Why I Never Called it Rape
The book that inspired this post is one I recommend to everyone- male or female. We all need to understand what is happening within our culture and society. We need to teach our men that women are not conquests and we need to teach our women that sexual coercion is not a part of the dating game.
From this transformational book, I learned that 25% of the college women polled have been the victims of rape or attempted rape, 84% of the victims were acquainted with the attacker and 57% of the rapes happened on dates. One in 12 of the male respondents admitted to acts that meet the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. ONE IN TWELVE, ya’ll.
While some may think that rape is only between two people who’ve never met and involve violence, rape is actually a much more complex issue. The majority of the time it happens between people who are acquaintances: two friends, two people who know each other, or two people who've just met...we just don’t hear about them.
Why? Because there is so much confusion and shame. It’s almost more embarrassing to admit you’ve been raped than to admit you were just drunk and got taken advantage of. This is unfortunately the rape culture we live in. Men are encouraged to pursue women as conquests and women are told to be ashamed of the number of sexual partners they’ve had. Because of this, women feel shame if they’ve had sex so they keep quiet, while men get encouraged to continue treating women like conquests because no one speaks up. It’s a destructive circle.
This isn’t an exposé on why men are horrible and women are victims. We each as differing genders have a responsibility to change the way sex and rape is viewed. Men need to change the conversation around sex with women. Women are not conquests and should never be treated or discussed in such a way. Women need to boldly proclaim their feelings and expectations upfront about sex and not control men through sexual coercion.
The reason I’m sharing my story is because I want more people to understand how destructive the culture we live in can be and how we as individuals have the power to change the conversation.
Here is my story of Why I Never Called it Rape…
I was 22, living in a foreign country, alone, a virgin. My worldview had been tiny before- I believed all people were out for my good and that nobody would purposefully harm me. We had hung out one time before- and looking back there were signs- but I was just ecstatic to have a friend. When he said he didn’t think prostitutes were that bad, my eyes widened, and that’s when I should’ve ran. But I stayed and he manipulated me to get in my room and stay the night (his accommodations apparently didn't work out.) Multiple times throughout the night I had told him I was a virgin and not ready to have sex but obviously he didn’t really care. Before I knew it, he was on top of me and I just submitted. I had thought we would make out but I didn’t think this. What was I to do? Who could I call? I didn’t even know the emergency phone number of this country I was living in- nonetheless- couldn’t even speak the language to talk to the operator. I just wanted him gone and then I would figure it out. As he left, I sat still with my thoughts. What had just happened? And why do I still feel attached to this person? He let me know he didn’t want a relationship with me, so I just stalked his facebook and wondered why I wasn’t good enough. He had taken this precious gift and he didn’t care.
A few weeks later I found myself at the doctor with my sweet friend translating as my legs were up in stirrups. Yep, he had given me an STI. I told him I had to pay out of pocket for the doctor’s visit, and he didn’t even respond.
After about a month, I couldn’t take it being so alone in this country, dealing with the aftermaths of my emotions. I went home to my dad’s house and I remember the warm embrace of family. I was safe. I was home. I hadn’t had my period in 2 months, but it will be fine. I was home. I took a pregnancy test and thankfully it was negative- but I angrily messaged my perpetrator and asked him what would he have done if I was pregnant? Why did he invite himself, unprotected, into my body when I specifically asked him not to?
Life was weird the 6 months post. I told a few friends what had happened but never used the word rape. Just said it wasn’t a great experience. I still felt heartbroken about it all but didn’t know how to categorize it.
I found my confidence back through graduate school, traveling the world, and slowly- with distance- dating again. Whenever I met my future husband, and we started talking about marriage, I knew I had to face the demons of my past. I signed up for therapy and through months of therapy I’ve learned to retell the story to myself.
I used to look back at that night as one full of shame. I blamed myself for not picking up on the cues, and I felt immense shame for losing something that I had been taught was so valuable. I had kissed him, I was drinking, I had let him stay over- these are all things that made me blame myself for the events. For so many years, I took responsibility for the situation and because of that I told the story to myself that I was unworthy of real, pure love. Because I had let this happen.
As I talk to more women, I realize this story is so many of ours. The names and places and events may vary, but the story we tell ourselves remains the same. We take on this shame, this responsibility, and we blame ourselves for events that aren’t ours to have.
This horrible thing happened to us, yes. But that doesn’t say anything about who we are. We are still worthy of the most pure and real love. We are still allowed to live free from shame, blame, and regret. We have the ability to forgive our trespassers, not because they deserve it, but because we deserve to live in freedom. And most of all, we are allowed to forgive ourselves for what we didn’t know, for who we used to be, and for the stories we’ve told ourselves. We are also, boldly, allowed to call it rape.
For those of you who may be struggling to understand what happened to you, I encourage you to reach out and talk to a therapist, a coach, a friend, anyone whom you trust. I also encourage you to checkout this book that inspired me to have the courage to write this post
If you’re interested, I also recorded a meditation for healing. Meditation and prayer has been a huge part on my journey to freedom. I hope it helps you like it's helped me.