Anon

I have two stories to tell.

The first is one inside of a committed, long term relationship in 2012. We had met at a social group at an unnamed NZ University. I fell head over heels for this young man, and after 6 months or so, I asked him to move in with me. I lived much closer to the University than he did, and living together would mean that we could focus on our study during the day but still spend a decent amount of time together in the evenings. He moved in.
Two easy weeks passed by as we settled into our new shared space. One morning we were getting ready for university. I had a test I had been studying hard for, staying up late to be in the library. Perhaps I had been too focused on my test, and not enough on him. I was half dressed when he grabbed me, and threw me on the bed. I protested, saying I had to get to uni to do some final cramming before the test. He said after he thought I was just play-protesting. I kept saying no, and tried to force him off me. I’m a relatively physically strong and tall woman, but even so, he was still twice my weight and had at least 3-4 inches on my 6 ft frame. I couldn’t get him off me. I just started silently crying until he was finished. He didn’t understand why I was upset. Then he walked me to uni and I had to go and sit my test with my newly moved-in boyfriend’s unwanted semen running into my knickers.
I told a friend a little while later. He didn’t know why I stayed with the guy. I thought I was in love and that perhaps he just didn’t know what he was doing was wrong.

The second story is more recent, in late 2013 in a large metropolitan area outside of NZ. I moved to this city in a new country for further studies. It was quite far away from NZ, and I didn’t yet know many people. A classmate asked me to go to an exhibit one afternoon with him down town. I was eager to see it, and we made plans to meet there. It was an incredible exhibit. We spent over two hours exploring. I was in my element, and fascinated. Afterwards, I didn’t want to go back to my small single room occupancy (like a dorm, but for grown women) and study, so we decided to get something to eat. We choose a nearby Japanese barbecue place. We had a great meal, and drinks. We decided to grab a drink, so after a pit stop for cigarettes, we moved to a nearby Aussie bar. I keep drinking, becoming increasingly intoxicated. I’m enjoying the atmosphere and feeling of having made a new friend in the city. At the bar, I read his phone screen over his shoulder as we sit side by side. It reads something close to “I think my chances of getting laid tonight are getting slimmer and slimmer, she’s so drunk”. He keeps offering to have me stay at his house instead of my SRO at the women’s home. So I can get home safely he says. I live about a 20minute subway ride away, he lives at least an hour out of the main part of the city. I repeatedly decline the offer. We visit one or two more bars, and decide to call it a night. He says he’ll walk me to the subway. The entrance is on a now mostly empty main street, stairs descending underground with a landing in the middle of the flight. I say goodnight at the top of the stairs, thank him for a good evening, and give him a hug. I walk down the stairs. He follows me. He grabs my shoulders and pushes me against the concrete wall. He kisses me. He keeps kissing me. I say no, ask him to stop. He tries to reach into my pants, I try violently to stop him. He keeps pushing my into the wall, and keeps kissing me, holding my head in place with his fat, short fingers. He tries again to get his gross hands into my pants, and succeeds. I take the chance with his groping hands absent from my head to turn my head, repositioning my body just enough to get free of him. I run down the last of the stairs, jump the subway barrier and wait in a small crowd of people for the late night train home.
In the following days, I get a text apologizing for his behavior, saying just how drunk and sorry he was. I can’t remember what I said in reply, but I wish I could edit it to tell him it’s not okay. I had to spend the rest of the term in classes with him. Looking at him makes me feel sick and gross. I want to throw up when I see him.
I feel like I let myself down, not reporting him, but at the time, I owned the decision by saying I had better things to do, that it would cost a lot of time, money, and emotional energy.

With each story I thought, and still somewhat feel that I am to blame for making or letting myself be vulnerable. I think I fucked up by not reporting either, but I also doubt any police officer would take me seriously. Neither man thought what they did was particularly wrong. I feel like I somewhat allowed for both of these stories to unfold. Both feel minor in comparison to others I have come across.

Michelle

I mentioned my rapes in Victim Impact Statements (in regards to assaults and breaches of protection order) that were given to police. They never questioned me about it. I figured it really must have been my fault.
I moved to another city and was given a full interview about my whole situation by different police, who told me they had to report it to CIB. They contacted me several times in regards to doing an evidential interview on dvd. I took some time to think about it and agreed. It was not so bad, though it was weird that I was not emotional at all, later on my counselor told me its called emotional avoidance. After many weeks of waiting CIB sent me an email. An email to tell me they were not prosecuting because he strongly denied the allegations. No support offered. It was a Friday and I had to make an urgent appointment with my ACC counselor for Monday. I spent the whole weekend in bed, I was a wreck. After  two weeks I finally replied to the email and asked to meet with CIB for a better explanation than he strongly denied it. They set up a meeting for me. I went to my counselor again beforehand and she helped me to prepare my questions to ask at the meeting. I asked my questions including..what questions did you ask him? They said they didn’t know. They didn’t have the file. They knew for over a week I was coming in. I asked them did they ask about when I was unconscious and woke up naked and wet between my legs, they said no. I asked them why not and they said because he denied the allegations which is a broad answer to anything police could ask.  These rapes were the most disgusting things that happened to me, they still disgust me so much. I hope one day they will stop being the intrusive thoughts they still are today 11 months on.

Anonymous

This story isn’t technically mine to tell but after having spent at least an hour reading everything on this blog, I felt I had to share it.

A bit over a year ago I met a girl, started dating, fell in love, etc, etc. It was sort of a distance relationship, I guess, but this year I moved to the same city as her, so we are able to see each other every weekend. We began having consensual sex, which we both still enjoy. However, in the general flow of conversation that occurred when we were discussing the subject initially, she revealed to me a story that was simply horrific.

When she was young (I won’t say how old but suffice it to say, she was still very much a child) her older brother would force her to come into his room so that he could rape her. He was in the thick of puberty, and would do this fairly regularly for a period of about two or three years. It took her a while to be able to say what she wanted to say on the subject, and I made sure never to ask any prying questions about it or anything like that because I knew if I ever did, she would have an anxiety or panic attack. But eventually, of her own volition, she bared her soul to me; told me how her mother had walked in on it at least once and simply refused to believe that it was happening, told me how she would pretend to be asleep when there was no one but him home so he wouldn’t drag her off for more, told me how he would invite his friends over to witness it and/or do it themselves. As soon as I had heard all of this, I felt a kind of anger rise up in me that I’d never felt before. Anger that someone could have such a black fucking heart and a rotting, festering brain that they would assume that much power over a mere child; someone almost completely powerless.

To this day, her and I have cultivated an extremely positive emotional relationship. I’ve been doing my absolute best to help her recover from what she suffered, but it’s always an uphill battle. One of the hardest things is reassuring her that it’s not her fault and that she shouldn’t look back so negatively on what she could have done to prevent it. She knows, and she’s told me, that there was not a single person who cared about what was happening, and I know that there was nothing she could have done to stop it happening under the circumstances. The point is that if we as a society  didn’t process young men like him to believe that it’s okay to dominate, penetrate and violate females against their will, then it wouldn’t have happened. But rape culture is still sickeningly real, and IT HAS TO STOP. I know that it’s real, not first-hand, but second-hand. I’d like to think that that doesn’t mean it’s any less jarring in my eyes, but I know I may never experience anything like the pain a woman feels when she has been abused. But in conclusion, that’s why I am someone too. Not the kind of someone this blog was intended for, but a different kind of someone. I am someone who, in another life, might be just another rusted cog in the torture machine that is rape culture, but I’m not. I am a young man, nineteen years of age, who wants to see (and incite, wherever possible) big changes in how sexual abuse is dealt with in this country. The current situation is absolutely unacceptable in my view. And to be honest, more than anything, I just want the human being I love to be able to be at peace with herself after what happened to her. She deserves at least that much.

Bear

 It is poignant to me that this blog be titled ‘I Am Someone’. For almost my entire life, I have been plagued by the words ‘I Am No One’. They follow me like a shadow, they echo inside my mind, I repeat them to myself like a mantra. I Am No One.

From age eleven to thirteen I was sexually molested by a man in a position of trust. He was riding instructor at pony club, and I wanted nothing more than to be one of his ‘favourites’. At first, he displayed his favouritism with attention. Lots of smiles and personal jokes, just between us. I was special, I was more talented than the others. With our friendship came lots of cuddles and tickles around the stables. Bending over to pick up my pony’s hooves, he would pinch my bottom or stand behind me and place his large hands on my small hips, pulling me in to him. On my pony, he would wrap his large hands around my upper thigh to demonstrate correct leg position, slipping his hand up to my groin. My psychologist has confirmed what I now know this type of sexual assault to be – grooming for sexual molestation. He was an expert in exploiting children’s desire to be favoured and gain approval.  In fact, he was grooming several other girls, and assaulting others more severely than he was me.

Two of the other girls he assaulted eventually went to their parents, and then to the police. He was convicted and sent to prison. I stayed quiet, believing my experience to be less severe than theirs, and therefore that I did not deserve any sympathy. The psychological injury his actions caused me were never recognised or healed. To make the pain go away, I decided that there was no pain. My belief that I Am No One had taken root. But the seed had been planted in early childhood – a child of a broken home, an emotionally-absent father and a broken-hearted mother desperate for love from men who had none to give. I learnt from a young age that any man in my life would always leave.

My life as a young adult has been a complicated game of finding feelings of power and control in all the wrong ways. I still struggle to accept that anyone would value my company without finding me attractive or with the prospect of sex. I have sex with people to feel an instant hit of emotions – to feel strong, to feel wanted, to feel valued – that disappear the morning after. A period of heavy drug use and risky behaviour meant I put myself in some very dangerous situations, and I suffered two more sexual assaults before the age of 20. Minimising the impact that these assaults had on me – blaming myself, blacking out the memories and affording myself no care further compounded the belief – I Am No One.

I’ve ruined genuine friendships and relationships because my self worth is so tied up with giving sex to whoever will take it. I’ve been pushy, needy, inappropriate, a liar and a cheater. I have no trust in others, and no trust in myself. What kind of life is that to live? I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD and depersonalisation disorder. I wonder if I will ever be capable of good. Still, I strive everyday to be a Good Person. Some days I do well and other days I fail miserably. I wish I could explain to those I’ve hurt that my actions are a part of my mental illness. Perhaps I will get there one day. But my mantra, for now, remains. I Am No One.

John

as a young boy my mother told us,my brothers and i adult themed or dirty jokes,limericks etc, which i often used to repeat to my schoolmates much to their parents shock and disgust. of course as a young boy i always felt clever when i had an adults attention and so i bought into mum’s explanation that the other parents were just prudes,which i read in an article somewhere that this is one way for paedophiles to sexualise their victims.
what i didn’t tell anyone was how my mother always used to enviegle my brothers and myself into “tickling -wrestling” games that invariably culminated in her fondling our genitlals.
the low point for me happened in my teens when she actually invited me to have sex with her, which i declined because at that age i was starting to question in my own mind the weirdness of this type of behaviour.
i have often wondered why she did this and have concluded that she must have been mentally unstable, as it has since come out that a lot of her stories about a non sexual physically abusive childhood she was supposed too have had have been shown to be mostly fabrications to gender a “poor me” sympathy reaction.

on another occasion when in my late teens i was going to a dance and was standing at a bus stop where i could see a long way down a straight road that there was not going to be one for a while,when a car pulled up that was the same make that was popularly used as taxis at the time.thinking that i might as well grab a cab than wait who knows how long, i hopped in the front seat, it wasn’t until we were underway that i noticed there wasn’t a meter at about the same time that driver, a guy of about 50, started up a monologue about girly mags and the joy of masturbation leading up to him inviting me back to his flat to check out his collection, thankfully i was able to persuade him i wasn’t interested and that i had someone to meet.

so there you have it, i know the above does not equate with a full on rape but it may illustrate my “attitude” to any females trying to feel sorry for themselves,in as much that my own upbringing has rightly or wrongly shown me that females when they have a mind to can be sexual predators as well.

if my name is familiar, i’m that grumpy old bugger who’s always writing letters to the editor.

Natalie

When I was three years old, I went to my father and told him that it hurt to go to the toilet. He responded by having a doctor come to the house to examine me. When the doctor arrived, I was asleep and she told dad that to examine me, she would have to wake me up and that if anything had happened to me, the examination would be traumatising and that she felt it was best that they didn’t proceed. Nothing more was done.

At that time, there were four of us kids, 3 older brothers and me, the only female. My eldest brother, who is 9 years older than me, had been abusing my brothers for a long time, and it was only a matter of time before he would abuse me too.

The first distinct memory I have of being sexually abused was when I was six. He came into my room late one night while he was babysitting, He was 15. He took off my knickers and pyjama pants and straddled me. Touching my vagina all over with his hands and rubbing his penis on me. Every so often he would lean back and touch me with one hand, while masturbating with the other. I remember telling him that I needed to go to the toilet, just to get away from him. When I didn’t come back, he came into the toilet and led me back to the bedroom. I was so young, I didn’t understand what he was doing, and I didn’t know at that time that I wasn’t the first. I wanted so much to please my brother and as a result, I “let” him. I didn’t fight, I didn’t struggle, I just let him do what he wanted to do and hoped that he wouldn’t do it again.

Over the nest few months, it happened again, and again. Then when I was 7, I received a reprieve when he went and lived elsewhere. I didn’t tell anyone until I was twelve. I remember it like it was yesterday, sitting with my dad, and two of my younger siblings at a round kitchen table. I said to my dad, “what would you do, if someone had hurt me?” He said, who are we talking about here? and I said, “We are talking about S****”, my father promptly burst into tears. I didn’t even need to tell him what S**** had done, he already knew. The whole experience was horrible, dad crying at the table and my stepmother yelling at me, “did he put his penis into your vagina??” over and over, all the time with me in my head screaming, stop saying that to me, please just stop saying that to me. Why is she saying these revolting things to me? Dad had had suspicions for years, from the day that I told him that it hurt to go to the toilet. Turns out that one of my older brothers told his mother (my stepmother) when he was 6 (I was 4), that he had been molested. She told him that he had had a bad dream and to go back to bed. She just sent him back into that room, with his abuser, and the abuse continued over the next few years. That brother can’t even be in the same room as me anymore, we haven’t seen each other in about 8 years, we spoke on the phone a few years ago, and he expressed guilt and sadness in not being able to protect me and he told me that when he was 7 and taken into foster care, he was so sorry to leave me there, because he knew with all the older siblings gone, that it would be open season on me. He told me that he doesn’t want to see me again, as I am a constant reminder of what happened to him.

My eldest brother molested me, two of my older brothers and a male cousin. I was the only female, and to this day, I am the only one who refuses to let it go, I will not be silenced! Not now and not ever again.

I wanted to share a little of my journey since those days, as I feel that it all stems from the abuse anyway. After I told my family what had happened to me, there was a process put in place to get some counselling through ACC’s sensitive claims. I still remember my stepmother filling in the paperwork when I was 14, reading the question out loud “To what extent do you feel that these events have impacted upon you?”, she turned to me, and said “well, hasn’t really affected you at all has it?”. She accepted that I believed that I had been abused, but I don’t think she ever really accepted that it was true. She even tried to tell me that it was a story that my mother invented.

As a teenager, I was angry, so angry, broken and scarred and becoming more and more twisted. I got drunk, did drugs, had sex with anyone who would have me, including men 20 to 30 years my senior, and ran away at any chance I got. Looking back, there was a giant neon flashing sign on my forehead that was screaming “HELP ME!”, but noone ever did. When I was 14, I ran away again and stayed with some guys that I had met a few months previous. One night, one of the guys came up to me and said “we need some money, so we’re going to put you on the corner”. Another girl, a girlfriend of one of the guys, dressed me in a mini skirt and a little top and put me on a street corner. I gave a 40 year old man a blowjob in the front seat of his car, for $40, all the time begging him not to hurt me.

By the time I was 15, I was sex working 5 days a week, servicing up to 30 men a week, including the man I was working for, and police officers who were sent to make sure everything was above board at the brothel. I felt worthless, men had only ever wanted one thing from me, and it was between my legs. I deluded myself, believing that I was in control, after all, they were paying me for it now, so I must have been in control right?

I got pregnant to a boyfriend when I was 16, and welcomed my young son into the world just after I turned 17. My then boyfriend was arrested and charged with distribution of child porn. Turns out, I was another of his victims.

The next 8 years was a blur of drugs and sex work. Anything I could get my hands on to numb the pain, to drown out the screaming child in my head.

When I was 25, now with two children, I had finally had enough, enough of the running, enough of trying to escape my past. I started talking about being molested with my family, with mixed results. To this day, my stepmother refuses to talk about what happened to me under her watch, telling me that she doesn’t remember the times that I have discussed with her. Doesn’t remember her son throwing himself through the wall of a glass house to escape his abuser, doesn’t remember getting angry with me when i was 7 because i changed the way I wore a towel when my abuser was around, so that he couldn’t see my body……
I haven’t spoken to her in two years, and I doubt that I ever will again. My dad and I worked very hard, had some very difficult and painful conversations and we now have a very strong relationship.

My abuser still rears his head from time to time, most recently a few months back, when he sent me a facebook message telling me that i needed to “get over the past”. This “man” who stole my innocence, who destroyed my childhood, has the audacity to tell me to get over it.

I left the sex industry 3 and a half years ago, studied, and have just recently got my degree in social work. I am hypersensitive, and hypervigilant about protecting my daughter. She wonders why she can’t stay at other people’s houses like her friends do. I can’t tell her that it is because I am terrified that she will be molested and have to endure the pain that I have.

I am 29 years old, my children are 12 and 7 and I have been single for 6 years. I have made the decision to remain single for my children’s upbringing, I can’t trust a man with my children, or with myself. I have been celibate for a year, with no plans to have sex anytime soon. Sex has often been a weapon that I use to hurt myself. Not anymore. The loneliness is crippling at times.

The experiences of my childhood and adolescence almost destroyed me. But here I stand, I AM A SURVIVOR.

Anonymous

 I have read many of the stories here and it flattens me. I am so sad that so many other people in NZ have experienced rape, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment.

I remember an idiot recently telling me in a conversation that he did not know any women who had been raped or sexually abused, so it surely couldn’t be common. Idiot. We don’t tell others! We don’t tell people in our lives who are just “mates”! Even if you ask us, we will not tell you.

I want to add my story to the weight of others here. As if I can too add my part to help break this cycle. To make the idiots out there realize this is serious, it hurts us, and it happens all too often.

I was taken to live at Centrepoint Community when I was just turned 13. I was a small, skinny and underdeveloped little girl. A child. I looked like a child.

At Centrepoint there was only one shower cubicle which was private and we were told off for using it. The showers we had to use were open and grown men would come specifically to stare at our developing bodies when we showered. We teenagers would get up very early to shower, and hope we were left alone. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not.

We were told that to be sexually active was a good thing, it was good for us, and it was very clear that if we were sexually active we would be included in the community and given approval.

I was a child, just turned 13, from a small NZ town from a sheltered and somewhat safe childhood. I was moved away from my friends, school, everything I had known, and had to try to fit in as best as I could in my new community.

My mother took me there because she thought it would be good for her, she could get counseling for herself. My family had heard rumors about sex with children there and urged her not to take me and my younger sister there. This was not what she wanted, so she ignored them.

A 27 year old man first had sex with me. When my mother found out shortly afterwards she asked me if he had used a condom. She was most concerned with a teenage pregnancy, because I guess then she would have had to seek an abortion for her daughter outside of the community and uncomfortable questions would have been asked. So she put me on the pill. When I look at 13 year old girls now, and my son who is almost 13, I realize how young and naive and vulnerable they are. It blows my mind that she knew what was happening to me, and SHE PUT ME ON THE PILL!

To this day I feel more anger towards my mother for not looking after me. She should have been my protector, she was the only parent in my life. But she was more concerned with what she wanted. To this day she still minimizes it, says she doesn’t know it was wrong or bad for me for adult men to be having sex with me at the age of 13.

To the men of that community I feel only some disgust. I understand they are simply horrible human beings. They’re not worth my energy to hate so I don’t.

At the very least it was statutory rape, and I was well groomed for it. But it didn’t look like “rape rape”. Forever and still now I struggle to call it rape, and if I do I then don’t feel I can share any details because then people would say “oh, but that’s not REALLY rape”. Was it?

I do know that it affected me badly. I saw my worth as being sexually available, that was the only thing I was there for.

Eventually we moved out and my mother moved in with my stepfather. Because he knew I had been “sexually active” at Centrepoint he thought I would be sexually available to him. To both me and my sister he would come into the bathroom when we were showering. The shower curtain never quite covered the full length and side of the bathtub, there was always a bit at the side or the end open. He would make sure he looked. He watched us shower. It felt super creepy.

One day we had been at a relatives and stayed the night. I don’t know where my little sister was, she was not with us. Me, my mother and stepfather slept in the same bed. There must have not been other beds. My mother slept in the middle.

In the morning my mother got up to make a cup of tea. I was awake, but sleepy. I was wearing pajamas. My stepfather took this opportunity to cop a feel. His hand kept reaching for my breasts, and down to my crotch. Repeatedly I pushed his hand away. I was partly frozen. I was very frightened. After a few minutes of weakly pushing him away I got up and went to find my mother. I immediately told her what he had done, touching me where he shouldn’t touch me. She went ballistic – at him.

She took us for a counseling session, because for her counseling cures everything. She took us for ONE counseling session at …. and this is the kicker…. Centrepoint.

And that was it. It was never mentioned again.

I had to grow up in that house, my body developed and I went through delicate teenage years, living in a house alongside a man I knew wanted to have sex with me and who looked at me as a sexual opportunity.

There is more to my story. More that is common to other girls I learned who were at Centrepoint as teenagers. But I will not and cannot share it with you even anonymously. People in my life will know who I am by reading this much, and the rest I do want to keep private.

Suffice to say that was not the end of sexual abuse to me. When I was 21 an incident happened to me and two other girls which was so traumatic and confusing. I was in a state of shock and suspended animation, PTSD they call it, for six months. During the incident we couldn’t get away because we were on a boat, far from shore. I still do not know the correct label to put on what happened (sexual harassment? rape? gang rape?) but I do know it had a devastating effect on me. I was suicidal.

More than 20 years have passed since then. 20 years. I should be over all this, right? I did have some counseling from the wonderful Help Foundation which helped me recover from PTSD and saved my life. But some effects still remain.

Sexual abuse has effected my sexuality in a deep way which is extremely difficult to recover from. I must fight against dark thoughts, I am alternately disgusted by scenes of rape and aroused. (although when I read survivors accounts the only feeling is deep sadness). I struggle to be sexually healthy, sex is difficult for me, orgasm is achieved only with intense concentration trying to ward off nasty images. Sometimes I can do it, often not.

I enquired a few years ago of a counsellor specialized in the area I need, working with survivors of sexual abuse to heal their sexuality. There is one in Auckland and I had a number, but it is probably too old and out of date now. I am too scared to try to fix myself, what if I can’t? What then?

The things that happened to me were not typical looking rape. Apart from the incident when I was 21 there was no violence, just grooming of a child. But the effects penetrate into my life 30 years after it all began.

I am heartened by this discussion. This is the first time I have seen the words “rape culture” in mainstream media. This is the first time I have seen conversation about rape and sexual abuse not dominated by discussion about what the victims did wrong.

If we keep focussing on what people do wrong to get raped we will keep removing focus from where it belongs, on preventing men from raping. If we keep talking about what people do wrong to get raped we will keep alive an environment where women and transgender people will blame themselves for their own rapes and will not report it.

We need to examine what it is in NZ that allows so many men (and yes, I say men, because all the people who sexually abused me were men) to sexually abuse and rape others. We need to examine the sense of entitlement we give to NZ men, and we need to support and respect our women and transgender people as human beings equally deserving of respect.

We need a conversation about consent and what it looks like. Consent is not the absence of no. Silence, too drunk to talk, these are not consent.

Consent requires the active and freely given “yes” of all people; women, transgender and men, in any sexual activity, every time and throughout the entire activity.

We need desperately to stop telling our young girls they are responsible if someone hurts them by raping them, that they need to curtail their freedom to dress and move about in public lest they be raped. It is completely inappropriate for half of the population (male) to use the threat of rape to constrain the other half (female and transgender). And we need desperately to stop seeing transgender people as “other” and somehow less than everyone else. They too must be allowed to be who they are without fear.

I want to live without fear. I want to live with a healthy sexuality. This is a human right goddammit!

When I was abused at 13 I did not wear revealing clothing, I was not drunk. I was a child.

Daddy’s little girl x

The first time it happened I was 4. four. four. It still shocks me when I say it out loud. Luckily it is a memory that was blocked from my mind until I was nearly 20. I think that helped protect me from the chaos. It meant that I led a rather normal childhood. It still pains me that my parents kept it from me. Lied to me about it. Made up some ridiculous alternative story as to what really happened that day. What really happened to me. Their little girl. Their miracle baby. Me.
It was my fourth birthday. We were having a party. I had a house cake with people outside, the roof was made of smarties, it had windows and a door. the fence was made from chocolate fingers. it even had a letterbox – although I don’t remember what that was made of.

I was sexually abused on my fourth birthday. By a 17 year old boy who lived across the street. A 17 year old boy who was friends with my 14 year old sister. A 17 year old boy that I trusted. He found me a little lost and confused after my older cousin had taken me into the bush out the back of our house for a game of hide and seek before we had cake. I had wandered a little too far while looking for the other kids and gotten a little lost. S (i will call ‘him’ S) found me and told me that I shouldn’t be alone on my birthday and that he would take me home. He didn’t.
He took me to a room and sat me on an office chair where he proceeded to play with my hair, then he began to touch me. I kept telling him I wanted to go home. That I wanted my parents. That they would be waiting for me to have cake. He kept telling me I was meant to be having fun with him. He took off my underpants and touched me; it was at this point that I started to cry.
He called me stupid and told me that I shouldn’t be crying on my birthday.
He violated me with his fingers, and after a while he made me suck on his penis. After several attempts to stop me from crying he told me to put on my underwear and that he would take me home. He didn’t take me home. He abandoned me in the local school playground where I was later found by our next door neighbour and returned home.
I finally had cake.
Later that evening I went up to my dad and told him what had happened; in my four year old very matter of fact way I said “Daddy, S made me suck his…..” – The last image I have of that day was my dad grabbing his hunting rifle and heading out across the street.
I have never again felt so much like Daddy’s little girl. Still to this day my heart melts somewhat to think that he did that. For me.
Because I matter. Because I mattered to him. Because I am someone. Someone’s daughter. Someone’s princess.

Sharon

After extensive counselling, I have realised that rape in marriage is real and I have experienced it. No did not mean no and I was subjected to all forms of abuse so he could achieve his way, and if he did not there was hell to pay. I now realise that i had been desensitized and I failed to know how bad it had got. But I am out and free and getting stronger everyday.

Anonymous

I was 19 and had only just moved to a new city for University. I knew no one, was terribly homesick and felt completely alienated at work. There was one person who treated me like someone and it was because of him I started to feel accepted within the workplace.

We started texting and became friends quickly; we’d go grab a bite to eat, go see a movie, the usual stuff. And then we became girlfriend/boyfriend for a while.

I was someone who believed in abstinence and I was open with him from the start. He told me he was proud of me and I trusted him, because…why wouldn’t I? After work one night, we went to town with a group of workmates. They didn’t know we were together (I was told by him that work wouldn’t approve). As the night went on, he drove me to his place. The plan was that he’d drop me back at mine in the morning. We had to be quiet, because he flatted with our managers.

The naive 19 year old girl I was, I listened. I was quiet.

We cuddled for a bit on his bed and then he started having sex with me. I told him no. He told me he just wanted to feel my body. I just remember being in pain, I wanted to scream. He put his hand over my mouth and kept going anyway.

There isn’t a lot I choose to remember. I remember crying. I remember wanting to leave…but having no car, no money and no credit on my phone all I could do was wait for it to be over.

I dealt with it by convincing myself he loved me. That he’d be the one. He dumped me two days later through text. Two years later, I found out he’d been dating my flatmate for a year and a half.

I’m too ashamed to admit to anyone it was rape…that it wasn’t consensual. I’m ashamed that there isn’t anything I can possibly attribute to it, apart from my naivety. I wasn’t drunk, or drugged in any way. I was just an innocent teenager who decided to trust.

Three years on, I’m still ashamed.

Anonymous

Roast Busters were not doing anything new.  I had my own experience of rape culture as a teenager in New Zealand in the 1980s. I found out years later that from my very first kiss at my first teenage party (three 14 year old girls and ten 16 year old boys) I was being deliberately manipulated by certain boys into compromising situations where I would be too drunk to be able to give or withhold consent. For the next couple of years I was part of a (white, middle class) social group where rape was normal and acknowledged behaviour, and I even knew of a woman who would get young girls drunk for her boyfriend and his friends to rape. Despite (or because of) this environment, and my own desire to be seen as sexually sophisticated, I never thought of myself as raped and certainly never complained.

Only as an adult looking back did hindsight suggest those sexual experiences hadn’t always been by my choice. More difficult to bear is my memory of witnessing another young girl being gang raped while I stood by. I was so off my face, so scared and so confused that I only understood what I had seen days later but I still cannot forgive myself for not having done something to help her.  Even after years of counselling, my dominant feelings about that period are not anger towards the men, but guilt and shame for my own tolerance of their behaviour.

The long term legacy of my awful adolescence includes herpes, and single parenting the (beloved) child of my teenage pregnancy. It is also the reason why, three decades later I have still never had a long-term relationship, stay celibate for years at a time and am unable to trust men; especially anyone whom I suspect is attracted to me.  I do not trust myself or my own sexual feelings either. And I rarely drink alcohol and never in public or around men.

I hope that all the girls who have been used by the Roast Busters (or any of the many other predatory males still out of the public eye) can find healing and recovery in the wake of the appropriately outraged reaction of so many people to this story.
To live with those kind of memories as a secret shame is a festering wound.

Anonymous

At various times between the age of 5-10, I was sexually abused by my older brother. My brother talked to me about it when I was 24. He said that it had happened to him and that it had manipulated him into a sense of normality over it, and that he had considered suicide whenever he thought about what he had done to me.

The challenge of being able to talk about it proved more of a struggle than I had ever expected. According to everyone I was surrounded by, only men raped, and only women got raped. Being a cis-man, I felt so ashamed with myself and was terrified that partners would break up with me if they learned my awful secret. It took me another 5 years to tell a single person about it, and I still have extreme anxiety at the thought of anyone finding out. My parents don’t know and I doubt they ever will.

My brother and I are both survivors. Amongst the thousands of amazing people who have accomplished so much good throughout this campaign in past months, I have unfortunately seen many who are perpetuating the myth that only women get raped, and I have seen men’s rape experiences being minimised. My story is not worth less because cis-men get raped less commonly than cis-women or trans people, and whenever I hear someone insinuating as such, it cuts me as deeply as the thought that this has happened to me.

Baggy clothes

 I remember hearing stories, when I was young, about women who would get raped because they wore short skirts and other clothes that “asked for it”.

Just from hearing about these cases, I grew an aversion to wearing anything that might make it look like I’m “asking for it”. I can’t bring myself to wear the stylish short skirts and dresses all the other girls wear, or wear clothes that show cleavage or even my shoulders. I can’t wear a singlet unless I feel 100% safe.

I’ve never been raped, yet rape culture has had this effect on me and I’m sure it’s had this effect on at least one other person. I think it’s wrong that our clothing choices can be dictated in this way, and am angry that when I pick out what clothes to wear for the day I automatically and subconsciously check whether they make me look like I’m “asking for it” or not. It’s just wrong.

Anonymous

Everyone who’s shared their stories on here are amazing individuals.  Giving voice to these horrible experiences is important so thank you for this website.  My own story I will keep short.
I was raped at a party by my best friend’s boyfriend when I was 17yo and a virgin.  I was drunk and stoned and confused about it at the time.  I realised quickly that due to rape culture there was no point going on about it so never really  talked about it until a few years later when I saw a counsellor.  I had a fantastic boyfriend at university with whom I had consentual sex and enjoyed, so that helped at lot.
My point is that I was brought up in a stable secure loving family and I still got raped.  I was a confident outgoing young woman and I still got raped.  All these experiences didn’t prevent it happening – but it did help me deal with it successfully (no police complaints – just dealing with it by myself).
I agree that NZ’s drink and drug culture has a significant part to play in our sexual assault statistics, but I have been drunk at parties before and after that time and only once been raped.  I have been drunk and had sex and regretted it in the morning and that hasn’t been rape.  Rape is rape is rape.
I’ve talked with friends about this over the years and unfortunately it has allowed them to open up to me and share their experiences of rape.  There are far too many of us from all walks of life.
I so strongly feel that this is a tipping point for NZ and more women and men will start standing up for what’s right and talking about consent and stopping rape.
Thank you for helping make this a milestone that means rape culture starts to change.
Much much love and strength to all those affected and those who stand by and those who are raising sons and daughters with love.

Anonymous

As early as I remember I was expected to defer to the males in my life. My older brother was treated differently, provided with amazing opportunities and allowed more freedoms. Boys groups went sailing and camping, girls groups learnt sewing and cooking. I wanted to go camping and sailing. But boys got to do what they want and girls did what they were told.
.
My brother did what he wanted to me. He hit me, I had bruises. I showed and told. I was told not to play boys games. My brother held me down for his friends to hit me. I had a bleeding nose. I showed and told. I was told to stop provoking them. My brother did what he wanted to me, he violated me with his fingers, made me suck his penis and later, as things progressed he had sex with me. I learnt not to tell. He took me places for his friends to do what they wanted to me. And they did. I didn’t tell anyone. I learnt. Boys did what they wanted. To me! And I did what I was told. Shut up!

I was a very quiet sullen child, I didn’t trust people, I didn’t talk to people, there was no point, no one listened to me and I didn’t make friends easily.  I also developed bladder problems, so had trouble holding on and often had wet pants, this didn’t help. I was ignored more often than not. I was badly bullied at school. Once I was chased out the school gates & ran away. I had to return the next day and was threatened with the strap. My mother said the boy chased me and picked on me was because he ‘liked’ me. That made sense, because brothers are supposed to like their sisters too, right?

An older male cousin took me to play hide and seek in the cupboard under the stairs. He violated my vagina with his fingers. Another time he took several of us girl cousins into the cupboard. We never talked about it. I realise now they were subjected to a similar culture of silence.

When I was 13, I’d had a few drinks and told an older female (she was 17) about what my brother had done to me. She went and told my father who told her I was lying, then told me I was lying. I wasn’t lying. I never told anyone ever again. When my father’s flatmate took me for a ride to feed his parents cat and had sex with me, I was 13 he was 32, he did it several more times. I told no one. No one believed anything anyway and by now I’d realised that was what I was there for.

My mother had boyfriends and they liked her pretty blond daughter, too much. I asked for a lock on my door but was told she didn’t want to live in a house with locks on the door. She’s told me stories on how she and her older sister had kept their younger sister safe from a predatory man in their neighbourhood, it was the girls’ fault if they were caught, but she continued the silent culture. My mother’s boyfriends would grope, slap and prod and say things. I didn’t spend very much time at home.

It seemed my body existed for everyone else to touch, comment on and use. I remember walking past a house on my way to primary school where a group of men looked over the fence and made comments that they could teach me more than school. Relations couldn’t just say “hi”, the female ones were obsessed with my weight, commenting if I’d gained or lost, the male ones on my developing body. Lewd comments, over-friendly hugs & kisses where tongues were slipped into my mouth, I had to endure and their behaviour was dismissed. By now everywhere I went I was cat-called & propositioned. Even now, as I think back I am surprised by how many men think a 13 year old girl in school uniform wants to see their penis.

In every aspect, everything was disbelieved. One male teacher would rub himself against us girls in the hallways as he walked past and there was always a lot of talk about this teacher and how he interacted with the girls. While the hallways were crowded, in all my time at school(s) I’d never had a teacher so much as brush past me let alone rub against me and I can not recall ‘these’ types of stories ever being told about any of the other teachers (male or female). Something further must have been said because during assembly we were lectured on being ‘silly girls’ and that ‘stories could ruin a man’s career’.

By the time I was 14, school was over for me. My attendance had been sporadic and I was very behind. When I had gone to school teachers would ridicule me for not knowing where we were up to, so I didn’t want to return. I got a job, lying about my age, and a little flat alone. One of my brother’s friend’s brother came into my flat in the middle of the night and told me I wanted it, held me down and raped me (I did fight back, he hit me), stayed the night and did it again in the morning. I had a shower and went to work. I didn’t return to my flat. I hitchhiked out of town. I stayed in a small town with anyone who would have me, I didn’t have anywhere to go and no money. I returned to the city where when walking down the street I was offered money.

This was a new revelation. While my first experience of prostitution wasn’t pleasant, the client was very rough and I was bruised and torn, it was an empowering experience. I could get paid for what was normally just taken. So I went back to the same place the next night and I learnt and yes it was empowering, now I was using them and I did. I set myself up in a flat with a car and worked.

I was now in control of sex for the first time in my life, at work. Outside of this, I made the mistake of believing a man’s bullshit and my son was born when I was 19 and I was a single mother. Needing to work and of course childcare isn’t available for ‘nightshift’ my son stayed with my mother and her latest partner of 3 years, this one had actually taken “no” for an answer from me on several occasions. To shorten a very long story, by now I had a home and mortgage, another ex-partner and two little boys.  I found out when my son was seven my mother’s partner had been abusing him (the way things played out there was no doubt).

I did everything the ‘proper’ way, because I wasn’t going to ignore like had been done to me. I contacted the authorities, police and CYFS etc. I told everyone. I was ostracised by my family. Told I was being vindictive, that I’d never liked him and that I shouldn’t make this shit up. My mother told me not to tell anyone to protect my son, as if he had something to be ashamed of. To this day I will never be convinced she didn’t know. CYFS became involved, targeting me! They told the court I was a danger to my kids. Thankfully I had a good paper trail of my activities and parenting, notifying as soon as I found out and the judge didn’t believe CYFS and gave my kids back.  My mother remained with my son’s abuser for another 4 years.

This person (now dead and never brought to trial) had a distinctive name and over the past 15 years since I found out what he did to my son I have heard many other things about him. He preyed on single parents, gaining trust and helping them out with their kids, taking their kids out alone. Even last week I overheard someone use the name and I questioned to be told of an incidence 13 years ago when he exposed himself to the 18 year old daughter while her parents were out of the room. This man was enabled to continue because everything he did to people was dismissed and disbelieved.

But it just doesn’t stop. I’ve been raped by a man with a knife. I did report it to police and the Detective who was assigned my case was excellent and a credit to the force. I couldn’t go through with the prosecution, I was in fear of what media would do if they got a hooker rape story. I went back to work the next day, there was no way I was letting that loser win and I had a mortgage to pay. The man that raped me was jailed for rape and gbh – the next girl fought back, because ‘nice girls do’ so we’re told!

I started study and gained a degree. I got a ‘real job’. I was propositioned by my manager three times (I turned him down), he then spread nasty stories about me. Sadly, it was some of the women I worked with who were the worst in believing and spreading the lies, (no one knew about my past and the stories weren’t about that anyway), my supervisor called me a slut in front of the whole office. When I complained about the harassment and bullying (it was ongoing, documented and sustained) it was me who was offered an exit package.

There is not really enough time or space to write fully of all the experiences and quite frankly they don’t deserve to be dwelt upon. These things are not who I am they don’t define me, they are things that have happened to me and these things should not have happened to me or to my son. They shouldn’t have happened and if they did I should have been listened to they should have been stopped. My sons have been raised with awareness of what rape culture is, how to avoid contributing to it and what consent is, real consent – not just the absence of no.

In my opinion the outrage over the so called ‘roastbusters’ group should not be about their activities, but about consent. If consent is freely given by all involved then let them do whatever they want to whomever they want, no one can hold any moral high ground on their activities. In the absence of consent (including underage of consent), it is rape and should be dealt with the full force of the law. Focus on what they were doing to cause outrage rather the lack of consent claimed in the complaints, in my opinion, contributes to rape culture. I’m also amazed at how many people comment ‘how bad things are these days’. I doubt that. In the ‘good old days’ it just wasn’t spoken about.

It is good we’re speaking out and challenging the hierarchy silencing abuse. Keep speaking out. The silence enables them.

Julia

I know I have already posted on here. It was in a daze, because I couldn’t believe I had a safe place to speak. So I came back to see my own post ‘in print’, as it were, to know that some other people knew…and more comes back to me.
My first memory is of a hospital ward, walking with my hand in my mother’s. I had to reach up to hold it, so I could only have been 3 or 4. Lying on a bed as the doctor examined me. I remember my fear and confusion. Why was he digging around ‘down there’?! My mother, across the room, leaning forward with a look of concern, fear, twining her fingers.
I’m still too afraid to ask why, ask what that meant.
Whispers… Found letters between my parents that were never sent. Notes with my name…allusions…to what?
I have no memories other than this, or after this, until age 6.
My mother once told me that I was ‘such a sad and serious’ child. My first full-blown panic attack was age 9. I first thought of killing myself age 13. I started drinking and smoking then too. I still drink. I’m drinking now.
I can’t ask. These stories I read of incredibly strong people surviving so much horror sound far too familiar. All of my fear started so long before the shit I do remember and have written about. The abusive boyfriend…forcing me into sex with my hands pinned between his chest and mine while I cried. It just became easier not to fight. I should have known he was bad news. The first trip away, when he put his fingers in my ass and wouldn’t take them out even when I told him to again and again, until I launched myself away…and he laughed. He came at me again and I shoved him back with my foot…and he laughed, convinced me I was over-reacting. The numerous times he kept pushing his fingers into me when I grabbed his wrist or told him to stop…and again, convinced me that it was *me* in the wrong. He is so loved and worshipped by his friends…he’s convinced them that I was the psycho. Not that I care any more what they think. They are all as vacuous and narcissistic as him. And karma has had a bloody good say.
I am glad beyond words that I found the strength to kick that fucker to the kerb, literally. He attacked me after I had finally called an end to it. I foolishly let him in to my house. He gave me a ‘massage’, kept fondling me when I told him not to. Later, as I kicked him out, once and for all, he dragged me into the street and grabbed me by the throat. Thankfully, my training kicked in, and I fought back, punched him, kicked him into the gutter where he belongs.
It was only EVER power that he wanted. ONLY. EVER.
But no, I’M the crazy one, the violent one.
Abusive messages from his friends about ‘how could I be so violent’, it was ‘my fault’, ‘he didn’t mean anything, he’s just going through a rough time’….etc, etc. They don’t know the half of what I dealt with, and wouldn’t believe me anyway. Don’t want to.
It’s funny. I read some of these stories that are filled with self-blame, and I think ‘No. Not your fault AT ALL. THAT IS RAPE’. And then I think of my own stories – the fuckwit boyfriend, the drunken double rape – and I wonder, really? Can I call it that? They weren’t ‘as bad’ as what so many people go through…do I have the right to put mine in the same category? Can I really apply that worst of labels?
Self-doubt. Sooooo much self-doubt.
Do I tell my current boyfriend, who, despite his sweetness, I don’t entirely trust? But I don’t trust anyone. Would it ruin things if he knew…?
I am proud of how far I have come. I fight the black fucking demons every goddammned day, as every day they try to drag me back down. Sometimes they do. I will learn not to dwell. I have travelled and loved and lost and branched out and learned new things and pursued passions and continue to do so. I live on my own, and love it. I surf, and this keeps me alive. I study something I love and I will carve out a life that I love, making a real difference and saving what cannot be replaced. I will fight, tooth and bloody nail, for this fucking bullshit to end. PLEASE, lets keep this conversation going. It will likely be brushed over by the media all too soon, considering its ‘unsavoury’ nature. But this MUST end. Please, God, let it end.

Kazzlyn

Women, Children, Animals, Men, Citizens. From the beginning.

The words “speak from the heart” roll around and around my brain as I try to write the first sentence of my story for you, because I want to reach into the heart of you and to do this I need to pull out my heart and present it to you, what’s left of it that is. Not much of a gift, I apologize, but please accept my offer of my beaten and broken and stitched back together and deeply scarred heart. I’m so very scared to share my story with you, my heart is racing, my skin is getting itchy from stress, I’m holding back tears because where I need to go to be able to tell you this is still very raw and real for me and will be for a large part of my life. I need to take you on a journey through my childhood, where it started for me, where it starts for most of us.

I remember the words in my mind today as clearly as I heard them the day they were thrown at me.
“Why don’t you just go have sex already?” screamed at me by my Mother. I was 14 and this was normal, my normal.

This was not the first or last time she would say something to that effect. The issue of my virginity was often up for random discussion or the end of a joke or made into an insult. Growing up my mother was the one that called me a slut more then any man ever has. Slut, whore, dirty little slut, loser, bitch, stupid cow are names I had thrown at me from the person that was meant to be my teacher, my light, my guide in the world.

My childhood was marked with the teaching of submissive violence. If we didn’t do something right or if my mother was in a bad mood or our tone of voice wasn’t right we would get hit, often those hits turn into beatings. We were bad; I was bad, now I must be punished, put in my place. I must submit all control, I have no power, I am powerless, is what I was being taught at five years old. At five I learnt to be a victim, to play the victim role, to be silent, to not stand up and voice my opinion. I learnt I was worthless until somebody wanted something from me.

At about six years old I remember walking out of my house in bra and panties to show off for a boy, my first stepfather screamed me at to get back in side and put cloths on, my half naked body was wrong, something was wrong with me. This boy I remember playing the ‘rubbing’ game with. Rubbing up against each other. I remember craving sexual attention as if it was normal.

One of the things I feel most guilty about was that I couldn’t protect my sister (C) from my mother, I tried, jumping in front of the beatings only worked for so long, and then I started to get angry at my sister, blaming her for me not being able to protect her. This created a lot of fighting growing up, I have deep guilt I still carry with me to this day, over not protecting her and not protecting my younger sister from her as well, I made a promise at ten years old to the new born baby in my arms that I couldn’t keep, I was still to powerless. The violence towards my baby sister will haunt me for the rest of my life. I scream at myself to this day why I didn’t grab the baby and run out of the house, someone would have seen that marks all over her baby body after mum had attacked the poor 2-3 year old for crying over her food. I should have done more, it was my fault and still is my fault for every hit my little sister has had to endure for the last 16years of her life. I made the same promise to my baby brother in one of hismidnight feedings, mum never got up for his feedings, often it was me, sometimes it was my sister (C), ask my family today who feed the baby and they would tell you it was (C). Every good thing I ever did has been forgotten unless that good thing somehow gave them the impression that I had a happy childhood and they will use that good thing as a weapon to prove me wrong somehow. They only remember what they want to remember.

I started developing breasts early, at about eleven. That is when the comments from my step pop (step grandfather) started and I don’t remember having a visit from then on, where he didn’t comment on my breasts. My lumps, their size, how big they might get, all sexual and all not something I should have been hearing at that age.

And now for the moment, was it inevitable? I liked attention, the old guy that was my pops friend, around my pops age. He gave me ice cream, lots of ice cream and lots of attention, took me away from home, which I hated being. This moment, where I tell you I was old enough to know what he was trying to do, I knew what he was. While staying at his place I chose to pretend- yes I pretended I was asleep on his lap one night, his hands on me, his hands, the more asleep he thought I was, the more they moved over me, touching my breasts, and then down my pants. He whispered ‘I love you’ as he touched me, I let him. I don’t know why. I should have said no, I was only pretending to be asleep. Why did I do this to myself? I was around the age of twelve and I let this old man touch me. I didn’t tell anyone until I was about 15 and nothing happened. They didn’t do anything, and this older man went onto having small kids live with him, those kids turned into violent teenagers, I saw one of the girls once and I knew, I knew what was happening to her, I could see it in her eyes. I did nothing. I failed again.

I was about 15-16, I was wearing long pants and a t-shirt nothing ‘sexy’ I would say- casual. I walked down the back stairs of my house towards my room which was under the house. My second stepfather was putting washing on the line; he looked at me and said “Ooooohh I wonder how many years in jail I would get for rape” Looking dead at me, and he laughed. I headed into my room. This is a man that has hit me for years, being able to put his hands around my neck and held me off the floor against the back door of our house because I was being a smart arse, for voicing my opinion that was different from his. If he wanted to, he could have raped me and there would have been no way I would have been able to fight him off. I just hoped he never would act on those thoughts, lucky for me; he never has, towards me at least.

Hits over the head, normal. Hits on the butt, normal. Being forced to submit, normal. Beaten until I scream and beg and say I’m sorry a million times, normal. Beaten until I pee my pants and then beaten for peeing my pants, normal. Screaming insults “SLUT, BITCH, SHUT THE FUCK UP, I HATE YOU, DO AS YOU ARE TOLD OR ELSE! ” etc. normal. Cold showers after a beating, normal, they minimize the bruising and then we were made to give mum a hug after because she was sorry, she just got to mad and went to far, I just made her mad.

To far? Beatings wrong but hitting ok? A little violence is ok?  A little pain is ok? I hated myself the same amount, the smacking and the beatings, there is no difference to how much pain I felt emotionally. A smarter child might have been in self-preservation mode and today those are the adults that smack their kids and claim they are FINE. I’m 26 now and I’m fine as well, until I am not, until I’m screaming my head off over nothing and lashing out at my partner. I have no right to do this, however understandable it might be. I still have the responsibility to heal and not act this way. No one has the right to hurt anyone. I know how I was ‘raised’ does not equate to a fully functioning rational adult human. However how I was raised is seen as normal. All the scientific research that shows the dramatic negative effects this attitude has towards a child is being ignored. Maybe some things would be seen, as ‘that’s too far’ while most of it would be over looked just because it was a parent to a child where a child has no rights. Somehow through all of it I can stand here and be different. Able to look upon the trauma and say “it happened to me, it is not ok, just because you are fine does not make it ok. Just because you hurt them less then what you were hurt doesn’t mean you are doing the right thing.

We judge violence on levels of ‘how much pain they cause’. We have a welfare system for both children and animals. Welfare is a system based upon how much suffering is too much suffering, or put it another way, how much suffering can they get away with before to many people complain. Right now I am writing this for a human based campaign against rape culture and yet most of you that read this drink cow’s milk, milk that is taken from a mother whose baby was taken from her after she was raped. The machine they put her in, is named the rape wrack by farmers. She will be raped by two people, one that shoves their whole arm into her anus, and another shoves their whole arm into her vagina to implant the bull’s semen, they will rape her every year of her life to keep her pregnant. She will only feed her calf for 24 to 48 hours and then boy calves sold to become veal and her daughters will be raped at one year old, destined to repeat their mothers life, this goes on until her milk production goes down and she becomes worthless where she will become fast food ‘meat’ after 4-5 years when her body gives out from the suffering (A Cows normal life span is 25 years). This is all normal and LEGAL on all farms under the welfare system, so that humans can take what they want from her; because she is not human her rape counts less? Do animals not have rights to their own bodies? Like children? Like human females? Like human men? Are our bodies not our own? Rape, violence does not discriminate, it crosses all age’s lines, and all gender lines, all races lines and species.
It is all oppression, an attempt to take control over another, to take what they want. Want sex? Want milk? Want silence?
They want to know they have power. They want you to feel they have power.

Have I been raped? No. Have I experienced rape culture? I’ve been verbally, emotionally and physically abused through out my life. I was dehumanized, I was degraded, and I was taught that I had no value and no worth. I could never say no. What I wanted never mattered, I was never told why, it was never explained, I was just always wrong and when I was wrong I got pain. No meant pain. Using my voice meant pain. So it depends on what you would define rape culture as. Rape has nothing to do with sex, EVER. Please understand this; rape is ABUSE when it shows up in the FORM of sex. Abuse is the hold of power over another, oppression.

I hear people say things like ‘boys will be boys’ and yet girls are being sexualized at a younger and younger age or taught they have no value if they express themselves sexually. We demand children not cry or make a scene in public. Being a child is wrong. Doing what is normal for a child is seen as bad behavior that we must stop, we must shut them up. They must do as they are told, they are wrong simply because they are a child.

A woman is wrong simple because she is a woman? She must not make a scene, she must be polite, she must cover up or she has no value. No sex before marriage or you have no value. Your skirt must be a certain length or you have no value. She must not speak her mind or she is a bitch, she must be thin or she is fat or she must be fat or she is a skinny bitch. They need to cover up or they are asking for it. Women call other women sluts. If all her bits are hanging out, she is acting like she has no value (slut), being sexual and female some how makes you a slut. Or as a female your only worth is in being a sex object, or in having babies and getting married. These are the rules for you. Women must be silent and men must be tough.

Please think about these things for a while: Do you ask your child for a hug or do you just take? Does your child’s father bribe your child into hugging him? Does he say it is allowed because he is her dad? Do you tell a child why you are touching them? Are they allowed to say no without getting hurt? When you look upon them are they your property, do they belong to you or do you see your self as their guardian in this world? When you teach them wrong from right, do your actions towards them match your words? Are you teaching them that those with power get to do what they want to those that are weaker and that some forms of violence are ok?

Smacking is abuse, like there is no happy rape; no level of rape is worse than the other, no rape more wrong or less wrong. All rape is wrong, all abuse is wrong and smacking is wrong. Those that justify it are the same as rapist and those that spread victim blaming, a claim that somehow the victim deserved what they got because they broke someone’s rules or pushed someone to far? The submission is that same, the fear is the same. The lack of rights to their own body is the same. And worse, you are teaching them that bigger people take what they want from little people, strong take from weak, it is learnt and it can be unlearnt. Rape can be stopped it can end.

I’ve left out the memories of the beatings and what I did to ‘provoke’ them. It is not important, like what a rape survivor did when they got raped; the survivor is not responsible for the actions of others. What I hope is to reach out to you and teach you is that a large part of this starts with the culture of oppression. Whither it is a parent on a child, a man on a woman or a woman on a man, or human on animal, it’s all the same thing. Oppression.

I still have nightmares, I awake up after watching one of my sisters getting beaten or my 3 years old sister dragged down the hallway by one arm by her fathers (my second step dad). I wake up in a sweat and I cry. For hours, days, weeks. It stays with me forever.
I have triggers, I only need to hear a tone of voice from a parent towards their child and I know what that child is going through. I know their confusion and fear. I’m taken right back to feeling powerless or I hear them threaten to smack the child, I fight with all I have not to either collapse and die or to attack that bully of a parent and teach them what smacking does first hand.
I will spend years undoing what was done and learning what I didn’t learn. Trying to become a functioning adult, trying not to be scared to leave my unit. Trying to finish my studies and not avoid it because I’m so scared of failure, of getting the question wrong. Because I have to over come the fundamental belief that everything I do is wrong and that I am not a failure.
The pain is still there, inside, so deep. Trying to heal from it is slow and a rollercoaster, I think I’ve healed or moved on and then something happens, or nothing happens and I’m dealing with another bunch of emotional shit that often leaves me on the floor of my lounge room or bed room or shower, just crying, or screaming or nothing, feeling nothing because I’m not numb to feel anything at all.
To this very day, when I’m faced with a moment where I must speak out against a wrong, I start to have a panic attack; my heart races and I start to shake. I must say something, I must do something, but every time I ever spoke up growing up I was hurt and when I spoke up at age 21 and come out very vocally about the abuse at the hands of my mother, my whole family turned their back on me. I was hurt again. I have little to no contact with my blood family especially my mother. It took me 21 years to realize that no matter who is hurting you they have no right, family or not. I stood up for myself and I started speaking my truth.

This is what I know.
Having a vagina is NOT an open invitation. Having sex does not make you less of a being. The clothes you wear, does not make you cheap. You have the choice to have sex, it is your body, and it takes NOTHING from you to make that choice or to not make that choice. If someone wants something from you it is their issue, not yours. You are not a cock tease. You are not a slut; In fact, there is no such thing. It is a word used to dehumanize you, to control you, to oppress you. You we not meant to fit into a box, you a not meant to be definable, you are extraordinary because you were born.

What is the answer to oppression? It is not more reforms; it is not new laws, not a few changes, not a little time, the entire system is wrong. Our system is built on oppression in the very design of it. How can we be free of oppressing each other when the current system we live in is based on oppression? One thing and one thing only will allow for us as a species to move out of the pain of what we are and what happened to us, giving us the sight to see what we could not see before. How we are all connected.

It is time for Revolution and it begins from inside you. I’m studying an Advanced Diploma in Business, with my goal of building my own business to help others heal from trauma and anxiety while I fight for human and animal rights. How did I get here? I’ve come a long away and still have a long way to go. But I know I will get there. I will not be the person I was raised to be because something was different for me; I had an awareness to how damaged our system was that allows so much suffering to happen. I am not a perfect person; I wasn’t born to be perfect. But I was born for a purpose and not the purpose anyone else puts upon me. I strongly believe there is no fixing this system, trying is like putting a Band-Aid on a bruise. It was built this way. We need something new, and we get there through finding it inside ourselves.

It is time we start looking at all our choices. From all sides, rape is just one element of a much bigger issue. I am a feminist for woman equality, I am a human rights activist for human equality, and I am vegan for animal equality. My choices affect the world and I want to be aware of all these choices and how they will affect the world. I was passive and submissive as a child; I want to be assertive and actively involved as an adult. That is my human responsibly.

Women, Children, Animals, Men, Citizens. I unequivocally reject all forms of oppression.

Sharon

I never thought I would be one to remain in an abusive marriage. My husband had been married before and I believed all his tales of woe about his first wife. It was about 18 months after getting married that the strange behaviour started. He believed that I had advertised for sex, but he was the one reading the personal column. He went through all my phone records and contacted everyone to ask how they knew me. Obviously I was innocent  but he kept on trying to catch me out. I was about to leave, but found out I was pregnant, the conception had not been 100% consensual. He had a serious accident while I was pregnant and I remember thinking how much easier things would be if he did not make it. So I struggled on, from one form of abuse to another, always believing that somehow I could make things better.
Two years ago I decided after another unpleasant incident that enough was enough and I called a halt to the marriage. He then did not support his children and still will not do the financial settlement so I can move on.
I have realised with the help of a supportive counsellor that the ex-husband is a narcissist and thought that behaviour acceptable. Added to this is the fact he came from a misogynistic family, where they believed there was no such thing as rape in marriage. I am lucky that my children have been supportive and know that his behaviour was wrong, to put it mildly!
I am sharing this because it is easy to get stuck and believe it is all your fault, when the reality is you are a victim. It was difficult to leave but I know I did the right thing.

TOO MANY (close whispers)

New Zealand, home, it’s a small place
My family circle smaller, my circle of friends smallest of all

Our voice tiny
I’ve whispered and heard some back
People I love; closest friends, closest family
These whispers I heard
   cherished friend, daughters best friend, sister-in-law, cousin, cherished friends daughter, stepmother, aunt, cousins baby, mother, cherished friend, brother, cousin, daughter-in-law, me, and me again

We are scattered across New Zealand; varied cultures, age groups, male and female
These are survivors I know … of
Violated not by strangers
Disordered
   family acquaintance, step uncle, couldn’t say, cousin, father, neighbour, couldn’t say, brother, stepfather, family acquaintance, brother, friends step father, family members, step uncle, grandfather

Stark reality
We are ALL someone!

This culture needs to stop

I used to think rape was something that happened way over there, to unlucky souls with no choice but to be around men who hate women. I’m in my early 30’s and have enjoyed a relatively successful, happy life to date. However, last year had what I can only describe as some type of breakdown. I was quite depressed and was having a hard time thinking straight. I’d cry at the drop of a hat and just wanted to stay in bed all day. I needed to take time off work and seek counselling.
The counselling was really difficult. I made good progress but after a few sessions it felt like we were going around in circles on why I was carrying so much guilt. But he kept digging away, and well. That’s when I remembered.
When I was 6 years old I had gone outside to my older brother’s room in our shed – he was 16 at the time. Moments earlier he had run past me sitting on the lawn, cursing and spitting at my father. They were fighting, yet again. I wanted to see if he was OK. All he wanted, it seemed, was to see if he could get me to give him a blowjob to make himself “feel better”. I’ll never forget it when he tried to get me to touch him, and explaining all the while how much better it would be if I’d just use my mouth. I wouldn’t and didn’t – and I ran from the shed knowing full well this wasn’t a story to repeat at the dinner table. I’ve never told a soul to this day, except for the counsellor of course.
During my time off I was also Skyping my younger brother living on the Gold Coast, to connect with him while I had time on my hands. I told him that I was suffering from depression and taking time off work to try and sort myself out, go to counselling, etc. He was really supportive, and almost immediately he asked if I had been raped when I was younger. I said “no”. He proceeded to explain to me that he’d had a harrowing chat with my older sister before he left NZ. He told me that she had revealed she’d been raped by this creepy old man back in our hometown, when she was just 12 years old. This man used to ride his bike around everywhere and was freaky just to look at. It broke my heart because suddenly a lot of things made sense. My sister went off the rails as soon as she hit high school, and was never the same person thereafter. She led a hardcore life, abused herself every which way you can imagine, even went to prison for a vicious assault. Her life spiralled out of control thanks to that revolting, predatory and sick man.
Thankfully she’s an amazing woman and has turned her life around 180 degrees. Her 3 kids are the best, and her husband stood beside her through the her best and her worst.
I only have one sister, but several brothers. It’s hard to believe that the two of girls have had out lives tainted by rape culture. Or is it?
Sadly these types of stories are too numerous, and too frequent. All I know is that this can’t go on. Not even for another day.

Anonymous

About twenty years ago I went to London on my OE.  A week or so after I arrived I was acquaintance raped by a man after an alcohol fuelled night out, and this resulted in a pregnancy.  A couple of friends of this person were so incensed that I had labelled the incident rape that they decide to get revenge.
They tricked me into coming to their house alone where I was bullied into drinking a herbal concoction to terminate the pregnancy.  I believe that the ingredients included pennyroyal, which is a poison.  I became extremely ill, suffered liver and kidney damage and severe mental confusion.  These creeps took this opportunity to bully me into performing sexual acts, and threatened to disclose this if I ever mentioned the rape or the pregnancy.  I eventually miscarried some weeks later.
This experience was catastrophic for me.  Among other consequences I developed PTSD.   I also spent numerous periods in hospital about a decade later when I was pregnant with my children and the damage that had been done to my uterus became problematic.
The men involved in this now all live back in NZ, as do I.  They both appear very ordinary individuals – with good jobs, wives, children and middle class lifestyles.  I know for a fact that at least one of them boasted about what he’d done for years.

Sarah

I don’t have permission to share details, but am posting this to stand for the lovely woman I know who’s been raped twice,  at different times in her life by different people, both strangers. The second time she was in a relationship with the man who is now my husband and the guilt and pain this caused him, how helpless he felt, will never leave him. This shit affects EVERYONE. I love you, my brave friend

Anonymous

I told a guy I liked a little light, rough play during sex and he punched me in the ear, face and throat three times, leaving me with horrible bruising and a swollen jaw. I had a safe word, he didn’t listen.

Bigsister

This is my story, written for my sister and my daughters.

Story 1
My sister was repeatedly raped and abused for several years in the mid 1970’s- from when she was 12 years of age. R was the 18 year old next door neighbour. During this time he also raped his 2 sisters, one of whom became pregnant and had an abortion. Our houses had large dark cellars – his playing field.

Our family didn’t know what was happening, though my sister was  loved and cared for, she was part of a strict but dysfunctional family and life was difficult anyway…but still, we couldn’t quite work out what had happened to D, she started wagging school, staying out all night at 14 years old, becoming angry and abusive.
D moved out of home when she was 15 and into a sordid flat and became involved with drugs and alcohol and a series of disastrous and abusive relationships.

D has had many suicide attempts, the latest one was last year, she almost succeeded so she is FINALLY getting proper treatment and medication that has brought part of my sister back the first time since she was 12, she is now 50! She wonders now what happened to her life, it is all a big blur to her. D lives on an invalid benefit and in a house that is falling down with her beloved dog.

 I love my sister and have stood beside her throughout – it was only when D was 28 that she finally told me what had happened to her. He had told her that she would go to jail if she told anyone what was happening and she believed him. I managed to get D to go to her GP at the time and fill in an ACC form.

D has had some councelling over the years but not at all successful due, I believe to the councellors lack of ability to deal with such a ‘wrecked woman’. Her last councellor finally was working for her, BUT to access ACC to pay for the councelling, the councellor had to document EVERYTHING D could recall about what he had done to her, how he had touched her, where it had happened!!!! What the F***….so D wasCOMPLETELY TRAUMITISED, she had flashbacks, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, she completely lost the plot, got abusive and angry and involved with the police……. D was and still is a night owl and at this time, she would walk the streets or on the beach at 3am – she would phone me and say she was near the edge of a cliff so I would come driving, searching and searching for my little sister. I would try to keep touch every day but she was random, phone lost or not charged and so I would have to drive and break into her house through a window to see if she was alive…..

One night, I swore D was dead, this tiny, bird like body,who hadn’t eaten for days, lying on the couch, blanket right over her head…..tiny little breaths.

 I  managed to get her to psych services but she would not co-operate so they said there was nothing they could do.

My sisters abuser worked his whole working life as a clerk for the courts in a small rural south island town. He has recently retired. I believe he has had a good life. I have also by chance met one of his sisters N several times over the years, she completely collaborates my sisters’ story, N has been divorced 3 times and she has had her own difficulties and has been in court. N wants her parents to die before she presses charges! My sister has tried to begin the process but she was so traumatised, she has been unable too. My little sister blames herself that he may have repeated his rape and abuse into the next generation and she calls herself gutless for not taking him to court. May he rot in hell.
My little sister is one amazing lady with a heart of gold!

Story2
Now my daughters story begins after her father walked out on his family leaving behind 3 teenage daughters. O was 16, she had done really well at school and had many friends and was a happy girl till her father walked out. O then became friends with a very mixed up young lady.  I remember distinctly that the year she turned 18 was the year the drinking age was lowered to18,  O read it in the paper and looked at me horrified and said ‘Mum, that’s not right, that’s too much responsibility for us at this age! O had a look of terror in her eyes as if she knew that now she could go to the pubs and drink – she would. And she did.

One night, O didn’t come home, I was awake all night waiting for her, I was beside myself, I was ringing all her friends, at 7 am I rang the police and filed a missing persons report and at 10am in walked O , bravado look on her face, like whats wrong, why are all these people here.

I took O aside, and she started crying and then sobbing her heart out – she had drunk too much at the pub, a man had encouraged/ pushed her into a taxi, taken her to his flat and raped her in her drunken stupor. When she woke the next morning he masturbated  all over her.

The police said it would be too hard to prosecute as she was drunk and that it happened to young women every weekend, it was normal for them to see this. We didn’t prosecute.

My daughter is another survivor, she has gone on and studied and become successful career wise but too date has not made good partner choices.

Story 3
A little 4 year old girl in a pink summery dress walks down the stairs, dragging her red and yellow plastic bike, she had a funny look on her face.
We were renting in a flat of four units. There were several children in the flats including a young teenage boy living upstairs, the children often got together and played. I was busy, but I know something wasn’t right, I spoke to H, she looked at the ground and wouldn’t tell me. I tried off and on, but she said nothing and life moved on. Years later when H was 10, we were trying to have an open discussion about safe touching, H burst into tears and shut herself in her bedroom. Eventually she told me that the boy had been touching her and doing yucky things to her. He told her she would get into big trouble if she told anyone and she would get taken away from her parents. Soooo she never told.

I AM ALMOST 60 YEARS OLD AND I AM ANGRY! IT IS TIME WOMEN IN NZ STOOD UP AND SHOUTED, IT IS TIME WOMEN WERE BELIEVED, IT IS TIME THIS PATRIARCHAL MALE DOMINATED NZ SOCIETY LOOKED AT THEMSELVES AND STARTED TO TREAT WOMEN AS HUMAN BEINGS WITH BRAINS. I AM SICK OF SEEING AND HEARING THE DAMAGE INFLICTED BY MEN AND MEN ALLOWING IT TO HAPPEN AND DOING NOTHING ABOUT IT. I AM SICK OF SEEING MEN INTERVIEWED AND LYING AND BLUFFING ON THE TV. I AM SICK OF TURNING THE PAGES OF THE MORNING PAPERS AND SEEING MEN, MEN, MEN. I SAY TO THIS YOUNG GENERATION OF WOMEN, THINGS ARE MUCH WORSE FOR YOU NOW – YOU HAVE MEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST GROUPS RUINING WOMENS LIVES, YOU HAVE MEDIA PORTRAYING YOU AS A BODY WITHOUT A BRAIN. I AM SICK OF HEARING EVERY DAY OF MEN RAPING OVER AND OVER AND STILL WE HAVE NO GOVERNMENT FUNDED CAMPAIGN TO SUPPORT WOMEN – WE EVEN HAVE A MALE DOMINATED GOVERNMENT WHO WITHDREW SUPPORT FROM RAPE CRISIS…WHAT THE F*** IS THAT ABOUT??!! WHAT IF THE WOMEN WERE THE RAPISTS, WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO THEM??

Another Someone

This movement is fantastic. Whilst it’s part of my life that I’ve closed a chapter on, I want to share – just to add my voice in support of every other person who has added theirs.

I don’t like to think of myself as a ‘survivor’ but I am. I don’t like to think I’m a survivor because to me, that kinda gives power to my abusers.

By the age of 15, I’d experienced more ugliness than is comprehensible yet, having spent years fixing myself emotionally, I am now unbreakable.

I wasn’t always though. It’s been a long journey and despite what people say to you – it’s a journey taken by yourself. I had counselling but I always left with the same feelings inside me – all that had changed was that I had told someone else my story – I was still left with the ugliness.

I think there is a common misconception that the worst point is during the event itself. I disagree. From a young age, maybe 5 or 6, I learned to project my mind into ‘tomorrow’. I would live out what lovely things I might get up to tomorrow, like walk in the woods, eat ice cream, build a lego house – anything to save my own sanity from the sheer pain and sickness of being held down on the floor whilst he laughed and fucked me. Children are so small and adults are so big. You would think that a Doctor would do something more when he suspects the child he has just examined internally has been ‘interfered’ with. Something more than ask the child in front of the child’s Dad “Has someone been touching you?”.

It wasn’t my Dad but he got the finger pointed at him all the same. It was a step-Grandfather. Nothing further happened at that stage. I was too young and too scared. I felt my Dad pull away from me, too scared to show affection in case anyone suspected him I guess. I don’t know. We don’t talk about it.

It went on for years. I dreaded going there. Once when I knew I had to stay there a whole 2 weeks, I cried and begged my parents not to leave me there whilst they went on holiday. I remember holding on to my Mother’s leg pleading with her. To no avail.

Having a violent Mother made things so much worse. Years later I still haven’t met another person who carries so much anger in themselves. We have no contact. That makes me happy.

It all stopped when I was about 11 I think. One day, he went to do it and I shouted out “No!” and ran to another room. My Grandmother had been in the other room. She followed me to that other room and found me sitting on her bed crying. The first thing that came out of her mouth was “Has someone been touching you?”…………….perhaps it was her day to make a stand too as she clearly knew what had been happening to me. Years later I would force a confession from her when she was on her death bed dying of cancer. I did force her to tell me even though she only had a couple of days of life left in and I’m glad I did it. It is the one time I feel really good about doing something so horrible.

Other than that sustained abuse at his hands, I have a couple of other stories to tell you. A child minder who I went to as a kid had an older son. He would take me to his room and try to get me to ‘join up’ with him. He was 12, I was about 8 I think. I remember several afternoons of him trying to get my clothes off. I wrestled his hands each time whilst saying no. I can’t remember his name now but I wonder if he ever thinks back to that time – I wonder if he laughs and thinks “it’s all part of growing up.” which is what I’ve heard so often from people about those ‘Doctors and Nurses’ games.

Another time was when I was lying on the sofa with my maternal Grandfather. I loved him more than anything and despite the other horror, I trusted him implicitly. One time, his wife had gone to bed early and we were watching TV. I must’ve fallen asleep because I woke to feel his hands down my pyjama bottoms and his fingers touching me. I jumped up in dismay and I said whilst crying “no, not again. Not you.”. This event almost made me hate men for life. I couldn’t believe it was happening and by someone I loved and trusted especially when he knew about my other abuse (it had come out a few years earlier and there was a court case etc). His excuse was that he had fallen asleep and thought I was his wife. Really?! REALLY??? Tell me – is this likely?

I coped in various ways. The first coping mechanism was I bullied another girl. I did it for 2 weeks. I did it to pass the pain on so I didn’t have to feel it. It made me feel worse though – I hated myself for doing it. I fessed up to the teacher. I was 8 years old. Next I turned the table and bullied myself. I would take the screw out of the pencil sharper to release the blade and then sit in teh bath and cut myself on my arms. Every cut felt grand but then I had to hide it all the time. I was 10 years old. In the end the only way to cope was to run hard and listen to music. Run wild and free. I would take myself off into the woods or across fields and just be alone – where I felt safe. It is something that has followed me into adulthood – I feel safe and happy when I’m alone.

Today I am an awesome person. Not in a vain sort of way but in a way that I got my shit together and I’m sorted. I have friends, a good job, a nice house and I’m living my dream.

Don’t let them take your future – it’s yours to write, just pick up the pen.

Anonymous

Like many women on this site I also have a story of sexual abuse – probably in a slightly abstract way. I got married in March 2009, to the man I though I’d spend the rest of my life with. He was a rugby player, who had already become a successful business man by the time we met. He was sociable, smart, charming, generous and funny. He got along with everyone and made me, and everyone else, feel comfortable and happy.

Soon after we got married, we moved to a big city in Asia. One year into our time there he took on a new job. A highflyer career job with global responsibility. He had always travelled a lot, but for his new company he was travelling 24/7.Often I would see him for less than 5 days in a month. When he’d come home, he was distracted, didnt’t talk much and instead of being caring and gentle, he just fucked me without any emotions. He started staying up at night until 2 or 3am sometimes, doing ‘I don’t know what’ on his PC (now I know). He would lie in bed next to me, responding to text messages that came from some distant countries that he had just been to. He would not understand that I didn’t like sharing our bed with his mobile phone and text messages from strangers. One night he went out with his clients and I got worried sick when he still wasn’t home by 5am. I even called police to check if anything had happened to him. He ended up coming home at 6am in the morning, claiming that he had gotten drugged and had fallen asleep somewhere in a bar. While I didn’t like at all that he had lost control in this way, I chose to believe him.

His behaviour continued though and I started finding out about what he was up to. He had set up profiles on online sex dating websites. When he’d go on business trips, he’d meet up with women who he had lined up through these sites and ‘fuck them’ too. He had women all over the world, and even documented his sexcapades with the camera on his mobile phone or exchanged explicit photos with women by email. All of which I found out about because he had given me his passwords a year before and not changed them. One day I signed up with a fake profile on one of ‘his’ sex site and arranged a blind date with him – with my own husband. When he saw me sitting in the restaurant where we had agreed to meet, he laughed things off and tried to make me feel like I was the one who was wrong and overly sensitive. His arrogance and self rightousness made me disbelieve my own instincts. And that nearly broke me. After a while I realised that what he did was wrong, and I decided to follow my instincts. I ended up handing him my wedding band, because it felt like a big lie that was weighing me down. 

He agreed to undergo a therapy and was soon diagnosed with sex addiction. For nearly a year I tried to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But he did not follow through with his therapy and consequently didn’t change a bit. He continued to act out on his addiction, despite the adverse effects. After a year, I broke free. I had a melt down, hit and kicked him, broke the door to our bedroom in a fit of disbelief and helplessness. That was my sign. I had crossed a line and I wasn’t myself anymore. I filed for divorce and worked very hard to get through this very painful time. For over half a year I took monthly blood tests, just to be absolutely sure that I hadn’t caught HIV or some other STD from him. I am clean. Some wonderful friends and my family helped me get through this devastating time. 

His rugby community has accepted his behaviour as ‘absolutely normal’ and is ignoring me now. I couldn’t care less. But it shows that many people in society still try to find ways to excuse behaviour of sexual abuse. Even his own parents are still ignoring the fact that his son is leaving a path of destruction wherever he goes. At least they don’t speak up against it. They sweep it under the carpet and hope that his abuse goes away if they don’t talk about it. But, and that’s an important thing I have learned: it’s not my job to open their eyes. If they choose to accept their son’s behaviour, then they are condoning it and at the same time contributing to the abusive behaviour of men in society. It is sad to know, but I am not going to attempt to change their view. I simply accept that their behaviour is outside my control.

Anonymous

Better late than never – here’s my stories…. When I was 16 I had a boyfriend who I “loved”, a lot, I thought he was my world. He would hold me down and rape me. I stayed with him, I would cry and he would apologize. I thought it was ok because we had had consensual sex in the past. I didn’t realize at the time it was rape. I realize it now.

When I was 17 I had a booker at my modeling agency, he had a thing for me but I told him time and time again I had a boyfriend (a different one). One night he kept giving me drinks until I was far beyond my limit, he told my friends he would take me back to the model apartment, as I was drunk. I woke up with him having intercourse with me. I left the country a few days later not giving the agency a reason why.It took me six years to trust a man again.

When I was 18 I had a man put his hand up my skirt and into my underpants at a busy intersection while I was waiting to cross the road with my girlfriend and a friend. He was so fast by the time I spun around I had no idea who it could have been in the crush of bodies waiting to cross. I was horrified and mortified. My friend laughed it off. I defiantly did not laugh it off. I felt humiliated and dirty.

Many years later when I was working for an airline I had a gay male colleague pinch my nipple with a towel tong (the tongs used to hand out the hot towels) He thought it was ok because he was gay. It wasn’t ok. Working for the same job I had a male passenger grab my bottom during boarding. When I reported it to the purser he told me this is ok and not to offload the passenger as he might disagree with what I had said and it might be a big problem. I had witnesses! I told him off myself and got into trouble for it. Same airline I looked out of the galley while having lunch with a colleague to see a man masturbating while watching us eat lunch. Nothing was done!

Compared to others these stories are pretty tame. But it doesn’t make them any less real or damaging. It took me six years to trust a man enough to be intimate. I’m still very careful about how I dress and how I act as to not give men the wrong idea. Although I don’t agree with how Muslims cover their women up, I understand it. They are protecting them from other men, keeping them protected, hidden away. As women we shouldn’t need protecting or hiding away, we should be free to dress how we want, to wear what we want and to drink alcohol, have fun, socialize. These things shouldn’t be risks.

Jen B

 I have thought pretty long and  hard about posting to this site because I don’t want to be seen as a victim or even worse as weak for not doing anything about it when it happened.  For not going to the police.  For not telling my parents.  For not doing what any good girl would do if this happened to them.

And not that it matters but I was a good girl.  I was a nerd, I was shy and quiet, liked science and hated sports.  Basically I wasn’t the sort of girl that boys flocked after or that got invited to parties.  So when I was away with a friend and an older boy that I thought was pretty cute started talking to me I was pretty happy.  I had only ever kissed one boy (once) before and like many teenage girls had that lingering feeling something was wrong with me.  I liked the attention.  But that doesn’t mean I wanted to have sex with him.  And when I told him no, the fact that I had flirted with him doesn’t mean it was ok for him to hold me down by my neck so I could barely breathe and force himself upon me.  It wasn’t OK for him to leave me with bruises around my neck I had to cover with scarves for almost two weeks and on my inner thighs that stopped me from going swimming for about as long. But worse than the physical, it wasn’t ok for him to teach me that men do not respect women or their wishes or that what I want or how I feel does not matter.

Rape isn’t just just a random guy grabbing someone off the street and in fact usually it isn’t. Usually it is someone the woman knows, often very well.

Part of me thinks I should have screamed, I should have fought more. I should have done a lot of things. But really I honestly don’t believe he would have been convicted and it would have been my life that was ruined more than it already was. It may have been a small thing to him, just a drunken Saturdaynight when he scored with some random girl.  But for me it affected my identity, my self worth and my ability to trust.  I started self harming and developed an eating disorder.  So no, if a girl does not complain it does not mean that she was not hurt.  From my own exprience, it means that she was ashamed.  Ashamed of what she “let” happen and worse still that she did not do more to stop that sick bastard from doing it to someone else.

Lal

I feel ashamed to talk about it. Like it was my fault somehow. I don’t tell my family – even now after so many years passed. I don’t want my parents to feel the guilt of not protecting me. And god only knows the guilt I would feel as a parent if I failed to protect any daughter or son I am blessed to have. Now I’m an adult, nearly married I feel ashamed even speaking to my future husband who says to me, share your story if you want, you have my blessing whatever you want to do. I feel ashamed to have grown up in a culture so different to his, where sex as a teenager is the norm, being pressured into things you don’t want to do is ok and date rape isn’t spoken of.
I feel embarrased I didn’t say “no” loud enough, I didn’t fight back hard enough, I didn’t leave. I hid the bruises. I feel dissapointed the only way I knew to fight back was tears.  I feel ashamed I didn’t know I was *allowed* to complain, I was *allowed* to draw the line about what I wanted, I was *allowed* to say no even if a different time, gosh, even the same time I had previously said yes.
Even now I make excuses for them, the men that haunt me. Even now I blame the lack of education they had about how to treat women. Im thankful I have a partner who is kind and gentle. Im thankful I had partners who would hold me and let me push them away, who understood sometimes memories would envelop me and make me afraid when there was nothing to be afraid of. Who taught me to say no, who understood my silence. I am thankful for the theripist who let me tell the same story over and over even when she knew it wasn’t the story I really wanted to get out.

Im thankful for karma.

But I worry about my daughter or son, I worry about raising them to understand, but not be afraid.
My future husband says any daughter of mine will learn martial arts. As someone who has practised martial arts my entire life I appreciate the skill and discipline involved, but also know it won’t always protect him or her, and feel sad as people who want to raise children, that this is a thought we have before they are even conceived. Sometimes I feel angry at my mother for not warning me, for not telling me rape can be the people we love, people we trust. I expect she doesn’t know, and for that I’m thankful. I feel sad for the friends who have experienced similar things, worse things, other things.
This is rape culture NZ. It’s hidden. It’s close. It’s protected.

Anonymous

 It makes me feel sick reading through all these. The last few weeks have been hard for me. I cannot avoid the fact that something i have been silent about for 28 years is all over the news, is happening to so many of us and that you are all brave enough to write here when i don’t know if i am yet even though i am forcing myself to type this because I want to be brave too even though it is making me shake and cry. I wanted to be brave enough to walk down queen street today holding a sign that ends my silence but i couldn’t do it. Even writing this feels too hard and it would be easier to stop, as someone else said it is easier to live in denial and have past trauma locked up tightly in a box in your head. But here you all are and i can’t believe there are so many of me. My heart hurts for you, for us. I have 2 daughters and my heart hurts thinking of the world they are growing up in but this unlocking of silence is the only way to stop this evil. So i will add my voice to this long sad list. I was raped at 16, in the house i grew up in, by my boyfriend of 21. I was so naive. Looking back now, unbearably and painfully naive, so unprepared for a world full of men. I didn’t name this as rape for years. I laid on my bed with him, my parents were out, my little brother downstairs. I was a virgin. I didn’t want sex but after we kissed, thats all he wanted. I said no many times, i said he was hurting me many times. I didnt want to make a noise and have my 7 year old brother come upstairs. I gave up, i sort of went blank. I remember biting my hand so hard it bled, i dont know why. Just to make another pain that i could understand better to distract from the pain that i couldnt. The room had just been plastered and to this day that smell makes me ill and triggers terrible feelings. Afterwards he left. Without anyone speaking i knew he was not my boyfriend anymore. The days and months  that followed were messy. He gave me a sexually transmitted disease. I thought i was pregnant when the usual period did not arrive. I wasnt. I had been a ‘good girl’. Quiet, good student. Overnight that changed. I drank a lot for a long time. I behaved recklessly, travelling alone, hitchhiking. I cried and cried and cried and cried and cried. I could not sleep. Yet it took years to call it rape. I told my mother about 3 years afterwards. I was suicidal by then but she didn’t know that. Almost the first thing she said was, we mustn’t tell your dad. I felt more shame after that. I knew i held a secret that would cause pain to people i loved. I could see this caused pain to my mother, and i wish to this day i had never told her. Afterwards she never spoke of it again and i could not. And most of all what still haunts me is that i feel guilty that i felt so bad for so long about something that i always felt was not ‘real’ rape. He was my boyfriend (of 2 weeks). I laid down with him, of course it was my fault for being so naive, and young and foolish.

Ten years it took to be able to want to live again. I’ll never forget those years of suicidal thoughts and black depressions and all that helpless anger directed at only myself. What a waste! It took the love of a good good man to save me. He never gave up on me and we have been together almost 24 years. He brought me all the way here, 12,000 miles away from the place i was raped and he has looked after me ever since. In fact i have been so well looked after i had pretty much felt that i was done with all of this. even though november 10th is the anniversary of the day i was raped, i now feel happy when that date just slips past instead of the years i spent dreading the memories. But not this year, this year it is everywhere and there’s no escaping this for people like me. It’s hard to have it all dragged up, but i am glad that we are all speaking out. I have felt so alone with my painful shameful secret. But i don’t know what is worse, to be alone with this, or to find i am one of thousands. That my eldest daughter is almost as old as the young victims of the roastbusters puts my radar on high alert, we can’t let this keep on, we must all find our voices even when it’s so painful because this rape culture only thrives on silence. Today i listened to Brave by Sarah Bareilas. It helped me find the courage to write this and for someone who has taken days to begin, i seem to not be able to stop.

Tamsin

 Iamsomeone who, in 2010, was raped in Tauranga.
Iamsomeone who was told that this was why the Jury would be difficult to convince. Because they were a Tauranga Jury.
That this is why GBH charges relating to him punching me repeatedly in the head before strangling me unconcious  were not presented to the jury.
Iamsomeone who had the integrity of the trial, my chance for justice, diminished by the assumptions and attitudes of those who were suppose to help me.
Its like they helped him instead.
He was found not guilty of rape, yet as no charges stood in regards to the strangulation and punching of my head, he admitted that he had done these things to me.
And he walked free. Is among us.
Iamsomeone who did not appreciate being told by police that “he will do it again and we will get him convicted next time”
Iamsomeone who hopes that “next time” doesnt happen to you, your daughter,….. or one of my daughters.

Anonymous

 I was raped by a family friend at our new years party. I went to the police and gave my statement on video to be used in court. When the police interviewed him he denied it. They said it was his word against mine.

Janny

 I clicked the submit before I’d finished.  Incapacitated from my job I went to university as an older student part time.  In 2007 I met another older  student on campus.  I’d had several platonic friends with other mature aged students on campus so no reason to mistrust this particular middle aged nz reg teacher.

He had his undergrad BA in sociology and psychology from his home uni in Mumbai, as well as having trained and qualified in nz as a teacher.  He had a girl friend he said but seemed clingy and dependent.  He made me feel uncomfortable and I was having grief counselling at  uni so couldn’t deal with his inappropriate attentions.  I mistakenly gave my cell ph number to be rid and was grateful when a male relative on campus approached.  To escape I quickly volunteered to take my cousin to our aunts house to get away from this mans focused attentions.

He was younger, had a girlfriend he’d said and so I didn’t realise his true intentions so when texted agreed to having a coffee with him publicly in the campus graduate cafe as i had done with other male classmates.  He was late so I carried on working on my laptop and had a coffee.  But after a while when I’d already bought my own drink he arrived with excuses.  He could’ve texted but didn’t so I was suspicious his delay was calculated and deliberate but he said he was held up with his tutor giving feedback on his essays.   So he apologised and claimed to be “a gentleman” but he made me uncomfortable so I distanced myself.

However the text messages kept coming.  He pestered me persistently and promised he was a gentleman and I couldn’t avoid his texts or bumping in to him on campus so tolerated and agreed to meet him publicly.  That was another mistake.

He persuaded me to drive him up to the domain from campus at night.  I was embarrassed by his public attentions in front of other students and uni club members so obliged but parked up by the museum within the safety of security guards presence and  full lights.

I had recently been housebound and disabled with exacerbation of my disability and painful  illness.  My dad then sister had just died that same year so I was lonely and numbed by grief and he knew I was vulnerable.  My radars were relaxed by pain treatments that left me feeling so good, almost euphoric and increasingly mobile physically for the first time in more than a decade.  Besides he was a New Zealand trained teacher with undergrad quals in psychology so I expected the right to be able to trust him.

He persuaded me to drive away from the safety of the well lit monument to the trees as he needed the toilets.  There wasn’t any lighting under the trees, no passers by.  Next he began groping me and I was stunned as he pulled his little penis out and began masturbating until he ejaculated over my car cloth upholstery.   When he’d finished he told me we are not soul mates and I was still Stunned and ashamed of what he’d done so foolishly dropped him at his hostel and retreated to my home to regroup.  Yet the sleazier and sleazier texts kept coming so I told him to leave me alone. He refused so I begged him to allow me to grieve and to continue crying for my sister.  His reply was “I am aroused”.  So I turned the ph off, hoping my poor grieving old mum hadn’t tried to ring.

 Next morning more texts awaited when I turned on the phone but I ignored him.  He wouldn’t stop, including texting he was “impotent”.  So when I met him at uni I told  him to leave me be but he conned me with apologies and a sob story saying he was still a gentleman.  Nevertheless  the groping and exposing himself resumed not long after and he’d kept pestering me to take him to my flat because he lived in a hostel.  However  I didn’t trust him to come into the sanctity of my home alone.  And  so I again ignored his texts.  I stopped attending classes. After a week he text to beg me to be his friend, that he’d be my “platonic friend”.  It was another lie and he never stopped pestering me.

He kept quizzing me if i was a lesbian and then interrogating me about my relationship with my cousin and accusing me of having sexual relations with that cousin at uni. He said he hates women with cats because he can’t get any loving from girls who loved their cars.

 Whenever we met I felt awkward and embarrassed so would take him away in my car so the other students wouldn’t see because I felt embarrassed.  His hands kept groping and he indecently assaulted me.  He pinned me down then pulled out my breasts and sucked them.  It was ticklish but he insisted it was a “breast orgasm”.  Such an egotist.  He’d penetrated me but his prized dick was so small I couldn’t feel it.

I again went away up north to get physical distance but the texts kept coming.  My cousin died and while grief stricken he text his sob stories about his family and girlfriends rejection.  He played the victim role and persuaded me to meet him at the bus stop in Kerikeri.  I thought he’d behave as I was heading up to the safety of a hostel overnight then a Marae full of people.  At the hostel  the units were empty and he tried to come into my shower.  I went straight to sleep but awoke to find he’d been and undone my lavalava while I slept.  Then he came in and penetrated me and only got off me when I became upset and angry.

At the Marae stay in the safety of lots of people I was safe.  But on the way back to the city I stopped at the little town where my cousin lived.  He invited us to stay the night with he and his wife.  I accepted for the safety of company and we got separate beds.  One of the other guests was a lesbian and he told me I’d love her to “play with your pussy”.  I felt sickened by him.  He was after all a teacher and all the time he was harassing me he said he was dating an older woman so I was assured he would leave me be.

At one stage he’d  let slip he only told women he was impotent in order to get them to relax, fell sorry for him and to get a chance to have sex.

So when he got in a huff I offered to drop him at the bus stop to return him to the city but there was no bus after all.   It turned out to be another ruse to get me alone because he’d said my cousin told him the bus timetable  but when I headed back to my cousins he asked to be dropped in the town.  Later I realised it was  because he’d lied about them saying there was a bus.

Yet while we waited for the bus (that never came) another cousin rang to tell me another relative died and I knew I couldn’t leave him to prey on my relatives in the small town as he’d already got “aroused” by my female cousin.  So I went back north to that funeral with Sleazo in tow.  I knew I was safe with lots of people but didn’t stay as I wanted to get rid of slimy so he manipulated me to drop him at a local seaside backpackers.

The next day the text bombing came again so I picked him up to return to the city.  He admitted to having a job interview with his cousins employer in Hamilton so since  he’d not given a cent towards transport, I agreed to take him if he’d give gas money.  He got the job and next week I eagerly delivered him to hamilton in exchange for gas money and to be rid.

After that I could ignore  his phone calls and texts knowing he had no car and couldn’t drive but one day he turned up at university on the shuttle bus, texting to meet.  He kept texting but I avoided him, thankfully stuck in motorway traffic, until he texted to say he was on the return bus to hamilton. But that wasn’t the end of it.  He’d got Internet girlfriends so I hoped he’d leave me alone but emails kept coming.  I ignored him and finally he stopped.  Months later the texts and emails resumed, begging me to be his friend again, saying he’d return to auckland if I wanted him to (no thanks).  Then he started ringing again.  I answered eventually and he’d wanted me to drive him to Wellington where he’d enrolled in a post grad counsellor degree.  He’d wanted to go to America to become a famous author so needed to work as a therapist.  I refused to be his taxi so he left me be.

But after a few weeks of his ignored emails in which he begged me to be his friend again, I took the chance to tell him what he’d done to me, the sexual harassments, sleazy behaviours, dishonesty and unwanted touching, indecent assaults, sexual abuse and more, was wrong.  He was so manipulative he said not to text or email him again.  I called his bluff. A few months later his emails came again.  I ignored them.

Instead I reported him to immigration because he was only here for nz citizenship.  Without a police conviction immigration would do nothing.  Nor would the ministers in parliament or the teachers council.   So the slime got citizenship and moved to Australia.

I applied to ACC for funding for counselling but their assessing psychologist defended the teacher saying no professional was  obliged to behave himself after hours.  I told her straight, that the teacher council website says otherwise and then she wrote in her report that I’d attacked her!  I complained about her behaviours and attitude but she again lied and ACC exonerated  their toady.  So much for the ACC INsensitive Claims Unit.  They add insult to injury so I’m still suffering an increased sense of betrayal because of ACCs abusiveness.

I shall never know who I truly am

I am someone who was gang raped as a child in the early 1960s, but almost no one knows – it was never reported to the police. It is not a statistic, but I have lived with this and it’s effects ever since.

The boys involved were locals who knew me – they were only in their early teens.

In relation to the uninformed comments with regard to the current appalling Roast Busters case, I stress that there was no alcohol involved and that I was an innocent, chubby child wearing home made clothes. So I know that alcohol is not the cause of my gang rape and neither was my clothing or behaviour. These are red herrings. The real problem here is something else altogether, something much darker.

My main recollection is the excruciating agony, the unbearable burning pain that went on and on. Being watched while it happened that made it so much worse as did noticing the boys’ excitement as they tortured me.

I had thought that nothing could have made it all worse, but now I am grateful that they were not able to take photos or videos of what they did to me. I don’t know how I could have coped with that as well and my thoughts are with any victims who have had to live with this additional humiliation. Be strong!

At the time I did not know what the boys had done to me, I did not know there was a word for it, I thought it was something most terrible and unusual that had never happened to anyone on earth before. I had no idea it was a distorted version of what ought to be a loving connection between two adults who love each other. I had no idea it was illegal and that I could report it.

Afterwards, the boys made me promise not to tell and I did not dare to, but they did. They bragged about it at school.  The other children looked sideways at me and I was ostracised. I heard that some of the parents also knew, but said that what I had done with the boys was disgusting. I was terribly ashamed when I heard that, but no adult every spoke to me about it.

I coped, I just got through each day. I focussed on my school work and did well at that, and got a university education. I had a successful career, and I married and had children. I thought I could just forget what happened and move on, so I did not tell anyone, including my husband. But my marriage broke down because I developed a great fear of physical intimacy with him.

Finally, about 30 years after the gang rape, I did seek help and get a lot of good counselling over a period of years, and I started the long journey of healing. I am still on that journey. It is a lonely journey, as I still do not feel that I can tell most of my friends without then looking at me differently afterwards. Also, gynaecological issues possibly caused by the rape mean that I am not really able to have a sexual partner in the full sense of that word now that I am older, despite surgery.

I would like to say that my gang rape was not about sex – it was about taking away a girl’s strength from her, and giving power to the boys – and also it was a male bonding experience for the boys involved. It was about humiliating and controlling a female for male gratification. It was about not thinking of me as a human being as it was being done. I felt less than human as it was being done to me.

I shall never know who I would have been, as a sexual adult woman. Or even just as an adult. Would I have been this fearful, this anxious, as prone to depression? I shall never know.

I shall never know who I truly am, this is what was taken from me.

The enormity of that realisation makes me weep still.

————————————————————————————————-
Postscript on pornography:
Although my gang rape occurred before the internet, and it is most unlikely that pornography was available to the boys involved,  I am sure that the wide availability of pornography now and the violence and misogyny in it have affected many men and this is of great concern. One of the effects of my gang rape is that I am always hyper-alert when I am out, so I notice who is around and if they are looking at me or not. And I notice that when I attract the attention of a man as I walk down the street now, he often has a different look on his face from what used to be the case – previously it was a male looking at a female, whom he saw as a human being like himself. If I noticed I was being watched, say, and looked straight at the man, he would usually look away a little sheepishly. But now there is often a disengaged or spaced out look on the man’s face, a narrowing of the eyes, and an unblinking stare as if I was on a screen – so that even when I look at the man, he will continue to stare, completely absorbed in what appears to be a sexual fantasy. He clearly does not see me, or other women, as humans he is interacting with, but rather just objects like the ones he sees on his computer screen. I find this very frightening – I am learning to dress so that my body shape is hidden as much as possible, so that I do not attract this attention.

The fight against rape will never be won until internet pornography is strictly controlled, and what is shown is based on loving touch, and what women truly do like, not on violence and control of women by men.

Anonymous

 I am a man.
I have experienced abuse physical,emotional and sexual at various points of my life by various partners,family, carers.

My first recollection was at daycare when I was 3.
I had a toy that I loved. A little space man that my dad bought me.
I was playing with it, another boy stole it. I stood up for my self and got it back.
I was taken to a “time out room” tied to the bed by my shoe laces -screaming for my mum. I was drugged and abused sexually.
This carried on for a while . I was “singled out for special lessons/punishment” any time I did well or was slightly naughty .
My mum freaked out when I used to hide in the car, begging her not to make me go.
She asked me why. I told her. I never went to that daycare again.

My dad used to drink. Alot. He would berrate my mum. Telling her how disgusting she was, and that every thing was her fault.

I had to watch. All of 8.. Late at night.  I had thought my dad was the tallest strongest man. I loved him . But then I started hating him.

I was petrified of a vampire. He used to come into my room .
He used to want to suck me.

It was my dad.

He later would get very angry -the day after and yell at me and tell me I was “nothing”and a “little shit” he used to hit me and throw me around my room.

This broke my heart.

We moved. Away from my small town and all my friends.
My dad drank more and more . He would berrate my mum (later on in my mid twenties, my mum told me he would also rape her) .

I was 12 going thru puberty and very lonely with no friends .
He would drag me literally , out of bed ,slapping me and pushing me to the ground . And then abusive me verbally for at least 3 hours everyday before school.

I grew up . Got big and started to push back.
I started doing drugs. Loads-anything and everything to escape. I nearly died due to drugs at 16 . I got into crime .
I was broken.

 More Crime, gangs, violence followed.

I was one of the most feared people in my town at 17. Even by some of the older guys.

My life was in ruins.

I saw a friend get killed in front of me.
I did acid and speed for 3 weeks ,constantly to get over it.

I still havent.

I fell in love she was my world.
I finally had peace. I left the path to oblivion I was on.
things were good.

We got really drunk one night.
I went to sleep.
I woke up to her going down on me.

The icey chill of paralisis took over.
All I could see was the faces of the people in my daycare.
I hated it.
I felt sick and confused.
she got angry cause I wasnt erect.
telling me all sorts of nasty things.

I didnt say anything for a few days.

When I finally did she ignored me.

She would then later use it against me in arguments.
 She would also try to coerce me into letting her place her fingers in my anus. And at times would force them in or try too.
she would somtimes be verbally abusive whilst we were having sex. And hold my head and upper body down and tell me how I was “fucked in the head ,and would never get any one better than her”

After a year and a half ,and me walking in to our flat whilst she was having sex with another guy.

We broke up.
I was destroyed. I loved her.

I cried for a week.

She came to my parents house one day not long after. I was glad to see her.

She sat down .and started telling me that I looked ugly. And should cut my hair.
I didnt want to. She started to be very insistent. Telling me if I did we would get back together.
I didnt want to cut my hair.

She started to touch her self and tell me I would never be with her again . Unless I cut my hair.

so I did.

She left town the very next day.

I had a breakdown. I didnt sleep for 3 weeks.
I tried to kill my self .

All this happened by my 18th bday.

I was in a million bits.
I couldnt talk to anyone. Men dont. So I drank and did drugs. Until my early 30s . All the while saying nothing.

Thankfully .  I decided to say somthing when I did.

Since I did. Im free!

I am a survivor!
#Iamsomeone!

Julia

 I was afraid to to start reading, but I felt compelled to. I feel I owe it to these women and men who have lived through this horror. And I know I need to face it, face the reality, and face what happened to me.
I live in fear every day that it might happen again. That someone I trust will turn out to be someone I can’t. That ‘friends’ will judge and turn their backs if I tell them my stories.
I am angry. So angry I can barely breathe sometimes, particularly when I hear of anything to do with rape. I truly fear that one day I will snap and take out a lifetime of supressed rage on someone who may not deserve it.
My mother was raped several times by a family friend when she was 12. She sat by my bed one night and told me, I think as a warning, and so that if anything ever happened to me I would tell her. She told her mother, and her mother did nothing, because if her father found out he’d kill the guy, and then my grandfather would lose his job…So he got away, scot-free, again and again…It has shaped my mother’s life, and mine. I fear men. I have grown an extremely tough exterior and learned martial arts specifically so I can fight back. I have fantasies of beating the ever-loving crap out of men who deserve it.
I started martial arts after …..God, I can’t even write it. I still, 10 years on, don’t want to admit what it was. I was drunk. Went with a friend back to a guys apartment because she was into him. Raoul. That was his name. His friend came too, Willy. I spit on you both. Anyway, she and Raoul went into his room. I sat with Willy, had another glass of wine. I asked if there was somewhere I could crash. The spare room. A bean bag. I thanked him, said goodnight, but he wouldn’t leave. Things are hazy. I remember coming to, as he tore at my hair. I managed to push him away and say I just wanted to sleep. I remember him saying ‘But I haven’t come yet’. I remember my friend coming in and I think I asked if we could leave, and I managed to get up.  Then Raoul came in, and he pushed me to the floor before I knew what was happening, and Willy had grabbed my friend. She managed to get up and run, and while they were distracted I managed to as well.
I’m sorry this is so graphic.
The only time she and I talked about it, the next day, in shocked whispers, she said ‘I just had to go because it was too much like rape’. It has taken me a very long time to admit that that is exactly what it was. Even when I went to get an STD check and sobbed out my story to the nurse, who handed me a pamphlet about sexual assault, I couldn’t admit it. Even now the full realisation shocks me. It’s like if I don’t name it, it didn’t happen. I feel responsible somehow, that it was my fault, and that I can’t call it rape, even though I didn’t want it, and said so. A ‘friend’, who didn’t know the whole story but just knows I was raped, asked if I was somehow ‘complicit’. I walked away from him, until he realised the idiocy of what he said and apologised…..but even the fact he said it makes my blood boil…
I never went to the cops because there would have been no point. They would undoubtedly confirm my own fears and say it was my own stupid fault. And we didn’t even know their last names.
I saw Willy once in passing. I ran. I hid in a public toilet because I thought I would vomit and I couldn’t stop shaking. I stayed in there and cried for an hour.
I wonder how they see it, if they ever gave it another thought. A ‘bit of fun’ that didn’t quite go as planned. If they would be shocked to know that they are rapists.
I told this story to a previous boyfriend. At the time he was outraged and more-or-less sympathetic. Turned out he was a violent, narcissistic, psychopath. In a jealous rage he once told me to ‘fuck off back to those two guys who raped you’. Then he hit me. But by then I was well-trained, and I hit him back until he was on the ground. But the first thought as his fist connected with my mouth was ‘Oh my God, he’s going to kill me’.
In the turmoil that was that relationship, we stayed together, on and off. His manipulation got worse and worse, and I fell further and further into the web. On at least three occasions, I refused sex, and he manipulated me, guilted me, went on and on, until I cried, and then he took sex anyway. And to top it off, after he had got what he wanted, while I lay there and sobbed, he gave me an earful for crying and ‘making him feel like a rapist’.
I am so full of hate, and I hate that. When I was 15, I was taking a night bus to Auckland, and it was full. I fell asleep, and woke up when the guy next to me’s hand was in my crotch. At the time, I simply yelled ‘What the fuck?!” and managed to squeeze into another seat. I know now that I would slam that fucker’s head into the window, stop the bus, and get him kicked the fuck off. This is an example of how my hate and anger has grown with the years, and with experience.
I don’t want to fear men. I don’t want to be angry and hateful. But I don’t know how not to be any more.

Janine

 It’s so fantastic that NZ is having a louder conversation about our country’s rape culture.  I’m sure – like me – there are thousands of people who are thinking and feeling about their abuse experiences more than ever as a result of this conversation.  I wish we could all rock up to the authorities this week and officially make complaints about our abusers.  Now that would be a shock for the whole world – there wouldn’t be enough Police to even take down our stories.  It would be such a shocker that future abusers might stop and think.  But this rape culture holds so many of us silent.
I was digitally raped when I was nine.  I was staying at my best friend’s house and her older teen brother came into the room in the middle of the night to molest me.  I pretended to be asleep – rolling my body away and muttering “no”, “stop”.  Over the next few hours three of her older brothers took turns coming in.  Over and over.   I’m sure my friend knew as I got louder in my protestations.  Finally, in a break, I woke her and said I wanted to go home; that I’d had a nightmare.  She was petrified.  I woke her parents and said “I’ve had a nightmare”.  I called my parents who both came over at 3am to collect me.   I never breathed a word.  “it was a scary witch”, “I know I’m silly”, “I’m sorry I woke you”.  Thank god they came.  I spent the next few months waiting to see if I was pregnant.  Nine.  Ugh.
The other stories of strangers interacting with me out in the community are too numerous to count – men flashing me pre-teen, being chased by a man with a knife, hassled by groups of men,  groped and verbally assaulted,  lewd comments – what is wrong with our communities?!  I’m so lucky I had a loving, safe home life .. unlike so many of the incredible people sharing their stories on this site.
In my early 20s I was overseas and talking with a woman who was from Dunedin too.  She disclosed to me that her and her sisters were constantly sexually molested over a very long period of time by her teen male babysitter.  It haunts her and her sisters (and they have never spoken of it).  Turns out it was one of the brothers that abused me  – he went on to abuse them.  I am so upset that I didn’t tell someone at the time of my abuse; then my friend and her sisters wouldn’t have been hurt.  So tempted to do something about it now though, 30 years later ….. Our voices are growing abusers – be afraid.

 

Anonymous

The man I thought was my father sexually assaulted me numerous times up until I was 11. One of my earliest memories (before I was at school) is thinking “Oh no, not again” when he came for me.

The happiest day of my childhood was when my mother finally left him (she had no idea what was going on) and I learned that he was not related to me.

Anonymous

 I was out with friends from Uni, we went to a bar and meet a larger group of guys who we also knew from Uni. I was intoxicated, yes, it was my friends birthday, but I was well aware of my actions and what was happening.
In the group there was a guy I knew, he was the ex-boyfriend of one of my friends, He’s attractive and strong. He and I started talking and things quickly progressed and we kissed. He asked if I wanted to leave the bar and I said Yes knowing exactly what that meant.
We went back to his house where, at first everything was lovely… he was attentive and gentle. We had sex and afterwards he put on Jazz music… I made a comment and asked him if he always listened to Jazz after sex his reply was short, he rolled over to me and started kissing me roughly…At first I wasn’t sure what was happening I didn’t think I had anything to worry about… I KNEW this guy. But he got rough, really rough I told him to stop but he kept going I lay there and wondered how long he would last.. he later forced me to have anal sex with him, which I had never done before and will never do again due to this horrid experience. Afterwards I didn’t know what to think I lay and tried to sleep but I felt sick to my stomach.
I have never said out loud that it was rape… the situation was made difficult after he told some of my closest friends that we had slept together. The idea of them thinking he scored because he got laid and giving him kudos makes me feel shamed and worthless.
I knew him, I knew that I was giving consent for casual sex, he betrayed my trust, he made me feel used and worthless, he physically hurt my body. I said NO and he did not listen.

Anonymous

He touched, abused, fondled, made me perform oral sex, and performed oral sex on me when I was two years old. Two. I was a baby, helpless, unable to look after myself, and his actions and words and the guilt he placed on me made me feel worthless and dirty and broken for the rest of my life. I didn’t tell anyone out of shame, because he said I was a “dirty girl” and “deserved it”. The first person I told, when I was thirteen years old, accused me of making it all up. The second person told me that it was just because I had been such a beautiful child – too beautiful for that man to withhold from touching. It was okay, because I was too beautiful. He had told me that, too, as he placed his head between my legs. Swore that I was just too beautiful. If people can say that to a child who fell victim to sexual assault at two years old, what are they willing to say and think about those who they deem as even less deserving of their protection than a toddler? At two, it was my fault, and at twenty, they still say it’s my fault. Is that rape culture?

Anonymous 17

I was 17, and was out drinking as usual with a group of mainly male friends, including a guy I used to think was hot, but after a couple of close encounters, knew him to be a “player” who only wanted sex. This particular night I had drunk more than usual, and after 10 or so beers, we went to the pub, where I continued drinking. I don’t know why I drank so much, except it was escapism for me from other hurtful things in my life and I regularly drunk, used drugs to get off my face, it made my life more meaningful. Anyway, I remember going to the bathroom at the pub and looking at myself in the mirror thinking, “I can’t believe I’m still standing”. After that I rejoined the group and decided I needed cigarettes. I asked for someone to go with me, as it was late and I was very drunk. The “hot” guy I had resolved I wouldn’t have anymore to do with offered to come with me. Not thinking anything of it, I agreed.
Once I got outside into the cold air, the alcohol hit me like a tonne of bricks. I can remember crashing across the road and throwing up. I thought he was being nice when he came back with a drink (complete with straw) as well as cigarettes. That”s when things changed. Instead of taking me back to the pub where the others where, he lead me (I was paralytic and couldn’t walk unaided) down the road, across the road and when a noisy car load jeered or something as they came around the corner by us, he threw me over the fence to the park. He said something about trying to protect me (from the car load) but not being superman. Some more rest stops ensued, some more vomiting, more rests. At one point I offered him a hand job, as I knew he always wanted sex and wanted to get off “lightly.” He said, “that might be enough for some guys but its not enough for me.”
For some reason we went inside the toilet block. I was still paralytic and lying on the floor, shaking. He said, “I only know one way to keep you warm”. I couldn’t think properly, didn’t want to, couldn’t understand my situation, but felt pressure, unsure. Said “I suppose.” Hoping, I guess he wd take that as a no and move on, but he didn’t. I didn’t actively resist. I was too drunk. I was in and out of consciousness, to comatose to actually take part. “It” was being done “to me” rather than with me. When he found me hard to penetrate (as I was a virgin) he tried positioning my limp body in different ways. Fearing he was going to penetrate me anally, I found the strength to flip myself back onto my back. He said “oh you want to do it this way?”. I sobered up, on the dark, concrete floor of that toilet block as he hammered away at my virginity. When I bled, he swore, like he thought he might get in trouble. He walked me home, but not safely. And smoked all my smokes. His payment for all he had done for me, he said. I went inside and cried. I cried often, I had flashbacks and felt so degraded, even though it took me many, many years to see his intention in all that. To see it as exploitation, or even rape. It never occurred to me to go to the police, even later when I realised that he had done something wrong, that legally, I wasn’t in. Position to consent, as I knew it wd be my word against his, there was no forensic evidence by then, a trial wd be unpleasant, and a conviction unlikely.
Love to all the survivors. I so wanted to go today, but was unwell, or maybe just couldn’t face up to it yet.

Behind the smile

 I was treated at a young age of 4 that my boundaries didn’t matter. My father was inappropriate with me as was my step father during later years. My nanas younger boyfriend stole my chance of a first kiss at the age of 13, he was in his 30s. When I spoke up and told my family they said I was making a big deal.  When I was 14 an uncle started the grooming process, seeing I did not have a supportive family and eventually then raped me upon several occasions. When I had the courage to speak up about it I asked another family member if they could stop it, they did Nothing. The uncle then approached each family member in tears saying I was lying and he had treated me like a daughter. They all felt sorry for him, took him on holidays whilst I was broken, picking up the pieces of my life at a young age of 16. During my high school years I lived with a family as a boarder, the male of the house was and still is a practising psychologist. He sexually assaulted me also and again when I spoke up, he and others blamed me.  All of this led me to having a ptsd and depression breakdown during my late twenties. However surprisingly I’ve always had a determination to not believe what my family or the abusers have said, and fighting for a life of happiness. I’m almost there. I will never understand how a person could harm another in such a way and will never understand others blaming victims of a crime, or trying to sweep it under the carpet, perpetuating sexual abuse/ rape.

Anonymous Man

I was raped by my sister and mainly her friend,her father was raping her(who was a pig). I was a 4 year old buy I am now a 40 year old man.I have never had support as I am a man and women aren’t rapists???
I am bitter and hateful to police and women who think they are the only victims WOMEN RAPE TOO!

Jayne

Toughest thing today? Telling my teenage son of the time an older student date raped me. I didn’t fight back. I didn’t tell the police. I felt ashamed and that no-one would believe me. I knew the police would do nothing.

We were at a party and he offered me a ride back to my flat. On the way there he said he had to stop in to his place to feed his flatmate’s puppy. I should have stayed in the car or got out and walked. So many “I should have”s. He lied to me, and once I was there he wouldn’t listen to my No. I felt powerless and let him do what he wanted so I could get away.

I wish I had felt that I had the right to be stronger in my No. That I would have been believed if I complained. That I wouldn’t be mocked or laughed at for making the mistake of trusting someone. That – even now – I felt stronger about confronting him for making me mistrust men for years afterwards.
#iamsomeonenz

Anonymous

 I was talking to a man outside my apartment building for a few minutes. He invited me to walk around the city with him that night and I said no. I felt safe talking to him outside the door. There were lots of people around, security guard nearby. I didn’t feel safe walking around the city at night with him. I didn’t know him, he was 6 foot 5 and easily 2 or 3 times my size (and I’m 6’1″). He kept asking. I felt a need to be polite, so kept refusing without saying hell no, I don’t feel safe with you. I don’t trust you. I left. A few days later I ran into him at lunch and he invited me to walk around the city that night with him. Again I had to keep saying no.
My instinct was right – if you keep ignoring my “no”‘s in a social setting, you’re more likely to ignore them in an intimate sexual situation. You’re not thinking about what I want, or my safety or listening to me. No means no.

In my dance class, which is partner dancing, most of the guys are great. We dance with them all in class. One guy though, in his 40s is regularly staring at my chest while we dance. Hello. I’m a human, not a pair of breasts. Your so blatant and do this all the time. I don’t know how to react. If I refuse to dance with you in class, it’ll make a scene and everyone will see. People will find out, and somehow I’ll feel embarrassed because of your behaviour. Other people will be talking about my chest – “oh he (you) keep staring at her (my) chest.”

I left the apartment and stayed with a friend until I found a flat. She lived with her partner of 3 years and 3 other guys. I fluked it and moved into the flat downstairs. We shared a laundry with the upstairs flat. I was out meeting new people. I started getting texts from someone, being flirty. Said they were my secret admirer. Ok, I’ll go along with it. Could be a friend being silly, could be that new guy I liked. They then started asking me about sex. I ignored the questions. I know you’re not a friend, but maybe your someone I’ve met recently. I don’t know how to react. They persist. I start asking who they are. Turns out it is my friend’s partner. I’m shocked and really uncomfortable. He’s my friend’s partner, I barely know him and we did not hang out while I stayed in his flat.

Over the next couple of weeks he kept texting and calling. He just wants to catch up, just the 2 of us, and don’t tell his gf coz she might get upset. What? That sounds like more than platonic friends. He still claims to be my secret admirer. Another time he’s really stressed and upset and going through something and just needs someone to talk to. I barely know you. You have a gf, you have friends and family, there’s no reason you need to turn to very-caring-me for talking and comfort. Don’t try to abuse my caring nature. He wanted to catch up with me just for 2 moments at 1am. He then tries to guilt and manipulate me further by being really upset I’m avoiding him and just wants to know I’m okay. He’s previously been creepy with my flatmate. While playing with her toddler he asked her to drive him to kinky places around town sometime. He says she leaves condoms lying around everywhere. She doesn’t. She’s got the message across to leave her and her family alone. While I’m having problems with him, she can’t sleep one night and does the laundry at 4am. He comes in wearing nothing but boxers and just watches her. Oh and when I was staying in the upstairs flat with him, he knew I was a mess and in counselling for rape, making him pushing me to talk about sex even worse. Things that stuck out while staying in his flat before this texting stuff. He yanked me into a hug that made me really uncomfortable, and I’m a huggy person. And another night he and my friend had a big fight and he wanted to go for a drink with me afterwards. I didn’t want to get involved in their relationship problems, so refused. He kept pushing and then said he would never do anything for me again if I refused. Fortunately I didn’t care enough about my aquaintance with him to give in. It wasn’t in a joking/pouting way. He meant it. Some decent guys I’ve told this to defend his actions. Yes there are socially awkward guys, sexually inexperienced ones or even friends who say sexual stuff that makes me or others uncomfortable. The difference is when I ask them to stop or say I’m uncomfortable, they do. And he did not fit any of those categories anyway. It was a lot of repeating the message to leave me alone before he stopped. An angry fuck off when I answered his call didn’t work. But saying “You’re contact is unwelcome. Don’t contact me again” and then ignoring him did work. He has tried to get in touch again a couple of times since. Calling from a different number. Just one or 2 texts and months apart. His number is now blocked.

Anonymous

 I wish I could have found the strength to march today. But to do that I would have needed my family to be with me. And they would have needed to understand that supporting me to do this was important. I didn’t have the strength to insist, to do it on my own, to leave my house and go into town, to be away from my safe nest. And that makes me feel sad.

Anonymous

A couple of months after it happened I was told to pick a date to be over it, just draw a line in the sand. Like my responses to the rape were a choice. That level of invalidation as a person, my doubts in myself and my identity. Things I loved and had been life long goals I was afraid to do and didn’t know if I wanted to any more. Who am I if I no longer want the main part of my identity? How can I get a new identity and goals and believe them when I know in an instant they can be gone? This isn’t a simple sprained finger that I can just get over. It’s not a case of falling of a horse or bike or surfboard and getting back on. This is the most intimate violation by someone I trusted. How can I trust? How can I feel safe when the people I turned to when I was most vulnerable took advantage of it and also abused me? My world has been shattered and God knows how to rebuild it when I can’t trust anyone or anything I thought about the world or myself.

Anonymous

This is very minor compared to others stories, but is another example of the entitlement men feel. I went on a second date with a guy who seemed nice, to the movies. We were kissing, and he kept trying to put his hand up my shirt. I kept removing it, and saying no, so he then tried to put his hand down my jeans. I removed his hand very firmly, and moved as far away from his as I could without moving seats. I didn’t as another word to him, and never saw him again. If he couldn’t respect the word no, then god knows what he might decide he could do to me.

Anonymous

I myself had never had an experience like the ones I’ve been reading, But i know of someone who has But she never really seemed to accept it as rape, But everyone who she told Certainly did see it as rape. She was 17 at the time.

One of our friends was drunk at a friends party where we’d all been drinking (Some more than others), And this friend was throwing up and bringing himself down and others around him, So we decided it would be best to let him sleep it off
So the host of the party took him into the spare room, But when my friend went to leave she didn’t think that he should be left alone, So she woke him up and when someone came to pick her up He went with her.

The next day she contacted me saying that when they’d got home, she’d let him get into her bed with her, And she’d tried to sleep, But he’d kissed her and started to try to have sex with her
He managed to go through with it And after it all she left him to sleep in her bed, Whilst she went and hid in the bathroom until the morning.
She said that when it’d happened she’d ‘looked into his eyes’ and saw that it wasn’t him really raping her and it was because he was drunk.

I hated that she saw it this way, And told her that i was going to the police, But she begged me not to because it would ruin his life and hers, And her being a close friend I trusted her and i never said anything in the end (I regret not going to the police now)
And I remember asking if she’d told her parents and she said no because her dad would kill him, I regret not telling them as well, Not that I wanted him dead It’s just that they being mature and smart thinking adults wouldn’t have stood by and let him get away with what he did…

But a year after that happened (At the same hosts party) the offender was walking around telling everyone what had happened and that he was, yes, a rapist. Some people felt sympathetic towards him and said things like ‘Oh you were drunk you didn’t mean it, She must have been asking for it cause we know that you’re a better person than that’ And others felt the same way i did and either wanted to beat him for what he did Or go to the police.
But nothing was ever done about it, And as far as I know no adults ever found out about it.

And I just hate that it happened to her and that I stood by and let her convince me to let him get away with it…

Jackie

 I have written about rape culture before, as it has manifested in my life. And as it has manifested in the lives of many women. I have read every testament written here, and I feel it behoves me to share mine.
In this context, rape culture manifests as the acknowledgement that my childhood was golden because I was not sexually assaulted as a child, so common are these behaviours in our society.
As a child, I was not taught that all men are rapists/threatening/dangerous. What I learned – through my mother’s words to me, admonishments of me, through watching men with women, feeling their energy – is the art of risk aversion. Young girls all learn this, I believe. I learned it from a very early age. At the age it begins, this gendered inculcation, we aren’t aware of the word rape. We aren’t being told the word at that stage. We watch the world around us and we notice things. I adored my Dad, but I knew at a very early age, when he argued with my mum, that men could be a bit scary. And I noticed, when I was small, how men talked to women, how there was a bit of an energy about them that was a bit unsettling. When I was 8, and had to walk home alone from Brownies (a reasonably short distance, I have to say) – and this was in 1972 – my mother told me that if anyone were to ever follow me, I should swear loudly at them and go to the nearest lit house, as if it were my own. She didn’t say who that person would be, but I assumed it was a man. Why would I assume that? Because the only people, up until that point, that I had found at all vaguely scary were always men.

When I was about 10, a man on Takapuna beach – an elderly man – saw my friend and I coming and spread his legs, to flash his genitals at us. I laughed at him – I found his behaviour quite ridiculous, even at that young age – but that was my experience of the world. Other young girls would have found that upsetting. Not a bad man, necessarily, just a bit of a dick, getting his jollies. That’s rape culture.

When I was 17, and at University for the first time, I had a boyfriend. He wanted to have sex with me but I wasn’t ready. I was dumped after 3 months of him trying. We did everything but have penetrative sex.  I was close to being ready, but I wasn’t completely ready. I used to believe I was a cock tease. And let it be said, he always respected my wishes. He wasn’t a bad man, but he had a sense of entitlement. That’s rape culture.

When I was 19, I was walking through Albert Park – back then it wasn’t well lit, nor was it well peopled because we all knew it was a “dangerous” place at night, and were well schooled in risk aversion – some young men tried to jump on me. I used my salty language to great effect, and yelled at them which scared them off. Not bad men, necessarily, just boys out for a laugh. Until it wasn’t. That’s rape culture.

When I was 20, I was at a party and my good friend and her boyfriend went off into the bedroom. And then I heard him lock the door. I heard her yelling, I leapt up, and banged on the door, and somehow or other, we got it open, and her out. He was hustled away, but no police were ever called. That’s rape culture.

When I was 21, I had a party at my parents’ house, and a man I fancied was there. He came back after everyone had gone, and I was in bed. I let him in. Both into the house, and into my bed. I didn’t want sex, but he did. I said no, he said “oh come on”, and I acquiesced. It wasn’t violent, but it was nonconsensual. Not a bad man. He just wanted sex – he even stayed the night. That’s rape culture.

When I was 22, I used to regularly walk home from University, down K Rd. On a number of occasions, cars of young men would stop and invite me in. I always refused. On one occasion, a car stopped, and I was asked if I wanted a ride. I refused. I walked a bit further. The car stopped again. “Come on. It’s late”. I refused. I walked further on. And then they stopped again. “Get in the car, bitch. Now.” And then I started yelling swear words at them, and they drove away. Not bad young men, normally, maybe. But they wanted something, and I wasn’t playing the game, so they felt gypped. Thats rape culture.

 That same year, I was walking home along Ponsonby Rd, and I heard footsteps behind me. I sped up. The footsteps sped up. After a while of this, I turned around and yelled, mightily. I was terrified. It was a male friend who’d been trailing me, to make sure I got home safely. Or was he? That’s rape culture.

When I was 23, and newly arrived in the UK, I was invited back to a boarding house situation with a group of young men. I went, and when I got there, the room they were in was dark, and someone locked the door behind me. Most of them seemed to be asleep, but a group of them suddenly greeted me, and I felt very threatened. Once again, I yelled, swearing, at them, to open the door. They did, whilst proclaiming that it was only a bit of crack etc. Not bad men, necessarily. Only out for a bit of a laugh, because they thought I was up for it. That’s rape culture.

For all of my life, it seems, I have been aware that men were capable of bad things. And then that awareness turned into experience. I took those experiences as being examples of how foolish I had been, with my own safety. Silly girl. If I hadn’t done this, that wouldn’t have happened. I believed that until fairly recently. That’s rape culture.

Now, I believe that I walk through this world, claiming my space in it. That no-one has the right to do anything to me that I don’t want them to do. That if I let my feelings be known – through words, or body language – that should be respected. Nothing I have ever experienced in my life has led me to believe that all men are rapists, but I also know that most men are capable of various forms of violence. Because they feel entitled. To their space, to getting what they want, to believe that the world is their oyster, that they are right. Their mothers and fathers, their caregivers, have taught them that. And we as women, from a very early age, are taught to give men what they want, by and large. That not wanting their attentions is ungrateful, almost.  As children, our upbringings are so subtly soaked in this gendered inculcation, and it’s not going away any time soon. It will never go away until we understand that rape or violence of any kind is not just something that other people do. And it will never go away until we routinely raise our boys with a sense of fairness, and encourage gentleness, and respect, in them. Until we are determined that kindness is more important than winning, and getting what you want, in this life. That none of us have the right to wield power over another. We can teach our children these lessons, but first, we have to want to, and we have to know that rape culture is alive and well in this society. That as women – and by that term I mean those who self identify as women – we are “other”.  It’s time to reclaim our space. Time to stand up and say  – we are not other, we are people – just like you. We are someone.