At a recent event, I asked two questions:
- Have you ever raped someone?
- Have you ever been raped?
Of course no hands were raised! I wasn’t expecting any hands up either, because rape is the shame of all shames. When we talk about rape, we normally picture the brutal, forceful violent, hateful act of forcing a woman to have sex! I Say a woman because only a handful of men would come out and say they were raped! When they do, it’s almost always sodomy, by another man. Because they would rather phrase it as if they had sex with a woman rather than deal with the shame that would come with admitting that a woman raped them. Obviously, women rape too.
Rape seems to have evolved as society evolves, but I think it always was this way. Most likely, in the old patriarchal setting, nonviolent rape was not considered as rape. Like a hug that takes a little too long. A touch that is too far above the knee. A smile that borders on the overbearing smugness.
Furthermore, in the traditional patriarchal setting, there were some attempts at punishing rape. My grandmother told me that if a man took a girl by force, he was forced to marry her. As a reparation for the integrity-breach and as a way to wash off the shame.
Whether it is a straight-up, obvious attack, or a nonviolent rape, the violation of integrity leads to the same consequences as rape always did.
If your heart’s not in it, and you have expressed verbally and nonverbally that you don’t want to have sex, then it is a NO. Even if you say yes at first, verbally or nonverbally, and then change your mind along the way, it is still a NO.
A YES is when you explicitly agree to the sex.
If I was to put it in my own words, Rape is any type of sex you are forced to have by:
- or any other expectation that plays on an assumption that you will:
- incur some significant loss
- or face some punishment, if you don’t have that sex.
How Rape afects your Mental health:
First is the confusion. In this stage, you would serve youself well if you told someone. You may be in a state of shock and may need help putting things into perspective. Questions you may be battling with:
- What just happened?
- Did I agree to that?
- Who can I tell?
Then comes the shame and self-blame. By this stage, you may start to cut ties with loved ones, just to give yourself space to digest your experience. You want to isolate yourself. Questions you may be battling with:
- How stupid am I?
- I should have seen that coming, no?
- Will anyone believe me? I was the one who asked to meet. I went to their place. I accepted dinner and alcohol. I drunk too much.
Then comes the secrecy and the self-hate. By this stage, your loved ones know that something has changed you, but cannot explain what it is. Thoughts you may be battling with:
- I am stupid and dirty. That is why he chose me.
- He would never rape Rita because she is not stupid.
- I am dirty and useless. No one will want me once they know I have been raped.
1. The best friend:
Sonia is a gorgeous girl with a steady job and a family of her own. When she finds out that her husband of years has been cheating on her, they have a nasty fight and as he stand there apologizing, Sonia storms out. She calls her colleague who is always friendly to cry her heart out. The colleague offers to buy her dinner. As they talk it out, and of course dinner comes with wine, wine comes with tears and heart wrenching outbursts. Time flies, and Sonia is drank, enough for this gentleman friend to offer to drive her home. On their way home Sonia;
“says you know what, let’s go to your place! He has to know that I too can do this. II can also have sex with other people, can’t I?!
The colleague disagrees but Sonia is hysterical and doesn’t want to go home. To avoid drama he heads back to his place, with Sonia in the passenger seat. Long story short, they end up having sex, and in the morning when she sobers up she asks her colleague;
“did anything happen?”
She can barely recall having sex and the little that she does is bits and pieces.
He tells her that yes, they had sex because she had insisted. Sonia is shattered. She doesn’t even shower, before she calls an Uber and leaves.
It’s true she asked him to have sex with her, there was consent, so does this qualify as rape? If it’s not rape why does she feel this ashamed and used? Why does she go ahead and block her colleague and friend, and never talks to him again? After all she insisted right?
2. The dream job:
You’ve gotten you dream job and you are sooo excited! You’ve been crushing on this lady ever since you met her on your first day of internship! It doesn’t matter that she is your superior at work, after all you are age mates. You all go for drinks to celebrate that you finally landed the contract. Everyone in the office comes along, her included, and she insists she doesn’t drink. It’s a plus for you because you know you have a designated driver. As the night wears off everyone leaves, and it’s just the two of you. You whisper that you like her dress, and her response is;
“well you better, coz I approved your employment. Without my yes, you would not have received the contract!” She follows that with a sensual touch on your thigh and a seductive smile.
You feel uneasy, because you didn’t even know she had the power to hire or fire you. However, you still have a crush on her and she likes you back! Sadly, an uneasy feeling has crept in and it lingers as she says that she is paying for the drinks.
“You’ll make it up to me later when you undo this dress.” She finishes with a wink.
You should be delirious with joy and anticipation, but all you feel is obligation it removes all the warm fuzzy feeling you’ve had in the belly.
You wonder, what will happen if you don’t undo the dress tonight.
Do you even want to undo the dress tonight, or another night?
Do you have options?
At the end of the event, I asked 3 questions:
- Why do people rape?
- Have you ever been a victim of non-violent rape?
- What did you do about it?
Again, I was met by silence.
What would you do about it now?
Whatever it is, do not be silent about it. The police may not take action. You may be demonized and blamed. But to save your emotional and psychological well-being, find one person who believes you and speak about it!