Haunted

 

*Trigger Warning*

 

It’s been a while since I wrote to you, it’s been a while since I have needed to.

Tonight, it’s as if you are haunting me, your touch lingering on my skin.

I hurt so much, it’s as if it were yesterday, wounds long since healed are on fire.

My wrists hurt, as if I were still restrained, my thighs feel bruised from your repeated assaults.

My knee and hips are screaming at me, reminding me of what used to be.

I hate you somewhere deep inside, yet it seems to be lost within my pain.

Instead, I feel as if  I’m pleading with you, over and over again

please, I beg you (are you listening to me?), please let me go. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Not guilty = innocent?

So today a famous actor was found not guilty for a string of charges against a young girl, including rape. I don’t want to speculate as to his guilt, I do not want to argue for and against him. It’s not for me to say. It has however, prompted me to put down a few of my thoughts about some of the ways society views victims of sexual crimes.

I haven’t really followed the case, I found the coverage, in particular the details, quite upsetting. However, I did read up on the verdict and I, stupidly perhaps, read some of the comments left. While it came as no surprise, they really bothered me. There were several things, but the one I want to talk about is that it seems to be that a lot of people believe “not guilty” equals innocent.

Very few rape/ sexual assault cases make it to court, the conviction rate for those that do, is low. This is not because the accuser is necessarily lying, I’d go as far as to say that is rare. The rate is so low because it’s hard to convict “sexual” crimes, it’s usually  a case of one word against another and often there is very little evidence. How do you find someone guilty based on two versions of a story, with no evidence, or at least very little evidence? If there is any reasonable doubt, the jurors have to return a “not guilty” verdict. This does not mean that the accused is definitely innocent. Do people really believe that not guilty = innocent? No, no NO. Perhaps in the case today not guilty does equal innocent, in fact I really hope so, because the idea of another guilty man walking free sickens me. In general though, not guilty does not necessarily mean innocent, in rape cases particularly. To bring these cases to court and find the accused guilty beyond all reasonable doubt is very difficult. I don’t know how we can change that, I don’t know what the answer is, I don’t even know that there is one. If it cannot be proven, if it cannot be shown without reasonable doubt, then how can there be more convictions?

Yet, I think it’s important we all realise that most victims reporting rape/ sexual assault/ abuse are not lying, they aren’t “devious madams” they are not “attention seekers” (some of the things I’ve read this evening). Who would do that? Who would go through all of that if it wasn’t true? Sure, it happens, some people are that devious, some are that broken, but not the majority, not in any way what so ever. I know I am not alone in thinking that way, but sadly, I do not think many stand with me either, not enough for sure.

I see and hear the denial and victim blaming in people around me, nice people, decent people, intelligent people. It saddens me, it upsets me as it affects me so personally too. Do you know what it’s like not to be believed? To be subjected to violent degrading acts, to be violated in that way, to go through horrendous pain and utter humiliation?  And then to have the resulting horrible shame and guilt magnified by people questioning the validity of your story. Do you know how that feels?

Society seems to not believe victims of sexual crimes as a default. If we had been burgled you’d believe us, if we had been mugged, you wouldn’t question us. So why question us when we say we have been raped, why the  automatic disbelief? Why do we have to justify our pain, why do we have to push through the denial of society to be heard, to then be shouted down and called liars?

Alright I’m done, it’s off my chest. Its late and I didn’t want to go to bed heavy hearted. I needed that out the way because I’ve had a positive evening, talked out some issues, had a big realisation (I think) during said talk and been reminded of all the progress so far. I want to hold on to all that as I go to sleep tonight, not this stuff.

 

 

 

The term Rape vs Sexual Assault/ Abuse

I was prompted to blog on this after reading a post on a blog I follow:

“They are Rapists and Should Be Labeled As Such” (thank you Kerri)

“Any time someone touches another person, forces themselves on another person or makes another individual do something sexual that they do not want to do, do not consent to do and do not want to experience– IT’S RAPE. Society can call it whatever they want, but its rape. They are not sexual predators, pedophiles or child molesters; THEY ARE RAPIST and should be labeled as such.”

I was nodding my head at this- absolutely! 

I struggle with what to call it to be honest, I tend to go with terms laid out by the law to explain myself (which I do with very few people). The term Sexual anything implies it’s about sex and as Kerri in her blog post stated “It is sexual only in the sense that all humans have sex organs.” It’s about power, control and violence not sex.

Personally, I find the terms sexual abuse and sexual assault too broad. Though there’s nothing minimal in any kind of abuse, I find the numerous times I’ve had my breasts and bottom groped a lot less traumatic than the abuse my abuser inflicted on me.  I don’t want anyone to get me wrong, so I’ll explain further. There’s a term used in UK law “Serious sexual assault” that bothers me a lot because it seems to suggest anything that doesn’t fall underneath that category isn’t serious. All types of unwanted sexual contact is wrong, completely and utterly. All brings about a sense of violation, it’s degrading, humiliating and traumatic. So any comparisons I am making are simply about my own experiences.

Ok, now that is out the way, I will be brave here (mostly because I’ve already put it in the comment box of the blog post I’ve linked too), I’m deeply affected by “incidents” that did not involve the strict term “rape”. Calling it a sexual assault minimises it for me, even serious sexual assault.  It was as bad as my experiences of rape, worse in some ways and I won’t delve any deeper, not just for myself, but I don’t want to over share any more than I may have already (yes I’m now worrying – what’s new there?).

Wow it’s going to take me a huge amount of courage to actually post this!

Even though I don’t like how broad the term “sexual abuse” is, I tend to use it anyway, partly for that very reason. I don’t want to be specific with many people, I would rather most people not know the details. I don’t want the questions, I don’t want the embarrassment, I don’t want the pity and I don’t want anyone to change their opinion of me. Perhaps these are things I shouldn’t worry about, but I still do.  The other reason I use it is because what else can I say, “I was raped” ? That brings about problems of it’s own, not just the whole over sharing, too much details aspect, but it also suggests “just” the once, (once is enough and utter hell) but again it minimises my experiences. 

So, I’m undecided, I don’t like the term Sexual Abuse or Sexual Assault, it references those experiences as sex crimes rather than violent acts, it downplays and generalises. On the other hand, what other term can I use without perhaps being more detailed than I want to be, or over sharing? 

Objectified.

So in general, I drive a lot, I don’t like to walk far without my husband with me. I struggle with people walking behind me, I feel nervous and vulnerable around lots of people and similarly feel nervous when I’m on my own plus various other reasons I won’t go into right now… I just prefer to drive, it makes me feel safer.

Anyway, today due to a car issue, I had to walk with my toddler (in his pushchair) to pick up my boy from school. It’s about a 15 minute walk, (longer on the way back with slow, tired and moany child) and I have two routes I can take. The shorter one is down a footpath and under a railway bridge and is in general fairly quiet. Alternatively, I can walk along a main road, with lots of traffic, this road goes past a small Industrial Estate. I chose number 1, because in my experience taking the main road means unwanted attention from men, in particular the van and lorry drivers going to and from the Industrial Estate.

Unfortunately, I was the only one using the path on the way to the school and one of two families using it on the way back from school. I felt nervous and vulnerable and as a result I was less able to ground myself when I was hit by intrusive memories that were triggered by my surroundings (which I am so not going into right now).

To make matters worse, on the way back from school, just before reaching the footpath, a man in his van decided to beep his horn at me as he went past. I was jumpy as it was, but that was enough to trigger hyper vigilance.

It makes me so angry, I’ve put up with this kind of thing since I was 13 years old, local bin men would “wolf whistle” at me in my school uniform, I’d walk to town to meet friends and various men in cars/ vans would beep their horns. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m under no illusion that I’m “all that” it’s just what some men seem to do to women. What do they get from yelling out their car window or beeping their horn? As if yelling “Alright darling” and making me jump, is somehow suddenly going to make me want them. I wonder how these men would feel if they knew some other man was doing the same to their wife/ daughter/ sister etc. I wonder if they realise how intimidating they are being? Did this man today have any clue that he scared me? Would he stop doing it if he had a clue of the effect of his actions?

Over the years,  I’ve had unwanted attention all over (I am not going into all of that right now); in night clubs, to the point of groping / “minor” sexual assault, which happened so often, my friends and I considered it the norm. It was just expected and even accepted as a part of nightclubbing. I’ve regularly experienced men beeping their horns at me or leaning out their windows yelling something or other. While I don’t like it, it is something I expect now, which is one of the reasons that I struggle to go out alone right now.

I doubt I speak for all women, but I am not sure I’ve met any that find it anything but offensive. It is not a compliment, I don’t find it flattering, I am not dressing to impress, I am not existing for men to stare at me. I am not here for some random guys gratification, I am merely living my life; as in the case today, I was just doing the school run with my two small children. Wearing a dress (which is recent progress for me (YAY!)- insecurities have kept me from wearing them in summer for years), was in no way permission to leer at me. I wasn’t asking to be ogled at. I felt intimidated, I was made to feel uncomfortable in what I was wearing, I was made to vulnerable alone with my children, more so than I already felt.

All I wanted to do was collect my child from school and walk home in peace (at least as peaceful as you can get with two small children). Wearing a dress, and walking alongside a road, does not give permission for men to scare me, because that’s exactly what this man did and countless others have done before him. I am sick and tired of being objectified by men.