Growing up things seem so black and white, so matter of fact. Rape is rape. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, your level of intoxication, or if you originally said yes. In my head I knew all these things, but it still took me almost a year to admit to myself what had happened. It didn’t help that when I talked to him about it he told me I was crazy and that it didn’t happen. He also told me never to talk about it to anyone. Although, I knew it had happened, I started to question myself and the details started to blur. I fell into the typical victim stereotype and blamed myself. I thought, “if I hadn’t gone over there that day” or “if we weren’t already making out” or “why didn’t I push him off?”
It wasn’t until I was sitting in a training for work when a forensic nurse said, “it doesn’t matter if you are making out or doing other things, if you say no and they don’t stop, it is rape” that it really clicked. While it clicked for me I still had a hard time talking about it. I would preface it with “I’m not saying I was raped or anything.” It’s almost like I needed someone to tell me that it was in fact rape, reassurance that I wasn’t jumping to some outrageous conclusion. People’s reactions differed from anger, sadness, and even some doubt. Just when I started to feel more comfortable talking about it I had a conversation with someone that went something like this:
Him: Well...you guys were dating, right?
Me: No, I wasn't dating him.
Him: Well...you continued to be around him, right?
Me: Yeah, because I didn't want to admit what had happened and for some reason I still liked him.
Him: You made out with him again, right?
Me: Yeah, but I told him no multiple times the first time.
This conversation left me feeling victimized all over again. Here I was, having to explain the conclusion that took me so long to come to. I went from justifying to myself that it didn’t happen to justifying to others that it had.
Another victim stereotype I fell under was not wanting to report it. I knew it would be my word against his and I knew the fact that he was in a position of authority wouldn’t help my case. Plus, I’ve never been exactly “innocent” and knew that fact alone would affect any type of case I may pursue. The situation felt impossible and to this day, I still haven’t reported it and probably never will.
I didn’t get it until I got it. When I heard of others situations it seemed like a no brainer to me, you admit that it happened and report it. The factors I listed above didn’t matter – RAPE IS RAPE. So why is it so hard when the situation becomes your own? Even as I write this I’m still not sure. I’ve even found myself thinking, “I can’t post this. What if people figure out who it is?” That’s the power I don’t want him to have anymore. I’m done protecting him from what he’s done and I’m finally protecting myself. #MeToo.