Confronted by the word

At pretty much the exact same time I accepted a probationary offer from FtB to write on New Frontier, my relationship at the time took a drastic nosedive. What had previously been a subtle form of chipping away at my self esteem (which I would later learn is known as “grooming”) abruptly exploded. Shouting matches, belittling, cornering, threats, gaslighting, compulsive lying–daily. Near fucking daily. It all culminated in a scene at one of the local BDSM clubs where she… well.

I suppose I always knew what happened. I’ve used the words before. “She hurt me,” “she violated me,” etc. It’s one thing for you to recognise what it is from the other side of the fog installed by gaslighting. It’s one thing to try and recognise the fog for what it was–a survival tactic used by a serial abuser to keep her victims dizzy and unwilling to fight back.

It’s another can of worms to have someone else look you in the eye and say, “girl, she raped you.”

My counselor doesn’t quite understand BDSM. There was no sexual contact that occurred that night, so arguably the legal applications of sexual assault are ambiguous at best (regular assault might be more plausible?). But that’s not the point. My abuser will never be charged. At least not for what she did to me. The legalities aren’t important. What is important is fully capturing the following:

  1. She removed my ability to consent;
  2. She proceeded not knowing or caring whether I consented;
  3. She blamed me for being upset

I didn’t–couldn’t–consent, and she proceeded anyway. I knew this. So why is it so different to have someone else say it? Have I been so inundated by skepticism from the community that having someone believe me feels so alien?



  1. says

    I have known many bloggers, including myself, who read and wrote about rape culture, but still hesitated to put the name to their own experience. Speaking for myself, if someone had told me I experienced rape before I thought so myself, I would have noped my way out of there. If someone said it to my face now, I don’t even know. Can of worms indeed.

  2. says

    I feel you, Siobhan.

    I would put it as “he hurt me, but he didn’t mean to.” Or “he hit me, but I shouldn’t have…” Or “he’s controlling everything, but it’s only because he cares so much.” Or “I didn’t want to [insert sex act here], but I agreed to try it. It’s only fair that I let him finish…”

    It was years, in fact, before I could call it what it was: abuse and rape.

    It’s a hard journey, and you may lose parts of yourself along the way, but you also find parts of yourself you never knew existed.

    *headbonks* and warm sands to you.

  3. says

    I’m sorry, Shiv.
    I understand the difficulties of calling a spade a spade. I remember that when I finally understood that my mother had in fact abused me, it was much easier to write just that “abused”, because English is not my native tongue. When my husband first used that word in German I looked at him shocked. How could he say that? I still struggle with that German word.
    Funny thing that is.