The first stage of speaking up about rape

I just finished reading a personal account of rape posted by Molly on her blog:

Her experience closely resembles mine. I initially started this blog so that I could describe what happened, to alleviate some of the pain of choking on silence. I’m still not quite ready yet to give all the details. But my response to her is a beginning:

…My story is extremely similar to yours. I was raped 18 months ago on the night of my father’s funeral by my boyfriend of 6 months. I had very similar reactions to you afterwards and tried somehow – by any means I could think of – to “work it out” for the same reasons that you describe so articulately. In my case I broke up with him after only 4 days and refused to sleep with him again. But I was willing to do or say almost anything to get an opportunity to confront him and make him listen. The rape had broken me down to the lowest wrung of myself and made my dignity and self-respect dependent on his restoration of it. And then, it seemed also that he had additional contempt for me for me being too wrecked to be able to generate my own dignity after this act, and as a result of all the abusive and coercive things he said and did leading up to it.

The man I was involved with is a rockstar, who had become horrifyingly arrogant while away on tour, describing fantasies he knew I would find revolting, and violating many different kinds of boundaries I had fully articulated to him. During the lead up period, he was apologizing. But for the rape itself, he gave me no more than 1 sentence on email. In fact, he used all of my attempts at dialogue as opportunities to abuse me, to change my status from girlfriend to groupie or sex worker and treat me as if I were beneath him.

As in your case, there are all kinds of phobias, limits and non-permissions I had made explicit throughout the relationship that he specifically violated on the night of the funeral/rape. He also used guilt and coercion on many occasions to try to make me sexually available to him in ways that I had stated I was not comfortable with. Like you, I now believe that he fully intended to abuse me and that he had spent the relationship “grooming me” for rape. He stated many times to me that he believed he “could do anything because [he’s] a rockstar.”

I have been devastated, unable to grieve my father without re-experiencing this trauma, and stuck in the maze of trying to understand how he could have behaved like this. My sexuality is destroyed, as is my trust in my own judgment of other people. For the months prior to the rape, he said many things to suggest that he had a positive, liberating and gender sympathetic view of sex. I had previously believed that he was a thinker and a supporter of feminism.

I also agree with you that rape is not a mistake or act of passion. I too tried to convince myself of these things because as you said so well, it’s so much easier to believe that your boyfriend made a mistake than that he raped you. I agree that rape is a political act to control women; to silence and dis-empower strong, outspoken, thinking people who pose a threat to the male-dominated establishment. The kinds of women these particular men chose as their targets is not an accident.

I thank you very much for your account. You articulate so clearly. That these events could have occurred proves that if we remain isolated, we have no power.