With the world frantically apologising for rapist Assange, it goes without saying that rape victims everywhere will be feeling traumatised and hesitant to report. The past few weeks have triggered old feelings for many as teh menz go about explaining to those being raped what constitutes a ‘legitimate’ rape. It leaves us feeling like we shouldn’t bother reporting, even when we know we didn’t consent.
The following is a description of what many rape victims go through, in trying to reconcile the trauma with fact.
We need to believe victims, we need to support them. Rape is rape.
(X was raped by two men; M being her ‘first love’ and A, his best friend. Two years after she was raped, X received an unsolicited email)
Message from a rapist
“I just wanted to say I’m so sorry for what happened never should have. I wish one day we can talk. Do think about you sometimes and just wonder what going on in your life. Take care. M”
A couple of years pass without any correspondence and then..
On FB, A wrote:
“Never cared for an explanation before this”
Traumatised, a friend responds on X’s behalf:
“You don’t know me and I have little interest in knowing any of you, but as someone that cares for X deeply, and seeing as you’ve all tried to make contact with her recently, I’m going to take this opportunity to point a few things out to you.
Yes, she was drunk that night. Yes, a part of her wanted to have sex with you M. No, she did not want to have sex with you A. Yes, it was rape.
M’s sister, I’m sure you’re upset by what happened, but your suggestion that she asked for it by getting drunk and not listening to your advice to stay away from your brother, is just the kind of told-you-so quip a girl who has suffered so horrifically doesn’t need to hear.
No girl asks to get raped.
New laws have been passed to protect girls in exactly the same situation: if a girl is drunk and says no, it’s rape.
I think it’s pretty sick that you keep images of her torment on your laptop M.
Please don’t try to contact her. That night changed her. She’s not the meek eager-to-please little girl you all once knew. She’s tough as nails is our X.
If you pursue harassing her, she will contact the police.
Just let it go. You could have destroyed her life, but you didn’t. Be thankful for that. I hope this disgusting ordeal has taught you not to do this to another girl ever again. I wish you all peace. S”
A responds to S’ email:
“I’d like to say thank you for responding to me. I’ll respect yours and X’s wishes to not contact her – this was the only time I tried in two years but only because I never had a way of contacting her until now. If I did, I would have tried long ago, but I realize now that it might not have made a difference.
I don’t wish to rehash that night – the way you described it is disturbing and very hurtful, and I don’t agree with it, but this isn’t about me. I feel absolutely terrible that it made X feel that way. I hated not knowing all this time, but your email made me realize that things ended badly.
I don’t blame you if you don’t share this message with X – you sound like a caring friend and I can appreciate that. If you do, please tell her that I am truly sorry for being part of something that caused her pain. I know this sounds crazy, but I felt a strong connection with her from the moment I met her. Things happened the way they did, but it was never my intention.
I hoped that I might see her again when in London, but I know that will never happen.
Again, please tell her I’m sorry.”
A proceeds to send X an email anyway:
“Not sure what to say. I never had the chance to talk to you after that night but I really wanted to. I asked M about you 100 times. I guess now I understand a little better.
I know you probably don’t want to believe anything I say, but the impression it seems you have of me and the person I really am are very different. Look, I respect your feelings and I want to try and see things from your side if you’ll share that with me. I remember that night and I want to share my feelings too. They are not what you expect…”
“It’s taken me a long time to make sense of things and face my demons and now I have nothing but curiosity, but its taken a long time to get to this. That night, before you’d even turned up, I’d drunk so much my judgement was already way off. I keep thinking back to my behaviour, silly things that I’d done, how I’d brought it on myself.
I really enjoyed being at the club, dancing, getting drunk. For the first time, I didn’t feel uncomfortable around M, didn’t feel like the sap he’d always made me feel. Ironic really, it was the first time I’d trusted him. When we were in bed, I was a fool for letting him touch me and for getting carried away. The enormity of the situation didn’t strike home until you were asked to join in. I said no (admittedley I didn’t scream it) a fair few times and in the end I gave myself two choices; scream and make it more harrowing or lie back and play numb. M, the twat who always insisted on using contraception mocked me with ‘wouldn’t it be funny if you did get pregnant? you wouldn’t know the father until it was born’ before chucking the condom over his shoulder. I asked him not to hurt me and you did too, I thought you were on my side. Until you said you wanted to have a go too. He ripped my pyjamas because I’d tied a knot in the drawstring. What part of that was consensual? At some point, after it was all done, you left to sleep in the other room. I asked M many times why he’d allowed for something like this to happen and he said, so carefree, that if it had been any other one of his friends he wouldn’t have stood for it but you, you were like his brother. What the hell does that mean?!?
Why were you guys forcibly taking pictures of me? When I was trying to wrap myself up in the duvet? Do you know I got an infection after that night? Not transmitted but as a result of the trauma? That I had bruises on my wrists, thighs?
How can the picture be any different in your head?”
“I know saying sorry doesn’t change anything, but I really am. I remember M telling me that we would be driving down to *place* and didn’t tell me much of who we were meeting. I remember I was exhausted because I hadn’t slept in two days and I didn’t think I would have fun. Then he stopped to pick you up and everything changed.
At that point, I didn’t know the relationship you had with M. I could tell there was some history, but I didn’t know the extent of it. When we were in bed, I felt incredibly awkward. On the one hand, I understood what was going on, and yet I felt so attracted to you, and more than just physically and I believed that you felt that way too. I know that shouldn’t make sense and maybe that’s where I am totally wrong. I tried to control my feelings, and then I slipped up. But X, I didn’t do it to ‘have a go’. I’ve never been that way, and I will never be that way and I wished many times that I could talk to you just to let you know.
Now years later I have a chance to talk to you about this – I still think about you from time to time. Partly because of the strangeness of that night and partly because somehow I knew you were hurt, and I didn’t want that. I hope we can continue to talk.
P.S. I never saw the pictures after that day, and I really believe they are gone.”
“There’s a reason why I decided to have this out with you than him. As far as I’m concerned he never existed. He came into my life when I was 15, when I was vulnerable and manipulated my feelings, treated me with very little respect. I was just his girl this side of the pond. I developed an eating disorder because of all the crap he’d feed me about how hot and slim his girl was, how he could never treat me as anything but a shag. He broke my heart so many times going as far as taunting me with lines like “you’re the second girl I’ve fucked today”. I was so stupid, I let him, year after year until that occasion. I can understand now why it may have been strange for you and why you wouldn’t have been feeling what I was feeling where, for the umpteenth time, he just used me and left. I remember telling him the two of you had to leave ‘cos I was moving out of the house the next day and that the chap from the agency saw me as a sister and how would he feel if it were his sister in the same position. He just scoffed, going as far as calling his mum a vessel and his sister someone he shares DNA with. I’m just sorry it took me so long to realise his intentions. Apart from his girl, his views on women are misogynistic and quite dangerous. I’m sorry you got dragged into it.”
A’s final email to X. X is so disgusted by some of his suggestions, she cannot continue.
“ X, I shouldn’t have made my version of that night sound overly romantic because thats not fair to you. I too thought most of the night was great and I had alot of fun, but I realize the morning was insensitive. I really did try to get M to contact you after that day because I didn’t feel good about it, and I thought he was lying when he said he couldn’t reach you anymore. After about 1 year I gave up. Then I tried sending you that email and I got that response from your friend, and I can’t believe how much that email bothered me. At first I was offended, then I was pissed off about it, and then I was hurt and very sad that I had something to do with making you feel that way. I think it hit home that things were worse than I expected. If I had to defend myself and my actions regarding the things that happened that night, I think I could, but I wish I held back.
I always wanted to tell you that I think you are beautiful and that you have a sweet personality. That probably sounds gross coming from me
How have things been for you these last few years otherwise? Have you found someone that treats you well? Would you rather stop the emails now that we’ve discussed it?”
There are many that will say, well, it can’t have been that bad else why would she still speak to them? Trauma works in mysterious ways. Victims need closure and if the State cannot provide it, what are they to do?
If X now chose to report, would she have to answer questions about why she allowed herself to get so drunk? What about the clothes she was wearing? The fact that she’d had previous sexual relations with one of the rapists, would they deem it consensual?