You know by now about the UCSB shooter (he doesn’t get his name here) about his entitled bullshit rants and woman-hating manifesto, about the tragic murders he committed, about his completely ridiculous and just beyond the pale videos. What you may or may not be aware of is a hashtag on Twitter #YesAllWomen where woman have responded to this event by sharing stories of living with abuse, fear and misogyny. Women have posted on their blogs sharing their stories. Friends have shared their struggles. And it’s been hard. And it’s been uplifting. And it’s made me angry because these woman have been trolled. The internet once again proves itself by anything good being a call to have it sullied by the anony hiding behind their keyboards and getting a good laugh out of being giant fuckwads. Thanks for proving the entire reasoning behind the hashtag in one go, really, we didn’t need you to prove it so well, so fast, but thanks for that.
I have tweeted along with them, somehow avoiding trolling along the way (still not sure how this has happened) sharing stories from my life. I have so many it has been hard for me to decide how many, which ones, to not feel spammy. That sounds like I’m trying to medal in some kind of pain olympics here but it’s just my reality. 140 characters isn’t enough to tell the whole story on any of the events but oddly that’s okay. It’s been harder for me to write about them here than there. I think because laying it out long form opens the pictures too clearly in my mind. These are the things that I have been through but these are not the things on which I dwell. And also because I know that not everyone is able to handle my being so blunt about my past. I have seen it in the faces of people when I lay it out for them. I have seen the shock and the hurt (for me) and then I worry for them.
I am blunt, in part, because my rapists are both dead. They absolutely can’t physically hurt me ever again, even though they couldn’t emotionally for a very long time before either of them passed. I am blunt because I worked really hard at removing their power over me. Not by forgiving them because FUCK THAT but by realizing it’s not MY SHAME. Do I still have triggers? Do TV shows and movies still use horribly violent rapes as a “go-to”? That’d be a big ol yes. Aramis cologne and Coors Beer are two smells that are very bad news for me. But I also KNOW that they didn’t break me and neither did the people that would/did tell me to keep quiet. That would blame me. That would try to find a way to heap the shame onto my shoulders. Including my own inner dialogue. No. NO.
For every person who has looked at me like I’m the worst person in the world because I cut my parents out of my life? Some of us have monsters for parents. Some of us are betrayed by the people you are supposed to trust most in this world. Some of us are taught by the man you are supposed to look up to as an example of the treatment you should expect for yourself, that you are just interchangeable with all the rest of them, something to be used up and thrown away.
Because in normal homes a dad doesn’t accept his drunk friends making a “joke” list of who gets first crack at his daughter when she turns 18. But in my home this is the sort of thing that happens to you at the party of one of his friends. It was a lobster boil. The littler kids were putting the lobsters on the kitchen floor to race them. They had been flown all the way in from Maine and it was a huge deal. I was expected to be “beer bitch” and keep on top of everyone’s beer. And then someone made a comment TO MY FATHER about how I was growing up to be “quite a looker” and how he was going to have to “look out for me” one day. The someone else pipes up that if they “kept it in the family, that’d solve that problem”. And lo some genius demands “DIBS”. They actually bickered about it to the point that a legal pad of paper was slapped down on the pool table. I was told I should be “flattered”. I was told to “relax” and “lighten up” about their jokes. The first name on the list was my dad’s roommate since he got custody of us, a man I had known since I was four. Horrified isn’t a big enough word. Terrified that one of them was going to rape me? Absolutely.
The fact that my father didn’t stop it? That my father didn’t protect me? Maybe that should’ve told me that he was more dangerous to me than any of them. I slept with a knife under my pillow after he raped me. I almost killed myself but then my brother would’ve been left alone with him, so I got us both out. When I testified against him in family court, I stood outside with my therapist and listened to him call me a liar. Listened to him tell them that I had been brainwashed by my mother. The therapist looked me in the eye, shook his head and held my hand. The thing is, he probably really doesn’t remember. He was always drunk and high out of his mind when he came after me. He no longer saw me, he only saw his ex girlfriend, the one that left him, left us. He called me by her name. It’s unfortunate that everyone thought she was my mother when they were together. We really did look that much alike in the first place. How sick is that? Anyway. Because it took me so long to come forward, there wasn’t any physical evidence and they forced me to have supervised visits with him.
I tried refusing but they were mandated by the court so on our very first visit I baited his rage until he flipped over a chair trying to attack me. Restraining order issued, supervised visits ended. I also got a very stern talking to by the therapist in charge (different than the guy that stood up for me in court, loved that guy, loathed this one) “for the game I clearly played” and then my mother yelled at me when when my response was “come talk to me when someone forces you to visit your abuser” and when he asked if I was proud of myself and I answered “yep” she made me leave the office. I might have a strong defiant streak.
I only wish that streak had kept me out of the relationship I had with my high school boyfriend but to expect to come out of my childhood with no damage is ludicrous.
And apologies if I seem angry in this post. I have seen far too many trolls this morning. None of this past is raw for me but what IS raw for me is seeing woman being shamed, mocked or negated for sharing the things they have been put through, things that have been done TO THEM. For the words of the careless, attention-seeking trolls adding more doubt, questions or shame. You are not alone and you are stronger than you feel, know or give yourselves credit for.
I said this earlier: The fact that I have been raped doesn’t make ME weak. I can control MYSELF. Think about what you claim when you blame clothes.