Trigger warning: this post is about rape, and the experience of dealing with that.
A couple of years ago, I was raped. I have also had sex in the past which could be termed coercive. These pieces of information are usually not important; these experiences do not tend to infringe on my day-to-day life. I am privileged in that respect: the sex I have now, I thoroughly enjoy, and I do not think much about what happened in the past. One could say, I’ve got over it.
And that’s all well and good apart from the times when I realise that perhaps I haven’t quite got over it. There are times when I realise why so many feminist bloggers put a trigger warning above articles about rape; those little times where I feel an anger and sadness that is personal rather than political at a sad tale of rape or an infuriating case of rape apologism.
Another time, there was a small incident in which a lover did something in their sleep. I was halfway across the room and somewhere between anxious and utterly fucking furious before I had even properly woken up. When the lover woke up due to me very loudly failing at rolling a cigarette between sobs, they were understandably rather baffled.
It was the sort of thing which was a fairly neutral incident, and looking back, kind of funny. The lover in question was fast asleep, unresponsible for their actions, and someone I know and trust. Rationally, it was nothing. Yet the mood I found myself after this sleepy farce was the kind where I could have easily gone on the offence.
If “being over it” is the ability to lead a life where I am usually untroubled by painful memories, then I am over it. If “being over it” is a return to completely normal, no hair trigger reaction, no prickle of personal outrage, as though nothing had ever happened at all, then I am not over it at all.
It a way, what happened to me made me the angry feminist that I am today. It is that occasional flash of anger, a deep empathy and understanding for other rape survivors, which makes me determined to kick and scream and fight for a future where rape is a thing of the past. If even at my level of peace, I am not over it, what of the many women who are not so lucky as to be where I am.
Yet I wish to be normal. I wish for the scar to fade completely. It feels like a weakness to me. If I, the lucky one, am not completely OK, what for the others who have been through what I have and worse?
Getting over it. I’d love to do that. If only I knew what that even looked like.