The questions surrounding my rape

A note to the silent sufferers

How I lost my virginity has haunted me for years – mainly, in part, because I could never quite separate myself from the dreaded thought that it was all my fault.

Most people think of rape as something brutal, with violence and struggle and restraints, but my rape wasn’t like that. It was a much more subtle defilement of my 14 year old body, but it still remains that – a defilement. Just because an event or action doesn’t fit a stereotype, its impact is not negated. I think that this is something that many people forget. For me, there were three issues surrounding what happened; firstly, who it was; secondly, how it happened; and finally, how I acted afterwards.

Self-blame and isolation often haunt victims of rape

Self-blame and isolation often haunt victims of rape

The first problem was that he was my first boyfriend. He was older and had been placing pressure on me to “perform”, so much so that I had been debating sleeping with him for weeks. The only problem was that I changed my mind the day it happened. I knew that I wasn’t ready and that I didn’t want to – but he didn’t listen. The next problem was that instead of the classic fight or flight reaction, I froze. I begged him not to do it until I couldn’t speak through the tears and then my whole body froze up and it felt like I couldn’t move anymore. This was the part that scared me the most afterwards. Did I aid my own rape? It was only in the years that followed that I learned that freezing up was a perfectly natural reaction to fear. I want anyone who has gone through the same to know that their actions were not consent, they were protection. The last problem was how I acted afterwards. I was so ashamed of myself, so devastated about what had just occurred, that I pretended that it never happened. I allowed people to believe that it was all fine and consensual, when I deep down knew what had really happened. I did not admit to anybody what had really gone down in that bedroom for months afterwards. That, I regret the most, as I never really found the help I needed.

My actions concerning my rape have haunted me for years and caused so many issues with how I relate and act towards people. To say that I haven’t been the same since is an understatement. I don’t think that I will ever return to the person I was before. But it was only recently that I realised something so crucial – that it wasn’t my fault. I never asked to be raped, I never asked to have my virginity torn away from me, and no matter what – ‘no’ always means ‘no’. This knowledge has been a huge weight off my shoulders and allowed me to move past the stage of being a victim to being a survivor. I was blamed so much after what happened as so many victims are, with my best friends ostracising me and calling me a slut, but I realised that you cannot let cowards and bullies tell you what happened to you. Standing up to those who tell you that what happened ‘wasn’t that bad’ or ‘was kind of your fault’ is so crucial in the fight to stamp out rape culture, especially at university. The first step in eradicating sexual crime is to let people know that their actions cannot and will not be tolerated – so many rapes go unpunished because either the victim or the rapist does not know this. I did not know this when it happened to me. I wish I had, and that I had been able to bring that sick boy who did what he did to me to justice. I hope that other people who are debating whether or not to come forward read my words and know that it may be difficult, but you have the strength to help eradicate the silent epidemic that plagues our society.

So I just wanted every person out there who is reading this to know what I know now – that it is never, ever your fault. If you’ve told them that you will sleep with them, but changed your mind – it is not your fault. If you became too scared to stop them and felt like you couldn’t move out of fear – it is not your fault. If you drank too much and seemed “up for it” – it is still not your fault. It is never your fault. I do not want anyone else to go through life asking themselves the same question that I asked myself for so long – did I let myself be sexually assaulted? Because you did not. Please stay strong and remember that you have something that your rapist will never have – the strength to not only face the truth, but to conquer it. You are infinitely stronger than them. Always.

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