Friday, January 6, 2012

Defining My Sexual Assault without Society

Something that I’ve noticed is whenever I consider what happened my sophomore year of college (i.e., my sexual assault, acquaintance rape, whatever you want to call it), I send my feelings through a “filter” and then, and only then, do I allow myself to interpret my experience.

For example, when it comes down to it, what took place that night made me feel violated. Undeniably violated.

No. Matter. What.

This feeling of having been violated has been clear since day one of my assault (after all, it’s the root of all this – had I never felt violated, I doubt I would have thought much of that night, and well, I can say with certainty that this blog wouldn’t exist); STILL, it’s like I do everything in my power to distort this feeling into something else. Instead of saying, “Yes, I was violated,” I send this raw interpretation of what took place that night through a defective “filter.”

This metaphorical filter I speak of is constructed around the feelings and belief system of Society, or at least my perception of how Society feels and thinks. Every time I think about what happened and allow myself to feel the truth – I was violated in the most personal way possible – I almost immediately gravitate towards this filter. In other words, I start reworking my emotions and thoughts into something I perceive as more acceptable by Society’s standards.

It’s as if I don’t value my own account of what took place. Crazily, I look towards others – others who WEREN’T EVEN THERE, mind you – to interpret MY experience with an event that affected me very deeply. How crazy is that?!

How would others view that night?
Would others judge me because I had been drinking?
Would others blame me for acting irresponsibly?
Would others consider it rape or some drunken mistake?
Would others claim that he was “only being a guy”?
Would others view my previous “party girl” behavior as misleading to him?
Would others see him as a polite, intelligent, charming student who misinterpreted the actions of an irresponsible, mess-of-a-girl who placed herself in a stupid situation?

Unfortunately, in cases of acquaintance rape, Society frequently blames the victim, and that fact is as undeniable as my feeling of having been violated.

However, even with my defective filter in place, when it comes down to it, I know what took place that night. I know what happened to me. Past the self-doubt and self-blame, deep down I know the truth. He raped me.

So, here’s what I say to you, Society, HE MY RAPIST is to blame because:

(A) I had told him just a week before that sex was not in the cards – not that minute, not that night, not that week, nor that YEAR, I was waiting until MARRIAGE for crying out loud.

(B) Wait, what’s that you say? I didn’t stop him? You’re right – I did not say, “No, I do not consent to sex,” at that moment – that’s because I did not know that I needed to state it at that moment. Why? Because I was too intoxicated to know he had penetrated me with his penis.

(C) Wait, what’s that? He didn’t know that I was too drunk to consent? Well, if a stumbling, sloppy girl isn’t evidence enough, then I’d hate to see what constitutes “too drunk to consent”? Besides he didn’t care whether the sex was consensual – how do I know that? Because he NEVER ASKED!!! Not to mention, because he quickly changed from finger to penis penetration while I wasn’t looking, he denied me any opportunity to agree or disagree to what was going down.

(D) I shouldn't have been drinking, you say? Yes, I was acting irresponsibly that night. I’ll give you that, Society. But if you are going to blame me for my drinking, then you are going to have to blame my rapist for raping me. Yes, I chose to drink myself stupid that night. But I can live with that. I know it wasn’t in the healthiest and most wholesome of ways, but I was merely looking to have a good time at a party. I didn’t choose to be raped that night. No, no, no, that is NOT on me, Society.

He chose that path, not me.  

4 comments:

  1. He chose that path, not me.

    That one line sums it all up. He made the choice to violate you and the fact that you were drinking or whatever has ZERO influence on it.


    It’s as if I don’t value my own account of what took place. Crazily, I look towards others – others who WEREN’T EVEN THERE, mind you – to interpret MY experience with an event that affected me very deeply. How crazy is that?!

    It's not crazy at all. It is human nature and especially survivor nature to have self doubt; thus we look for verification of our own beliefs from others. Many time we believe those who are the most separated from us more than those that are close. That goes back to societal expectations too. We expect a certain amount of empathy and verification of what we believe from our family and friends and the further away they are from this close circle of friends we generally expect less from them. This means that when a stranger collaborates what we already believe we tend to value that verification more because of it being less expected. We think to ourselves if this stranger that isn't reasonably expected to love me, agrees with me, then it must really be as bad as it feel to me way deep on the inside.

    That's my theory anyway.


    Unfortunately, in cases of acquaintance rape, Society frequently blames the victim, and that fact is as undeniable as my feeling of having been violated.

    Me personal have never seen direct blame placed upon the victim but I have seen indirect blame. The indirect blame comes from the constant push of what the victim should have or could have done to be in that situation. Seldom do we hear about what the assailant should have done to prevent them from violating the victim. I think part of the reason behind this mentality in society is that society has accepted that rapes are going to happen and the best way to prevent them is to educate potential victims on how to avoid these situations. It is much easier to teach the willing (potential victims), than to educate the unwilling (potential assailants). This translates to the immediate gratification of making a difference vs. the down the road gratification of making a bigger difference. Ultimately educating society on what constitutes a violation would be more beneficial, but it takes more time and effort. Society in general has become a society of immediate gratification, thus it is easier to achieve the benefits of that gratification through educating the potential victims.

    That's my thoughts on that. I sort of went off on a tangent there, I hope that's okay.

    Everything you are feeling on the inside is completely justified. I understand everything you are feeling and he made the choice to violate you in a very personal way. He was wrong and all the shame, blame, and dirtiness lies with him in is hollowed out blackened soul.

    ((((hugs))))

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jaime, thank you for reading and taking the time to reflect on what I had written. Sorry it sometimes takes me a little while to respond.

    "That one line sums it all up. He made the choice to violate you and the fact that you were drinking or whatever has ZERO influence on it."
    - Thank you for the validation. It's always good to hear from an outside source.

    - I think your theory regarding why we look towards external sources for validation makes a lot of sense. I have also found that while looking to others for validation, I frequently become susceptible to invalidation because it is easier to believe negative remarks are easier to believe sometimes. Particularly during the first few years following my assault, I often looked to the wrong sources for support and frequently pushed away/disregarded positive influences in my life because I felt like those who viewed me positively had it all wrong. Like they had been misinformed or something. I sometimes handled this tendency by spewing negative TMI at the individual almost as a challenge to see if they still perceived me the same way. This time around I am being much more careful about creating my support network. I am slowly reaching out to those around me, and I am trying very hard to only surround myself with positive, supportive people.

    “Seldom do we hear about what the assailant should have done to prevent them from violating the victim.”
    - So true! That’s why I love those sexual assault prevention posters that place the responsibility on the perpetrator.

    “Ultimately educating society on what constitutes a violation would be more beneficial, but it takes more time and effort.”
    - I agree with your reasoning regarding time, effort, instant versus long-term gratification, and effectiveness in sexual assault prevention. I think both long-term and short-term prevention efforts are important because one or the other isn’t sufficient. It’s really comforting and exciting that campaigns like “Miniskirts, Mace, and Other Misconceptions” are being launched to aid a societal shift in mentality regarding how sexual assault is viewed and handled. Like you said, education is key, which seems to be the case with so many of society’s challenges.

    “I sort of went off on a tangent there, I hope that's okay.”
    - Of course it’s okay! I love hearing your thoughts on these matters. Besides, you’re dealing with one of the world’s most easily distracted individuals ;-)

    “Everything you are feeling on the inside is completely justified. I understand everything you are feeling and he made the choice to violate you in a very personal way. He was wrong and all the shame, blame, and dirtiness lies with him in is hollowed out blackened soul. 

((((hugs))))”
    - Thanks so much, Jaime. Sending you hugs as well.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, what you describe here is what happened to me too. I was 17 & he knew I wanted to wait for marriage, too. I had been clear about. Even though I was sober, alcohol was involved, and he too switched to penis penetration without me looking. For years I have struggled with what to call that because not even victim advocates or police called it rape (police said "it sounds like he just got lucky" and he himself told me "it's like sticking your hand in the cookie jar after mommy says no.") He was 21 and knew better that I didn't know what was going on until it was too late. I asked him why he didn't ask me if I was ready and he said "you just would have said 'no' and we would have been right back to square one." He did it right on a day he knew I was angry with him & we were on a verge of breaking up but once he did that it tipped the scales so far in his favor because I thought he had to then become my one and only. This power shift allowed him to emotionally abuse me, which was a whole other dynamic/concept I didn't understand at that age as a late bloomer with practically no relationship experience, through cycles of constant criticisms and apologies. I gave him the power to impact my health, mentally and physically. Denial is such a normal part of loss, especially if society doesn't corroborate/validate the loss by my view, because it makes it easier to deny and no one wants to stigmatize themselves by saying "he raped me" even if nothing else in the world could ever feel more true.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing so much of your story here. I apologize it has taken me this long to respond. It is so troubling that you received so little support from sexual assault advocates and the police - it is all too common, but it is absolutely unacceptable. What he did to you was unjustifiable (NOT "just getting lucky"). I am so sorry that you have struggled for so long with trying to name what happened; without the validation of those from whom we seek support, it is hard to resist the urge to minimize what has happened to us, dismissing the actions of our perpetrator as something less than what it is. Not to mention, the natural tendency to blame ourselves that comes with sexual assault. I hope that you have now received the support that you deserve. This guy was clearly in the wrong, and you deserved to be treated with more respect. I am sorry that your right to a consensual first sexual experience was stolen from you by a very selfish individual. Thinking of you and wishing you only the best in your effort to name and move on from what happened to you. xxx

      Delete