The question I've truly grown to hate when it comes to rape is this:
"Why didn't you go to the police?"
(Or, as it tends more to be phrased, if you were really raped, why didn't you press charges?)
Because it's not always that simple. That's why.
Not all rapists are anonymous strangers lurking in the shadows. Most people know their rapists. Many love them. Some have children with them. And it's a traumatic experience to begin with. So when your rapist might be someone you know and trust - and love - it's even more traumatic and confusing.
You tell yourself you weren't raped.
You tell yourself there's no way the person who raped you could've ever done something like that.
You find yourself wondering what you did wrong.
You find yourself thinking that maybe you're overreacting. Or what you think just happened didn't really happen, not the way you think you did.
You doubt yourself. You hate yourself.
You just want to pretend it never happened.
You don't think anyone would believe you anyway.
If you feel any of these things ... it's why you wouldn't go to the police. It's complicated.
Eight years ago, I dated a guy for awhile. Charming, funny. My family liked him a lot. I loved him. We had a lot of fun together.
But there were times I'd come home to the apartment we shared, and he'd want to have sex, and I'd usually say yes ... but sometimes no. I was working nights, and sometimes I was just tired. Or not feeling right. And I just wanted to sleep.
Saying no at first got a sigh, but sympathy. That later evolved into a glare, which got progressively nastier over the next few months.
And then, one day, I said no, I just wanted to take a nap, but maybe when he got home from work later that day ... and I got a hard slap in the face. That became a regular response to no. Which was better than what came later on for no, which was either a punch in the stomach or a kick to the back. One of the kicks left me pissing blood for a few days.
But slap or punch or kick, I'd then get grabbed by my hair or my wrist, and either dragged to the bedroom or shoved on the floor. He'd pull most of my clothes off. I learned to let him. There were more punches otherwise.
And then he'd do what he wanted. He usually didn't say anything. If he did, it was to call me a selfish bitch. And that I didn't understand. And he'd make me understand. Towards the end of all this, he'd put his hand around my throat and squeeze until I passed out. Again, I learned to let him. Punches.
When he was finished, he'd get up and leave the apartment for awhile. I don't know where he went or how long he was gone. I'd stare at the wall or the ceiling, feeling totally numb. When he came back, he'd sit or lie down next to me and stroke my hair, and tell me that he loved me, and that I loved him, right?
I'd smile and nod and say yes and still feel numb and empty inside. Sometimes we'd have sex after that as well.
We were together for two years. This happened a few times a month during the last year we dated.
He left me. I didn't leave him. And when he left me, I was devastated. I was in love with him.
And it's only been over the last year or so that I've processed the fact that he raped me.
As I've said, it's complicated.