This has been in my drafts for a bit because this question comes up sort of kind of a lot… And anyway, now I’m answering it to the best of my ability. For anyone brand new to the blog, I was assaulted once in college. And then again (by a different person in a different city 7 or so years later). Some people think the one in college should’ve been “soooooo much worse” because I bled and I never stopped saying no until he finished. But blood isn’t what makes something awful. Continuing to beg out loud vs silently as you cry is not what makes something awful. But anyway, I’m gonna get into that in a sec.
So, as I was saying, this has been a general type of question some people have seemed to be curious about. And I’m trying to be as transparent as I can be here. So, I’m totally cool with answering it. (I want to try to answer whatever you want. Why would I be talking about it, if I didn’t want to answer questions?) But, my request is, can we please stop framing rapes as “real” or less than real based on the degree of “rape-y-ness” they have?
Not to be all “bad wedding speech” here or anything, but dictionary.com describes rape in part as: “
Of course there are some other wordings, but that’s the idea. (With or without force.) [Did he have consent? No. Did he make it clear that if I did not let him proceed, I would probably be in danger? Yes.]
Did a person make it clear they didn’t want to have sex? And did the other person just plow right on anyway? Yes? Okay, case closed. We’re done here.
“But did they ever stop yelling?” Immaterial.
Exactly how hard did they fight back? Not relevant.
Being raped in college and raped in, well, kind of a second round of college-y school, actually, about 6 or 7 years later – were both rapes. They’re just different. Not “more” or “less” just literally different circumstances.
You’re not any more or less dead if someone first degree murders or second degree murders you.
And you’re not any less raped if someone makes you feel too afraid to do anything more than stay still and sob, and won’t stop even while you’re crying beneath them, or if they’re less “threatening,” but they still won’t stop when you beg them to, and they ultimately make you bleed.
I am also sort of weird-ish about the word “rape.” I usually call it sexual assault because rape sounds so – I dunno. It’s a giant scary word. And I want to make sure it’s always used appropriately. But it’s also what happened. And somehow giant scary words are applicable. That’s why they exist.
Aaaaanyway, back to the whole point of this anyway… I’ve generally gotten the sense that a fair number of people think something along the lines of “but the one in college was more violent, because you bled! If you came out of that just fine, how is this one affecting you so much?
I think it’s hard to say precisely why. I think a number of the reasons are sort of woven in throughout other blog posts (if we really wanted to try to do some detective work and really think on it). But to me, I’d say it’s most likely some sort of mix of the following (and perhaps some other things I’m not thinking of too.)
I was established in Boston. I had jobs, school, friends, a whole full life. I had very recently moved to New York. I didn’t know a lot of people. And the dude who raped me was someone from my school (and therefore a bridge to a lot of the people I knew (or could know).
In fact, before I try to say any other answers, let me just say that the overarching thing for me is that it feels like I lost a lot because of this – lost some of my dreams, was set backward at my school-ish program thing. That’s kind of some of the stuff that really matters – quality of life stuff. I have dreams and hopes and wants. For me, it wasn’t a giant deal if someone physically injured me in a way that healed. But it would’ve been a big deal if for various reasons I had to miss out on a job or opportunity that was important to me. I think that’s sort of at the root of all of it.
I think it affected me because I had just moved. He was sort of the man who volunteered to “introduce me to New York.” He was one of the first people I became close with here. I had just left everything I knew and loved. All my closest friends were 3,000 miles away. Just everything – my dope apartment, my favorite hiking spots, whatever. (I’ve kind of talked about this before, because as I said, all of this, I think, is woven throughout the various posts.)
So, imagine being plucked out of your support system and everything you know and then being violated by one of the first people in the new place who made you think you can trust them.
Back to the rape in Boston vs. New York, for me (and obviously I can’t speak for all women, but for me), going home with someone I barely knew and having him refuse to stop was just a fluke crummy thing that happened… But, getting to know someone over the course of a couple of months, seeing and completely ignoring red flags and all that – it makes me question my judgement completely. And not trusting yourself anymore sucks. With the Boston one, it was sort of, “How could I have known? What a weird experience! At least I never have to see that dude again!”
And with the New York one, it’s like, “You could’ve known in a million ways. You only had about a trillion red flags. It makes me feel like I’m more at fault. It makes me feel worse about myself. It becomes so much easier to get in this circle of “what if I’d – ” or “if only I’d – ” and it sucks to feel that way.
I also feel like it’s sort of a normal human thing to be more hurt by people you know, right? If someone swipes your wallet on the street, that sucks and of course you’re gonna be mad. But if you find out someone you really trust is siphoning money from you or something, it becomes so much more personal about like, “Dang, why would you steal from me?” And then again, you question your judgement, your relationship, your reality…
So, I dunno. I don’t know if I really have more to add on this subject, but to me all seems pretty clear why this would be oh so different. But I dunno! It’s not clear for a lot of people who wonder about it. But that’s the best way I know how to explain it it.