Tw: Triggerwarning? Rape? (Also: Warning! Long read!) ETA: If you want to share your story, here is a platform to do so. If you want I can either delete your post or the thread tomorrow so you can feel safe.
Saturday morning I woke up from a horrific nightmare. I woke up feeling shaken. Sick to my stomach. I wrapped the blankets around myself as a makeshift fort against the feelings of fear and guilt and disgust that slowly washed over me. Like ebbing waves, frothing out over the beach inside of me, I lay there. Staring at the wall of my happy room or shutting my eyes tight, trying to will it away. Eventually it subsided enough to get up. I knew why the dream nightmare had bothered me so much and I knew I was stronger than it. It was just a dream. I had to put it aside. But it wasn’t the dream that touched me so deeply, it was the memory that inspired it and that was brought back to the surface.
Today the topic came up again. The whole ‘James Deen & Stoya’ story. My friend and I discussed it and he said he couldn’t really form an opinion yet. I told him I believed her regardless of proof or not. He mused what a difficult situation it was, sometimes girls could use a threat like rape to manipulate a man. Besides why throw it on twitter? Why not the cops? With the memory of the nightmare fresh in my mind it took everything I had to remain calm. “Yes it’s a weird situation, but not because of that. Less than a percent of reported rapes are false. Less than 8% of rapes are reported. Less than 8% of those are followed up on. Less than 8% of those actually lead to a conviction. And it won’t be the rapist on trial, it’ll be the victim. She’ll be traumatised, shot down, eaten up and spat out by society but also by her closest friends and family. She’ll feel guilt and shame and her life is forever changed by such an experience, she’ll never forget it. And the cops still won’t believe her. Not even if she has proof. Not even on video. There’s no reason to threaten a man with it because with that threat she’ll ruin her own life, not his.”
This made him go quiet. He thought for a while and I saw him typing a few times before a new message came through.
“Did something like this ever happen to you?” he asked.
It took me a fraction of a second to reply.
“Yes” it took me a few seconds to add to it. “But I don’t refer to it as rape.” I thought for a second “I refer to it as that something happened.”
He was quiet for a while longer then said. ‘I’m not sure if I should ask more.’
I told him I understood. There are things we don’t want to know about a person, and things we feel uncomfortable asking.
After some more time he asked the question that was burning.
It took me a lot longer to respond than I expected. I’ve told this story to a lot of people before. It was easy. It happened so long ago, that at times it felt like it happened to a different person altogether. Not today though. This time I felt shaken. As shaken as I’d felt a few days ago when I woke up with that nightmare fresh in my memory. My hands trembled and there was a knot in my stomach. If anyone had been paying attention they’d have noticed my eyes were slightly wetter and my breathing slightly heavier than usual. Considering I was already knee-deep in this conversation I decided to get it off my chest. Quickly and effortlessly. The first part I managed, the second not so much.
About 14 years ago I had two friends. Both boys. They were my best and only friends at the time. We hung out at one of the guys houses a lot since his parents were often away. One night we hung out in his room in the attic of the house, sneaking a drink and listening to music. His door locked with a key. We usually left the key in the lock if we bothered locking it at all. Halfway through this particular night they locked the door and took out the key. I remember it vividly. I remember that lock. Staring at that lock. Knowing where they put the key. Thinking that if I’m fast enough I might get to it before them but I wouldn’t get the door open before them. It was a melodramatic thought. If I’d had gotten up and left, they probably would have laughed and called after me as I’d clumsily rushed down the stairs. No more. But even knowing this, knowing how silly they were, I felt a knot in my stomach. I still do.
That night they took my clothes off. Not completely. Just enough to get to where they wanted to go. I told them no but they told me I liked it. I pushed their hands away but not with enough strength. They touched me. Both of them. They got jealous over me and the alpha boy told the other off. He fingered me, against my will. Made me touch him, against my will. But I didn’t fight hard enough. Eventually they got sick of it and told me to put my clothes back on. I left feeling sick to my stomach. I knew what had happened was against my will. But I couldn’t be mad. They were my friends.
I avoided them for a few weeks and they could tell I’d withdrawn from them. So the day after my 15th birthday they threw me a birthday dinner. Just the two of them, some food and a whole load of presents. They’d won as much as they could manage for me at the carnaval in town the week before. We had dinner and laughed. Then they did it again. I left that day with an teddybear that was almost as big as I was. And a feeling of shame and confusion that was bigger than I could grow to be. I trusted them. They were my friends. And if what they did was so wrong than why had I ever gone back in the first place?
I never hung out with them again. Some weeks later I started getting yelled at in the street by other boys. I started getting harassed online about what a slut and a whore I was. How I’d liked it and how I’d fucked those boys. I’m not sure what part hurt more.
“That’s.. fucked up.” My friend said.
“Yes.” I told him. “But it’s not what you think of when you say rape.”
“They used fingers but.. That’s rape. Textbook definition, penetration against your will. That’s rape.” My friend said.
“Sure. But I can’t accept it as such.”
It’s almost half a lifetime ago that this happened to me. I’ve been okay about it for a very long time. I barely remember it most of the time. But today, an otherwise excellent day, was ruined because of it. I managed to force myself to eat and then poured myself a drink. And another. And another. Although I still feel the shame and the guilt. Although I remember the lock exactly. And what I was wearing those nights. The knot is loosening slowly and I don’t feel like crying anymore. I guess that’s a win for today.
I don’t consider myself someone who often gets triggered. Even by rape scenes. I don’t need a trigger warning. I can get into the material and compartmentalise my memories when I need to.
But when that trigger goes off.
It’s very hard to shut back down.