Trigger warning for talk of rape.
I wanted to let this go, but given the time of year, I think I can’t.
I read this earlier today and have engaged in some feminist, progressive spaces about the topic. Suffice it to say, some feminist, progressive spaces are riddled with victim blaming.
I hope it goes without saying that I am Not Cool with attempts to discredit an assault survivor — even an alleged assault survivor — on the basis of unrelated actions. One should not have to live their life with the constant nagging thought of, “Oh, no! What if I am sexually assaulted later? How with this affect my credibility and ability to seek justice?”
Even in terms of her actions and reactions immediately after the time in question — I have a “guilty” confession: I do not know what the fuck I did — virtually anything I did — for approximately 15 hours after I was raped.
I think I must have come back to my place of residence because, you know… I got there. I know there was a shower running at some point, at an odd hour, but I cannot recall whether I was in it. I expect I was because my memory ties that shower to the idea of “washing up,” but I seriously just don’t know. I also have a memory of getting out of bed the next day, which suggests I got into bed the day before, but I cannot muster up more clarity or detail than that.
And this was all before the hospital staff and police force verbally and emotionally ripped me to shreds. I’ve posted this in other places, but I think it bears repeating:
- When I was raped, I told the truth, that I didn’t remember how I got home after the assault. The police told me that was the wrong answer.
- I told the truth, that I didn’t know what had happened to the shorts/underwear I wore that night. The police were skeptical.
- I told the truth, that I’d showered to “get him off of me.” The police were growing suspicious.
- I told the truth, that I waited until the next day to seek medical attention because I just didn’t no what else to do. The police looked at me like I was so incompetent that I didn’t deserve to be believed, much less to attempt to press criminal charges.
In the end, no arrest was ever made.
There some used-to-be friends who now think of me as a lying, manipulative cunt, and I still have some long-term bills (specifically, credit card bills because I was using my income to pay medical bills) as well as some long-term PTSD and a knee that acts up in low pressure systems, but mostly, I walked away from my rape unscarred.
To feel like I messed up the potential for a criminal case because I responded the “wrong” way after my assault? To be discredited and vilified by the folks who were supposed to, if not advocate for me, at least seek justice? That fucking sucks, and I think at least part of that is the fault of the system. Maybe not the part that is bound by “innocent until proven guilty” or “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but such concrete standards of proof are not necessary when it comes to merely listening to someone or validating their experience.
I do not claim to know this woman’s truth or the motives behind any of her actions. But we cannot ignore that we operate in a rape culture that largely, actively, forcefully seeks out ways to attack survivors’ credibility — and, when it cannot find such ways, to invent them.
I can’t say for certain what is or is not her experience. But I’ll be damned if I condemn her because she doesn’t fit into the rape culture narrative.