T O P I C ††† R E V I E W
Member # 39785
posted 08-20-2008 05:31 PM
I consider myself to be a pretty put together girl. I'm not afraid to assert my opinion, I surround myself with good people, I'm pretty confident, I'm usually really happy, I try to make good choices, and I feel like I usually do. So imagine my dismay and kind of silent horror when I find out I was raped and didn't even know it. I guess I just consider it as rape, but now that the label is slapped onto the incident, I feel like I'm obliged to have some traumatic emotions.
I had sex with a guy I didn't know very well. I didn't really want to at first, but I let him. Only a few minutes later, I realized my mistake because I knew I felt uncomfortable, so I said no, but he persisted anyway, and I let it happen. I didn't know this until afterwards, but halfway through, he took his condom off. I took EC and a full STI screening afterwards, and I didn't really think anything of it. For me, it seemed more like a summer fling. The even more horrible part is that we ended up spending the night together a few more times. I thought he was an okay guy to see over the summer and I thought I was making the responsible choice at the time to just stick with making out after that first night incident. Other than the first night, he has never pressured me to have sex again. We've only done what I was confortable with. Mostly we just talk. There was no way I was going to let anything else like that happen to me again. We even talked about it, and how I thought it was really out of line, and he agreed what he did was "kind of mean", but said that it was also my fault I led him on. What I feel horrible about now is that indicators like that statement he made should have let me know that he's not the kind of guy I want to even hang out with. I feel like I shouldn't want to hang out with someone who says things like that. Since I didn't feel emotionally burdened by the incident, I didn't think it was rape, until I read more about the definition of rape on Scarleteen. Now I just feel like a statistic on teens who make bad choices. It's kind of a wake-up call to know that I'm not suseptible to easily preventable (well, at least in my case, the situation would have been easily preventable) "bad choices." My friends pride themselves on being independent, strong, young women, and now I feel like I have to regain that claim. I know I will do everything in my power not make a mistake like this again, but I feel ashamed to know that it even happened the first time. I know that though it was not completely my fault, I should still take responsibility for my actions, and I know I could have stopped him. I'm also starting to question my true values, because how could I think of him as a friend after the fact? We've hung out and laughed, joked, and talked. Why did it take the label of "rape" to make me see that it is not a good idea to associate myself with him? So, I'm kind of confused of how I should feel about the situation, or what I feel. At first it was just a shrug and "I've learned from my mistakes," but now I feel like I should feel bad that I was taken advantage of. How come I didn't feel that in the first place? I noticed that a lot of people are asking whether what happened to them was rape. What changes about a situation that happened, (and apparently other posters) when it becomes officially deemed "rape"? Now that I know what happened to me was rape, why is that one measly four letter label making me obliged to see things differently? I don't feel like a "victim." Should I?
Member # 36725
posted 08-21-2008 11:02 PM
Big Vulva: Thereís a lot of things that I want to touch on in reply to your post, so my reply will be lengthy but Iíll try to hit everything in a semblance of order so it doesnít seem jumbled.
You can be the most put together girl in the world. Iím sure that youíre a good person in addition to the good people you surround yourself with. Even being the most assertive person out there, someone who will yell no from a mountain to make their voice heard. None of these things mean that being raped is something that canít happen to you. Indeed it has and does happen to good people, to people that say ďNoĒ and even to people that are well put together. It could happen to anyone. Your mind is busy processing all of what happened and forming this information into feelings and emotions. For anything that happens, any set person will have their own way of identifying and dealing with it. For instance, if three people lived through a house fire, the first may go through feelings of anger for the occurrence, the second person may be very sad and hurt by their loss, the third person could be relieved that they are safe. None of these people are wrong for feeling what they do. Thereís not a specific way that a person should feel after rape. Itís not abnormal to wonder how you should feel, but I donít think we should label all people as having traumatic emotions. Any emotions that someone feels after being raped are their own emotions. We canít change them or make them what we think they should be, they are what they are. Just the same, *he* did this to you Ė not the other way around. What youíre describing with seeing signs now and what you realize looking back on the situation, thatís all completely normal. I remember many nights thinking to myself ďIf only Iíd thought about riding home with someone I barely knewĒ and ďIf Iíd been a better judge of character Iíd have knownĒ but the truth is, many things are seen differently with a new light. This didnít happen because you were a bad judge of character, and it wasnít because you missed seeing signs that you should have seen. It happened because He didnít listen when you said no. And He was wrong. All through life a person can make the most cautious choices and someone else can change the outcome of those choices Ė it certainly doesnít make it the fault of the person making the choices. Rape is about power, and this guy telling you that it was partially your fault for leading him on is his way of continuing to exert that power over you. Nobody is obliged to give another person sex. The same, deciding initially to have sex and then feeling uncomfortable and saying ďnoĒ means that the other person should stop. You didnít lead him on, you told him exactly what you wanted Ė you wanted him to stop. This isnít your fault, the blame lies with him. Iím really not comfortable with you using the idea of a statistic for teens that make bad choices. People donít choose to be raped, and a comment like this to someone thatís been raped makes it seem like they did something wrong to cause it. Itís not about people making a bad decision, itís about someone being forced to do something they donít want to do. You donít have to regain being strong and independent. You are a strong and independent young woman. Nothing about that has changed. You deserve to be considered as such, and I hope you can realize that as well. Being raped doesnít make you weak or mean that you arenít independent. I honestly canít tell you how you should feel Ė because I may have a different way of processing emotions that you do. For many people being able to give what happened a name also helps them to identify with it. It helps people to know that whatís happened to them has also happened to other people, and there they have an ally, someone that understands and has been where they are. Identifying with rape, for many people, means finally knowing how to deal with the feelings theyíve been having and finding within themselves what they need to begin putting their feelings together and being able to face them. And with this idea, I canít tell you how a victim *should* feel, but I can tell you that for every person thatís raped thereís an individual journey for them to finding what they need to process and work through feelings and thoughts. Are you interested in talking with someone about this Ė and if so would you like some help in finding somewhere in your area? Weíre here to support you, and would like to help you in any way that we can.
Member # 39785
posted 08-21-2008 11:51 PM
Thank you so much for giving such a thorough and thoughtful response to my questions. I appreciate the time that you took to give me your advice. First of all, I would like to apologize if it sounded like I was putting down or generalizing about teenagers who have been raped. I do not want to ever offend anyone, especially with such a sensitive subject. I was feeling that other people might want to label me this way, and it is frustrating for me to think about that. The one part of your message that I learned the most from was about how it is his fault. I know that me saying "no" is when everything should have stopped, and I feel in no way that he had a right to say that I was leading him on. However, I still can't help feeling that, since there are two of us, that half of this was still my responsibility, or does my responsibility end at not consenting? I know that what he did was not right, but is that to say that I shouldn't have any of the blame? Also, while the rape is something I regret (who wouldn't?), what really bothers me is that I continued to have contact with him afterwards. And that I thought it was okay. That's almost like making the same mistake right after you just made it! Perhaps seeing it as rape has changed my views in a good way. I have cut off ties with him because I don't view it as a healthy or beneficial relationship anymore. Again, thank you for your thoughts. I think the support of volunteers like you will be sufficient. Just knowing that there is support for me is an emotional balm in and of itself. Although this rape is something I ponder, I am still pretty much happy-go-lucky me, and it will take much more to keep me from living life the way I want to live it.
Member # 3
posted 08-22-2008 12:03 PM
I'm only here for a little bit right now, but wanted to touch on a couple things here. quote: However, I still can't help feeling that, since there are two of us, that half of this was still my responsibility, or does my responsibility end at not consenting? I know that what he did was not right, but is that to say that I shouldn't have any of the blame? What you've described here is sex where sometimes you did consent and where sometimes you did not. I think you can simply look at where those divisions are and see who is responsible for what through that lens.
Too, just know that there is not any one story for rape. Our experiences of rape and sexual abuse or assault differ widely, absolutely, some types (or scenarios in which they happen, or dynamics, or at certain stages of our life) can have a deeper impact than others. For instance, I can tell you for myself that absolutely, the assaults that happened to me at 11 and 12 (especially the latter, as it was a stranger assault, as I got no help with it until years later and was effectively forced to pretend it didn't even happen, and it was highly violent) have had a different impact on me than an attempted date rape did more than a decade later. However, with someone else who had the same situations, they may well have felt the complete opposite than I did. How we thought about things at the time can also have an effect on what it means to us and how we are impacted: for instance, when people do some to sex with the idea that women are passive, or that active consent just doesn't mean much (or lack of it), then obviously, it's often likely to be less traumatic for a person. I think it might also be helpful to ask yourself what exactly one thinks someone who has been victimized feels like, or what "victim" even means when it comes to a person who has been a victim feels like they have. Again, how any of us feels having been victimized -- at the time or afterwards -- is not universal: it is very diverse. As well, having been victimized doesn't mean any of us are thus perpetual victims. If we survive being victimized, if we are not being victimized now, we're not victims now, but survivors.
Member # 39785
posted 08-24-2008 12:01 AM
Thank you for your advice. I really appreciate it.
I think that writing out my feelings and reading what you guys wrote in support has helped me feel better about this. I feel no shame and I'm happy to just move on. I've learned a lot from this experience and I know it will shape my choices in the future for the better.