Rape, whether by a stranger or someone you know, scars beyond the physical … sometimes even for life. Unfortunately also is the fact that the only way the scarring heals is as with any required healing … one has to participate in the healing.
Ahead of her time, I once knew a woman who had been doing international business travel for years. Men from many different cultures were her primary contacts. I wondered about her safety in some of the countries she had to work and one day the sad truth finally came out. Yes, one of her South American co-workers raped her in her hotel room. No she told no one until years later. Who, besides me, I am not sure, but hopefully someone who could help her see the violent act for what it was and not something to be brushed off.
Myself, my rape was by someone I knew. Someone I was supposed to trust. Someone who supposedly loved me and I him.
Sixteen or seventeen, naive, and defiant, my first husband who took to violence, especially when drinking, decided he needed to teach me a lesson about obedience. Could be why for years later the wedding vow and Bible instruction to “obey” or anyone supposedly to have authority over me riled me up to the point of outrage, but I digress.
Can a husband rape his wife. Well, you decide if this was rape.
Seizing my brown hair the force pulled me to the floor as his powerful arms and body dragged me from the living room to the bedroom. Throwing me upon the bed, he yanked off my clothes, and ripped my underwear off me. Cursing and belittling, he raped me and fell asleep, but only before pushing me off the bed with his strong legs.
To get off the floor, I was forced to move to the fold-out bed in the room, the rough surface tearing at my aching, red skin. Denying me any blankets because I was not worth any he told me, I lay sobbing and shivering until he finally fell into a drunken stupor.
Silenced for years afterwards by his friends who did nothing when I told them the story, I thought my story and pain would be taken to my grave. But many years later, after much personal work to heal from this and other earlier traumas, I find my writing voice that had also been buried with bad memories and pain was finally freed with everything else.
Was he sorry? Oh yes. Every time after a beating. Even more so after the this.
Did we stay together? Not long after that. Whether due to guilt or a multitude of reasons, he found himself another sweet young thing a few blocks away and took up residence there. Who knows why. I now I no longer conjecture.
However, I do know this. He did what he saw his father do, the beatings I mean. Maybe the rape too for all I know because his dad was mean, even when not drunk. He was so mean he even sterilized his fourteen year old son with a kick to the groin when the boy-becoming-a-man stepped in to protect his mom after his dad had just pushed her down the stairs.
Am I angry still? No. A lot of work, including spiritual, freed me from the hold.
Have I forgotten any of it? The memories grow dimmer.
What kept and keeps me going? Helping change the mindset that inflicting harm on anyone is not okay and speaks only to the brokenness of the one who harms … which my work is also meant to help heal.
Of course, preventing the development of the mindsets that regard rape as a game, as a right, or anything other disrespectful perspective is the goal of raising people’s “Respect Levels” for both the ones raped and those who rape.
If you really want to learn more about the impact and consequences of rape, whether by stranger or someone known, the book, “Not That Bad … Dispatches from Rape Culture” edited by Roxane Gay may shed more light.
As for my two nieces who just completed their first year at separate universities, I hope and pray they have been safe … and if they were not, I pray for the courage they need to speak up and get the help they need now rather than a lifetime later.
KAITLIN ANN TREPANIER
Human/Animal Rights Activist Social Scientist Founder Entrepreneur Author Artist
ORIGINALLY Connecting the Dots … with The Respect Principle ©All Rights Reserved since 2014
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July 11, 2018