I think one of the most common themes among the whole Kavanaugh fiasco is that people believe that rape victims owe their story to someone.
There’s people who seem to believe that it’s only rape if you immediately go to hospital and immediately report a rape case, without taking into consideration the fact that it’s a fucking trauma and, you know, people react to trauma in shocking ways.
It’s like there’s a word that happens to people who are particularly shocked after a particularly horrific trauma.
I think it’s a pesky, confusing medical term like shock, or something.
Don’t worry, it’s not like people die from shock or something.
But I’ve talked about that, at least in part. I’ve tried to give you the facts about what happens after a rape, even though the people asking this question clearly don’t give a shit about facts.
And while I think most people who ask this question probably don’t give a shit about your feelings, but this message is for the people who genuinely don’t understand.
In particular, this message is aimed more at men, but hopefully it’ll help everyone to understand.
For some reason, many people feel entitled to hear your rape story. It’ll manifest in many forms, with some people taking it personally if you don’t confide in them, to others becoming quite angry and forceful about it, but no one owes you their story.
You can do more harm than good by pushing someone into confiding before they’re ready, or forcing them to choose the options you think they should, as opposed to listening to what the victim actually wants. (Obviously, I would not apply this exact same advice to minors. Though, parents and guardians, I must warn you to be careful if you do suspect abuse, simply because those types of cases can sometimes be difficult to prosecute. I would recommend Googling it, but I will try and remember to link something as to why it’s important to be careful when questioning a child.)
While it’s important that, as a victim, you have someone you can confide in, it’s equally important that if you want the best for the person you’re supporting, you understand that, for whatever reason, you might not be the best person for them to confide in. As frustrating and difficult as that may be, especially if you’re incredibly close to someone, it can rip open and trigger wounds that a person might not be equipped to deal with.
This is something I’ve noticed with every man, bar Scott, that I’ve dated.
After being in an abusive relationship – that involved a lot of sexual coercion and sexual abuse – and being raped separately to that, I’ve found that, whenever I’ve started trying to date men, it’s a thing.
I’ve often talked about the fact that I didn’t date much, which is very true, although it also depends on what you refer to as ‘dating’, I guess.
When I say I didn’t date much, I mean that with each of these men (bar one, who I dated very briefly just before I met Scott) didn’t make it past a few dates at the very most.
And the one that I dated very briefly was technically a relationship, for want of a better word, because he asked me to be exclusive, a week before I broke up with him, which I will get to.
Most of these things never became anything even close to a proper date because they’d want to have sex pretty quickly (no judgement here), but would want a reason whenever I said I wanted to wait.
For the most part, if I ever had to explain past ‘I don’t want to’ would usually mean I wouldn’t even bother to see the guy again. I’ve always felt that if saying ‘I don’t want to’ and ‘I’m not ready yet’ weren’t perfectly explainable statements within themselves, at least in the first few weeks while you’re still trying to get know someone, than that was a man who just didn’t care for you, because why else does he think he think sex is something that can be bargained for?
That doesn’t sound like a man who’s going to be patient and willing and kind.
So, to those men, and everyone else: No, victims don’t owe you their story. If you really are a ‘good guy’ like you proclaim, you let it go and you wait.
It’s exactly what my husband did, and I slept with him faster than I even thought I would, because his lack of insistence for wanting sex, and then, more importantly, his lack of insistence when it came to me telling him about the past was exactly what I needed. I opened up to him slowly, comfortably, in my own time – and I also became more intimate with him, more quickly, than I ever had before simply because he decided that it was my story.
View this post on Instagram
Such an important message. Too many people try to compete with "who has it worst" instead of sharing compassion and empathy. Whatever your pain is, your trauma, your problem, your sickness, your suffering, it's valid. No one should make your pain feel invalid, nor should they try and make you feel as if it's a competition. Photo credit: Mia Jones, Pinterest #trauma #valid #validation #youmatter #raisingawareness #miajones #pinterest #thingscarlaloves
In contrast, the guy I dated just before I met Scott, did everything wrong. He was actually pretty decent right up until he officially asked me to be his girlfriend. That night was actually a perfect night, as dates go and asking someone to go steady goes.
Hands down, that was the nicest, sweetest, most romantic way anyone’s ever asked me to be their girlfriend.
He asked me to dinner, bought me a rose, and told me he really, really liked me and that he would be honoured if I would be his girlfriend.
Who isn’t swept off their feet by that?
Unfortunately, soon after that (like literally right after), he started making his intentions in regards to sex pretty clear. Because we’d been on more than one date and we were going steady, I decided to tell him that I’d had an abusive ex and therefore I wanted to wait.
Below: A photo of us out. There’s a reason he’s mostly cropped.
He, naturally, started to question – which is fair, because that kind of information is shocking – however, instead of asking questions that might have been helpful, he asked what that had to do with us having sex.
Frustrated that I needed to be more specific, I gave a clipped, ‘He sometimes used to hurt me when we’d have sex.’
I didn’t want to explain further. To be honest, I still don’t. Plenty of close friends have asked, and I’ve shared some things – like one of my close friends, Joc, helped me realise that my first time hadn’t been great because I hadn’t wanted it and I didn’t realise that was the case until Joc pointed out that my statements weren’t matching what I was describing what was happening.
It’s a hard truth to see how you were manipulated pointed out to you, especially when it’s come from your own lips, and that person is just asking you to reflect on what you’ve said.
He seemed to drop it, or so I thought, until our next date when he said, ‘I was thinking about what you said, and I get why you’re afraid. Sex always hurts girls the first time. It won’t hurt with me because you’ve already had sex.’
That was the first time in my life that I’ve been so angry that I genuinely thought I could strike someone out of anger.
I didn’t. I didn’t even yell. I know I said something snappy and dismissive, but I remember being afraid of my own anger, so I left the situation.
I remember later confiding in my best friend, Jasmine, who had a dodgy-as-fuck partner and, after he did the favour of leaving her, she moved to London and has made an amazing life for herself, but it means that I have to depend on her for weekly Facebook calls. If you’re reading this, Jas, I love you.
View this post on Instagram
Today is the day I have to say goodbye to one of my closest friends; a friend who has stuck by me through thick and thin. A friend who has stood by me no matter what, through good times and bad. A friend who has always been brave enough to admit her mistakes; as well as compassionate and forgiving enough to accept mine. Jasmine, I wish you all the best and I already miss you. Have fun in England. @jasminetaylor1989 #England #travelling #friends #love #travelsafe #goodbye #butnotforever
Anyway, back to the point. Jas had become my housemate at this point, but we’d been close friends for well over a year before then. I went into her bedroom when her dodgy-as-fuck ex was staying over, and I told her about the conversation. I relayed it to both of them, because I didn’t want to tell her ex to piss off. Plus, he was in bed not wearing a top, and I was a little afraid of what else he wasn’t wearing if I asked him to bugger off. Not the point, though.
Though if Jas is reading this, she’ll understand all the reasons why that would be frightening to basically every human being ever. (Her ex, who was her fiancé, broke up with her via phone. I won’t tell any further details because it’s not my place, but I have a lot of hatred for this person, and if you knew all the details, you’d think my hatred was dramatically understated.)
Anyway, while her ex wanted the curious details of how my ex hurt me (fucker), Jasmine told me some of the most important advice I’ve ever heard, and something I’ve taken with me:
“But why should you have to explain to him, or to anyone? It doesn’t matter what happened, and if he can’t respect that, then you have to decide if you’ll accept that. But you don’t owe anyone an explanation about what happened, ever.”
She was the first person who actually ever told me that. Before, it felt like it was a required expectation at some point in a relationship, and I always felt like the secret made me damaged goods. I’d had some practice with a psychologist who had got me to work on saying things out loud to try and remove the shame, but I ran out of mental health days in a small town that didn’t have a lot of psychologists that worked during the hours I needed, and unfortunately, it would be far too long before I’d see a psychologist again to receive the help I truly needed. (Hence why I’m a huge mental health advocate. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt is that you should see therapists as like a ‘check up’, at times. In Australia, we’re given a few mental health days under Medicare, making some places actually affordable, and I don’t think there’s any shame going to see someone just to talk. Remember, you don’t have to keep going to see someone – it’s just sometimes life throws us more than we can handle, and therapists can give us the tools we need to cope.)
Anyway, her advice made me really strong. I ended up cancelling plans with him, and the next time we caught up, he asked me 15 times to have sex.
After losing my shit, he then said, ‘We don’t have to have sex. We can just naked cuddle on the couch.’
A comment that’s made far more disturbing when I tell you this man was/is a primary school teacher, and he’s either utterly incompetent when it comes to what sex is, or – and we both know which one is far more likely, despite most men’s lack of competence when it comes to getting women off – he thinks that, if he can convince you to remove your clothes under the false pretence of ‘naked cuddling’, you know what else he can convince you of.
Or, at least, what he thinks he can convince you of.
I lost my temper, and our relationship ended as quickly as it began. It was a faster relationship than any Taylor Swift’s had, and I think that tells you everything you need to really know.
So what’s the point of all of this?
Well, the point is, Jasmine was right. I didn’t owe anyone my story, and I still don’t. Scott’s refusal to pry into my past meant that, for the first time, I was given the opportunity to slowly open up. After we first had sex, I cried, overwhelmed with emotion, because not only had it been the first time since everything bad had happened, but it didn’t hurt. It felt good.
In fact, it felt great.
In that moment, I knew with absolute certainty, that despite what my ex said and made me believe, the problem was never with me. Sex only hurt because, more often than not, when I ‘consented’, it was because he’d manipulated me into it, or because I’d learnt it was easier to just say yes, or because he would rarely clean himself (a fact he seemed to pride himself on – I remember not being able to kiss him after three days because his breath was so bad it made me want to vomit. At first, I assumed it must be something else, because what else it could be? Sometimes we have bad breath, and it seemed cruel to point it out unnecessarily. By the third day, even if it was something genuine – like, I don’t fucking know, he started eating onion bagels or something – I knew I couldn’t stomach it anymore, and it clearly wasn’t a once-off or a twice-off, like I’d hoped and originally assumed. He hadn’t. He’d left his toothbrush when visiting his parents and instead of buying a toothbrush like a normal person, he thought he just wouldn’t brush his teeth until he visited them. Again. And he proudly told me this as he said ‘It’s not like you even noticed before today’, before I then had to try to correct him and say that I had, I just didn’t think the answer was ‘I haven’t brushed my teeth for three days because I’m too fucking lazy to buy a second toothbrush’, so I’d be regularly struck with infections, and uncaring partner who didn’t give a shit, no matter how many times his behaviour would land me in the hospital. As a result, I still have internal damage that causes extreme problems at times for me. So, with that knowledge that I’ve been married for over three years, and I was single for a solid two before I even met Scott, that means my ex’s actions were so rough I still have internal damage as a result. Do you really, really want to keep questioning victims when, more often than not, the damage is continuous – and I don’t just mean mentally. In fact, as I’m writing this down, it’s starting to dawn on me that I don’t think I’ve really told anyone about the damage that was discovered by my ex. Largely because, after finding out he’d slept with multiple women throughout our relationship, I went in to get a pap smear and a test and the doctor shamed me because ‘I should have known better’. I can still remember the pain being of that appointment being so grievous, I couldn’t return to learn my HIV tests results and had to repeat the exact same test in Emerald, after I moved due to his intense and excessive stalking. By then, I’d received so little help from everyone – including my parents, who told me that they preferred my ex to me as they moved me from Brisbane to Emerald – I had a major panic attack on the table and the doctor was incapable of finishing. The result has been that every pap smear since is, and has been, an incredibly fucking traumatic experience.)
Sometimes I wonder if the people reading this, the type of people who are callous and who assume it’s your “civic duty” to report, the people who ask these types of questions, or people like K, who told everyone I had Munchhausen’s, if you sit there and you ever think: Holy fucking shit, I’m a horrible fucking human being. People really are right when they say you shouldn’t judge because you don’t know a person’s story.
Do you ever think that? Do you ever go, “Shit, I’m so fucking wrong they need a new term for wrong?”
I didn’t think so.
Like Jasmine said, you don’t owe your story to anyone. Your story doesn’t become more or less valid if it’s reported. A person who doesn’t respect your privacy and your healing process isn’t someone you should accept as part of your life – like Scott with me, they should give you the chance to speak the space to be freely silent. You support that person, and you don’t judge, or make foolish, ignorant statements like ‘But sex always hurts women the first time’.
And if you’re the victim? Well, it’s your story. Don’t let anyone try and take away your self-worth and value by making them force their way into your story. It happened to you, not to them.
In Emergencies: 000
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
— Sources —
Bachelor of Education: English and History
Diploma in Criminology and Profiling
Diploma in Forensic Science
Background in law and psychology
Teacher 7+ years
Background in special needs, learning support – other specific teaching fields that required hands-on development.
NB: This is a declaration of the background of my personal knowledge, collected over the years via a professional form of education and development. Some of these take the form of actual degrees and others come in the form of necessary professional development. When doing your own, you should always try and verify the person’s credibility. My credibility, nor anyone else’s, is not with their education. Everyone has biases and no one is infallible. I am deliberately including some of my background education to highlight this, because you should be questioning information you are receiving.