Sexual assault is one of womanhood's darkest, most unreported rites of passage
It happened to me again tonight. I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised it happened - or that I'd be blamed for it. Why was I chosen? Why was I made to feel unsafe in my own body? Scared of my own shadow? We're taught to cover up, get home before dark, watch our drink, re-think that mini-skirt, keys between the knuckles - ritualised surrender to the reality of sexual violence and misogny.
I can't walk anywhere now with someone behind me without my heart thundering, my blood rushing to my ears, my mind haunted with flashbacks. I can't tell my man why I'm simultaneously aroused yet ghastly afraid of the very things that make him so attractive to me, of his larger muscle mass, those meaty, square-tipped fingers that could just as easily bestow violence as they did rapture. I can't tell him that I can't associate sex without violence and violence without men.
I can't tell him those things because he'll just look at me with some mixture of sympathy and confusion, the one worn by a bystander observing a reality he will never face but understands on a rational level, exists. And sure, men are raped by other men too, and in some ways this serves as a larger humiliation for the male ego, yet the acute vulnerabilities exclusive to women, but absent in men, makes the threat far more proportional and unimposing for the latter. Men will never experience other men the same way women experience men, and in this decoupling, is why discussions of rape culture and patriarchy will always be mediated through the fear of the victimised and the indifference of the invulnerable as she negotiates her worth on his deaf ears. There is no fairness in this. No justice.
And though I'm harrowed by my experiences with sexual assault and male indifference to it - I know that when he asks me later tonight if I'm doing okay, it'll send a deluge of shame down my spine for having thought so ill of him, even in generality.
Time for a cry.
We cannot thank you enough for the courageous honesty in your post. In spite of the terrible truth of its content, we are struck how beautifully you write, and present the emotion of what you feel in this. We are genuinely so grateful for how you have posted this!
There is nothing we can say here that you have not said, so powerfully, yourself. We wish, rather, to check that you are safe enough for now. That you have some care and support around you?
Just in case you need us, please remember you can reach out to us on 1300 22 4636 or click here for a webchat. Please also reach out to 000 if you feel in any way unsafe!
Perhaps, on a personal level, we hope that your partner continues to prove worthy of the trust and love you show him, and that there can be a space in which you do feel safe.
Thank you so much for being a member of our community, we are lucky to have you here.
Please stay in touch, PrincessMilktea!
Thank you so much for the kind words, Sophie.
I'm fortunate to have support during these dark times, even though I loathe to rely on others. The cloak of anonymity here helps me to get over my fear of being burdensome to people, and with time I hope to venture discussing my trauma and depression with a mental health professional, but as of yet I feel too ashamed of myself to seek out support.
Posting here is the best I can do, and it deeply heartens me to know that someone, somewhere, is listening. So thank you again, I really appreciate it.
This makes me sad to hear milktea
I want to help you understand that talking about this to your partner may not be exactly what you expect would happen, what if it turns into a productive conversation? Perhaps he could help in some way you aren't allowing to hypothesize? It can be a lot, to share such things with someone who we feel obligated to be happy and 'normal' around and it may just not be for you. If you don't already have a professional to get in contact with- I highly suggest it. You can get free sessions with a psychologist via a mental health care plan.
I hope things get easier for you, it sounds like you need a nice break. Medication for anxiety could help if that's an option. I'll add that the quote "Men will never experience other men the same way women experience men" was a good perspective for me to hear and I appreciate that. take care -b
Yes indeed PrincessMilkTea, I hear you.
Is this your partner sexually assaulting you?
If it is, then you know you need to get OUT and away from this abuser and criminal.
I'm assuming it is your partner... I'm sorry to say this to you but the abuse will ONLY escalate. The controlling nature of these abusers will covet every sector of your life over time.
This sector is bad enough.
We can think and speak all we want but until we ACT, we're not making any thing better.
By acting I mean leaving.
Reporting will be up to you.
The Number One thing is your safety.
Hey Bailey, thanks for taking the time to read and reply so thoughtfully, really grateful for it.
My partner has a tendency to clam up and freeze, choking out little more than 'That's terrible' and 'I'm sorry that happened to you' or some variation of the two when I discuss uncomfortable topics. Even though I understand it's difficult to hear these things, his discomfort rubs off on me and I feel unable to express my feelings because I know he won't know what to do with them.
Last night when it happened, he'd flown overseas to see a football game, and when I told him that I'd just been assaulted, he listened and offered his sympathy, but soon proceeded to follow it with "I have to leave this hotel in half an hour". I was very hurt by that, stung that he hadn't at least offered stay with me over the phone during my time of need (not that I'd have asked him to since I know he'd been excited about this game), but just that lack of immediate care and support really cauterised my ability to trust him with my tauma, and made me think of how differently any female friend would've responded to hearing about it.
I've often regretted discussing sexual assault with men in the past. Early this year when I'd told my brother (who I'd been been very close with), that one of his closest mates had inappropriately touched me when they thought I was asleep, he betrayed my trust by continuing to hang out with this mate. That betrayal left an acerbic taste in my mouth, and sent me shuttling straight into a dark depression that I'm still now grappling to overcome.
I feel alone and helpless. I feel that sexual harassment and assault is the tax we pay for being women, that it'll be a long time coming before anything changes. Even now, I'm contemplating binning the clothes I wore when I was assaulted, because the mere sight of them spilling out of my closet makes my stomach turn.
How can something that once made me feel so pretty now make a stranger out of the body that wore it?
Your writing is really, really powerful. I've talked about this with my other female friends before, as there's a certain unity that comes with the often unspoken experience of fear in those exact situations - watching drinks at a bar, walking back to your car at night, boarding public transport alone, etc.
I'm also familiar with the experience of trying to explain this fear to people who, through no fault of their own, will probably never be able to fully understand. When talking about this topic with other women, there's often a deeper level of empathy and understanding, because I can't think of a woman in my life who hasn't been taught how to defend herself if ever the situation should arise.
Would there be anybody else in your life who you would feel comfortable opening up to about your experiences? Of course, because of the sensitive and highly personal nature of the subject, there's no pressure to if you don't feel comfortable. But I've often found that sharing these kinds of stories with a trusted and non-judgemental person can make me feel less alone and more supported in my experiences. It can also help you to consolidate and express more difficult feelings, as continual repression of these can also lead to other challenges later on. Even if you'd feel comfortable having a chat to a GP, therapist, counsellor or psychologist, they may be able to offer you some professional advice as well as directing you to any further support services you may require.
I agree with your last sentence, sometimes crying can be very therapeutic. It can be great for both emotional expression and regulation. I've also found in the past that journalling about certain experiences can be very relieving, and can also help consolidate some of the more difficult feelings and emotions, as well as establishing what the best course of action will be if I require extra support.
As always, take care of yourself and please feel free to chat with us more if you need. You're not alone in your experiences, and we're here to support you through them.
Kindest regards, SB
Hello PrincessMilkTea, the thought of this happening, just shudders down my spine, men taking unfair advantage of women to suit their own needs and by any means, horrifies me, because it sets up a point, where they have no trust in whom they talk to and then creating a huge fear factor in who they talk to or what may happen when walking to their car.
I feel so much for you and not every lady knows self defense or are expected to know because they may not have been brought up in an environment where this was needed.
Any touch or unpleasant approach should be noted down by time place and by whom because this information may be required later on.
The other option is to purchase some type of alarm, one that either makes a loud noise or one that notifies a body corporate who can then instruct those concerned to help you out immediately, the cost is really immaterial considering it's something that could protect you, because one day it will pay for itself.
As much as it may frighten you, and that's to be expected, you should try and be vocal and warn other females from this terrible experience.
If you have a partner then appropriate action should be taken to protect you, at all costs.
I am so sorry you went through that! And unfortunately, I do agree. At least most women have been sexually assaulted in some way OR have been made to feel uncomfortable by a man. My sister-in-law asked my partner to pick her up from the bus stop just the other night because she did not feel safe walking when a creepy male was talking to her on the bus...stuff like that is what makes me mad. Another friend got her drink spiked and merely escaped being raped before the drug kicked in...and not to mention almost all of my female friends have reported being touched inappropriately in a club/concert/crowded place. It is a sad reality, but it does not make your experience any less valid.
You have the right to seek support and I am glad you came here. but also, maybe you should see your doctor and get a mental health care plan to a psychologist - this could help too.
Yes, men try to understand, my partner does, but at the same time - it is impossible for them to know because they will most likely never experience it themselves. from their perspective, it is hard for them to every picture the nervous, anxious, fearful feeling of walking alone at night.
I hope you're doing okay,