========TRIGGER WARNING:  If you are a victim, you already know what this means.  This is my own story, and gets a bit explicit.  Be advised.========

I have a confession, something that most of you do not know about me.  You may have wondered why I am so vocal about victim’s rights, women’s rights, and other issues concerning women’s bodies and relationships.  Maybe you didn’t wonder at all, because it isn’t unusual for a woman to be concerned about those things.  But the thing is, it really does matter to me.  It matters because I am a victim.

I am a victim in more than one way, and by more than one person.  But today I will only tell you about one of them.  He had promised to love me, and yet he had no respect for me.  I did not realize this until it was too late.  But out of all the things he did, the emotional manipulation, the lies, what hurt the most was the one time that he raped me.

Rape.

Yes, I said it, that uncomfortable little word that everyone tries to avoid.  I hope it made you uncomfortable, because it should.  The very thought of rape should make you squirm.  I’m not going to tame my language by using phrases like “he forced/coerced” because they feel slightly more comfortable, not quite so taboo.  He doesn’t deserve that.  He deserves all the discomfort and disapproval you can muster, because he is a rapist.  He is a person willing to control another person by any and all means necessary.  He doesn’t deserve to have you wish that you could think less harshly of him.  He needs to know that what he did was not okay, that it was rape, and that I will not stay silent about it.  Not any more.

Some of you may question this… was she really raped?  What really happened?  I don’t care.  It took me a couple of years to admit to myself that it was rape, even though I was clearly demonstrating the emotional and mental symptoms of it.  I was willing to admit that it felt like rape to me, but was hesitant to label him a rapist.

So what actually happened?  Well, we were lying in bed together.  He put his arms around me and started kissing my neck.  I knew what he wanted, but I didn’t want to.  So I told him so.

“I’m not in the mood right now,” I said.
“I can get you in the mood…” he said.
“But I don’t feel well.”
“I can make you feel better.”
“I doubt that.  I feel nauseous.  Just leave me alone so I can get some rest.”
“Aww… but I’m really horny right now.”
“So go take care of yourself.  I’m not in the mood right now.”
“Please….”
“No.”
“But baby…”
“NO.”

He was still kissing my neck, running his hands over my body.  I really wasn’t feeling it.  I tried to roll away.  He grabbed my wrists and held me down, still kissing my neck.  I said no again, and tried to push him off of me.  He pushed me down harder, not enough to hurt me, but enough to let me know that he wasn’t going to let me go without a “fair chance” at turning me on.  I relented.  I let him kiss me for a bit and tried to get in to it.  It still wasn’t working.  I tried to tell him that it really, really wasn’t working.  I begged him to just let me up, but he refused because he said that I wasn’t trying.  At the time, I didn’t realize that that shouldn’t have mattered.  I wasn’t trying because I didn’t want to, and that should have been enough.  I guess, in a way, I believed him.  I wasn’t really trying to let him turn me on because I was afraid that sex would make my nausea worse and that I’d throw up.  So I sat there, trying to get turned on but still saying no, knowing that I couldn’t physically get him off of me and hoping that he’d eventually let me up if I said no enough times.

After about 20 minutes of this, I finally gave up.  I realized that he wasn’t going to leave me alone until I let him do what I wanted.  So I let him.

“Fine, go ahead,” I said.  Well, I may have given in, but I still wanted him to know that I was pissed about it.  I showed him further by just lying there during the sex, no emotion.  I checked out.  He got frustrated, that hadn’t been what he wanted.  Half way through, he gave up on trying to get me to enjoy it, and finally stopped.  It wasn’t over yet though.  He decided to masturbate, but stayed in the bed and used my body as a plaything to help him out.  (This was the first time he’d masturbated like that with me, but far from the last.)

I almost couldn’t believe that it had happened.  I didn’t know what to do or think.  I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t accept that it was rape, because I’d said yes.  Later on, another controlling fellow I had a relationship with tried to tell me that it wasn’t rape because could have yelled for help, and hoped that someone in the apartment next door had heard me.  I suppose I could have done that, but I didn’t think of it.  I honestly thought that if I just said no enough that he’d get it.  I thought that because I loved him, and he supposedly loved me, and people who love each other also respect each other, and don’t want to hurt each other.  So maybe saying yes wasn’t the absolute last resort, but by that point my will was already broken.  At that point, I wasn’t thinking about self-preservation exactly.  I had no fear that he would physically harm me.  I just wanted it over with so that I could get him to leave me alone.

I never pressed charges, but I did try to talk to him about it once, about a month later.  I asked him why he did it, and told him that I didn’t like it and that it felt like he’d forced me to have sex with him.  He said he didn’t remember it.  I continued to be used as an object during his masturbation, even though I hated that too.  I felt that couples who have a sexual relationship had an obligation to keep each other fulfilled, and if he “needed” my body during masturbation, then it was my duty to give it to him, even if it made me feel uncomfortable and dirty.

I didn’t think what he did was rape, even though I hated him for it.  I started to fight with him at every turn.  Any time he tried to tell me what I thought or how I felt, or insisted to other people that what I said–my own opinions–was not correct, I would argue with him.  I stood up for myself.  I checked out when we had sexual contact of any kind, and sex became less and less frequent until it was practically nonexistent.  Finally, I was willing to admit to myself that our relationship wasn’t working, and I broke things off.  But I still didn’t think it was rape because, at the end, I had said yes.

Later on, I would have relationships with others, but I was still afraid of failure.  I’m sure that’s not any different from anyone who has never been raped.  But worse than that was how it affected my sexual relationships with guys after that.  They just don’t get it.  Some of them accept it and work around it.  Few are truly good at connecting with me on a sexual level.  A few have been really terrible at it, afraid that they would somehow hurt me or something, or that they would accidentally force me to do something.  Those are the ones who leave everything up to me because they’re afraid that any advance they make would be misconstrued.  I really hate that, because it makes me feel like my rape was my fault, or at least that they think it was.  But then there are the ones who don’t let it phase them.  But if any of them tries to hold my hands above my head… I freak out.  I fight against them.  It feels just like it did when *he* did that to me.  Totally kills the mood.  On the other hand, their reactions to it are good indicators of their personality.  If they get pissed because I “ruined the mood”, that’s it.  Obviously, they aren’t very respectful either.  That hasn’t happened often.  Most of them get pissed.  They are angry that someone would do that to me.

I have accepted that my experience has changed me, and that my future experiences will be colored by those of the past.  I am lucky to still enjoy sex, to not be afraid of men, to know that the existence of one grievous offender does not mean that all of them are bad and will hurt me.  I am lucky to still feel that good men exist.  It is weird, though, that my experience has tainted more than just my sex life.  There are times when I hear a song that I like, and it makes me cry because he liked it too.  I’ve been known to avoid listening to music that I enjoy because he also liked it, and to hear it is to be reminded of him.  I feel angry and hateful because of what he did to me, and then I feel more angry because I can’t enjoy life the way I used to, because something will always be there to remind me of what he did.  I hate that I can barely go through life without a reminder, and that I never know just how strongly it will affect me this time.  Will it be a low boiling anger and hate–two emotions that I try to avoid anyway–or will it be an all out despair and sense of hopelessness?  Will I feel like a strong woman who can conquer her past and rise above, or like a weak woman who gave in when she should have stood up for herself?  Will I be grateful that I found my way out and that I am now free to make my own decisions, or will I doubt that I’m capable of making sound decisions?  And if I have a partner, will I be glad to have found someone better, who can truly respect me, or will I worry that I’m blinded and find myself unable to make an emotional connection?

I do often find myself questioning my ability to reason.  I find it hard to connect with people because of the fear of being wrong, and of being wronged again.  I need the utmost of respect from my partner–anything less isn’t good enough to quell the self-doubt.  I am almost certain that it will always be this way.  I suppose I will just have to learn to live with it.  I will need extra care from a devoted partner.  I only hope that I will be worthy of such a partner, that I can be equally devoted.  I hate knowing that anyone who deals with me will be walking through a potential minefield–that anything he says or does could be a trigger.  It makes me feel unstable, and I don’t like it a bit.  I like to live my life by reason, yet my ability to always be reasonable was stolen by unreasonable actions.

After reading this, you might still think that I wasn’t raped because I said yes.  I don’t care.  Rape or not, it still hurt.  The feelings of violation will never go away.  They have tainted my very being.  Rape or not, it was wrong.  No one should violate another person in this manner.  Think about that before you go defending my rapist.  At the end of this, I am just another statistic.  I am one of the 1 in 4 women in the US who have been sexually assaulted.  I am one of the 4 in 4 women in the US living in a culture that justifies rape in many forms because she “had it coming”.  But I will not be a woman who justifies rape in any form, and I will no longer be a victim who stays silenced.