Survivors of rape feel shame. They feel alone, rejected and helpless. Horrific thoughts and what if’s run through their heads. What if I had fought harder? What if I had taken another way home from school? What if I hadn’t gone to his room? What if I had been stronger?
Many more thoughts on trying to understand the irrational. To bring clarity to the fog that your head is in. To try to explain the trauma you just suffered in a way that doesn’t mean you lose your mind.
Because you will. You will lose your mind. You will lose your spirit. You will lose your ability to see men the same again. You will never forget. You can’t. You just hope to be able to move past the pain to process and heal. Some do move past and heal. Many don’t.
Society continually fails the victim. We’ve got to stop doing this. We’ve got to support our victims. Too many women come forward and report their rape only to be told that they weren’t raped or become raped again by the police and society. That keeps others from coming forward.
I didn’t come forward about my rape because he was popular. No one would have believed me. The year before when I was sexually assaulted the boys were suspended and faced expulsion before the school board. The kids turned on me. The same kids who said or did nothing as these boys held me down on the school bus feeling me up and I screamed for help blamed me. I was hated. Ridiculed.
So, why would I report my rape? I couldn’t face the pressure of going through that again. I understand when women don’t report it. I just wish it was easier for victims to step forward. Rapists continue to live, grow old and have families with no thoughts of their victim. They don’t have nightmares.
They don’t suffer the years of self-sabotage, body images and feelings of worthlessness. They don’t see that sometimes you wish that you were invisible because you don’t want to be touched or hear catcalls or be loved. You just want to get through the day.
Lately, I’ve been reading so much about rape that I felt I needed to write on it. This poem was the piece that pushed me to do so. I, like many women could relate.
When I was six years old, I gave my first blowjob.
“It’s a game”, said He. “Don’t you want to play?”
It was too big, and I threw up on him.
He said I’d do better the next time.
When I was seven years old, I watched a group of fellow second graders cheer as a boy in my class tried to kiss me. He hugged me from behind, giggling all the while.
I threw sand in his eyes, and was sent to the Principal.
When I was eight years old, I had an elderly teacher ask me to stay behind in class. He carried me on his shoulders, and called me pretty.
“Teacher’s Pet!” my friends declared, the envy visible on their faces.
They ignored me at lunch that day.
When I was nine years old, an older girl on the school bus would ask me to lift my skirt up for her. She was pretty and kind, and told me that I could only be her friend if I did what she said.
I wanted to be her friend.
When I was ten years old, a relative demanded that he get a kiss on the cheek every time we met. He was large and loud, and I proceeded to hide under my bed whenever I learnt that he was visiting.
I was known as a rude child.
When I was eleven, my auto-man told me that we would only leave if I gave him a hug every day.
He smelled like cheap soap and cigarettes.
When I was twelve years old, I watched as a man on the street touched my mother’s breast as he passed us. She slapped him amidst the shouts of onlookers telling her to calm down.
She didn’t calm down.
When I was thirteen years old, I exited a restaurant only to see a man visibly masturbating as he walked towards me. As he passed, he winked lasciviously.
My friends and I shifted our gazes down, aghast.
When I was fourteen, a young man in an expensive car followed me home as I walked back from an evening class. I ignored his offer to give me a ride, and I panicked when he got out, only to buy me a box of chocolate that I refused. He parked at the end of my road, and didn’t go away for an hour.
“It turns me on to see you so scared.”
When I was fifteen, I was groped on a bus. It was with a heart full of shame that I confided in a friend, only to be met with his anger and disappointment that I had not shouted at the molester at the time when it happened. My soft protests of being afraid and alone were drowned out as he berated my inaction. To him, my passiveness and silence were the reasons why things like this continue to happen.
He did not wait for my response.
When I was sixteen, I discovered that Facebook had a section of inbox messages named ‘others’, which contained those mails received from strangers, automatically stored as spam. Curious, I opened it to find numerous messages from men I had never seen before. I was propositioned, called sexy, asked for nudes, and insulted.
When I was seventeen, I called for help as a drunken man tried to sexually harass me in a crowded street.
The people around me seemed to walk by quicker.
At eighteen, I was told that sexism doesn’t exist in modern society.
I was told that harassment couldn’t be as bad as us women make it out to be.
That I should watch what I wear.
Never mind you were six, never mind you were wearing pink pajamas.
That I should be louder.
But not too loud, a lady must be polite.
That I should always ask for help.
But stop overreacting, there’s a difference.
That I should stay in at night, because it isn’t safe.
You can’t get harassed in broad daylight.
That I should always travel with no less than two boys with me.
You need to be protected.
That it can’t be that hard to be a girl.
I am now nineteen years old.
I am now tired.
(This poem was anonymously submitted to Glasnost.)