Discussions of rape and sexual assault.
I was raped.
I’ve never said it in so few words before. It isn't something I talk about it often, and when I do it is in vague and noncommittal terms. The kind of phrases Cosmopolitan uses in gross articles about ‘grey rape’ – the ‘sex that falls somewhere between consent and denial and is even more confusing than date rape because often both parties are unsure of who wanted what.’
Aside from the year I religiously read Cosmopolitan as a sixteen year old (thanks cool aunty for that subscription) I’ve never considered myself the kind of person to take advice from glossy magazines. I read the grey rape article back in 2012 and took it to university as an example of victim blaming culture for a first year sociology tute. And yet, here I was: 21, self-described sassy as fuck and unable to fully admit that what happened wasn’t even a little bit my fault.
Fuck the culture of victim blaming in which we live.
Fuck that I thought there was a hierarchy of rape and mine just didn’t make the grade. Fuck thinking that because it wasn’t as awful as it could have been I didn’t have a right to be angry. Fuck thinking that his mum having no idea anything was wrong the next day when she dropped me at train station made it in any way okay. Fuck thinking that something has to be violent in order to be unwanted and forceful.
Fuck not wanting to cause social conflict because he was a friend - or at least, friends with the same people I was. Fuck the idea that being honest about assault is more problematic than the act itself.
Fuck the legal statistics. Fuck him being a wealthy white dude, conventionally attractive and good at sport to boot. Well, actually, fuck me for being young and female and drunk and wearing a short yet hard to remove playsuit. We all know how that would have gone down in a court of law. I would have been called a slut by a high-paid public official. And if I was lucky, oh so fucking lucky, he’d serve all of what? Maybe three months? Of an already minimal sentence? Wouldn’t want to destroy the poor boy’s bright future. Fuck that.
Well, here I am: 23 and still self-described sassy as fuck. But now I know nothing I ever did or consumed could ever justify what he did. I know there isn’t anything ‘grey’ about rape. And I know there is no rape hierarchy. Rape is rape and it fucking sucks. And yet, I still feel guilty.
I feel guilty that I didn’t do enough. I didn’t carry my mattress around campus. I didn’t start a national awareness campaign. I didn’t scream his crime from rooftops. For maybe the first time in my life, I was left speechless. I feel guilty that I wasn’t strong or brave when it mattered most.
Fuck that. Fuck that I am here feeling guilty for not single-handedly changing the fucking world after you raped me and I’m certain you don't feel a thing. In your mind you did nothing wrong. You took what society is always telling you is yours. As long as you’ve had a few drinks too it doesn’t matter what you do. Boys will be boys. Blah blah fucking blah.
You know what, though? I'm not going to feel ashamed anymore. I'm not going to feel guilty for being drunk or for not changing the world. I'm going to continue drinking too much red wine, laughing too loudly and never wearing a bra. And one day I am going to change the world. Fuck you.