The problem with society’s “ideal” rape victim
One contributor writes about their experience with sexual violence
This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article contains content about rape and sexual assault which some readers may find distressing. For support, contact Rape Crisis Help on 1800 778888.
I was nineteen when I was raped, I wasn't the ideal victim because I was drunk and unconscious, some might ask what did I expect?
He was a friend of a friend and when I was turned away from the club she trusted him to take me home safely and put me to her bed. Instead the next morning I woke up naked in his single bed, beside him. I had very little memory of the night before. I remembered drinking white wine in the flat, I was flirting and kissing the boy who took me home that night. He made me feel pretty but not so much so that I felt okay with him having sex with my unconscious form.
A condom wrapper lay on the floor, I wasn't even sure if anything happened. He refused to tell what had happened until he realised I wasn't on the pill.
I didn't get a period for three months after and of course I was convinced I was pregnant. I cried every day, I spent countless hours talking to my friend on the phone figuring out what I could do. Would I get an abortion? Was I okay with that option, could I go through with that? Would I put it up for adoption? Or keep it? Would I be a good mother that young? I doubted I could love a baby who was conceived that way. I was scared of resenting it and not being the mother any baby deserves. I wasn't pregnant but felt a mixture of emotions when this was confirmed. I was relieved and devastated at the same time.
It's now been two years and four months since “the incident” and although after all this time has passed I am still not over it, I'm terrified of sex and haven't had it since.. This is almost the worse part for me because all I've ever wanted was to get married and have children. Last year I was seeing a guy but any time he wanted to have sex, I seized up. I couldn't do it.
Only a handful of people know as it's not something I can tell people easily because I am ashamed. The thought of them judging me, blaming me or slut-shaming me is too real.
When I hear how my parents talk about girls who get drunk and end up in similar situations it just reinforces that belief. I am convinced they would tell me that I put myself in that situation or that I am a “silly girl.”
The first person I told who wasn't one of my closest friends was a therapist. That was a year ago and even though she has spent so much time telling me I wasn't to blame it's hard to believe. I thought and sometimes still think I deserved it. I drank too much and have to live with the consequences, my mantra became “every action has consequence some are just bigger than others” and unfortunately for me they were consequences massive.
Anxiety had never been an issue for me before the incident, but now I'm anxious 90% of the time. I can't go to clubs without feeling an overwhelming sense of panic and I think it's because of all the men. God knows it's not their fault and its not likely to happen again but that's my fear. I never even made it to the club that night but when I'm in a club I don't feel safe because I know that in places like that it's bound to have happened to someone else at least once.
The way society views people who have been raped in situations like mine, is a major issue. I never reported it even though I was urged to by anyone I told because of articles I've read in the past shaming the woman, conversations I've had with people or conversations I've overheard that implied the girl is to blame. For me seeing that I wasn't to blame has not been easy, it's difficult for me to place the blame on that guy even though he was the conscious one and he never asked was it okay. That much I know due to his reluctance to admit what had happened and the condom had split.
Thankfully though as a nation Ireland seems to be moving on, people are on the whole less inclined to blame the woman. With consent workshops in universities, victims (a term I despise) speaking out and it becoming a global discourse hopefully anyone who has that experience won't feel like I did. Hopefully they won't question whether what happened to them was “real rape” because it didn't fit the stereotype. Rape can happen to anyone, no one is exempt from it. Rape is not a word I feel comfortable with and I certainly don't feel comfortable with using it in relation to me but it fits the description of RAINN, the anti-sexual violence organisation. I found that out in the months following the incident when I frantically searched for stories like mine. I must have googled “was I really raped?” or “was what happened to me rape?” every day for 5 months. After that I decided it wasn't rape, until the therapist I saw told me she had “no doubt” that it was rape. I think I need to accept that is what it was because that's probably what I and every other person who has experienced it needs to do. I think you can't move on in life until you accept something. What I've learned over the last two years hiding from it and pretending it never happened only serves to make feelings and though bigger, stronger and more prevalent.
You can contact Rape Crisis Help on 1800 778888.