50 Shades Of Rape
This is to all men who raped me.
Trigger warning: rape, sexual assault, violence.
I was having fun that night. I went out with my straight male friend, and when I say a friend, I really mean it, we were in a complete friendzone. This is why I was enjoying myself so much. Finally, no crushes around me, no hair checks, no stress. Just a chill evening at a bar.
After a few beers, he offered to buy me another one which surprised me because he was usually super stingy. But I said yes and soon after, the place was shutting, so we took an Uber home. Together. From that point, I don’t remember things clearly. But I remember that he hit me many times and most certainly, it didn’t feel like a kiss. Did he spike me? Maybe. Did he rape me? Most definitely.
It took me two years to understand that. Until recently, I was dancing around the subject, implying that he was abusive or violent. But I felt like calling it a rape would be an overstatement. Or rather, that’s how patriarchy made me feel.
Come on, you’re a slut, you can’t be raped. You’re always horny. And you kissed him first. You wouldn’t have if you didn’t want to. And he’s a nice guy, after all. He has issues. He still hasn’t recovered after his breakup. Sounds cliché but that’s literally what I heard after I was trying to self-consciously share what happened to me. I was only partially suggesting that it was kinda weird and hurtful. I would never have had the audacity to call it a rape.
The scariest part was that I actually believed in all of those things I heard, although I am a sexually liberated feminist and I always have been. But at the moment, when I was at my most vulnerable, I completely questioned myself. My whole body was bruised, I couldn’t move my neck because that’s how violent he was with me. I had recurring dreams with him hitting me but I still managed to believe that he didn’t rape me. Maybe I made it all up. Maybe I even enjoyed it. I’m kinky, after all.
I was denied the right to acknowledge that I suffered because of what I did in the past and in the future. I invited him over. I acted like everything was fine the next day, I even spoke to him on the phone. I had sex with a different man three weeks later. And I enjoyed it.
And you know what – it’s all true but it doesn’t change a thing. The rape truth needs time because it’s ugly, horrible and unbearable. My cousin understood her sexual trauma five years later. She was on a date with an extremely handsome man who she’d been seeing for a while. He wined and dined her and then, took her to an expensive hotel like a classic romcom hero. Everything was perfect until he performed anal sex without her consent. They finished and she spent the rest of the night with him. Something felt strange, she never wanted to see him again but she didn’t know why.
Because nobody teaches us that anything non-consensual defines rape. Nobody teaches us that anyone can rape, not only a stranger in a dark alley but also, a friend, a boyfriend, or a husband. And yes, attractive men rape as well. I wish it should go without saying but it doesn’t. Yet they teach us that our clothes are provoking. That we owe something to them. That our bodies actually don’t belong to us. That if we don’t cry, scream and grieve over our blemished honor, it means we’re fine.
As for me, I didn’t scream, I was completely passive. He knew all of my weak spots because he was my friend. He was always commenting maliciously on my body, which desperately needed validation, so he did everything that he wanted with it. And until recently, I thought that his comments were just banter. That I was being overdramatic and self-obsessed.
I remember only one feeling laying down on the sofa in my very own living room. Fear. It all happened so fast, I wasn’t fully aware of what was going on but I was scared. I called him a few days after and he picked up casually, thinking that I was going to invite him for drinks again. When I told him what happened, he was apologetic but he said that he didn’t remember anything. Do I believe him? It’s not my problem. But I most certainly believe myself.
And I believe every single one of you. I believe my cousin. I believe my friend who had a fun one-night stand with a cute guy until suddenly, he took a condom off, without her realizing it. He admitted to it only in the morning when she recollected her thoughts and asked. I believe my co-worker who got drunk on a Tinder date and woke up to the dude having sex with her in his bed. I believe my childhood friend who slept with her Maths teacher in high school. She had a huge crush on him but she was fourteen while he was over thirty. She was unable to express a mindful consent.
All of those stories are instances of rape. Neither of them was reported, including mine. I regret it until this day, thinking that I could have stopped him from assaulting another woman but I know it’s not my responsibility. The decision whether to report a rape is completely up to survivors and it should always be respected.
And survivors, like myself, my friends, my co-worker or my cousin, often decide not to reach out, not only because they fear that they are going to be questioned but also, because they are denied the vocabulary to tell their stories. Men don’t want us to use the word rape because it calls out their problematic behavior.
I felt guilty after I called my rapist out but I don’t feel guilty anymore. Yes, he had his issues but nothing justifies what he did. Now I also have issues because of him. But at least two years later, I know that it wasn’t my fault even if I kissed him first, I invited him over, I was friends with him or I slept with someone else soon after. Two years later, I’m not embarrassed because of any of those things. And two years later, I’m sharing my story with you because I’m finally ready to notice all fifty shades of rape.