Rape usually involves a non-consensual sexual act – the act itself only legitimised by physical violation. What about the emotional and psychological rape of a woman?
I have found myself fully clothed in the middle of a street, yet feeling completely naked because many men know exactly how to undress a woman with just their eyes. They glance at my chest first, then stare at it so intently that it makes me cross my arms in defence. In the split second that it takes me to react, they are already licking their lips and their eyes are penetrating my hips and thighs.
With his look, he violates me.
When I am walking alone, I used to often get lost in my thoughts and sometimes smile to myself or hum or even sing softly. Sometimes I forget that even a smile is an unintentional invitation for a male to whistle or smile suggestively in ‘reply’. This never fails to make my heart beat faster, make my feet move faster and make my gaze drop faster. Nowadays when I am walking alone, all I see is the grey of the asphalt. All I want to see is the blue sky.
With his sound, he violates me.
I have been “raped” without being touched countless times. Unfortunately, the emotional and mental bruises and scars don’t heal as fast as the physical ones. Maybe that’s why that time that a guy wearing a suit grabbed my crotch so discretely and tried to finger me on the train during peak hour when I was 16 (before I had even kissed someone for the first time) didn’t shock all my senses like I thought it would. Maybe that’s why I didn’t scream or cry, or try to report it to the police. Because it felt like I had been violated by invisible hands so many times before.
With his touch, he violates me.
Our bodies are like pieces of complex art which we all express differently. If you are familiar with something, whether in a positive or negative way, you learn to recognise cues. You know that when he drops his eyes to your chest that you are about to receive a suggestive smile. You know that when his voice drops a few registers that he is about to grease you like a piece of cheap meat. You know the second that he makes contact with your body that it’s time for your mind to check-out.
What always catches me by surprise however, is the smell. I was walking home from Uni down Anzac Avenue and a guy grabbed me from behind, shoved me against a wall and tried to force his hands under my bra, and under my pants. I don’t remember much of what happened that night, except that when I was lying in my partner’s arms later that night I was consumed by the stranger’s filthy, foreign odour. For many nights afterwards, I would wake up from nightmares, and bury my head in my partner’s neck, in my pillow, in anything that would make his smell get out of my head.
With his stench, he violates me.
I have not shared my stories because I didn’t believe I had one. However, I have come to realise that there is no such thing as a blur line or grey area. Rape, is rape.
With our strength, we fight for us.