‘How do we stop the stigma without speaking out?’
I read this quote today, in a fiction book called ‘Playing Nice’ by JP Delaney. It struck me, and it struck me hard.
I’ve been on both ends of this spectrum… I have stayed silent when REAL abuse was happening. And, weirdly, since I was raped, I have spoken out publicly, ‘exposed’ as it were, people who didn’t actually do anything abusive, but who treated women inappropriately. (I’ve deleted all posts since) I have also spoken publicly about being raped… but the man is still walking free, hidden.
It’s like I have this new anger about injustices against women. Yes, everything I posted was true. But does it matter?
It’s not really them that I am mad at. I mean, at the time, maybe I rolled my eyes, or said ‘what are you doing?’ or just passed it off.
It’s only after I was raped these things bothered me (most happened before I was raped), and I don’t think I ever thought of any of those incidents again… until they came up ‘after’. Good god, my rape – that whole month actually – has nearly become a ‘B.C/A.D’ experience in my own life.
The thing is, though there is a level of ‘wrong’ in all of the things I ‘outed’, the person I am really angry with is my rapist. But, my tolerance for wrongdoing against women is at zero.
Somehow, all the anger I have towards the man who raped me, comes out ‘exposing’ these other men. Yes, their actions were wrong, on a level. But really – at the time, I laughed off most of them (the advances on my then 14 year old daughter by a 25 year old colleague being the exception… that made me mad, even then! Bring on Mama Bear!)
I recognise my anger at these indecencies is probably out of proportion, because I was raped. But, as I write this, I have to ask… why did I laugh them off in the first place?
I don’t really know the answer. I mean, in some senses, being politically correct has gone to such extremes. Like, changing the words to ‘Baby, it’s cold outside’… come on! But, really, we haven’t quite touched the CORE.
Another weird thing is, I have been date raped before being raped by a stranger. I am not lessening the trauma of date rape, but for me, even though I persistently said no, it was not as traumatising. Perhaps BECAUSE I said no. Perhaps, at least mentally, I had clearly drawn the line – and afterwards, called them on their actions face to face (and subsequently blocked them). Even though they raped me, I had some sense of power in clearly saying ‘no’, and afterwards, verbalising that what they did was directly against my consent.
With the stranger who raped me, I didn’t have any of those luxuries. He drugged me, so the initial rape (which resulted in bruises all over my body, cigarette burn marks on my arm, my ring stolen, and not being able to sit down without pain for a week) was done while I was unconscious. He raped me again in the morning – I was conscious, but definitely still under the influence of the drugs. I was passive while he raped me. Complacent. Compliant. Dead.
I think that is the real difference. I didn’t have a voice.
I still feel dead. I have not yet fully recovered from all of the traumas of September 2019 (losing my Grandma, Dad and best guy friend – to suicide – in the same month I was raped)
But now, I do have a voice. The problem is, I’ve been using it to expose indiscretions. When, I WANT to use it against violations. My rapist is a ghost… I don’t even know his name. I don’t know where he is. I don’t know anything about him.
I want to use my voice – but I want to use it against him and people like him. Against REAL injustice. Against rape. Against abuse.