Journalist. Writer. Researcher. Editor.

Why I didn’t report my rape – “I was his wife” #26

I was married to him, and the rape happened at the time when our marriage was breaking down. I applied for a protection order, for the violence that I thought would end in me being killed by him. The rape was part of the violence that almost killed me, but I lived.

I was trying to make him calm, keeping him reasonable, as so many times before – so when he started initiating sex, which he knew I did not want, I tried to ignore it deflect it and move away, but without angering him.

The question about “saying no” seems so arbitrary:  It was clear I was not interested in being hurt, how would anyone agree to the anger, the violence? But did I say the words? My body language was clear. Whatever I said, my clear intention was ignored. I moved around the house, used my hands to keep me and him apart, but he was stronger and angrier and bigger than me, and so eventually I was pleading and then silent. I think he wanted me to fight back, to have an excuse for worse violence against me and so he anally raped me too. Even saying these words hurts. I am the mother of his sons. I was his wife.

If the police told me to “just make up” (as they did when I went to apply for a protection order, and changed it to a report in the “day book”) – then how would they have reacted to a rape charge?

So I made a report (no charge) to the police station – generally – with no mention or rape – so that there would be some record if the escalating violence resulted in my death. I thought At least someone would have a record, a history. Proof?

I know realise in writing this fifteen years later, that the culture of silence around rape is so strong: if I don’t write this, no-one would know. What do I want my sons to know about why I left their father? Not this. I imagined my vague report then was something. It was useless. It was not even a charge. No-one would be able to piece together the real story, If I don’t say it clearly, specify the things that no-one wants to hear or believe.

I am so glad I lived, and got to leave him relatively safely. That seemed more important. This story is one of many many, many untold.

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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