Anonymous

I have always been taught that men are just like that, that you need to watch out for them, avoid their wandering hands and penises, and take on the blame for their words and actions. This is so wrong. I look at the many men I know who I now (after many years) trust and the small, beautiful spirited boys I know who are growing up with caring feminist parents and know how wrong this is. But I didn’t always. There are so many incidents: a group of surfers wanking at a friend and I as we swam and surfed at a secluded beach, knowing how powerless we potentially were; a man in a raincoat wanking at a friend and I as we walked through the park on the way home from school (we reported this and were later to learn he went on to rape, mutilate and kill a 5 year old girl – apparently, the police we reported it to recognised this behaviour not as innocent but as leading to something far more violent and horrific and were later able to trace his past to frequent occurrences like this in parks); an ‘uncle’ who I was terrified of being alone with from the age of 3 for fear of his wandering hands and erection; boys at parties who would pressure friends and I into ‘just looking’ at their penises and then pour violent scorn on us when we refused. These might seem relatively minor incidents but are part of a culture of non-consent. I was violently raped by a stranger while living overseas. It changed my life in every way possible, including the relationships that I would have after the event, my inability to sleep and need to sleep with knives and torches surrounding me, my depression and anxiety, and my distrust in authority and state redress. I don’t think of this as separate to years of acculturation into a culture of non-consent. Nothing, however, could have prepared me for it or for how I would go on living with it afterwards. Ten years on and I have some peace but still night terrors and a lot of rage, mostly kept deep inside. I want to imagine a world where this violence, of the everyday kind as well, ends and I believe it can.

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