RAPE: been there, I don’t need the T-shirt.

by sharongooner

Rape has been everywhere I look this week, internet, tv, and sadly real life. When you’ve been a victim you unfortunately become unrepairably sensitive to the word, hearing it, seeing it, thinking about it. No amount of counselling can bleach your mind, but you can learn to live with it. Which I have been doing and doing it rather well.

But I cannot stand by silently when I can see this new, “Rape Culture” growing before my eyes. On monday evening, I was watching Coronation Street, it was the beginning of the trial of a man who had raped a character called Carla. I was interested to see how it was dealt with, having followed the storyline from the beginning. I speak to other rape victims regularly on-line, be it via email or twitter, we are very close having been thrown together by unfortunate events, and on this particular night I had to turn my computer and phone off until well after it had finished. Everywhere I looked there were rape jokes, people trying to outdo one another. It’s upsetting when you have to block people on twitter because of their ignorance, but thank goodness you can. I’ve always said it’s up to you if you find this sort of thing amusing, if you do and you know the effects it has on victims, then we part ways. We agree to disagree.

On Tuesday, twitter was outraged at an account advertising t-shirts with rape slogans on. Again, I found myself having to log out of something I enjoy before I either ended up feeling ill, or completely losing it with some undeserving Unisad sympathiser.

I popped back on there on Tuesday evening, and see one of my friends saying she was stepping away from twitter because of abuse. I had a glimpse at her timeline. She had pulled someone up who had tweeted

“#iftherewerenopolice I would rape all the pretty girls”.

She was very brave to do so, I thought, because I am too nervous to do this on twitter . She told this user (who was not an anonymous troll, he was a real man) she had been raped, and it had destroyed her. Instead of apologising for his ignorance, or ignoring her, he replied “I would rape you”. That was when she took her leave. There came a bit of tooing and throwing, his followers defending him, hers defending her, none of it pretty or very rational (you cannot have rational arguments on twitter), but he stood by his stance that it was nothing more than “a joke”.

My mum would say “if you are not online you won’t see none of this”. This is true, so today I decided to go out, we chose a different shop to buy our groceries from, and whilst walking to the checkout, the man who raped me was walking towards us. He was with an old man, I can only presume this was his dad. For a split second I didn’t know what to do, but I quickly decided to do nothing other than stare at him and carry on. My husband had not seen him, and I did not want a scene so I didn’t tell him. This monster saw me staring, and quickly ushered the man he was with up the next aisle so we would not pass each other. I never saw him again. I did the right thing, I won, I felt strong, he looked weak. I always knew he was weak because that is what a rapist is, but I drew on everything my counselling has taught me, and despite feeling extremely upset, I felt okay. I don’t know how I will feel tonight when I am alone, I don’t know how I will feel when bedtime comes, and that is where close contact with my internet friends comes in. But if I feel I have to avoid the internet for fear of further damage, I would have nobody.

I arrived home and I read this column by  @Naomimc


And then I stupidly read the comments, as far as I could.

Okay. 200 odd people would rather sneer at the style of writing, accuse her of being an angry feminist than discuss the real issue. All typical of the type of people who abuse the freedom of comment. I admire women who put themselves out there when this backlash is inevitable on every subject, I just would not have the strength. I thank them for doing it.

What is missing is education in rape recovery. An awareness of trauma triggers. It isn’t a case of it happens and then it is over so pull yourself together. Rape never goes away, one of my online friends is sectioned in hospital right now because of PTSD relating to rape.

I don’t know what else to say. The internet and my circle of online friends mean so much to me and my recovery. I don’t want to wear the victim hat, I want a normal life. I don’t want to have to avoid things I enjoy, I want to discuss current affairs, laugh at FUNNY jokes, not risk a week of triggered flashbacks and anxiety just because of ignorance.

But how can I? I can’t tell people how to behave, and what is right and what is wrong.

Maybe, my mum is right.