formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Me, Too...

His name was Mark. He was a sophomore. I was a freshman. He was in my English class. I thought he was cute. He told me I was a good writer. It was the night before winter break started. I saw him in the bar I'd gone to with my friends. He invited me back to his dorm room. I went with the thumbs-up from the girls. He opened another beer for each of us.  He turned on the stereo. There was kissing. It was all good.

Until it wasn't.

I said no. I said it loudly. I said it several times. He ignored me. He said, "Come on. What did you think you were coming back here for?"

When it was over, he fell asleep. I got dressed and went home. In tears.

I didn't say a word to anyone. Not for days.

When I finally got up the courage to tell my mother what happened, she blamed me.

She blamed me.  

She blamed me.

And I blamed myself. I was drinking. I went to his room voluntarily. I kissed him. What did I think was going to happen?

It was my fault. 

I believed that. For over 30 years, I believed it. I was ashamed, embarrassed, angry with myself for putting myself in that situation. And until this morning, my mother was the only person I'd ever told. This morning I blurted it out to a friend during conversation on FB Messenger... and I realized that I could say it out loud.


I can finally say the word I've refused to apply to myself for nearly 35 years...

I was raped. 

I never spoke to Mark again. I saw him on campus occasionally and when I'd pass him on the sidewalk, I'd look at the ground instead of him, ashamed, embarrassed, and angry with myself. On some level, somewhere deep inside, I knew he was the one I should have been angry with. I knew he was the one who was wrong. But that place was DEEP inside.

So I stopped thinking about it. I just pretended it didn't happen.

Occasionally the memory would bubble to the surface, during a conversation, a movie, a date. When I did a report on sexual assault on college campuses for work a few years ago, the memory reared up, tall and strong, and slapped me right in the face. Hard. I had to think about it, whether I wanted to or not. I realized then that the incident - the rape - has impacted, on some level, every single relationship I've ever had (including the one with my mother). It explains how I haven't ever fully trusted myself or men... how I've never been able to completely show myself to anyone, to be completely vulnerable or honest.

That was a hard realization to come to.

So I pushed it on down again.

Because that's what I do.

A couple of years ago, two very good friends countered a comment I'd made on Facebook about how a girl shouldn't "put herself in a position to be raped." They lovingly told me that no matter what position a girl puts herself in, when she says no (or is incapable of saying yes), that should be ALL it takes for a rape NOT to happen. I tried to justify my statement, born out of 30+ years of belief and blame. They persisted. And for the first time ever, I began to see it all in a different light. For the first time ever, I began to think that maybe, just maybe, it wasn't my fault.

Then, a few days ago, the 'Me, too' posts started showing up on Facebook... and I started reading about what other women have endured. At first I thought, how brave they are. Then I thought, there's so many of them. Then I thought, I'm one of them.

People often comment about how open I am, in my blog and on Facebook. I always maintain that there are parts of me no one has ever seen and there are things I will likely never discuss. I believed for a long time this would be one of those things. But this morning I said it out loud and the Earth didn't open and swallow me whole. The sun is still shining, the breeze is still blowing, and I'm still right here...

... a little closer to whole than I've been for 35 years. 


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your openness.
It has happened to too many of us and we were taught to believe it was our fault. Mine was a family member in his 40's and I was 12...still don't quite understand how they could beleive it was MY fault. It has affected every relationship since...

Anonymous said...

Diane! I feel every word and thought and feeling you've shared, because they are mine as well...except I didn't tell my mother. I didn't tell anyone until I went for my annual gyno checkup and was checked for stds. So, my doctor, whom I hated, but endured for "my health". Your words have finally broken the barrier that it WAS NOT MY FAULT, even though I went to his apartment for a drink. And it is no woman's fault if she SAYS NO! And, yes, EVERY relationship from that night in early 1976. WOW! you are number 2 to hear about this. I'm considering with whom I shall share next. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! <3

Annick said...

Very brave. You are a survivor and an example of fortitude in life's maelstrom. Thanks for sharing your experience. (I truly believe that every woman can "me too" this week. Some are just not prepared to do it openly.)

Amy McMean said...

I never realized how many people 'blame the victim' until recently. Maybe because that thought, that a women saying no would be to blame, would never cross my mind. Why do people think it's fine to not hold men accountable? It's 2017 how does anyone still have the 'look the other way' mentality. The me too movement has stirred up memories for my mom, bad memories, things she would rather not talk about. And I understand that. She's told me she dealt with her feelings long ago but like you said, they rear up and slap you in the face.

Luke Ashmead said...

Honest, written with that clarity you've been rambling towards and inspirational.