Calling rape non-consensual sex is like calling bludgeoning batting practice just because the same instrument is used. Rape is not sex. Rape is violence. Rape is power. Rape is control. Rape gives you things you do not want, and steals what you do. Rape stole my confidence. Rape stole my ability to see the world as benevolent. I am still trying to take back what it stole from me. Before being raped, I knew that bad things were a possibility. After rape, I realize how often I still see the worst possible outcome as the likely one.
I was raped. In the moment, I felt like neither victim nor survivor. Victim. Survivor. Both evoke sentiments, perceptions that suggest mutual exclusivity. Victims are to be pitied. Survivors are to be admired. Either way, the onus is on both. To prove. To justify. To explain.
Here is my explanation. I said no. I said no, clearly and definitively. I was not intoxicated. I was not provocatively dressed. I was not a virgin. It was daytime. It was in my home. I felt like neither victim nor survivor. I felt confusion, incredulity, betrayal, terror, despair.
This should not matter. It does not matter. If none of this was so, it still would not matter. Rape is not contingent upon the verbiage, or the sobriety, or the sartorial, or the numbers, or the hour. Rape is contingent upon the willingness and the desire of a rapist to rape.
I knew the person who raped me. I refuse to call him “my rapist.” I don’t want possession of him. I’d trusted him. I’d trusted him because I’d spent time with him for a year before he raped me. I’d trusted him, because we talked over lunch for a year before he raped me. I knew his sister’s name. Where he’d grown up. What he dreamed of.
I’d invited him into my home, because I’d trusted him. I’d invited him into my bed, because I’d trusted him. I’d trusted him because we’d had sex. We’d had sex, and he hadn’t hurt me. So I trusted him, when I’d said “no” to the handcuffs he’d dangled playfully from his index finger. I’d trusted him, until he’d wrenched my hands over my head and snapped those same handcuffs he’d hidden under my pillow around my wrists.
Rape is forcible, even if there are no restraints. Rape is cunning. I was raped. I was unwilling. I was forced. First, face down onto my bed. Then, into begging him to wear a condom before he penetrated me anally. Then, into begging him to stop.
I don’t regret being raped. I didn’t do anything regrettable, although it took me a long time to understand this. At the time, I regretted not being the woman I thought I’d be if this ever happened to me. I thought I would fight back. With fists. With teeth. With violence. I didn’t know then that I had fought back. With mettle. With resolve. With nerve.
I’d said his name. I’d said my name. Over and over and over again. I’d said my name. I needed for us both to remember that I was human. I needed him to remember. He remembered. Long enough to stop. Long enough to lock himself in my bathroom. Long enough to cry as he washed his body, flushed the condom. Long enough to tell me that I was a good person, and that I should stay away from him.
I don’t regret that. He did that. That was his choice.
I did regret one choice.
Not the condom. Not the shower. Not the sex with a human later that night. I needed gentle hands. Kind words. I needed to not be afraid of being held. I regretted not saying anything. I regretted the women who came after me. I regretted the silence. It was the silence that nearly killed me.
After rape, is the insidious. The silence is insidious. It leaves too much room. Too much hole. After rape, there was alcohol and work and insomnia and work and food and work and flashbacks and work and spending and work and loneliness and work and nightmares and work and isolation and work.
When the hole grew too much, there was work. Therapy and anti-depressants and weights and running and writing and meditation and forgiveness and work. There is still work. There is still forgiveness. I forgave myself. I forgive myself. For the silence.
I am neither victim nor survivor. I am both.