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34 years later and it's no less true

I was date raped.

I was date raped before the term "date rape" was even a thing. I didn't know it was rape because he wasn't a stranger in a dark alley. He was a friend who said he liked me. But he was also a boy and we all knew that if a boy "lost control" it was a girl's fault.

I was date raped and there was alcohol involved, so I didn't know it was rape because we all knew that if a girl drinks alcohol that's "just what happens to her." I had abrogated my right to say no when I took a drink because we had all heard, over and over, how girls who drink should "expect" boys to take advantage of them and couldn't complain when it happened.

I saw my rapist socially after it happened, because we had the same friends. That's what happens when your rapist is a friend. And I didn't hate him. I didn't know what to feel. I had no words because, back then, we didn't know rape could happen like this. I was young and naive and had a head full of society telling me what rape meant and why I should doubt myself. I had been conditioned, which is like being brainwashed-- every authority I'd ever known, my entire culture, had insisted from birth on what "reality" was and when my reality was in conflict of course I didn't know what to make of it.

I was 17. I had been with one boy before that. The boy who raped me didn't use a condom and I got pregnant and had an abortion. I've had to live with all of that-- the trauma and confusion, the medical history, the feelings of shock, anger, doubt, shame. I didn't "come forward" or go to the police because I felt no one would believe me because of the circumstances. All that would happen is my parents would be disappointed to find out I wasn't a virgin when it happened, I would become notorious in my home town for something ugly and divisive, people would "pick sides" and I would incur enemies who didn't believe me, my life and character would be on trial. It may have been "right" but that doesn't mean it wouldn't have been traumatic and ruined my life. It was more than I could handle-- I was 17 and by the time I even figured out what had happened to me was wrong enough time had passed that I knew people would use that as a reason not to believe me. Not because it didn't hurt or wasn't wrong-- it was not an intellectual decision made after the fact. It was a huge issue with frightening implications that took time to process. Like any trauma.

I have not shared this story in its entirety with anyone, I don't think, in 34 years. Because even now it makes me feel so terrible. I imagine all the people who are going to hurt me more by condemning and judging me, saying awful things to me, because for them it's all just a theoretical subject instead of my lived experience. They think they're discussing a subject-- I am that subject.

I don't hate that boy and I don't think he should have gone to jail. I didn't want to "ruin his life." But I don't think it should ruin my life just to acknowledge the reality of my experience. What he did was wrong, and it hurt me. That is the truth. But it's also not about him-- it's about how society has conditioned us all to misunderstand consent and our responsibility to one another.

I'm sharing now because I am so angry over the responses to the Ghomeshi trial. I am too angry to care anymore about what people who have never had to experience this think. I don't care if you understand or not anymore. You may have the "right" to judge me but that doesn't give you the basis on which to judge me accurately. You were not there and, if you're judging me negatively, you probably have no idea what it feels like to be a woman in this society. So you go ahead and be ignorant; I'm not going to let fear of your ignorance keep me silent anymore.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 27th, 2016 03:44 pm (UTC)

You are not alone. We hear you and, even if we haven't shared, many of us have had similar experiences.
Mar. 27th, 2016 04:01 pm (UTC)
It's precisely because of how many of us have had similar experiences that I'm fed up with the response to the trial verdict. There's a whole reality that we're all aware of but hardly ever talk about-- at least not explicitly. Kind of like everyone "knew" about Ghomeshi. I actually assume my female friends have been sexually assault until I hear otherwise.
Mar. 27th, 2016 05:46 pm (UTC)
It's interesting; I'm still avoiding talking about my experiences. The tendency is so strong that when my Dad started talking about the Ghomeshi verdict, I told him I didn't want to talk about it, even though he was sympathetic to the complainants. Even though my Mom had just mentioned that she wished the Crown had called expert evidence on the effect of trauma on memory. I just didn't want to talk about why you might continue to interact with someone who had raped you, and might look to outsiders as if you were on friendly terms.

It sucks.
Mar. 27th, 2016 07:17 pm (UTC)
And I think that's part of the whole issue-- we're not *obligated* to talk about it. We may not even *need* to talk about it. It's our experience and how we feel about it and what we do with it is ours and ours alone, and not up to anyone else to evaluate.
Mar. 27th, 2016 04:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing your story.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )