I Made Fun of Feminists… Before My Abuse
I used to make fun of feminists because I wanted boys to like me. Back before I met a boy who abused me. Before realizing that I lived in a culture that supported my abuse, and that kept me from questioning it.
TRIGGER WARNING May be triggering for some survivors of sexual violence
At seventeen I met my ex-boyfriend. It was small things at first. He’d put me down and laugh it off.
The first time he raped me I didn’t cry. I was numb. I asked if he realized what he’d done and he had said, matter-of-factly, “All girls get raped at some point.”
I don’t know why I didn’t leave. I couldn’t process where I was at. I had never had to think critically about the way women are treated. I had never realized that someone you loved could rape you.
That’s because I lived inside a rape culture. Rape culture is misogynistic. It glamorizes sexual violence, trivializes sexual assault and blames the victim. She “asked for it” and “ruins” the rapist’s life. I had believed this, myself.
He began abusing me emotionally, physically, and sexually on a regular basis, increasing in frequency and intensity with time.
By the time I was ready to leave, I was too scared. He threatened to kill me. He said he owned me; I felt like he really did. I spent my days and nights in anxiety.
I became irritable, despondent and numb and turned to drugs and self-mutilation to cope. No one could reach me anymore.
I went on study abroad as a means of escape. He couldn’t find me in a different country, and I could pretend it never happened. I was something close to happy for the first time in so long, even though it was a farce.
But when I returned home my abuser began calling me from blocked numbers and my nightmare returned.
I told my parents what had happened, but not everything. They didn’t know how to handle it.
I began using drugs again, I drank and cried, I had panic attacks, and I cut frequently. I went inpatient at a hospital but it didn’t help. In the early morning hours of June 6th, 2012, I tried to end my life.
I woke up in a hospital two days later with two shattered bones, 32 stitches and a neck brace.
Oddly, it was just what I needed. Physically, emotionally, and totally broken, I was forced to confront my issues and accept the help that I so desperately needed.
It’s been 10 months and a lot of therapy since then. I still struggle; some days are good, others feel impossible. I’ve alleviated a lot of the guilt—I’d really felt the abuse was my fault.
It’s odd how things happen and you just accept them as your burdens to bear. You don’t connect them to your society and culture. But when you do, you better understand. Understanding is healing.
I now know that I have experienced both direct violence and structural violence, which is hidden within legal, economic and cultural conditions that disadvantage the less powerful members of society. We don’t usually notice it because it’s all we know, like a fish in water.
It was years ago, but I still feel tired, and angry, and sad more days than I’d like. I want to move on, but it’s hard because I live in the same city as my rapist. I see him all the time.
I have spent years trying to understand. I don’t entirely know why he did what he did. I don’t know why the world is this way. I don’t know why.
Here is what I do know: I can’t remain silent anymore. I need to let this out, and I hope that others will one day join me. We need to talk about rape, and we need to educate girls and boys on matters of consent, boundaries, and violence.
I wish I had known then what I know now.
This was written by one of my students who gave permission to post to my blog.
Posted on January 10, 2014, in feminism, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged feminism, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women. Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.