Journalist. Writer. Researcher. Editor.

Why I didn’t report my rape #14

I didn’t report my rape, because to this day – almost seven years later – I still flip-flop between whether or not it was actually “rape”. It’s funny, if it had happened to anybody else, I probably would say that it was a rape. But because it’s me, well… Anybody who knows me knows that I blame myself for everything. And that night I knew what I was doing, up until a point – I thought I had control of the situation, until I clearly didn’t.
It’s not a particularly uncommon story, unfortunately. It was a guy I’d been hooking up with on and off for several months. I don’t know how drunk he was, but I was very drunk – I’d had a ridiculous amount of cheap tequila that night.He knew I was a virgin, and he knew – and had known, for all the time we had known each other – that I had no interest in having sex with him. And he’d always tried to pressure me a little, verbally – mercifully, until that point, never physically. I’d always been able to talk him out of it.

I don’t remember meeting him that night, or when we decided to leave the bar we were at. I do remember lying with him on the lawn in front of our university admin building because I needed a rest. I don’t remember the walk up to his room at all. Strangely, I do remember him taking out his contact lenses.

I don’t remember much. I do remember that we were fooling around, when all of a sudden I felt… pressure. I asked if he had put “it” in, and he said yes. I asked if he was at least wearing a condom, he said no. Some drunken part of my brain – and I will probably beat myself up about this for years to come – went, “Well, it’s too late now” – and I said, “Well fucking at least put one on then”. Or something to that effect. He did, and carried on. My tequila-addled brain was more concerned about HIV and pregnancy than anything else that was happening at the moment.

It was only the next morning, when I told my best friend, that she said: “You do know that he raped you, right?” But I felt complicit in it. Because I had not said no. Because I hadn’t fought. Because I was drunk, flirtatious, all of those things that people use to blame a rape survivor, and make the rape her fault. I wish I had said no, instead of letting him carry on. I wish I could at least have that.

I haven’t spoken of it again until now. I didn’t report it because, at that stage in my life, I didn’t feel that it was rape. I still don’t, sometimes. Because we’re taught – because it is ingrained so deeply into the young women in our country – that rape is almost always partly your fault.

If you are rape survivor and need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to call the ‘Stop Gender Violence‘ helpline at 0800 150 150.

Note: Rape myths abound after the Vavi rape accusation was brought to light. These myths hurt all rape survivors – and if you ever experience sexual violence, these myths will hurt you too. The most common myth I’ve seen is the fallacy that if you don’t report to the police, it didn’t happen.  (See here.) I put out a call on Twitter for survivors who didn’t report to send me their story. To follow the series, see here.

If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please email me: michelle at journoactivist dot com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.

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