The past year has been a weird one; the past month, weirder still. But it’s the events of a combination of the two which have lead to this blog post.
Earlier this month, I posted the link to the Biting Beaver rapist checklist on the I Believe Her page. It was this checklist that, just under a year ago, made me come to the realisation that I was a rape survivor. September 11th’s 10th anniversary memorials made me realise I was a rape survivor twice over.
I was 16 the first time I was raped. September 12th, 2001. My parents were on holiday with their best friends, and as a result, I was staying with their friends older daughter. When the planes hit the twin towers on September 11th, I feared that my parents, due home on the 15th, may end up stranded. I also wondered if this meant that William, my mum’s friend’s eldest son, would end up stranded at work, as he worked offshore. For him, getting home meant a short flight. He was due home on the 12th. I was in my first week of college, and returned from college the next day to find him sat there. At 25, he was a long term crush of mine. We sat up and talked most of the evening. As I went to the room I was staying in, he followed me. I can’t remember how I felt about that. I really can’t. I’ve tried, over the past six months since I began remembering things, but it doesn’t happen. We sat up, watching some film, starring David Duchovny, and I vaguely remember him groping me. Everything from there remains blocked out, apart from two key moments. Laying beneath him, as he told me to stop shaking. And shortly after, as he told me to be quiet. I don’t know if I’d tried to protest, or what. I can’t remember what I’d said, how I’d sounded. But he didn’t stop. When he finally finished with me, he quite simply asked “Was that your first time?” It was.
Over the next three years, I slowly went off the rails. I dropped out of my first college course, but thanks to an extremely over-bearing mentor on the subsequent college course, pushed through til the end of the course with the grades required to get into university. I found myself smoking weed, something I’d previously been firmly against, stealing from family. I found myself spiralling deeper into depression, and unable to explain why.
I met my next rapist, Dom, in December after leaving home, and starting at uni. However, it wasn’t until February the following year we started dating. To start with, he seemed lovely. But somewhere within the early months of the relationship, he changed. The first glimsp came a few weeks into the relationship when I returned home to find him drunk, and quickly accusing me of cheating on him. This accusation had apparently transpired from his two year old son apparently finding my purse, and the condom I still had in there; one I’d had since before I met him. I struggled to connect the dots, failing to understand how he’d come to the conclusion I was cheating on him. He quickly became more and more possessive; I found myself confronted one afternoon for not knowing he was meeting me from my lecture – I’d arrived home to find an empty house, and twenty minutes later, he arrived, accusing me of lying to him. He started turning up at my workplace, and it was noted on more than one occasion, he was making customers extremely uncomfortable. By August that year, he’d threatened to kill me, holding a knife inches from my throat after I’d admitted I wasn’t sure what to make of one of his friends.
I don’t remember when Dom first physically assaulted me. Nor do I remember when he first raped me. Over the past seven years, the four years I was with him has rolled into one continuous nightmare. I remember things being thrown at walls a long time before the hits, the kicks and the throttles came. And I definitely don’t remember when the first rape came. But I remember incidents that first put the fear of saying “no” into me. The first came around October that first year, when he pinned me on the floor, despite the fact I started to panic, trying to wrestle him off me. To me, this wasn’t a game. The more fear I showed, it seemed the harder he pinned me, telling me to “lighten up”. I don’t remember how long it took, but I eventually lashed out. At some point over the next six months, he worked out he could use fear to coerce me into having sex with him. It took me a long time to realise that if I was having sex with him to save myself from being locked out of the flat naked, or to “prove I wasn’t having an affair”, or to ensure he wouldn’t assault me… I was still being raped. “It’s not consent if you make me afraid to say no.” I never remember who originally said that.
Shortly before the end of the relationship, I gave birth to my only son. He’s truly the apple of my eye, as the old cliché goes. But I can’t remember the night he was conceived; was it one of the times I was too afraid to say no? Regardless, I can’t hold him accountable for his father’s actions; nor can I hold myself accountable. My son is as much a victim of his father’s actions as I am. But, like his mother, he’s strong. He may find all of this out one day. I’ll be honest, I hope to high heaven he doesn’t; but if that day ever comes, we’ll survive. It’s what this family is built on.