#whyididntreport – because I was 14 and I thought it was my fault for not being clearer with my no.
#whyididntreport – because I have been the victim of non-consensual sexual acts in the majority of my sexual relationships
#whyididntreport – because those men who took sex from me without my consent would all claim they abhorred sexual assault – and I believe them.
#whyididntreport – because those men don’t view what they did to me as sexual assault.
#whyididntreport – because I have been conditioned to believe that I am complicit in any sexual acts done to me unless I fight and scream to prevent them. Simultaneously my body is conditioned to feel the threat of violence if a man doesn’t get what he wants. The freeze response is my go to.
#whyididntreport – because until recently I thought, to qualify as assault, the woman must be very very clear in her no, violently so – but there is no reciprocation, no one is responsible for ensuring the woman is very very clear in her yes.
The news is breaking me a little bit everyday as I realize that the assault of women is so commonplace that the conversation seems to be shifting from ‘did he do it?’ to ‘does it really matter that he did?’
I understand that men are scared and I wonder if some of them are frightened because they really don’t know if they have sexually assaulted a woman. The assumption of man’s entitlement to a woman’s body is so complete that many have taken what they want without even stopping to consider her, the actual person that inhabits that body. And of those, many don’t see it as an issue unless the woman cries or screams or fights. A woman being still, freezing in the midst of a non-consensual sexual act may not be perceived by a man as an assault.
mildly graphic bit ahead
I remember one encounter with a man I loved very much. He was apparently extremely horny and I was surprised at the aggressiveness of his approach. I quietly said it wasn’t a good time since there were people in the other room. He physically moved me to the bed and removed just enough of my pants to fuck me. I was startled, shocked, hurt and afraid. He didn’t hit me, he didn’t say anything – he just took me. Maybe that was supposed to be sexy in a way, romance novel style … but it was not sexy, not for me. It forever changed the way I thought of him and our relationship. It stands out as a marvel to me, because he is someone who genuinely cares about women’s rights, he is someone who finds the concept of sexual assault stomach turning, unless he wants sex. I am sure he would be mortified if I were to discuss this with him, claiming that I should have said something more, that I should have made it clearer that it wasn’t something I wanted … but I do ask where he has responsibility to ensure I was on board before removing my pants?
So, I don’t come here with any answers to anything – just my own hurts and insights into why I didn’t report my rape and how I have seen my own body used by men who I believe really did care about me.
And I confess, when I first heard Dr. Ford’s assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh I thought ‘well geeze yeah – it was high school afterall’ !!!!’ (deep breath after confessing that, I’m so ashamed). I was mortified to realize that I have been a part of the culture that excuses this behavior in young men as ‘to be expected.’ We are all part of that culture and we now need to all be a party to remedying the issue by discussing consent and the damage done to all of us when women are treated as less than human.
All men, even young ones, have the capacity to control themselves – they have the capacity to ASK and to wait for a clear answer before touching a woman.
This could all be said much more eloquently, I’m struggling to write this, struggling with the reality of the news today and with my own anger and hurt. Now I return to my coffee and I work through how to balance my anger with my actions, my hurt with my responsibilities.
I navigate how to move forward with the confidence that we can do better.