A dear friend of mine is writing this blog anonymously because she doesn’t want — or need — your pity. She does, however, have powerful words and feelings to add to an important conversation currently happening in our corner of the world. She and I had the talk that I’ve had with all my female friends at some point in my life: when did it happen to you?
It’s upsetting, disturbing, enraging, but ultimately the truth is when it comes to sexual assault, either you know a woman or you are the woman. This is her story.
Something has been bothering me for years. I have trouble talking about it, and I have trouble remembering and acknowledging it. I am doing so now because it’s something that I’ve been thinking about, reading about, obsessing over, for the past couple weeks.
When news of Jian Ghomeshi came out, it was and wasn’t shocking. But what has been shocking, and reassuring, is the amount of brave women who have come out and said that it’s happened to them too. Twitter blew up with the hashtag #beenrapedneverreported and awareness about actual statistics is coming to the forefront. These are things that women already know. Every woman knows of at least one woman who has personally experienced sexual assault. Every woman knows a woman who has been raped.
I am one of those women.
Despite the fact that it happened more than 10 years ago, I have not, cannot, keep in touch with people from that time. It was someone we all knew and hung out with. So, I was ostracized, made to feel like I was wrong, and my friends didn’t believe me. It was a very similar instance to that of the Ghomeshi scandal, a promoter in the scene that made sure I was kept off the premises of any future events thrown by him or his friends. It would have been better to not say anything at all to anyone and let my tears wash down the drain with a layer of my scrubbed-raw skin. Even now, I’m still writing this under the guise of anonymity because of these painful memories and the potential for past friends or acquaintances to come back to haunt me.
I was lucky that my boyfriend at the time helped me through it. Despite the fact that we became isolated in our relationship and it turned into yet another, but incredibly different, bad situation, I was grateful for his support at the time.
I was lucky that I wasn’t harmed physically, only emotionally.
I was lucky that I was strong enough to move on.
I was not lucky because it was not something that was openly talked about. I never went to the police because I was oh so very drunk and oh so very high, and have giant black periods throughout the night. I questioned whether I had done something to entice this, to deserve this. But, to this day, I only remember waking up with him inside me and saying no, then blacking out, knowing that it didn’t stop there. Nothing would have been done criminally; my own friends didn’t even believe me.
So now, 10 + years later, I find myself reading stories about people openly talking about their own personal experiences, nodding my head sadly at the statistics about unreported assaults, and wanting to cry as I relive my own experience alongside theirs. Shaking violently at people who scream, “They should have gone to the police,” or worse,“They put themselves in that situation.”
Let’s get real; they’re already dealing with enough without the police digging into their lives. Trust me.
Maybe it’s time that boys are taught as much about not victimizing women as women are taught about how not to become a victim. Maybe it’s time that boys and men are sensitized to this very real scenario that every woman fears or deals with their entire life. Maybe it’s time that society doesn’t blame or shame the victim, but instead listens with empathetic ears.
I don’t know that I could improve upon my friend’s brave words. Instead, I’ll leave you with this chilling (and apt) Margaret Atwood quote: Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.