Tuesday, July 31, 2012


People, Animals, and Inanimate Objects That Made Me Angry After My Rape

My rapist: for obvious reasons.

My rapist's girlfriend: for not believing me.

The Assistant District Attorney: for making me feel like I'd actually accomplished something by successfully convincing him that I wasn't lying.

Everyone who was at my house while it happened: for not being able to stop it even though it wasn't their fault.

My boyfriend at the time: for saying he'd break up with me unless I went to the police. For going on vacation a week later. And for not being there when it happened even though that part wasn't his fault.

My friend at the time: for saying that my rapist had touched her in her sleep, but then not filling out a police report even though my detective said it would be a good way to keep his file open.

Myself: for being angry. 

My room: for not being a safe space at all.

All men, no exceptions: for obvious reasons.

Fox News: for obvious reasons.

The Earth: for obvious reasons.

My cat: for not being a person.

My television remote: for always getting lost at the worst times.

My one sock: seriously fuck washing socks.

My new dryer bag: I can't believe I spent money on this.

Feminist bloggers: seriously why don't you get what pain is?

Anyone successful: seriously why are you so happy when other people are so sad?

The air: you are filled with radioactive poisoning and no one knows.

The sky: you are so blue you remind me of the word blue which in turn, makes me blue.

The ocean: same.

My sense of humor: for disappearing.

Time: for not really healing all wounds though I'm open to working together in the future.

Lee R. is a student, internet feminist, reader, record collector, and lover of her future dog, wherever she is.

144 Comments / Post A Comment


I love this. I'm lucky enough to have escaped any kind of sexual assault (thus far/knock wood), but I've encountered shitty trauma in other ways, & this resonated with me a lot.

I tend to get sad/angry at the world, then get mad at myself for being sad/angry at the world & not "over it," & then I get sad/angry at myself for getting mad at myself, &...it's really productive. especially when I end up sobbing at a Buffalo Wild Wings because I somehow managed to be triggered by my husband offhandedly saying "I loaded the dishwasher myself for a month while you were in the hospital, you know." I mean, hypothetically.

thank you for speaking up, for pressing charges, for sharing your experience, & for allowing yourself to feel angry. I'm also glad to see that your sense of humor seems to have returned, at least based on this excellent list.

every tomorrow@twitter

@nonvolleyball Ditto. Actually I think a lot of people get like this?

I get angry with myself when bad shit happens, but I'm not very introspective so I almost never realize it at the time. Instead I end up angry at whatever people, animals, or inanimate objects happened to have the audacity to be present while I was upset. e.g. if I was you I'd probably still be holding a grudge against Buffalo Wild Wings.

OP, I feel for you to the extent that I am able, and feel free to look me up if you ever want to be angry. I'll sit with you and be like, YEAH, FUCK THAT STUFF. SERIOUSLY. FUCK SOCKS.

Thank you for sharing, it is awesome.


@nonvolleyball This this this this.


@nonvolleyball I feel like that, too. And it isn't helpful to be surrounded by people (well, mostly my dad, who I am close to) who have the ability to "let it go" and are always telling me to "relax" and "accept things/people." Dammit, I just cannot. I want an explanation, and preferrably, I want people/things to change to be less sucky.


@nonvolleyball Ah fuuuuck, relax/let it go.

I WOULD IF I COULD. The fact that I haven't suggests it's not that easy! Who would have thought.


@every tomorrow@twitter I also do the "referred-pain" thing psychologically, where I get really upset about a minor thing because I can't deal with the actual thing. weirdly, this is also something that can happen with physical pain--which I appreciate, because it's often easy to forget that our brains are part of our bodies.

but the biggest hurdle for me is learning to let go of "getting over it" as an eventual goal. I've made so many proclamations of "I think I'm finally past that as a source of trauma!" & usually that's a sign that I'll be crying within a few days. it's great to feel "over it" whenever possible & for however long, but anything that affects you deeply is always gonna come back, & you have to forgive yourself for not being "strong enough" to prevent it--it's not about that.

...I'm better at declaring this abstractly than actually remembering it sometimes, so (as dismaying as it is to acknowledge the ubiquity of deep, life-altering emotional wounds) it's heartening to remember that this is a common struggle.


Loved this so much.@y

Quinn A@twitter


I hope you have someone to talk to. A sexual assault crisis line to call; a therapist; friends and family who didn't make this list. Someone.

Personally, the anger stage never went away 100% (I would still gladly hit that guy with a car, given an opportunity), but most of the time these days I feel pretty good. I hope you get there too.


I have written and deleted various comments about 8 times.

Suffice it to say, I laughed and I cried. I think your sense of humor has not disappeared. Or has reappeared. And for lack of a better good-vibes-sending sentiment, good luck.


I don't know what to say other than "thank you" so: Thank you. Thank you.

Katie Heaney

thanks for writing this, it is brave and very good.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@Katie Heaney I don't know what comment I could write that would be better than that. Loved this piece.

Nicole Cliffe

Hey, this is wonderful.


This has inspired me to comment for the first time. Thank you for writing this, thank you thank you thank you.


This was really brave. Thank you for sharing.

I was mad at myself, most of all.

But now it's been 8 years and the anger's dulled a little bit, so that I hardly think about him. Until I hear stories about other women's experiences, or a woman question if her own assault was really rape, or if a man defends a rape joke.

Then I see red and lash out but still don't talk about it because it feels cheap, to use my own experience as a chip in my defense and say "it happened to me, this is my perspective," like I'm asking the other person to change their opinion because something awful happened to me.

Eight years, and I still catch myself sometimes thinking "it wasn't THAT bad, compared to [other person's] experience". Eight years, and I still shy from strangers. Eight years, and I still can't handle strange men talking to me. Eight years, and I still know where his apartment was.

The anger never really goes away. I hope you're able to some to some kind of inner stalemate with yours, better than I have.

Vonnegut Reference

@antipretty I never hesitate to bring up my rape to people who make light of that subject. I figure for the trigger it brought on, making them extremely uncomfortable kinda squares it.

soul toast

@antipretty "...it feels cheap, to use my own experience as a chip in my defense..."
I'm trying to think of an eloquent way to respond to this, but I can't so I'll just say: I'm sad that you feel this way, that your experience isn't a tool you can use. And I'm angry at society for telling you (and all women), that our experiences aren't worth talking about, or that we should suffer in silence, or that it's cheap or bad to talk openly about the shitty things that we face. All we really have is our experiences, and it's frustrating to think that these experiences should be silenced because they don't fit comfortably into the cultural discourse.
I'm not sure if that made sense. But anyway, I'm sorry this happened to you, and I'm sorry if you've been made to feel like you shouldn't talk about it.

Springtime for Voldemort

@antipretty Mine happened over half a decade ago. I've only had sex with one person in the past 5 years, and even then only for a few weeks, because I'm terrified of getting raped again. And I think about how your twenties are supposed to be this time of going out and having fun, of meeting and dating lots of people, of having tons and tons of sex, and can't help but feel that I'm wasting my youth. And I hate him for taking it away from me.

But I am with @Vonnegut Reference. If you act like a dick about rape, I will not hesitate to point out that rape survivors isn't some category of poor, sad women you never actually meet, but that you are talking to one right now and she is judging the shit out of you.


@Vonnegut Reference
You are amazing and this is totally 100% correct - they should feel a little discomfort and who cares if your mention of assault kills the conversation dead? You've been through hell and it shouldn't be made light of.


@soul toast You nailed it. Don't ever stop.


@antipretty It's been a little over four years since I was raped. I really like this post about how to respond to rape jokes as a rape victim.

Although I have no problem making other people uncomfortable, and talk more about my rape today (I felt like I wasn't allowed to when it happened, which was the worst, because I was hurting SO MUCH and I'm a major extrovert so trying to process those feelings alone compounded everything). However, I still mainly only share it with people I'm comfortable with and are fairly sure are not assholes.

So when someone makes a rape joke, I go with a confused look and ask the joke maker really sincerely "why is that funny? I don't get it. what's the joke?"

Since the joke is usually "rape is fun" or "women deserve to be raped", that makes people feel bad pretty quickly. Because even most jerks, who will willingly predicate a joke on the concept that "rape is fun", have trouble explaining that as a sentence.


"And I'm angry at society for telling you (and all women), that our experiences aren't worth talking about, or that we should suffer in silence, or that it's cheap or bad to talk openly about the shitty things that we face. All we really have is our experiences, and it's frustrating to think that these experiences should be silenced because they don't fit comfortably into the cultural discourse."

I spent a year an a half burying the memories of my sexual assault in work, grad school applications, and ill-advised hookups.
It wasn't until I finally encountered someone who was willing to talk about *her* experiences that I was willing to that it had happened, even to myself.

Lee, please know that I'm feeling for all of your feels right now.


@antipretty: It's been twenty and I still have fantasies about breaking all of the windows in their house. It does get better, but it never really goes away.


@MissMushkila Thank you for that link, I just fell into the rabbit hole of that blog. I wish it was still active.


@MissMushkila seconding shiv's thank-you. I just read the entire post, & bookmarked the blog for later. that is one of the best analyses of humor's intersection with rape culture that I've ever seen.


You are great. Don't be scared. You're on your way, I can tell.

Vonnegut Reference

I find that even close to eight years later, harboring Tarantino-esque fantasies about finding the rapist that left me for dead on a hiking trail and severing his balls to use as a brooch tends to quell the ever present anger. Just a lil' bit.


"Because the sky is blue, it makes me cry..."

much love.


@FloraPosteHaste ooOh. Had not stopped to consider that line; I just like to sing it.

Lee Van Queef

Thank you so much for sharing your anger and experience.

The anger at the socks resonated so much for me. Sometimes I am really perplexed by the little, seemingly unrelated stuff that makes me angry in a way that it never did before. It is actually pretty emotional to see someone else name that (in a funny way that made me smile).


My rapist was a close family member. I was 3, he was 15. He is now a millionaire. I am...not. From an outsider's perspective with no knowledge of what he did to me, it would appear that he has his shit together, and I do not. I know better.

This was a really, really good list. Keep writing about your pain. I don't know if it makes it easier for you, but it makes it easier for me. It makes me feel less alone and overwhelmed by this stupid fucking trauma. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


@Mame Dennis-Pickett-Burnside Three-year-old you came to 52-year-old me and told me. And I believe you. And what that remorse-free sociopath did was WRONG. That should never have happened to you.


@Myrtle Thank you. I just read your story downthread and...wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. I'm so sorry for what you've been through, but thank you, a million times, for having the courage to talk about it. I wish you the very best. <3


@Mame Dennis-Pickett-Burnside Back 'atcha, beautiful and brave Mame.


Some of the things on your list really deserve piles of anger. I'm be mad at them on your behalf too!(Especially: Socks, rapist,ex boyfriend, people who don't believe you). I hope there are some good people around you now to share your life with who don't tell you what you have to do or feel.

H.E. Ladypants

The anger almost ate me alive.

12 years later it's a lot better. I haven't forgiven or forgotten but I managed to stop letting it sock me in throat most of the time.

I've taught myself to talk about it because I think keeping these things hidden is part of the problem. This is too common. I try to speak about it like it was a life experience.

It still never not hurts to talk about.

It happened to me twice, two different men, utterly strangers from one another. Practically strangers to me. What scares me, though, is this place that I know is lurking inside of me. This pitch dark and angry place. I fancy myself a pacifist but I know if there were ever a third man, I would kill him. I would use my hands and my teeth and whatever it took and I would kill him.

That's what makes me angriest now. Is that they gave me that place that is a part of me.

Thank you for writing this. It helps all of us to talk about the anger. To be reminded of how horribly not alone we are.


@H.E. Ladypants THIS. My gut churned so hard at my rape, that my gall bladder gave out and had to be removed. The pain of not letting it out turned into constipation and diverticulitis.
I love you, Ladypants.

Springtime for Voldemort

Thank you for posting this. It's... perfect.


Ugh, I know the feeling. I think probably the worst thing about sorting stuff out after my abuse came to light was the way my relationship with my parents deteriorated. The perp was our neighbor, not really a close family friend but someone everyone was comfortable around.

I know it twists them up inside, especially my mom, but I won't work through it with them and I don't know why. I mean, I know why I won't (my family did their best to act like everything was okay, and I felt slighted / betrayed) but I know I should let them off the hook and I just... can't. I don't think I've ever been so angry as when my dad would go through his things, find a picture of me as a baby, and come to me weeping, wordlessly. I genuinely wished him dead in those moments.

I wish the best for you. People tend to pooh-pooh the notion of triggering but when you're made to wallow in that stuff, the stink of it clings to absolutely everything, becoming inescapable, and it's really degrading to find yourself hating the things you know you love. It sucks to feel like you've lost yourself in that way.

Eventually, though, you get stuck in that minefield at some point and a person in your life comes through, and does all the right things. It's cathartic just to have someone recognize what you need and give it. Also good: a very affectionate cat. I was getting worked up here thinking about my dad and my manx came out of nowhere to start bathing my face, so everything's alright.


@Danzig! Oh also: Very loud and angry music


@Danzig!: "...it's really degrading to find yourself hating the things you know you love."



Also, Manxs are the best. I have dogs with little nubbins for tails; I love a tail-nubbin.


@Danzig! Your story made me cry.

barefoot cuntessa

@Danzig! My siblings were molested by the child of our dad's best friend. Not only does my family still hang out with the other family, but they still associate with the criminal. 20 years later, my parents were invited to and attended the wedding of the person who molested their children. My entire family pretends that nothing fucking happened. I don't understand how or why, and I never will. I am so sorry that you weren't supported by your family, but I support you. If I were your sister I would fight and scream for you and tell our dad to go fuck himself when he defends Penn State and say all the rest of the things I want to say to my family that no one wants to hear.


@laurel My old Manx (RIP Shamu) had the true nubbin, a little tuft that wiggled up and down every once in awhile, but my current Manx has a... furry thumb thing sticking out of his bum, pointing every which way when he's pleased, which is often as he is a remarkably serene cat. There are apparently Manxs with no tails, but I've never met one. They're my breed, I think. Dog breeds have typical dispositions, shouldn't cats as well?

@Myrtle :( For what it's worth I think things will get better as I accrue some distance between myself and my folks. I am too much like my father right now, holding everything in, letting it curdle. By the time we learn to work together it might be too late, but you can't force these things.


@barefoot cuntessa That's absolutely horrific :( but I can only imagine the solace your siblings have taken in your advocacy on their behalf. You can live through quite a lot when someone's there to be strong when you're hurt.


Your post inspired me to talk about my experience a little, too.
I still feel so angry at my family. I can't ever have a whole relationship with them because of the way I'm expected to pretend it didn't happen/didn't fuck me up/didn't hurt me more than it hurt them.

Sending you much love.


@teebs back at you


@Danzig! My older stepbrother sexually abused me over a string of years. When I told my mother, she told me I shouldn't have led him on (I still wonder what I did - breathing? Blinking suggestively? Submitting silently after the exhaustion of constantly fighting him off set in?). She threw me out when I was fifteen, all because her marriage to the abuser's father (a monster himself, but a meal ticket for her) was ultimately more important than her children's safety. Needless to say, my relationship/communication with my mother has been nonexistent since. She sends me shitty emails every so often to tell me that I should "grow up" and get over it, and that nothing happened anyway, so I must be angry with her because I'm mentally ill.

I will never let her off the hook, even if she apologizes until she turns blue in the face; I was a child who needed her mother's protection, and she was profoundly negligent. No excuses, and if that makes me a horrible person...so be it. She claims to have suffered because of my "abandonment", but she has no idea what I have suffered - triggers, nightmares, life-destroying depression/anxiety/etc. - as a result of that hellish chapter in my life.

@everyone in this thread: In the spirit of healing, HELL YES KITTIES. And, FUCK YOU ABUSERS. Also, might I recommend the book "The Courage to Heal" by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis? It's controversial for a few reasons, not the least of which is the false memories phenomenon. However, my therapist put me onto it when I was struggling to deal, and...holy floodgates opening, both brutally and beneficially. If you can read past the controversial parts and absorb the good bits, you may find it helpful.

<3 to you all. 'Tisn't easy. <3

Genghis Khat

I still am kind of mad at myself for not believing the girl who told me when I started dating him that he had raped her. And then he did it to me, and even the goddamn details of how it happened were the same. I couldn't be sorrier I didn't listen to that brave, brave girl who tried to give me a heads up.


This was great. I get less angry with each passing year but even though I pretend it's not there, there's a small undercurrent of anger that lingers.


@FoxyRoxy This makes me think of something my younger brother used to say about his highly audible farts, "There's more room Out than In." Get that s*it out. <333


to you and to everyone in this thread sharing their experiences: thank you so, so much. you are all so brave. and to everyone who hasn't shared their experiences: that doesn't make you any less brave. so much love to y'all.


I'm so sorry. Thank you for writing this. I feel like because I've never been assaulted before that I can't be as irrationally angry as I get when I read things like this. Or see something on tv, or hear someone crack a joke, or just think about rape and why the fuck it even has to exist. Every time I see a scene involving rape, I tend to cry. But then I just get so. fucking. angry. I'm really sorry to anyone this has happened to, and I can't imagine that anger. I feel like my anger is so out of control sometimes, and it's probably not even close to what a survivor feels.
This comment is kind of pointless but I guess I just wanted to let you know that I am angry too, sometimes. I'm angry for every person that this has ever happened to.


Ditto to all that. I had the dubious benefit of not realizing I had been raped until years after the fact, and so I skipped a lot of the anger.
It was one of those very grey-area rapes in which I got too drunk to realize what the hell was happening (whether or not he had something to do with that is still undetermined), and chalked it up to bad decision making.
But when you wake up the next morning with no clear recollection of what the fuck happened the night before? You were unable to consent.


Let me add my voice to yours on this blog, Lee R.

A man raped and sodomized me, repeatedly and for years, mainly when I was asleep. He said "it was my job" and "my body was made for it." I covered it up because "you" knew him after all; you'd been to our wedding and he was my husband.

I'm not going to login under another name for this. You 'Pinners know me here by this name, so that is a step for me, even though this is not my "real" name, I can still stand in this community and be recognized. NO, IT WASN'T MY "JOB." YOU ARE A RAPIST.

The RAPIST'S chronic drug use (pot), justifying his CRIME against me, and his lack of remorse shows the more mature me that he is a sociopath.

I wasn't safe in my own home, asleep in my own bed. During the marriage this soulless, not-quite-human told me he'd once talked another man into exposing themselves to children getting off a bus and I hated keeping that secret from people who thought my husband was so "slick."

A new man whom I am now well on my way to loving has told me his own story. He, himself, had been molested as a child. He is a very good man, honest and brave. I was so angry when he told me this that I've cried with impotent rage more than once, at this thought of an adult hurting him when he was a beautiful, perfect child. It's made it hard for him and I to now trust each other, but I pray we will.

Today, triggers for me things I can hide my anger in such as road rage, bullying of me and other f*ckery at work, and the person in the apt downstairs who makes my shower water hot then cold by turning on his own taps, because I "walk around too much" in my own home.

Number 1 I am working at getting over. The rest of yuhs are going to reap what you've sown. "I have a voice and I must scream." Indeed.

Namaste, Lee R.


Edith, I wish this hadn't of been posted so late, but I hope Lee R's post is a link at the top for a few days. I want to hear from the rest of the 'Pins.


Ugh, the one about the boyfriend threatening her into reporting it. Of course I am all for reporting all sexual assaults, but bullying and threatening a victim into going to the police makes me want to smash kill hurt.

I'll never forget interviewing for a position as an ADA in New Orleans. I was given a hypothetical scenario where a woman reported being raped, but then wanted to retract her accusation and get the charges dropped. How would you handle that, and get her to go ahead with pressing charges? the interview committee asked me.

I said I'd try to talk to her about why she changed her story, encourage her to go ahead with the case, let her know that some people find it helpful to try to bring their attacker to justice, etc.

This was, of course, the "wrong" answer. The "right" one, according to the DA's office, was to threaten her with charges of making a false accusation, and tell her she could go to jail if she didn't cooperate.

Now, I'm not sure if my answer was the best one, but I'm damn certain the DA's answer was the absolute worst.

Springtime for Voldemort

@Lemonnier More and more, I find myself having a hard time recommending reporting as the Thing To Do when you get raped.


@Lemonnier I reported my rape and I carry more scars today from the reporting process than I do from the actual event. The thing is, before I was raped, I knew that evil rapists existed. What I didn't know is that the justice system, The Good Guys in my naivete, would basically ignore my case and accuse me of being a liar.

I was raped on a Friday night. Did you know that when you report a rape, if you don't know the rapist's name, nobody does anything until a detective can take the case on Monday? I got assigned a detective who was infamous for doubting victims. When I told the local advocacy center that I couldn't get anyone to contact me about the case, they guessed my detective's name before I told them. I was the last case assigned to him because he was soon to be transferred due to the volume of complaints against him. When no one would return my calls, I faxed the lieutenant a letter with a list of times when I had left messages, asking for an update. She called me into a room, made my advocate leave, and accused me of making it all up for an hour.

I still see her face in nightmares every once in awhile. It was such a profound loss of innocence, to feel betrayed by the people who are supposed to help when something terrible happens.


@MissMushkila And not to write a novel about reporting, but I want to make sure to say that I don't necessarily regret it. It was horrible. It should not have happened like it did. It made everything worse at the time and required so much strength that it entirely exhausted my limits. In the end, no one was ever brought to justice.

But I will say that I think I am in a better place today than I might have been if I hadn't reported. Because the process of going to the police with the case required me to be so open with friends and family. I had been wearing a borrowed dress that night, and I had to bring it in for evidence, so I had to tell the friend. I had to tell my friends I had been out with so they could be questioned. I had to tell my family, because I needed them for support when some of my friends doubted me. My family told our neighbors and my aunts, because THEY needed support (do not do this, if someone tells you they were raped). I had to give my story several times in front of police detectives and a tape recorder. Everyone knew.

And not everyone responded well (obviously). Many people did though. I found out from a lot of people that they had been raped too, which although horrifying made me feel less alone. I had A LOT of people telling me it wasn't my fault, and their voices were louder than those who disbelieved or blamed me. I really needed to hear from those people, from individuals I respected, that it was not my fault. And I don't know if I would have made myself available to such a supportive community if I hadn't reported.

Also, when I was sitting traumatized after it happened, one of my scariest realizations is that I was probably not the first person this man had done this to. I thought, "what if some girl before me had reported him?" - and not in an angry way, but this was when my knowledge of the justice system was highly shaped by CSI. So I felt better knowing that even if it didn't come to a case, I had done what I could to try to stop him from getting away with it again.

Basically, I just think people to know that reporting is mostly REALLY REALLY HORRIBLE. But it would have been less horrible if I had gone into it knowing just how bad the system is on this issue.


@MissMushkila I relate to everything you've said sooo much. From the (male) doctor who examined me who commented on how small my breasts were to the (male) detectives who picked me up three days later to take my formal statement and proceeded to crack jokes with one another in the front seat of the car on the way to the station as I sat crying in the backseat, the reporting process was one of the most humiliating, soul-shattering experiences I've ever been through. I don't regret reporting it, exactly, I just wish it hadn't been that way.


things that make me angrier now more than ever, months after my attempted rape:
people who think i deserved it
people who think i stand to learn from it
people who think it taught me an important lesson
people who think i should spread that knowledge to teach other obviously uninformed women

yes, all these things actually happened, more often than not in the people that found out. this is the swift undercurrent of misogyny and it's more prevalent than any of us want to believe

this is a valuable piece


@staircases all of these reasons constitute why i don't tell many people what happened to me -- which is that a friend of my sister's told all his friends at the bar one night that he was going to take me to a specific place in woods and fuck me, and if they wanted to watch they could go up to the bridge above that place in the woods.

i, of course, went willingly on a walk with him, not realizing what he'd had planned. my instincts told me not to, but i was a little drunk, and he was an old friend, someone i thought i knew. when i told him to stop, he pretended not to hear. when i told him to stop louder, he still pretended not to hear. and then i dissociated from my body, and floated up into the air, where i couldn't hear anyone cheering or grunting or crying.

it was awful, and i have made my peace with it, but i don't talk about it very much because honestly i don't want to deal with other people's emotions about it. i remember telling my brother soon after it happened and somehow that devolved into me trying to keep him from immediately driving to my rapist's house and killing him with his bare hands. told my sister and she didn't believe me and actually didn't even speak to me for quite a while because she couldn't handle what i'd told her.

seriously, dealing with mySELF was hard enough. let alone other people.

and i did learn something -- LISTEN TO YOUR GUT GIRL -- but if anyone tries to TELL me that my rape happened to teach me an important lesson, i may very well quadruple in size, turn green, and fuck them right the fuck up.


@madge Yes, exactly. I learned something as well. That my gut instinct is not the most sensitive test for recognizing that I am in a bad situation. After all, how do you find out if your gut's not great? I got where I did because I HAD no gut instinct, I was waiting for something in my stomach to inform me I was in trouble and nothing did. Now, I know to use my head, but damned if I'm going to let other people tell me that.

barefoot cuntessa

@madge INSTINCTS. The only bad judgments I have ever made were when I ignored that little voice in the back of my head. Trust yourself. You're smart.

Pluto vs. Purple

I didn't get angry for years and years. Not really angry. Frustrated and sad and self-hating and terrified of everything ever, but not angry. Anger was dangerous.

I hated myself because the cops didn't believe me. I hated myself because so many people blamed me, told me I was lying, told me I was inconsistent or changing my mind out of regret or so many other things. I hated myself because I couldn't get my own community to believe me, to freeze him out, to shut him down.

I hated myself when I found out, over and over again, that he'd done the exact same thing to someone else.

I finally started getting angry when I learned he was in jail, because how many times, for how many years, had he done this? Why didn't the ones I'd warned take me seriously? Why did he get away with *that*? Why'd he get away with it so many times? Why'd it take so long for him to go to prison, and why'd he end up in there for so little time? How did he still convince people he was sweet and innocent?

I'm angry at myself that I wasn't persuasive. That's my damn life in a nutshell, now. I'm not persuasive. I try to be persuasive, and no one listens to me.

Motherfucking defining moments.

These days, I have to try not to think about him. Sometimes, I fail.


@Pluto vs. Purple It's a start, that he's been in jail. No one will now think him innocent.

Pluto vs. Purple

@Myrtle Rape culture leaves giant blind spots, let's put it like that. Makes it easier to know who to avoid, I guess.


@Pluto vs. Purple I've wondered if the culture we're in now is the first to publicly censure an individual and high-profile groups for rape, a crime I feel sure has existed in every culture. I'm referring to censure in a social, non-religious context.

It feels like a momentous occurrence to me.

It's my belief that rape of men and boys is even more underreported than rape against women and girls, because it's never "been OK" before now for a MALE to admit he's been raped. The recent bravery of men and boys to come forward and report being raped by trusted figures within their Church groups is something I'm in awe of. They are breaking the cycle of abuse, and culture's new willingness to publicly believe the victims gives me hope.

Pluto vs. Purple

@Myrtle I'd like to believe that we're the first, but wouldn't know where to start in confirming that.

I'm with you in that awe, but that's not where I am or what this is.


@Pluto vs. Purple You are right! I'm glad you corrected me.

Pluto vs. Purple

@Myrtle Thanks. I wasn't quite sure what was going on there.

Not a reply: and waking up today, about my third thought in was anger with him, and the people who believe him, that I couldn't feel free to discuss the specifics openly because what if he found this? Or me? Did I just poison the Hairpin by talking about it? Would his buddies come and cause trouble?



@Pluto vs. Purple I thought of you late last night and again when I woke up today. I felt I'd wronged you and cut you off. I guess I'd gotten relief from telling my story and then was ready to talk of other aspects? so wrong.
That had to have been so horrible to go through that and have so many people not believe you. You did everything right- all the strong, brave things that others couldn't do. You stood strong. You moved to protect others from this criminal, and you kept doing the right thing.
You are the sane, moral leader so many with they could be. I admire you very much. Thank you for doing the right thing, against all that pressure. You are a very good person.

Pluto vs. Purple

@Myrtle Thanks, Myrtle. It means a lot. I think I would have been happy to discuss the subject you moved to in the context of a different thread, because it's important.

You deserve the peace and relief from having told your own story, and I don't mean to take that from you.

I wish I could safely tell all of mine.


Mine happened in March. I still refuse to even think about it, or admit that it really happened, because I'm scared that thinking about it or acknowledging it will make me shatter into a million pieces. Also, I blame myself because I feel like I invited it, or even encouraged it. The worst part is that the few friends I've told all blame me instead of him. :( Thank you for writing this - I may need to keep re-reading it until I can get in touch with my own experience.


@OaklandBooty I'm so sorry to hear that you've taken that scary step to tell of your rape and haven't experienced any support from those who are should be compassionate and helpful (ya know, like friends do). Everyone has their own journey on grappling with this stuff. It's heavy shit. It's shitty shit. It sucks. But you? You are not alone. You really aren't. This in no way minimizes your experience. It just means that there are folks out there who have gone through the same trauma, who understand that impotent fury. When you're ready to look at it, the support will be there. Much love your way. I believe you. I really do. And I'm sorry you went through that.


@OaklandBooty you are not lying. you are not alone. you did not invite it. you did not encourage it. fuck your friends, seriously. if you're in the Bay Area kind of Oakland, I'm in Berkeley, and if you ever want a non-victim-blaming friend to just sit and chill with, or talk to, or if you want an internet friend to talk with, or chitchat with, you can get in touch with me at realtalk.hairpin at gmail dot com.

whether or not you take me up on that, know that I'm in your corner, ok? love love love to you.

Springtime for Voldemort

@OaklandBooty I'm so sorry that happened to you. It is so not your fault, and you didn't invite it. Your rapist is 129% to blame for this. And I'm sorry your friends are victim-blaming shits. If I was in Oakland, I would be your not-victim-blaming friend, because you deserve those.


@realtalk thank you so much. i'm actually in LA but i will definitely take you up on the internet side of things!


@OaklandBooty Those friends are assholes, truly. They fail as, "friends". NO ONE deserves what happened to you. NO ONE. I don't give a shit what happened, you did not incite it. And if you don't live in Cali where realtalk is, hell, maybe you live in the greater D.C. area and you can hit me up. Seriously. I'm so sorry for what happened to you and you deserve all the support in the world.


@Mame Dennis-Pickett-Burnside thank you, thank you, thank you!


@papayalily @katiemcgillicuddy @everyone (?) i'm at a loss for words right now, but thank you for your support. it really means a lot to me.


@OaklandBooty I'm pretty damn sure you deserve a little support. You. didn't. deserve. what happened to you. Know this, hold onto it, don't forget it.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@OaklandBooty People who blame the victims are idiots, plain and simple. It's like any other crime. Would you say that a house was just asking to be robbed? It wouldn't have been robbed if no one robbed it. You're the victim here, and you need support, and if people aren't supporting you, they're the worst.


@OaklandBooty You are strong and you did not do anything wrong. Mine happened 5 years ago and I still struggle with self blame. You don't deserve what happened, you did not ask for what happened, and you will be ok.


@OaklandBooty You did nothing. It was utterly and completely his fault, regardless of what happened. Your friends are being shitty, and you are brave and strong. It's been 2 years since mine, 14 years since my first. Sometimes it's still hard. Most of the time it is easier. Time helps. Support helps. Be kind to yourself.


@OaklandBooty I had to break up with a good friend because she said, "Well, you got drunk, are you sure you didn't come on to him?" I didn't dump her immediately, though, because for months I believed her, and didn't tell anyone else, not even my therapist. I was in a DBT group where we did a writing exercise about shame, and I wrote about the rape as if it was my fault. It took me a lot of time, and a lot of pain, and a lot of talking about it, which was the worst because it meant remembering it, and remembering it accurately, not just where I was the dumb drunk girl who should have known better. It hurts, but it gets better. I promise.


@Nutmeg This is almost 100% what happened to me (they also took it upon themselves to tell the guy's girlfriend that I had been "asking for it" and therefore it was not rape). I've more or less cut these friends out of my inner circle, but UGH. I just feel so....used up? From dealing with friends like this, anyway. not to mention the actual act. Thank you for sharing your story - it helps to hear I'm not alone, because I've REALLY been feeling like mine wasn't a "real" rape as of late.


@OaklandBooty I am so so sorry that this happened to you, and that you didn't have friends to support you. I am so so angry for you at people blaming you. This was not your fault. This was ALL HIM. He raped you. There was and is nothing that you could have done to make him not do it. I am so sorry and angry, and I am sending you a lot of love from from my Oakland booty right down to your LA face.


Like the lady further up, I've never commented on anything before (despite being a massive hairpin fan). I just wanted to say thank you for writing this, and I am so sorry that this happened to you. This piece is brave, honest and funny, and you have made me (who has a little bit of an idea what you mean due to a similar, though much less serious experience) and obviously many other commentators/readers here, feel a little bit better. I hope that makes you feel just a little bit better too. Keep going - we're all cheering you on.


Thank you, Lee R., for sharing your story and your anger with us. And thanks, other ladies, for your honesty and bravery in dealing with something you should never have to deal with. You all never cease to amaze me, and you all have my deepest respect and regard.


This was wonderful, thank you, thank you for sharing. Keep being brave and beautiful. And darkly funny.


Just want to add one more voice to those letting you know your writing on the subject is appreciated, and I hope it was in some form cathartic for you.

Heat Signature

To this day, I regret not calling my (former) step-father's niece, because I know she wanted to tell me that her father was sexually abusing her just as my (former) step-father had molested me. I mean, she HAD told me, when I spent the night at her house and she warned me to keep my underwear on so her father wouldn't touch our private areas, but I was seven and didn't really know what that meant until I was much older and realized that her desperate attempts to contact me after I disclosed the abuse had nothing to do with my (former) step-father trying to use her to communicate with me. I wish I could talk to her now and let her know all of this.


@Heat Signature I'm so sorry for this, for her, for you. When you are seven, when you are a kid, the world should protect you. I'm sorry it failed you, and her, so very badly.


This was so good, and it made me feel a lot of stuff <3

I still have a lot of anger. I was 14, and my rapist was 31. He was a very close friend to my parents. My step-dad was in a classical music group with his wife, and while they would practice, would rape me. My parents seemed to think nothing of it that he would take me out to the movies or long drives, and I hated them for not knowing what was happening, for being so willfully blind. I felt angry at myself for a long time, because I felt complicit. I wanted him to like me. I felt like I was manipulating him into buying me cigarettes and alcohol. I couldn't see how sick he was. I confessed what was happening to my sister, who told my parents and the fall-out tore my family apart and I felt so guilty.

It's many years later now. I don't think me relationship with my family will ever be right.


@teebs None of that was your fault. No. He was a sick bastard, and if you can't reconcile with your family, I have a sneaking suspicion that it isn't your fault. Hats off to you for having the balls to talk about this, even if it is somewhat anonymously. You didn't do anything wrong, and you weren't "willifully blind". You were a kid. Keep your heart up. It deserves to be as full as anyone else's.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@teebs This is not your fault. At all. You did the right thing by speaking up about it, because that man should never have even come close to you. The fall-out tore your family apart and HE caused it. You didn't. I just want to make sure that you know that. And also give you a hug if you think you need one.


@teebs you did nothing. Not a damn thing. Your family was torn apart by HIM. HE did wrong. You are strong and brave and I hope you know that. I wish you all the wonderful.

paper bag princess

Just...thank you to the author and to everyone here for sharing. And thank you to the whole 'Pin for being a safe space like this. I love and support each and every one of you and I am glad we are all here.


I...I don't feel I can say much at this point. It's been seven years and I still struggle to find the words. But I appreciate this article so much. I can't stop thinking about it and the familiarity of the pain and emotions. And I am in awe of all of the strong and brave and amazing and loving individuals on this thread. I have tears in my eyes, but I feel less alone.

so what?

i'm generally pretty stoic, but this post and whole thread made me cry, both in sorrow and in such blinding anger. i can't thank you enough for speaking out about your experiences. to echo some other comments: you are so, so brave regardless of whether or not you have shared and i have such respect for you all.


...I can relate to this so well.

It does get better, it really does--but it never goes away completely. Twenty years later and I'm still discovering that yes, I have a right to bodily autonomy and I can say 'no, I don't want you to touch me' and it's OK. Twenty fucking years!

and people still try to tell me rape jokes, even after they've found out. FUCK that.


Thank you, thank you to everyone. After my attempted rape I realized that I could be reduced to a non-person; that someone could look directly into my eyes and say with horrible clarity that they intended to kill me if I didn't cooperate; that even in front of my own house I was not safe. Thank you to Lee and everyone participating in this thread for re-asserting our humanity and right to safety; for making it clear that we deserve to feel safe.

Regina Phalange

To Lee and to everyone who has shared their stories - I'm so sorry. Thank you for your courage.

I've written before about how much Emma Forrest's "Your Voice in My Head" means to me, and the last point made me think of a beautiful line from the book -

“Time heals all wounds. And if it doesn't, you name them something other than wounds and agree to let them stay.”


A long time ago I had one of those "I guess I'd better just go along with this or I'll just be raped instead" experiences, complete with the "morning after" pill or Plan B, whatever it was called, (thank god I was in France and not another country). It was vile, it was demeaning, and I still wonder about it to this day. Nobody deserves rape, nobody does anything to deserve it. It makes you feel unsafe for the rest of your life, like the world hates you somehow, like you have to be careful or you might wake and provoke a monster out there again, even when it's as apparently nonviolent as my own experience was. Knowing what it feels like to be reduced to prey is the only thing I got out of it. And like I said, not sure what to do with that, except empathize. Thank you for this piece. It makes us all feel connected, which is important.


I still haven't managed to be angry. It's been just over two years. After it happened, I comforted him. He was drunk and "didn't mean to." I wound up in a mental hospital, because I was ready to kill myself, but no anger. I've gotten therapy, and I reported it, but still. I haven't managed to get angry.


@upsofloating hey, not being angry is also a totally valid emotional response. anything you are feeling is ok. ANYTHING. <333


@realtalk thank you. It's pretty strange how helpful it can be to hear things from internet strangers. Also wonderful.

Jenna Q

Sometimes I feel like something is wrong with me because I don't have that pent up anger after being raped twice in my life. Both times I didn't confront either person after, and just acted like it never happened. I still even occasionally talk to one of them. It's not like it doesn't bother me, it does, and it shows the most when I'm watching a television show or something with a rape scene or almost rape and I get very distressed and upset. But I don't have that anger or pain or anxiety over it. If someone asks, I can easily talk about it and the details. It almost makes me feel less of a human, because I have no strong emotions over it. Ugh.


@Jenna Q Someone said this in the embarrassing moments thread. And- your feelings are yours and your experience is yours and its real and there isn't a thing wrong with you for getting through the way you have. Your humanity is not under question.


@Jenna Q what PPM said, & also, the fact that you get distressed when you're reminded of it constitutes a strong emotion. we all process things in different ways. some people are comfortable showing their pain, & others are more likely to avoid it as much as possible. it sounds like you're in the latter camp, which is neither right nor wrong.

but it's worth noting that people who are disinclined to discuss their trauma...don't talk about it much. so you only read/see/hear from the people who like to process things more publicly. that doesn't mean you're alone.


I have so much anger at my grandfather - because I didn't say anything when he was abusing me - and at myself - because I didn't say anything when he was abusing my little sister (because I was still young and she immediately retracted what she'd told someone else when I asked her, and we haven't spoken of it since; I would give anything to be able to go back and change that decision, to keep my mouth shut, to follow her lead and keep my mouth shut a second time.) I am just - suffused with anger that he's still alive on this earth, in our lives, and not suffering. And I don't know what to do with that.


@sandwiches As to knowing what to do with it? You've already started. Talk. Tell people what happened. Silence was eating me alive, one organ at a time. I made myself terribly physically ill, keeping all that poison inside me.


I can't even imagine what this would be like. It's one of my worst fears. You don't owe anyone anything except yourself, but thank you for putting it out there, because every little bit helps women who have been through it or any kind of fear.


This is wonderful, thank you for sharing. Also, a good reminder why rape jokes are not funny - I wish more comedians/people would read more stories like this.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to everyone who has shared their stories and their hurts. I know there aren't words that will take away what happened to you, but I hope you know how strong you are. How brave and beautiful and strong.

Amber Pye@facebook

I was so happy yesterday when my assailant plead guilty. Partly because I was so angry with him, and partly because the other woman he assaulted wasn't even a woman. She was 14. And she and her friends would have had to testify against this animal, and I have recently become a young mother hen and wanted to protect them. They're children.

I don't even know what else to type now... There's just too much to say. I'm sorry that you're angry and hurt. I hope you can find some peace.


Signed into my anonymous acct because some of my RL friends know my real username on here, and I am not prepared for them to know this.

For years when I was a child my brother molested me. That is the first time I have ever typed it out. I tried to stop it once and he told me that our parents would be angry at me and wouldn't love me anymore. He was older and I believed him.

When I was 12, after it had stopped for a couple of years, I have no idea why, I started really feeling the shame and promised myself I could never, ever, ever tell anyone what happened.

But then this year I finally told my therapist. And it is so hard and I am tapping into anger I have been carrying around for over a decade, buried deep deep deep down, because how could I have gone to his graduation if i felt it? given him birthday presents? ever told him i loved him?

Me and my therapist have been talking about telling my parents. About being honest with them about who I am for the first time ever, because they do not know the real me. They know the person I had to pretend to be to survive. And it's terrifying, and i think i want to do it, but it's like looking over the edge of a cliff.


@YesThis A line that I really liked from the previous article that was posted (things worse than a bird shitting on your head) is that there is fear, and everything you want is on the other side of it. It may or may not apply to you. I wish you courage and luck.


Myself: for blacking out because that meant it was my fault


@Nutmeg I bet you know this, even though you don't feel it, but it's worth repeating - it was absolutely not your fault. At all.


@Nutmeg just another person chiming in to say - it's not your fault. when you're blacked out, you're unable to consent. THIS IS LEGAL FACT. in that situation, it's the more sober person's responsibility to stop. if he didn't stop, he is a rapist, and it's HIS FAULT, not yours.

sending love.


@realtalk @YesThis THANK YOU. I know it logically but it still takes a lot of effort to get through the "IT WAS MY FAULT" feelings. I think it helped (ME) to sleep with a few dudes who when I said "I AM UNCOMFORTABLE" would stop having sex with me and would rub my back and/or say encouraging words while I had an anxiety-freakout-sob.

sarah girl

Thank you, thank you - for this story, and for all of the people commenting with their stories and support, for the people who are silently clicking thumbs-up buttons, for the people who are reading and nodding along, for the people who just read the title but aren't comfortable reading further. You are all brave and wonderful in your own ways.


I am sitting here shaking with rage and sadness as I read through this. My heart goes out to everyone who shared their stories, to everyone who didn't, to everyone who has been the victim of abuse, sexual or otherwise. You are amazing and brave and beautiful and it was not your fault. You did not deserve it. I believe you. For whatever that's worth.

Blackwatch Plaid

The full story as it was finally told to me recently:
My father started molesting me when I was three. At the time it happened, the legal system was very protective of any father who wasn't seen as a deadbeat, and my dad managed to convince judges that my mother was an "insane slut". He slept with the guardian ad litem, so the write up from my psychologist was never even opened in court. He kept partial custody and the abuse continued for years. So, yeah, fuck the legal system.

On a brighter note, he died last year and I'm now getting adopted as an adult by my wonderful and loving stepfather. I still have a lot of anger, but things seem to be getting better. Hugs for everyone else in this amazing thread- I hope things get better for all of you too.


I'm grateful for this thread, and the openness of everyone in it, but it makes me so fucking frustrated.
The one in four statistic is bullshit. Has to be. In my experience it's pretty much 100% with women who I'm close enough to to share these things.
And anyone who wants to defend shit like what happened with Daniel Tosh, they need to read shit like this. If they still think they have a leg to stand on then I don't even want to admit the things I'd like to do to them.

chunk lite

Oh shit. Trigger for things you didn't even know where going to come up alert. I am both sides of this. What do you do if you're the monster. Chubby baby arms doing damage that might not show until years later. I was molested from a very early age (toddler. like, 3-4 for...forever. the details are all really hazy. last thing I really remember was around 11. I have a brother 2 years younger than me. and I KNOW that we did things that were inappropriate as children. "games". part of me says I didn't know what I was doing. who knows, though, right?

but jesus. dealing with the abuse is tough. but dealing with being the fucking monster? i don't even know how to. I was this chubby cheeked little fucking golum made in that fucker's image.just regurgitating the damage in the form of a game because I didn't know better. but didn't i?
There’s no group of supportive parenthesis hugs for this. This is ugly and black. Would I even want it? I am that character that makes good people root for grizzly deaths. Judas.

The worst? I know how much this affects lives. I know how much it has affected mine on the one side and to know that I am the other side too for someone?

We tried to talk. He shrugged it off and explained it was a bad time for everyone. It's ok. Everything was gross then (abusive family, poverty, everything WAS bad) and we were so young. He's forgiven me.

I can never forgive myself.


@chunk lite Ok this might not come across super coherent but...if my brother ever apologized for it, I think I could forgive him, because he was a kid, too. But he'd have to apologize for both what he did, and for manipulating me into keeping silent. That is the part that hurts most - on some level I can understand a kid doing something like that, but the manipulation tells me that he knew it was wrong.

But again...if he were to apologize, I feel like I could heal so much. And I bet he would, too. Because I still love him, and know that he must be hurting from what he did, too. Like you are.

And I want that healing for him, and I want it for you, too. I hope you can find a way to forgive yourself. You are allowed to have that. You are allowed to have peace.

Oh, squiggles

@chunk lite You aren't a monster. At that age you didn't know what you were doing. You really didn't. And while it is not frequently discussed, playacting at sexuality is something that a lot of kids do. It is a pretty normal part of development. Unfortunately, your previous abuse may have taught you to recreate what happened to you. Once again, it is really not your fault.

I really hope you are in therapy, and I would encourage you to start if you are not already. Share what you have shared here, and a good therapist should be able to help you see that you aren't a monster. You were just a kid trying to process bad stuff.

Oh sweetie. Hugs from me to you.


@chunk lite All of us have BEEN cruel. That does not make us cruel.


@chunk lite
It is not your fault. You were abused, and you repeated unhealthy behaviors you were too young not to repeat.
I hope hope hope that you have a good therapist, because you do not deserve to be walking around with all of this guilt and shame and hatred. You deserve to learn to love yourself, even if you hate a thing that you did. You deserve to heal, to be able to look at the child that you were with love and compassion and understanding.

Oh, squiggles

It kills me a little bit inside, living in a world where this happens so frequently. Living in a world where it happens at all. Living in a world where it happens so frequently, and people are NOT constantly freaking the fuck out about it. Living in a world where it is accepted that rape happens to so many women.

It makes me sad, and sick, and angry. But also I have as much love and compassion as possible for everyone who is trying to deal with these hard emotions too.


I hate myself for not prosecuting him, for believing it when he said I'd go to jail for statutory rape because I was an 18-year-old and my rapist was 17. I hate myself for not screaming his name from the rooftops and identifying him to everyone I know as a rapist.

I love my old next-door neighbor because he remains friends with my rapist specifically to meet the girls who are interested in my rapist so that we can warn them. I hate them for never, ever believing me. I hate them for saying "maybe you dreamed it" or "maybe you were imagining things." I hate when it happens to them too but I also hate that I hear about it from other people instead of them. I hate that they shrug off my warnings so easily and completely forget about them, forget to be cautious. I hate that we have to be cautious. I hate that even though everyone at our high school knew my rapist had a gag order about something, we didn't know that it was about a sexual harassment charge that had been brought up against him. I hate my high school for not screaming his name from the rooftops and identifying him as a rapist; and I hate myself because even if they had, it probably still would have happened to me.

I love-hate my friends because at a recent get-together, we were going over our high school yearbook, and I pointed him out as a rapist with a pounding heart. By then some of them had graduated, but some had not, and therefor knew we had dated. I love that the ones who figured out what I was really saying didn't get all mushy and sobby and huggy because I would have dissolved into a puddle. I hate, a little bit, the ones who didn't figure it out even though they had no way of knowing. I hate myself for hating them even just a little.


@Serafina "Maybe you dreamed it"?!?!?!?!? WHAT. The holy. FUCK.



Thank you for this. Similar all around.

Natalie S Bell

This was wonderful.


Late on this, but wanted to say how much I appreciate this. If we all tell, they can't ignore us anymore. Or so I tell myself over and over.

The Maple Kind

This was rough but really good. My comment is going to be long and less coherent than usual, and I apologize. I didn't use my usual name, because I trust you guys, but it's not impossible for people I know IRL to find me here, and I guess I'm not ready for them to know. I wish I was. I really wish I could say this with my usual name. I'm sorry.

In the past 2.5 years, I haven't experienced anger as much as occasional despair and sadness and bursts of fear. Today I thought some guy behind me on the escalator was staring at my butt and I couldn't breathe for a minute. That's never happened before, that reaction I had to that. I calmed down, thinking to myself, "He might or might not be. It's right in front of his face. Your butt is part of the scenery. You stare at people's butts sometimes. You wore a tight skirt today because it looked nice with your suit. Even if he is looking at your butt, he isn't going to hurt you."

I do detest that fucker, though. But he's also just a truly pathetic person. Sometimes I see him talking online about dating a girl and I wonder if I could track her down and tell her. Even though she might not believe me at first. Maybe she'd be lucky and he wouldn't violate her boundaries. I hope so.

I don't tell hardly anyone what happened to me, even though I wish they knew that rape and assault and ignoring women's wishes happens all the time to so many of us. I just don't trust them to take my story in their hands. I just don't know if my mom would understand, because we can't talk about sex in a personal framework. I worry that she wouldn't like that it happened to me when I was willingly in bed with someone who I'd had sex with before. She told me about a girl we know, about my age, who was almost raped in college. She said, "And she didn't do anything to make it happen." I said, "No one does." "Of course, but she really didn't..." I think she was just explaining that it was a very random event, but it still stung a little. Today, after a news story about a rapist who was caught by the police, I told her that stranger rape is actually far less common than acquaintance rape, and she was surprised but didn't question it. A positive sign?

I think people would say it wasn't really that bad. I tell myself that sometimes. (Compared to a lot of unwanted sexual activity that happens to people, mine wasn't as bad objectively, but it was still an upsetting violation.) Or they'd think I was exaggerating or hysterical or on some feminist tirade (I do love feminist tirades.) Sometimes I don't call what happened rape. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I can't really remember what happened, and once I had to re-read the email I sent my sister after it happened so I could figure some stuff out. What I wrote described a scenario that was at once angering and not as bad as it had grown to be in my mind, which was weirdly a relief.

When I got to know one of my friends, I somehow just knew one day that she'd had the same thing happen to her. And a few weeks later, she shared with me that it had, and I told her it had happened to me too. I wonder about my other friends who don't know. I wonder what's happened to them. I wonder what my boyfriend would say and think and act if he knew.

Once, a guy who was flirting with me at work (who I liked too!) made some weird "joke" about getting raped in the country where I'd recently stayed, then stopped and said, "Wait, you didn't get raped there, did you?" OMFG he really asked me that, and I was so stunned all I could do was default to my people-pleasing, life-of-the-party mode and say no. We barely knew each other and this was in public, near my coworkers. He laughed and said, "Yes, TO SHREDS," like that was my answer, like that was so absurd, like it was completely outlandish to even consider and therefore hilarious. (And yes- the assault did happen when I was in that country. It could have happened anywhere.) And yet I still kept on liking him, somewhat, and even slept with him later on... when I see him around now I want to tell him that wasn't okay. and I hope he never says that to another woman. But I don't know if he'd remember that comment, and I don't know if I could trust him with that information. He'd probably figure any weirdness between us was due to me being "damaged goods" or something, instead of him being an immature, lying manchild. (He did a lot of stupid stuff, shockingly.) I wish I'd spoken up then, but I also know that he was unconsciously putting me in a trap. I feel trapped a lot.


Thank you for an awesome article.Keep that courage up and never let people get in you way


Finally registered to say thanks for this piece. I've been rereading it and all the comments since it was posted. After five years of silence I finally shared my entire story with my counselor. It still feels like a huge disconnect to say the word "rape" out loud and know that I am identifying and labeling something that I experienced.

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