[In case you didn’t read yesterday’s post (from which we’re technically picking up…
it basically was just saying how it feels like a lot of the time, questions I get asked revolve around “what was I wearing?” or “Why was I alone with him?” or “Why was I too nice to him?” or “Why didn’t I report immediately?” And I had also said I had read a bunch of stories from the #MeToo hashtag. So, now you’re caught up…]
As I looked through the #MeToo hashtag, I saw over and over and over and over people who had made all of the various decisions. All the decisions all been covered. And they most often (very often) don’t have a good outcome – no matter what you do.
There were people who reported, and then were ostracized from their communities (even if they had evidence and/or the perpetrator was convicted). There were people who reported and were later killed by their abusive partners. (There were people who didn’t report who still got killed.) There were people who reported and hated every second of their trial – even if they got a conviction – because reliving it and being grilled on their trauma and their whole sexual history was traumatic in itself. There were people who didn’t report who regretted it later. There were people who stayed with their abusive partners and people who left, and either way, both groups suffered a lot of various different consequences. I read one where the girl fought back (as we’re so often told to do!), and later, she was told she was “lucky” the man didn’t press charges because of his injuries. And as part of that, she had to drop hers.
So often, people think they know the “exact right thing to do.” They’d fight. They’d press charges. They’d do this and that.” And of course everything would turn out hunky dory for them because they’d do the “right thing.”
But there is no “right thing.” There are stories of every single option that end in survivor’s being ostracized, the victim’s death or re-victimization, and other bad consequences on and on and on. I know I’ve gotten trapped sometimes in the “I wish I would’ve done this. I wish I would’ve done that” game. Because, of course I wish the outcome would’ve been different.
And while the outcome could’ve been better (of course), it also could’ve been a WHOLE. LOT. WORSE.
When you’re in this impossible situation, knowing if you make the wrong move that you literally might die, or have other terrible things befall you, you don’t know what to do.
Ultimately, I think after it happens, we’re all trying to stay safe, and return to a sense of normalcy (as best we can). And we’re making whatever choices seem (to us, at the time) to have the most likely outcome of that happening. And people can say they were the “wrong” choices. But y’all don’t know any more than we do.
For all you know, had we done what you thought was the “right” choice, we’d be dead by now (or have some other horrible outcome). So, people can say all day what they would’ve done or what we should’ve done, tbh, y’all do not know either. Nobody does. We’re all just doing the best we can.
And as I’ve been closing out other pieces of this chapter of my life, I’m closing this one today too – that I’m done with trying to justify any of my decisions of how nice I was afterward, or that it “took too long” to go to the police or any of that. I’m tired!
And *I* have a question to anybody who’s been asking me those questions…
However many times you’ve wondered why I didn’t do things “perfectly” beforehand or afterward, have you wondered just as many times why he wouldn’t hear me and refused to stop when I was crying, or begging him to go somewhere else, or telling him how wildly uncomfortable he was making me, or how afraid I was? Do you think about his culpability way more than mine (the victim’s)? Do you have a boatload of questions for him?
Or are all the questions just directed at me – how did I get into this mess? How did I give him the opportunity to take advantage of me? How did I not overpower him when he was being threatening and I was afraid for my safety?
I didn’t do anything wrong. Why am I being held responsible for the actions of my rapist?
I am getting rull tired of the onus being on me.
So, I’ve done my best to answer questions of what it’s like to be in an abusive relationship, and how your brain literally changes when you were abused for your whole childhood/adolescence – totally perfectly priming me for something like this. I’ve done my best to answer aaaaall the questions I can, that relate to all this. And now I’m done.
[Side note: I mean, if you’re a researcher, or someone in an abusive relationship or something and you need to talk, and there really is value in answering more along these lines, I’m not digging my heels in so deep that I’ll never talk about this again… And/or if somehow there is a giant blind spot in this piece of this chapter that I’ve missed and that is brought to my attention, I’ll try to address it. But as a general statement, I’m generally done talking about this specific piece of the sexual assault chapter of my life.]