Trigger Warning: Rape; Graphic Descriptions of physical harm and sexual violence
- Let your rapist(s) remain anonymous
Do not name your rapist. Instead, allow them to exist in a vacuum with all the other scary monsters. All the other scary monsters that deep down, we know do not really exist. Your rapist must exist in other peoples’ minds as a villainous, masked figure worthy of a Crimewatch reconstruction. That way people won’t have to come to terms with the fact that real men do actually rape.
A favourite of Anti Rape campaigners has been to place a sign saying ‘Real men don’t rape’ into the hands of a macho looking sports player and then take a picture. This photo sends a message out to the world that rapists don’t exist: if real men don’t rape, then the men doing all the raping must be a figment of my imagination. Rapists must remain anonymous, if we start admitting that rapists are actually real people then what are we gonna do when our friend is accused of rape? Our favourite footballer?
- Become a stronger person because of it
Become a ‘Pride of Britain’ award-worthy victim. Let people wonder how you managed to achieve so much from the remnants of such trauma. There’s nothing the masses love more than someone who’s overcome adversity; someone who they can project all their childish notions of heroism onto. By making you the hero, they isolate you. One of the defining qualities of a hero is that they are a rarity. By making a rape survivor’s story look like a rare incident they are denying that rape is an epidemical issue. If we only pay attention to the outspoken survivors, we can forget about the silent majority.
- Omit the gory details
When telling people about your story, make sure you edit it thoroughly so as not to discomfort anyone. No one wants to know that you couldn’t shit for days afterwards, about the chronic cystitis or the yellow bruising staining your thighs. That way people can continue to think of rape as a sexual act rather than one of violence. Your rape becomes stomachable, less of a burden for your friends to carry.
- Get over it
It happened years ago, so don’t you dare suffer from post traumatic stress in front of me! When you come out as a survivor of rape it is almost as if people expect you to be over it. Some of us are, some not. Just because we’re talking about it, doesn’t mean the wounds have healed over.
- Ignore all of the above
Despite my bitterness (which I make no apologies for feeling) I know that it doesn’t have to be this way. Be fucking frank about what happened to you, make people uncomfortable and name the scum who hurt you. Surround yourself with positive people you can trust who will come with you to STI clinics, police stations and courtrooms.
Reject any bullshit that reinforces the idea that rape is cisgender women getting raped by cisgender men. The reality is that all genders are capable of being raped by another person of any gender. Rape does not require a penis and a vagina.
What’s more, it doesn’t always involve roofies and strangers on street corners. Rape is inherently violent regardless of whether or not it left you with bruises. Your friend slowly fucking you while you sleep is violence. A one-night stand continuing after you’ve passed out is violence. Being informed by friends that you had sex last night is fucking violence if you cannot remember it! It is okay to be in pain.
We need to create a culture where rape is unacceptable. ‘Unacceptable’ may seem like a weak ask but as I write this, the seven different men who forced themselves on me remain anonymous and free. While I get all pent up and piss people off by constantly nagging on about rape culture, my rapists are living normal lives: full time jobs, football on weekends, girlfriends, sunday dinners cooked by their mothers.
Ched Evans, a convicted rapist, was defended by a loyal band of rape apologists in early 2015 on the basis that it could have been a false accusation. Even though he was convicted. Even though conviction rates are despicably low. Even though the false accusation rate for rape is the same as it is for other crimes.
If you are raped, do not let the world bully you into silence or being ‘the perfect survivor’. Report it – if that will give you peace. If not, open up to someone you can trust. Accept the support you deserve. Please, please don’t keep it to yourself. Surviving trauma manifests itself into our lives in one way or another. It is never a battle you have to fight on your own.