I Didn't Understand Rape Culture Until I Was Raped
I didn't understand rape culture until I was raped. I didn't understand that my rape could become one of the things most questioned about by people. I didn't understand that rape is the only crime where people question the victim's integrity before the assaulter's character and actions.
I didn't understand that rape comes in several different forms. That it's not always the back-alley stranger that corners you in the middle of the night. Sometimes, it's the man you know and thought you liked. Sometimes it's the man who doesn't stop thrusting into you when you tell him you're in pain. Sometimes it's the man who pulls you back when you pull away after you said you were in pain. Sometimes it's the man that leaves inexplicable bruises in between your legs and on your lip for you to find the morning after a night of drinking. Sometimes it's the man who rubs your back, strokes your hair, and brings you water after he's assaulted you. Because to him what he did was normal. Because to too many people what he did was normal. Because I shouldn't have been there in the first place if I didn't want it. Because somehow I asked for it. Because rape culture made me believe that somehow I was responsible.
I didn't understand rape culture until I realized that everyone plays into rape culture. That no matter how "safe" a country or city is supposed to be, it doesn't mean anything. That when you tell everyone that the country I was assaulted in is "safe" it makes me seem like an isolated incident, like somehow, all the other people who have been assaulted don't matter. And even if you say you believe me, when you ask me if I said "no" or "stop" it makes me question if my rape is now less legitimate because I didn't say those exact words. When you ask me if I'm sure of everything I remember because I was intoxicated, it makes me feel like my flashbacks, my PTSD, is somehow less real. When you tell me that consent isn't a clear line, that it can be subjective, it makes me wonder if somehow I was responsible for my own rape. You make me go from victim to accomplice. From being taken advantage of, to having asked for it.
I didn't understand rape culture until people refused to pick sides. Until I had to hear "he would never do that" or "I feel bad for him." Until I realized that my rapist will never admit to being my rapist. Until people tried to make me feel bad for making this man's life difficult when he has made mine brutally and painfully exhausting this past year and will continue to do so for many more years to come.
I didn't understand rape culture until I was raped and everything I did began to revolve around whether or not I would become more or less credible as a result. Whether or not my rape would ever be believed or not.
I didn't understand rape culture until I realized that you get raped once. And then you get raped a second time as you tell your story over and over again as people scrutinize you, question you, and look out for every detail until you fit either one of the two labels: raped or liar.