Rape and sexual assault take many forms.
This is her story:
When I was 19 years old, I couldn’t leave the house for anything important. That’s the rub. For anything important. I was still able to go out, and have a beer at the pub, or go shopping, or visit friends, but as soon as it came time to do something official, like pay a bill or get a job, or go to a Centrelink meeting, I’d dissolve into a bubbling pit of terror and tears and hide in the shower for as long as I could without freezing.
The thought of dealing with someone with authority scared me so much – I felt judged before I even got there. Dealing with unsympathetic bitch government workers didn’t help either. They made me feel like because I relied on their help, I was somehow less than a person.
I hid, and cried, and my fiancé at the time worked his arse off to keep us housed and internetted. The more he worked, the guiltier I felt, the more I drank and the worse we got. Eventually he convinced me to try for my security license, and I did. It was a job I could do – sitting on my arse in a car for $20 an hour, not having to talk to anyone. I traveled to Sydney every day for a week to do the course and get my certificate, and on the last day when I graduated I partied with my fellow students and teachers, celebrating that I finally had managed to do something constructive for myself.
He loved me, and was happy for me, and so he came in to Sydney to party with me. To combat his own fear of dealing with people he didn’t know, he drank himself stupid, and caught the train in. I didn’t want to deal with him. I sent him home. I cried. I drank. And instead of going home that night, I stayed at my teacher’s place and slept with him.
I made us break up. He begged me to reconsider but I couldn’t believe what I had done. I couldn’t allow myself to stay with him and infect him with my wrongness, and I didn’t want to have to deal with a rotting relationship while I tried to sort my thousand and one problems out.
So we broke up, and I started working for his boss – a man we had both known for over a year.
The Boss and His Wife knew all about what I had gone through. I told them everything almost straight away, and they professed sympathy and understanding. And then they made their advances. They had given me a job, and an income, and somewhere to live while I got my life back on track, and I was so, so grateful for that, and I can’t help but think that they knew what they were doing the entire time.
I was too scared to tell them “no,” in case I lost it all again, and I was also slightly interested. Never had anyone shown a sexual interest in my before. My fiancé was more of a confused little boy, and The Boss and His Wife were experienced, strong people who thought I was hot and sexy.
But I didn’t want to. I wanted to be alone for a while. I wanted to just be free. I wanted to know why everything about me was so broken. But if I lost my job I would lose my mind, and if I lost my mind I would never get better. So I did what I had to do to keep my sanity. And I would do it again.
After a few months I managed to break away, and sure enough they fired me for some made-up excuse within a week. By that time I had managed to work myself out a little bit more – enough to function as a human being again – and I could handle starting again.
To this day, I feel raped.
I feel like in the most vulnerable moments of my life, someone who I thought was my saviour took advantage of me. The thing is, knowing that I made the choice, and knowing that I did have that little bit of curiosity, and knowing that I would do it all again because I was right when I thought it would destroy my mind if I lost it all again so soon – it makes me feel as though my rape is not as valid as another woman’s. No one held me down, or hit me, or forced me, but I feel violated nonetheless.
I joke about it sometimes – it makes it easier to deal with – but it still makes me fall apart late at night. It still makes me cry like a baby sometimes, and it still ruins my sex life whenever I have bouts of memories. And it’s the conflict of feelings that makes me feel worst – feeling raped, and feeling unworthy of the title of “rape victim.”
And I’m back to not knowing what I am.