*Content Warning: This piece contains references to sexual assault, which may be triggering to some.*
Don’t break the silence about your rape because they might think you are a slut, but if you insist, please continue.
First off, you don’t want them to know what you were wearing. How it was winter time, and somehow you were still getting away with a cardigan and coral crop top. It was fifty degrees out that night, and you were in a warm, crowded bar…
Oh shit, no. Please stop, before you go there. Don’t tell them you were drinking (it’s not even going to help if you say ‘you never drank that way’ before). That just discredits you right away. How you were slipping in and out of memory, and have only photos on your SnapChat to backup the night (make sure those aren’t ever seen). You’re probably the kind who gets horny when they drink, and that will definitely give them a reason to think you are lying. Because you must have wanted it, even just a little. Even if you weren’t sure, your drunk alter ego wanted it, right?
So listen to me now, if you want to write an article about being raped, just tell them what they want to know.
You were dressed for God’s work. Turtleneck. Overalls. Ankle skirts. One of those will at least do. Next say that you had good morals before, how you didn’t sleep with anyone else or planned on being with anyone, but a committed partner at the time. Tell them that you, too, believe that clothing items tell others how to treat you and that you would never be caught dead with anything showing off your stomach. Because we know that when men see the bare midriff of a woman, their brains register it as meaningless as the toolbox in their garage. It’ll be your fault if they saw you that way by the slither of your skin.
If you want to say you were raped in an article, give them every detail of how you tried to resist. Don’t even try to explain how your body can fall limp to fear and that fighting back wasn’t your instinct. That just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Cortisol. Adrenal glands. Fight or flight mode. Science. Yuck! If you tell them you were raped, tell them how you clawed and fought to keep your dignity. There were even bruises and bite wounds to show that you fought back in your sheer terror. Even if there wasn’t, you have to give as brutal of account to induce fear into your audience.
Next step is to say how you escaped your attacker, the unknown assailant. We all know rape isn’t by an acquaintance or members of our family, but by a big, bad boogeyman. Never the star player of some jock sport. Don’t mention how they thought you liked it. Don’t mention how you thought he was cute either. Or how you guys flirted before it all happened. This discredits you right away because it insinuates you wanted it.
If you must write a rape article, take my word. It won’t be easy because no one wants to hear your side of the story if it means it conflicts to what their standard belief of a rape is. If you didn’t scream or kick, you must have been passed out, right? Wrong. If you were not in a mini skirt, you must have been wearing something else revealing. Not really. If you had flirted with him and were drinking that night, it just makes sense sex would be what happened next. Not exactly.
But they have to give you credit to the fact from the beginning up until you laid limp like a dead fish that you said the word, “No.” At least, let’s hope they do.
See, if you want to be the hero in writing your own rape story, at least have the guts to put the details that will make sense. No one wants to hear the story of how you laid frozen as what was done to you happened. No one finds bravery in the story of the person who is still silent about their rape. No one wants to hear that it can happen to them, too, no matter who they are. What they wear. Where they go. Who they know. How much they avoid flirting. How much they avoid talking about consensual sex. They don’t want to know that it can happen to the best of us.
They want to hear how Johnny Boy was such a normal, quiet kid until one day he did what he did to you. The mystery surrounding his conversion to the evil side will have them dissecting him for days. Don’t pull in the star football player, though, or the man fighting for our country. They’re the real American heroes, why destroy their dreams over one little incident?
But make your story as sensational as a Dateline or 20/20 interview. Make yourself the honorable guest who cleaned up well for your 15 minutes of fame.
Reporter: How has this changed you?
Reporter: How has this rape changed you?
You: Well, I don’t like to go out late at night anymore and I don’t drink.
Last, show them your repentance and how you’ve changed for life. That the shame and scars are still carried and that you still don’t function right under emotional pressure and triggers. It’ll get you the sympathy you deserve. Don’t mention the nightmares, though, or how your skin still crawls when you’re looked at by men. They might actually think you’ve gone too far gone. All they need to know is that you double check to see if your doors are locked or that you don’t walk home alone at night (because those totally were not things you did before).
If you want to write about your rape, mention the details that really matter and garner the sympathy. How you were excited at the beginning of the night and felt torn by the end of it. How you haven’t been the same since it happened. You don’t sleep well. Sometimes you wake up with your arms flailing in the empty air, motioning for the bad guy to get off of you two years later.
Don’t mention the party. The drinking. The desire to flirt. The corrupted state of mind that night, but if you must, show that you are never ever going to do those things again. Show you are a reformed girl and you are taking measures in your recovering. That you are still suffering from the shock of it all, and that you take all measures in redeeming yourself.
In fact, explain how the silence you bore for years about your rape was simply because you were afraid of what others would think of you. Don’t try to explain the minutes following a trauma how the brain is rewiring itself for life on how it will react to certain perceived dangers. How two years later you may be standing in a grocery aisle and be surprised that you are suspicious of the two males walking behind you, glancing for their own item to buy. Just say that your suspension and silence was due to guilt you had after your trauma. No need to say more; no one will actually understand it until they, too, have experienced shame.
With all that, you must realize with any personal memoir you write, you have to attach your name to it. Because of that, you may contemplate if you want people to start to think of you as someone with the words rape victim or survivor attached to it. If you don’t mind, you write the article, but maybe with a different pen name so work or your dating app don’t find you out. If you do mind, you just may not want to write the article after all…