public library, browsing. I walk nearby a man sitting against a wall. Don’t think anything of it at first, people sit to read all over the place. As I get closer I realise he is masturbating under his clothing. He may not be exposing himself but he is making no attempt to be discrete and it’s obvious from his movements what he’s doing. The weirdest thing was my reaction – I had previously laughed and joked with friends about how sick and sad flashers were and if we ever ran into one we would yell at them to stop. But in this case, I was astounded how horrified, embarrassed and scared I was. I just walked away pretending I hadn’t seen anything and even started to doubt what I saw. I totally get it when victims of sexual assault say they just freeze and don’t know what to do. It is very easy in the comfort of your happy, safe life to say you would do this and do that if confronted with such a situation. Reality is often quite different and your reactions may be completely different from what you expect.

    Age 24: Travelling around Europe. Got very drunk one night in Yugoslavia (as it was called then) with some fellow travellers. End up going back to a room with one of the men we met that night. Stupid I know, but hey at the time you’re having fun! He tries to have sex with me but it really isn’t something I want to do. I remember lying on the bed with my hands wrapped over my crotch and him trying to pull my underpants down (somehow he got my jeans off) and me saying over and over “no, I don’t want to”. Even then, even as addled as I was with alcohol, I knew if he just forced me I would have to just bear it, because I went to his room and no one would believe me if I was raped – or they would say it was what I deserved. To his credit, he didn’t rape me and eventually let me go. It just shows that even though he was being very pushy for sex, he wasn’t a rapist.

    A close friend of mine also has a good story about stopping. In her early 20s, in bed with a guy she really fancied, foreplay happening, condom was put on ready to go, then friend suddenly didn’t want to go any further. Communicated it to the guy, he instantly stopped. Not overly happy but no drama. This guy, like my one in Yugoslavia – not a rapist.

    The stuff that has happened to me is rather trivial compared to some of the stories on this thread. The stuff that happened to other people I knew, not so much. But it helps illustrate how common this stuff is, how swimming in rape culture we are. And I wanted to add my support and thanks to everyone who has told their stories. I believe all of you and offer my heartfelt sympathy for what you have been through. And to all the regulars of Pharyngula – THANK YOU so much for your never ending energy to fight against rape culture. I have always called myself a feminist but even I used to believe some of the victim blaming bullshit. I know better now. So thank you.

  392. says

    For me I walled it off..the ice cream story and other stories … It is not actually possible to get close to me in a way that matters any more.

  393. tami says

    I am so proud of all of you…survivors and supporters alike, for being brave enough to tell your (our) stories, being understanding enough to listen and respond with trust and empathy.

    The urge to tell one’s story — at least for me — is sometimes overwhelming. It’s therapeutic. There an emotional release…and the empathy and emotional support feel good.

    I have been reading all the stories, and I shared a little of my own, because we deserve to be heard. I’ve been ignoring the trigger warnings and reading anyway…but that was a mistake.

    I keep telling myself that I won’t come back and read more, but I do. The last couple,of days has been very, very emotional. I’ve been crying almost constantly since we started talking about this.

    All the memories of my own experience have been flooding back again. I was 16. I was in a strange country (I was not born in the US and English is not my native language). I had lost parents . i had been uprooted from my home and sent to live with a stranger who was my aunt (and who selflessly dealt with a traumatized teen, and who i love very much). I was terrified.

    This morning, I woke up and came here to read more…until it has finally sunk in that I have to stop. I can’t read any more here. It’s too hard for me. I know how important it is for a survivor to find her voice, and let everything come flowing out, but I just can’t read anymore. I need to stop crying, and protect myself. I’m sorry.

    I’m an atheist, but this morning I begged “the force” not to subject me to any flashbacks today…that’s when it dawned on me that I again was giving up the power to control my own life.

    Thank you to those who have provided support. To those who are struggling with the toxic residue of past horrors, I am humbled by your courage and strength…even though you might feel afraid and weak.

    Peace.

    Tami

  394. says

    BIg hugs to Mattir, tami, shrieketastic,Physics or Stamp Collecting , Socio-Gen, Portia, heather Ferguson

    Quercus Rubra
    I wish you all the best with your wonderful husband and the coming baby.

    Anne00
    It definetly is a problem. And the main problem is people who don’t care. Somebody who doesn’t really care if you actually want it or not is not interested in enthusiastic consent. They may not be rapists, but they’re clearly willing to be rapists.
    And as others said, you said NO. And he ignored it. He pressured you until you counted the consequences of a repeated no as worse than those of a yes.
    And pretty clearly it affects you to this very day.

    Dalillama
    I’ve shared a bed with relative strangers and nothing happened. As I said before: There’s nothing in my behaviour that led to me being among the lucky un-raped people. It’s only in the behaviour of those who didn’t rape me.

    Twist
    You being here is fighting. Sharing is courageous. Yes, even if you’re psydonymous. Because the magic of words is that they make things real. To write them down, to say them means you have to deal with the reality behind them and there’s nothing that asks for greater courage.

    Hairhead
    I’m sorry this is happening to you. I hope you can get support beyond the words of strangers on the internet.

    anonymous1
    This is so horrible, I’m so sorry they did that to you.

    +++
    Positive stories?
    I have lots of them.
    The guys who didn’t assault me when I was black out drunk, the guys who never touched me although I was sharing a bed with them, the many times sex stopped before the holy sperm got spilled. It stopped because one got a cramp, because one was too tired, because something new actually hurt and then the pain had destroyed the mood. There are countless occasions when one of us wasn’t sure if it was a pleasure “ohh” or a “pain” oh, stopped and asked “everything allright?”.
    I don’t remember any blue balls as a result.

    mildlymagnificent

    We start when we teach preschoolers that it’s not okay to hit or hurt other people, nor is it okay to make them do anything they don’t want to do – like hugging or kissing. If we tickle them, we stop as soon as they say so. And we teach them to do the same.

    That still misses getting the “yes” before they start. Stopping at “no” is not good enough because it often means that there’s already sombody violated.

    dustbunny
    I’m sorry for what happened to you and I’m glad you found somebody who understands

    A.R.
    Thank you for doing what you do

    Ogvorbis
    Big hugs to you, again.
    I know these memories are painful for you

    mildlymagnificent

    Inappropriate overt sexual play like this is a huge, flashing, red, purple and lurid yellow sign that something is sadly amiss with one or more of these children. I have a horrible feeling that there were shadows of other adults in that room, not just the ones who abused/ignored you, Ogvorbis.

    THIS
    Because that’s not something kids at that age usually think of themselves.
    I remember that once my BFF and I found some mildly pornographic magazines of of mum. And we tried out some of the positions laughing our asses off. Fully clothed. Because we were kids and we were playing some weird form of “Twister”

    +++

  395. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I’ve been almost entirely absent from this thread. I want to apologize. I know that I don’t *owe* people my presence on any one thread or another, but I should have been here & there was just too much going on off-line.

    I have so much to read to fully catch up, but I’m not fully coherent now b/c I just got home after a 9 hour drive (which should have been 6 hours if not for car overheating and having to drive 30mph when going uphill so as not to overheat the engine). So I think I’ll put off catching up and writing in even longer.

    But I will say more. Y’all have been amazing, and I needed to say that you have all my support – my most fiercely loving and my most lovingly fierce support.

  396. Ogvorbis: Purveyor of Mediocre Humours! says

    You are not only a nice person, you are still the wonderful person we all care very much about.

    And now, remembering what I did to those three people, I feel like I have fooled you.

    that 12 year old is NOT YOU

    But he is. He’s part of who I am now.

    And even at that, you still made the decision ‘never again.’

    But that wasn’t ‘I’ll never abuse again,’ that was, ‘I’m a man now.’ I did become what he wanted.

    I have a horrible feeling that there were shadows of other adults in that room, not just the ones who abused/ignored you, Ogvorbis.

    Maybe. Or maybe I’m jsut protecting myself. Were they engaged in sex play before I went in? I’m not sure I remember.

    That tells me that you have the kind heart it takes to recognize that it was wrong,

    The apology was for misleading all of you. Sorry for th epor writing. Still shaken up.

    So thank you, Ogvorbis, for being the good man you are, despite what was done to you.

    But what about what I did? That’s the scary part.

    I feel like I’ve been in control since I was 12. What if I lose control and become who I am rahter than who I pretend to be?

  397. Shriketastic says

    Ogvorbis;

    The very fact you’re conflicted and in pain about this whole thing demonstrates you’re not what you’re afraid you are.

    You were 12. You weren’t the aggressor in this situation, you were just one more of the victims in that circle of abuse.

  398. mildlymagnificent says

    What if I lose control and become who I am rahter than who I pretend to be?

    Pretend to be? Who I am? I very much suspect you’re creating your own version of impostor syndrome.

    The idea ‘s not all that obviously relevant – it’s usually related to women, and to job / success issues, and there’s an awful lot of woo around it. http://vpge.stanford.edu/newsletters/S13impostor But there’s a core there you can work with if the idea strikes a chord with you.

    Remember you’re trying to do this all on your own without a counsellor/ therapist’s guidance. (Let’s be honest, this thread doesn’t bristle with good feelings about therapists anyway.) You need thinking tools if you’re left without any other assistance. Our perceptions of the man you’ve shown yourself to be are perfectly valid, and you’re not the only one in this thread who’s done regrettable things as a child – some have even done them as full-grown adults. The damaged person you say is within you can be like a physical problem. It might be like an infection that won’t go away, it might be like a finger or a limb lost in machinery, it might be like a scar on the skin, it might be like previously broken bones which only ever show up on an xray. Thinking along those lines might help a bit.

    We are all the product of our lives to this point. The fact that we have horrible things in our past does not cancel or devalue our marriages, the children we’ve raised, our relationships, our friendships, our studies, our jobs, the values and ethics we live by. They are items on the other side of the balance scales.

    I don’t know whether you can get through to the other side of this without therapy or other guidance from a qualified person, but for the time being you need to invent a good therapist in your head, just as you need to take care of the sad little boy you already carry with you. He’s not “the real you” that can emerge in some way. He’s part of your history.

  399. Shriketastic says

    I don’t give a shit about Michael Shermer. To me, this thread is the grenade.

    Nah, Shermer was the grenade.
    The firefight has escalated and now this thread is a full on carpet bombing, danger close.

  400. says

    Ogvorbis
    I think for those who survived abuse, and who broke the cycle by noticing that it was wrong, the fear of turning into their abuser themselves is huge. We have heard many stories here. Stories of people who had horrible things done to them and who then went on to do them because that is what they learned was normal. That is what you learned was normal.
    And what makes you different is that you stopped. That you broke the vicious circle.
    I know my story is nowhere comparable to what happened to you, but believe me, my greatest fear is turning into my mother. Every time I have a fight with the kids, everytime I do act wrong I’m asking myself: Am I just like her? Am I fucking up my kids just the same? But there’s already the difference: Knowing and fearing and wanting better.
    And that makes you a good person.

  401. says

    Ogvorbis

    I’ve been thinking about your story since I read it last night. You may have thought to yourself that at 12 you were a grown up man, but you weren’t. You were a child. Unable to consent. Not responsible. The adults who damaged you are responsible for what you did. Much in the same way as child soldiers in war zones have been pounded and moulded into weapons to be sent out and cause damage to others. Those children are victims of war crimes and the atrocities they commit are at the feet of the adults who “recruited” them.

    That history is part of what makes you you now, but it’s not a caged monster ready to pounce. You don’t have a demon inside ready to take you over. You have a past, and you have yourself, your total, real (not pretend) self here in the present. A self that feels remorse and empathy, that cares about other people, that wants to do no harm to others, that resists whatever compulsions you might feel to reenact the abuse you suffered. That is a self that is a good person.

  402. says

    heather ferguson

    I sometimes wonder how much of my attitude towards sex was tainted by this. And sometimes I’m terrified of trying to break through my shyness because I’m worried if I was more socially forward I might carry on the cycle. If I could be sure I could keep my terror of perpetuating the cycle while I got rid of my shyness I’d be ok, but I don’t know if I would.

    To this, I’m going to repeat what Giliell said: “But there’s already the difference: Knowing and fearing and wanting better.” I think your worry itself shows that you’ll probably be ok. Awareness of our capability to abuse (and yes, we all have that) is most of the battle. It means you’ll be observant. It means you’ll make sure to communicate. To listen. To ask if you’re not sure. To check in with your partner(s) and your friends when you need some help in figuring things out or . It’s the people who don’t care what effects their actions have on other people that are the problem.

  403. says

    Ogvorbis

    Upthread, we talked about forgiveness. I mentioned my ex-husband’s notpology, “If you feel that I have hurt you in any way, I hope you have it in your heart to forgive.” And then he continued on his path of poisoning the lives of his women, children, grandchildren. He never, as far as I remember, admitted to doing anything wrong. And he never changed. There’s no forgiving that.

    My brother-in-law beat his wife. Once. Then, she says, he went upstairs and cried. He never hurt her, or anyone else, so far as I know, again. He was a good man. No forgiveness was needed.

    We’ve all done things that were hurtful. I, maybe because of my fear of being hurt again, was extremely cruel to a few people in my teen years. Then I looked at myself, was ashamed, and stopped. And, though I still have the potential in me to repeat that, I don’t. I won’t. I couldn’t live with myself if I did.

    And that’s the thing. It’s stopping the abuse that makes you a good person, not never having done it in the first place. Admitting our failures is the key, that and leaving them behind.

    Who you are is what you do, not what you once did.

  404. Nick Gotts says

    Just how triggering it is to be in a situation where you have lost all control. Being in a dentist’s chair gives me a panic attack like you would not believe. – Caine, Fleur du mal

    TW: abusive dentist
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Shit. I’m sorry if the following account is out of place in this thread, but Caine’s remark reminded me of the only experience I’ve had that I can even remotely compare with being raped – when a dentist went ahead and carried out a painful and prolonged procedure which I had said I did not want.

    I wonder how many of the rape apologists will now be saying:
    “But you should have just got up out of the chair!”
    “But you should have reported him for malpractice!”
    “But you should have gone to the police and charged him with assault!”

    By the time I realized he was going ahead against my expressed wishes (What exactly was he doing in there? Could he really be going ahead despite what I said? Had I not been clear in refusing my consent?), he’d already opened up my gum and I could feel the blood welling out. I was feeling woozy, and the pain was not too bad. I let him continue. I can’t remember if I made any objection to what he’d done before leaving. I didn’t report him. It would have been my word against his and his wife’s (who was in the room, who was my regular dentist, and whom I liked and trusted). All I did do was refuse to pay his bill and leave his practice, sending him a letter that set out why I was doing so, despite regretting losing his wife’s services.

  405. tashaturner says

    I’m sorry I’ve not been around. I take a break from the Internet over the weekends. I am amazed by the number of stories that have been shared since I went offline Friday night. You’ve been heard. Whatever comfort you’ll take be it hugs, snugly blankets, please take it.

    We’ve all done things that were hurtful. I, maybe because of my fear of being hurt again, was extremely cruel to a few people in my teen years. Then I looked at myself, was ashamed, and stopped. And, though I still have the potential in me to repeat that, I don’t. I won’t. I couldn’t live with myself if I did.

    And that’s the thing. It’s stopping the abuse that makes you a good person, not never having done it in the first place. Admitting our failures is the key, that and leaving them behind.

    Who you are is what you do, not what you once did.

    This so much. What we did as kids in imitation of or out of anger at our abusers does not make us bad people as long as we recognize what we did and stopped those behaviors. I was afraid of what’s inside of me. For 30+ years I was afraid to get angry as I was afraid I might crack and kill someone, anyone who angered me my suppressed rage was so great. So instead I turned on myself and was suicidal. Now I’m much less suicidal and I know its safe to get angry although my anger is sometimes more than is appropriate for the situation. That will balance out over time as I get more comfortable with being angry.

  406. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    Men talk about “war stories” but any time you get women together in confidence, the stories come out and the sheer volume of them is overwhelming.

  407. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    Apologies! I don’t want to exclude men or sexual assault victims of any gender, but I’ve noticed that even in group therapy adding men to the group stops women from mentioning their sexual assaults. No wonder it’s invisible in public health discourse.

  408. tashaturner says

    So when I posted my story in #26 I felt guilty. I was turning a post about Elyse into a post about me. And I forgot to put a trigger warning. And then I take a good portion of the weekend off while this thread explodes. Wow. So many people who like me probably cringe each time someone called them “brave”. So sad to continue to see the number of multiple rapes. Stats say 1-4 or 1-6. But as we see people realizing they’ve been raped it makes one wonder how off the stats are.

    On the other-hand I have happy stories about good men.

    I was bullied but never got much sexual attention in school/outside my family/what I posted in #26. Except by girls who were jealous that their boyfriends spent time with me, in totally non-sexual ways who called me a slut & whore. I was “one of the guys” to the boys. Worked on their cars with them, spent time in the computer lab, was invited to guy only movie nights.

    I don’t have many of those “normal” harassment stories. I’m usually treated as one of the guys. I worked in geek/tech fields and had very few problems.

    In high school I occasionally had boys who were just friends stay over at my house. They didn’t know about my abuse, they did know I liked to be held, so they would just sleep next to me when they slept over.

    Frat parties. I had a car in college and was asked a few times to drive friends to other colleges for parties. Not something I was into but I did this a few times. I knew to only drink unopened bottled water or soda. I’d find myself in a dorm room with a few guys who by the end of the night had quit drinking and were fighting over who was getting to “not have sex with me”. Each time I woke up in my sweats with no sign anyone had tried anything while I was sleeping.

    My dorm at all women’s college. My roommate went away most weekends to parties so my room was made available to guys who couldn’t find someone to sleep with. The deal was “bed only”. It was a very rural college so there were not many options. I don’t know how many guys I let sleep in the room but I only had problems with one and even he took being tossed into the hallway ok. I didn’t have to call security just threatened to start screaming. So in my mind he didn’t count as a threat.

    Both of my husbands had/have a hard time having sex with me if I’m drinking/drunk because they saw/see it as “unable to give consent” which is a problem as sex is difficult for me and if I want to have sex sometimes I will get tipsy so I can be enthusiastic. My current husband and I are working on this one.

    So even with all my experiences I believe that most men don’t want to be rapist and won’t be and wish I could thank all the guys I slept with who never pressured me to have sex when I made it clear up front that it was not on the table. I’d also like to thank every guy I’ve had consensual sex with for letting me know it was ok to stop sex at any point. I’ve never been in a relationship where the guy has pouted or been an ass about me stopping sex at any point. I may have pouted or been once or twice about not getting sex when I wanted it. Sorry guys I never meant to be that girl…

    Wow another long one. Thanks for reading and all the support.

  409. says

    Ogvorbis
    All the *hugs*, and I reiterate what I said earlier; a twelve year old is still a child, not a reasoning adult. You are a good person.
    Markita Lynda

    but I’ve noticed that even in group therapy adding men to the group stops women from mentioning their sexual assaults. No wonder it’s invisible in public health discourse.

    I am forced to assume that the emphasis on group therapy is due to a lack of sufficient trained therapists to handle people one on one. Or rather, I really hope that this is the case, because otherwise there’s a whole lot of ragingly incompetent therapists out there. Group therapy, while it may have some uses, is the last fucking thing that someone trying to work through trauma and trust issues usually need.

  410. says

    Socio-Gen, I hope you know how much I love you. Your strength and voice are an inspiration to all.

    Ogvorbis, I love the little Ogvorbis, I love the 12 year old Ogvorbis, I love you. Very much. And if I can manage to be a decent person, I know absolutely you are a decent person.

    Dustbunny, thank you for sharing and adding your voice.

  411. says

    Rabidtreeweasel, you are not talking too much or taking up space – this is the internetz, we never run out of space! Sometimes, when a plug gets pulled, you have to let all the water out, so if you need to talk, keep talking. It’s okay, it’s welcome, our stories help others, and you are safe here.

    Heather Ferguson, thank you for your voice. Please, never feel stupid. We all grow up in the same toxic puddle of societal conditioning, and most of us founder for a very long time before figuring things out. I’d say you did very well, and are doing better and better each day.

  412. heather Ferguson says

    Over the years, so many times I saw someone say they didn’t realize it was rape/assault until days, weeks, months, years, afterwards. I didn’t buy it. Barring cases of intoxication where you don’t even know what happened, much less what word to use for it, how could you not know?

    As you can probably guess from my other post, I’m quite a bit less skeptical of that than I was before.

    At least my “I might be missing something” instinct was active so I never actually attacked someones story over this. I just internally disbelieved.

  413. says

    I know I’m days behind, but

    tashaturner @108

    *HUGS* Thank you, yes. Reading through yours and all the other stories, I feel a little of the guilt that kept me from fully acknowledging what happened to me. I mean, I got off relatively very easily. I was only raped once… I’m pretty sure at least… There was no violence mixed with it. No penetration. No one’s clothes got removed. I didn’t have to get STD testing and the trauma region was one I can work around with stuff.

    Clearly I have never had to go through what you and so many others, too many others have, so it’s nice to be reminded and keep reminding myself that it’s not about who had it worse but just how unbelievably often it happens to too many men and women.

  414. says

    Johanna and Dello, thank you for your stories and voices. We each learn, every day.

    Ogvorbis:

    I feel like I’ve been in control since I was 12. What if I lose control and become who I am rahter than who I pretend to be?

    I’ve been in tight control of myself from a much younger age than 12, Ogvorbis. I don’t think I’ve ever had a day where I wasn’t afraid I’d lose that control. So many days, afraid I’d just let go and allow the cold fury to swallow me and start killing. I’m the only one who knows how easy that would be. The other day, I took the biggest risk of my life, and asked my partner of 34 years to read this thread. Eventually, he’ll read this. I don’t want him to. Whether I like it or not, this is me. It’s up to me how I cope, how I handle things, what I do with that part of me which is dangerous. What I’ve done is channel that rage into helping others, whenever I am able.

    We can be dangerous, Ogvorbis, and we can be decent human beings with empathy, too. It’s a choice. We just have to make that choice every day.

  415. raquelsilva says

    I’m unlurking just to give my support to all the people who have told their stories. Your stories break my heart. I couldn’t finish Elyse’s story. Half way through and I was shaking. Just can’t imagine what it must take to get over something like that, because I’m one of the lucky ones that never had to deal with anything more than harassment.
    I wanted you to know there is one more person who cares and believes in all your stories. I’ve been trying to read all the comments here, because that’s what I can do right now, be a witness and offer support. Internet hugs if you want them or just words, or just standing behind you.

  416. says

    I should just get, like, a rubber stamp that I can use through the ‘nets, that says: “What Caine Said.”

    Ogvorbis, if they tell me I’m not a monster inside, then you can’t be either. I damn-near killed someone. I know the fear of that monster, and who the monster could harm, so, so well. It made it hard for me to interact with my (step)*kids for the first couple of years I was parenting them, because I was working so hard to control myself, to not be my parents or my abusers, to not harm them.

    And not only do they both love me still, we took in two foster kids (one for three years, and her brother for eight months while he got himself free of crack/heroin). And they both love me too.

    I’m convinced we punish ourselves more often and more seriously than we would ever have received for our misdeeds. Maybe you can let yourself down a bit easy on this one? The person I’ve seen you be around here isn’t any kind of monster. That’s the only picture I have of who you are: a decent person, who’s trying hard to be a better one all the time.

  417. says

    Oh, forgot my asterisk.

    * We never called them “stepkids”, just kids, and they never called me “stepmum”, just “Mum” (my partner was Mom). Now I’m MC Mama Cait, and I’m good with that too. Never felt the desire to suggest my kids were somehow different, just because I wasn’t there when they were born.

  418. says

    And, breaking the three-in-a-row rule, I completely adore being “Nana Cake” to my grandkids, too. Cause they can’t say “Cait” easily, so they say “Cake” instead. I love them for that. :)

  419. says

    Nick, thank you for sharing that story. I really understand.

    Cerberus:

    I might be 2 days late, but I want to give ALL THE SAFE HUGS to Caine @93. You’re a fucking rockstar and should never be made to feel like less.

    Ha! If anything, I share a stage with you, and I am so grateful for you. My sister, always. All the love.

  420. burgundy says

    You all amaze me so much. Thank you for your bravery, and for your stunning generosity in sharing so much of yourselves with other people.

    @Nick Gotts #460 – my only traumatic experience of having my autonomy violated was in a dentists chair. What he actually did was minimal but I didn’t want it and he didn’t ask and I couldn’t say no because his hands were in my mouth and there were people leaning over my arms so I couldn’t move.

    But for the rest? I have never been raped. I don’t think I’ve been sexually assaulted (I can’t remember off the top of my head ever even being groped.) I have never experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse from a partner. My first boyfriend was 23 and I was 17 and there was never even the slightest doubt that he would follow my lead in terms of what I was comfortable with.

    Of course, things aren’t always physical. Several years ago, the partment complex I was in was targeted by a peeping tom. It was a small complex, only 16 units, and I think he went after every single woman there. In one case, he crouched under her living room window and peered in through the bottom. Once, one of my neighbors saw him looking in another woman’s window and masturbating. I don’t think I will ever forget how it felt to hear a noise, turn around, and see a face pressed up against my window, looking in through a hole in the blinds. We were all freaked out. For a while, I would have random flashes of anger at men I passed by, because why do they get to do these things to us?

    But here’s what makes me really angry, what enrages me all these years later – we were taken seriously. We told the apartment management, and they put in new security features. One of my neighbors had a cop relative, and she told him, and we actually had guys in plainclothes hanging out at random times to keep an eye on things and maybe catch him. And this is a major city, so it’s not like they didn’t have anything else to do. They said it was important to address it because behavior like this can escalate, especially since the guy clearly didn’t care about being seen.

    And it worked, and he stopped, and I should be grateful for that, and I am, but I am so angry because why did we get treated so well, when so many people have actually been physically harmed, and they get treated like shit? Why did the cops spend time and resources on us, when they don’t bother to investigate actual rapes? I wouldn’t call it survivor’s guilt, but I do feel really bad about it. Because I’m not special or more deserving, but I got all the social protections that everyone deserves and almost no one gets.

    “Just” having to deal with a peeping tom still makes me one of the lucky ones. I can’t always spend a lot of time on Pharyngula, but I do want to try to be more of a support and an ally, because I have the spoons for it. I’m not getting triggered, I don’t have to take time off for self-care. And I want to make it absolutely clear to all of you who are survivors – I believe you. I will bear witness to your stories. And I have your back.

  421. la tricoteuse says

    So many stories. I don’t know what to say. You are all beautiful. I believe you. All of you. I’ve got hugs if you want them, or cookies, or drinks, or a frequently-psychotic-but-comforting-when-it-counts stuffed cow to cuddle, whatever you want.

    I’ve been debating whether to add my voice, whether it was wise, valid, worthy, necessary. I kept telling myself “when I reach the end of the comments, if I refresh and there are no new ones, I’ll write.” There were always new ones, so I didn’t. I recognise this as stalling, yes. So.

    POSSIBLE TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR ALL THAT FOLLOWS, JUST IN CASE

    I was not sexually abused as a child, not that I can remember at least. I often suspect my younger sister was, and sometimes wonder if the large gaps in my memories of early childhood were the result of something more nefarious than just generally having a bad time and not particularly enjoying reminiscing. But that way madness lies, and I don’t trust my overactive imagination to tell me the truth if I start trying to fill in the gaps. So. I was not, to my knowledge, sexually abused, though I have hangups aplenty from god knows where. Emotional and, to a lesser extent physical, abuse however, I did not manage to avoid. My father had a temper. I mention this for background info, I suppose.

    I’ve been drugged twice. Once, I was 19 and in my first year of university. I went to a frat party (first and only, if memory serves) and had two, or at most three, beers (which I got myself) and one amaretto sour (bought for me by some dude in a group of dudes that some girls and I were chatting to). I was much much drunker, and much much sicker than I should have been. I spent the rest of the evening emptying the contents of my stomach into a toilet, which I passed out hugging, to be woken up after the party was over by a security guard and the RA of my dorm, who escorted me safely back to my room and poured me into bed. I was lucky. But I’ve gone off amaretto sours.

    The second time was quite a few years later, and not quite as lucky, though it could have been worse. So much worse. I was visiting a friend from high school and she and I had gone out to a bar in a neighbouring town to her own. Somewhere in the course of that evening I must have left a drink unattended, though I knew better, because things got very hazy and unreal and some random guy (whether or not he was the same one who slipped something into my drink, or just the lucky beneficiary of another’s “hard work”, I cannot know) managed to maneuver me into a bathroom stall, where he got my dress up and my tights down and…did things. His penis never got anywhere near me, I don’t think, but his hands and mouth did. We were found by a bouncer, who kicked us out of the bathroom. My friend found me standing alone, staring at nothing, took my hand, and led me out. I was, apparently, docile as a kitten. I do not remember much, just flashes. Humiliating flashes, because some part of me was enjoying it, however unwanted, unconscious, and unconsented to.

    The hardest one. Though even this, not so bad. Which is, oddly, why it’s the hardest one. I mentioned above that I have loads of hangups. I was very out of place in school, very lonely, very low on self-esteem and friends, a late bloomer in many ways, and was never the recipient of any interest from boys at school. Or at university, really, unless you count spiking my drink being the “recipient of interest.” Consequently, I remained a virgin into my 20s.

    Shortly after my 22nd birthday, which was towards the end of March, I met a guy at a club who I chatted with for a long time that evening, and he offered to drive me home. On the way, he said his house was closer and would I mind just crashing at his place and he’d drive me home in the morning? Not wanting to cause a fuss, I said ok. He did not rape me. We made out a bit, and slept, and I do not remember if he did drive me home the next morning or just to a bus stop. In any case, we continued to see each other for a few weeks, or a couple of months, I honestly can’t remember how long it really was. I told him I wasn’t ready for sex. He was ok with it initially, but started making comments about trying his patience and not being willing to wait around forever, and things of that nature. One night at his house, in early April (it was always his house), we were doing things and I felt his penis start to push into me. I literally scrambled backwards and crawled halfway up the wall to get away. I said I wasn’t ready. He backed off, but a few minutes later, he tried again. This time I didn’t move away, it was just too humiliating to do it again. So I let him. I wasn’t comfortable with it. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t even like him that much, to be honest. I just wanted someone to like me, I think, and knew he wouldn’t for much longer if I didn’t let him. The next day, I told my friend “guess what I finally did?” I didn’t think of it as a violation the next day. Or for awhile after. I still can’t quite bring myself to actually say the R word. But it was. I said I wasn’t ready.

    And then there was the guy on the bus in Rome who pressed his fully-clothed erection against my ass.

    And the man who tried to pick me up at a dark, isolated bus stop.

    And the one who was a regular at the little after-hours bar I used to go to after closing the pub where I worked, whose flat I went to to do some coke once without a second thought because “hey I see him practically every day, and everyone knows him.” I fell asleep on his bed and woke up to him spooning me and rubbing my stomach. Luckily nothing more.

    Such small things, really. And I know that’s just me Dear Muslima-ing myself, in a sense. But I consider myself one of the lucky ones. And isn’t that just 32 flavours of fucked up?

    And then, I remind myself of all the things I’d tell someone else if they were minimising their own trauma. Everyone’s pain is real and as bad as it is for them, regardless of how it might compare to someone else’s. A shaky foundation and a few small cracks can, given enough time, take down a building as surely as a wrecking ball.

    And somehow, all of these small things have contributed to my current situation, in which my partner of 5 1/2 years (who is the only person I’ve actually really enjoyed sex with even a little bit) and I have not actually been physically intimate for the past 3 years. Something tripped a wire in me somewhere and I stopped wanting to for awhile, and then it just…became something we don’t really do, and only ever talk about when we’re fighting about something else. We never seem to find time to fix Us. And I really want to fix Us.

    But right now, I’m in bad shape. I started having panic attacks, seemingly about health, about 3 months ago. So it’s not a good time.

    And I can’t seem to find a place to stop typing. So I’m just going to stop now.

    Everyone in this thread is my hero. Every last one of you (who still have all your vowels, anyway).

  422. brianpansky says

    @480 Caine

    i can see from your previous comments how you (and others here) might disagree with the last point Elyse made there about perpetrator stories, rather than victim stories.

    from previous comments in this thread, i understand that maybe people could disagree with her nuance (?), and people do want perpetrators to learn and change. also, the issue of stigma can prevent problem individuals from seeking help.

    that said, i do think there is a point that maybe that sort of thing could take place in a different space. i think the things Elyse and Dani Wells said are important.

  423. Taemon says

    la tricoteuse, I’m so sorry that happened to you, and that you still have to fight it. Your current partner sounds great. I’m sorry. Hugs. Or tea.

    Listen, I’ve seen a few people saying disparaging things about “blue balls” (and rightly so) but I think I was the only one mention blue balls, in a story about how a guy stopped when I told him to stop (because we weren’t using a condom, otherwise I was enthousiastically consenting). I want to make clear that the man in this situation didn’t complain, didn’t mention blue balls or something, he just stopped and we were okay. It is possible. I felt a little bit guilty about putting him into an uncomfortable situtation but I never even considered I didn’t have the right to do what I did, and neither did he. He was a good guy.

    But somehow that doesn’t stop me from crying over all of you. Bring on the stories. They need to be heard. Love.

  424. says

    Brianpansky, yes, I understand that full well. I can live with there being better places for that specific discussion to take place, and I’m not in complete disagreement there. I would point out that we’ve had women in this thread admit they have committed rape in the past, and no one jumped on them, so I think there’s much work to be done in that regard.

    My primary disagreement is with offering belief. Personally, I think that is incredibly important, given the sheer number of people who are disbelieved, by family, friends, acquaintances, the law, society, whole towns and the fuckin’ internet.

    Also, I think the importance of offering belief was hammered home for Pharyngulites during the Epic Grenade thread. It was felt to be important to voice I believe you to Jane Doe. Of course, this is very much a YMMV situation, and no one person will be the same as others, so I will try to tailor my responses and support in a better way.

  425. says

    Adding to mine @ 485, I also think it’s important that people like J. Doe @ 143 and Ogvorbis, and MM and CaitieCat and myself and a host of others have a place to talk about things we have done or thought about doing as a direct result of the things which were done to us.

  426. Jackie Papercuts says

    Ogvorbis,
    I was made an angry child. I learned to be scary sometimes and ingratiating in others to be safe. I learned to use humor as a shield. I now see this same thing played out with kids in the foster system. They manipulate and threaten because they are afraid. If you try to bully them into different behavior, you will lose every time because frankly, they have more to lose and they understand more about bullying than they want to. Scare some of them and they’ll nuke you from orbit given half a chance. You can never forget that unless you want to undo any good report you’ve developed with them. Some of them are sex offenders. That doesn’t mean they aren’t still kids who need some love and understanding. As I’ve said before about my own perpetrator, I pity them. The adults in both of our lives let us down. If I could, I’d go back in time and protect us both. You needed the same. The rule I try to live by when someone in pain has a meltdown is, “Don’t just do something, stand there.” I’ve done the wrong thing so many times. I’ve raised my voice, when I shouldn’t have. (I sound like R. Lee Ermy. It isn’t pleasent) Earlier in my life, I made worse decisions than that. I’m lucky I didn’t get arrested. You are not alone in your regrets. The guilt can eat at you and to be honest I don’t like the idea of forgiving myself. Punishing myself seems right, even though I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else. That’s part of the sickness though, part of the cycle. If you have that voice too, please don’t listen to it. It lies.

    Both responses are born out of a sense of panic and that they still come back to me can freak me right out. A guy grabbed me with his legs while sitting on a bar stool a couple of nights ago and pulled me close, wanting a kiss. He was by the register, so I could not avoid him. Little did he know that I was out with my husband because I wanted to forget all about this very thread. I smiled so sweetly and laughed and told him to get home safe. Then I cried for hours once I was out of there. It was a pretty good night with friends until then, aside form finding out one of them had stage 3 cancer. (I have a low bar for a good night out.:( ) He’s lucky. He had no idea what was under my smile. The instinct to either make the scary person like you so much that they’ll leave you be or fuck them up so bad they will never be able to hurt you again is always there. Unlearning that takes time, education, therapy and the will to give a damn. Choking it down means it comes back up in other ways. This sounds so crazy, but finally my husband and I walked a little and I went and hugged and snotted on a horse I’m familiar with until I calmed down. I cried because he triggered me. I cried because being vulnerable sucks. I cried because I was ashamed because being targeted like that always makes me feel as if something is wrong with me.I cried because I should have been able to tell him he was fucking up in an impolite, but not violent way. I cried for the unexpressed rage. I cried for the guilt of letting him and guys like him who have tried something like that or groped me get away with it and I cried because deep down, I’m still not a very nice person. Deep down, I wish I’d have knocked him off that stool and mopped the floor with his drunk ass to the best of my limited ability. I’d have gotten the worst of it, but my inner voice tells me that he’d have thought twice before he tried that on someone else. It tells me I should have protected them by hitting him. I think the voice is wrong. A beating is not ever educational. He’d have written me off as a crazyprudeslutbitch. I don’t think going to jail covered in bruises and smelling of sweat and beer is something I want my kids’ mom to do. My fear is that one day I’ll fight and end up doing just that or worse, decide not to and end up getting hurt worse than if I had. Either way, it will be my fault for not having perfect composure and control when my boundaries are invaded. *sigh* Thems the rule and I know it.
    We are far from perfect, Oggie. We don’t want to hurt anyone else. That means we can’t keep hurting ourselves. Somehow, we have to stop punishing ourselves. You are a good person. You give me hope for all those kids and teens I meet who have been where you have been and done what you have done and that is a rare and wonderful gift. It helps me not to burn out or give up. You also help others to see them as people. Maybe some of them will read what you have shared and it will help them see themselves that way too. Thank you.

    Thanks to everyone who has posted on this thread. It has been difficult to read, but it is also such a relief to be able to talk about it at all and know that other people know what it is like, really like, out there and how it can make you feel inside yourself. To not see denial and hand waving has been wonderful.