Last year I wrote a piece for my blog about my experience and posted it soon after. I also sent the link to my ex who I felt needed to know what I thought about it.
His reaction and I quote, “It’s insulting to those who really experienced it.”
Now at the time and in my confused and traumatised mind I thought maybe he was right. Was what I experienced the same? I mean I had been in a relationship with him and people who cared about you and loved you didn’t do those kind of things did they?
Remember the 65 to 85% from my last post? Yes, exactly. But it is true; people who really do care about and love you would never do those things.
The next thing he said was that I had come to his apartment on my own accord and I was drunk so what did I expect to happen? Oh man, in my current, clear thinking, sane mind all I can say now is, “You sir, are a fucking pig.”
I don’t have to justify anything here because there is no excuse for his behaviour. You know what I mean. Drunk or sober, it doesn’t matter. If you can’t say yes and you can’t say no, it’s not consensual. And the fact that he was completely sober makes the whole thing a lot worse.
At the time, however, I was still so frightened I took the post down and deleted it.
Now before I go any further, I would like to clarify the use of my language in this post and point out that I don’t like the word, ‘victim.’ To me it makes the person sound weak and they are anything but. Thus, my preferred term is, ‘survivor.’
I remember I used to think that people should speak out as soon as possible after it happened but I had never been in their shoes. I didn’t know that not only was your brain trying to process what had happened, it was also trying desperately to rationalise, justify and explain why it had happened. In the case of knowing the person, you also have a whole mix of emotions fighting with your head.
People don’t speak out for various reasons and sometimes when they do, it is months or even years later. I never understood that either but I can now explain why.
Speaking out about what happened to me is the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Keeping quiet would have been easier but it was also a burden I didn’t want to carry for the rest of my life. I also have a responsibility to the young women I know who come into contact with him every single day.
When a survivor of sexual assault or rape chooses not to stay silent she (or he) is first and foremost terrified that people won’t believe them.
The second fear is that the person who did it will try and get revenge.
So why did I choose to speak out?
The reason was twofold: 1) to prevent future women, especially young ones from having to be put in the same situation. I had heard stories and realised that perhaps I was the voice for all the ones who stayed silent because they were afraid, shamed or felt guilty (again, all emotions that are legitimate and that you do experience). The second reason was to get it off my chest and thus as a way to heal and move on.
I’m extremely lucky. People not only knew I was telling the truth but two of my male co-workers who knew what had happened spoke up before me. I simply confirmed their stories. The support and resolution I also got were amazing and beyond any of my expectations. I was offered counselling and I was offered a lawyer if I wanted to take it further.
It was then that I truly realised how much people I work with, know and am friends with, love me and respect me. A strong support network is essential for getting over something like this.
Whoever you are and wherever you are, remember that there is always someone who is willing to listen to your story. People will believe you and if they don’t, then you are speaking to the wrong people. Find someone you trust implicitly and tell them and together seek help.
Love to all the survivors out there; your story will not be forgotten. xxxooo