I want to share my stories, but I’m still too vulnerable.
It took me until 33 to recover, on the same year I was attacked again in a very safe environment – at a colleagues place. I was told by police I had to give up all of my clothes and it would be 3 years to trial and I ought to only proceed if I could commit to that, because “it might wreck this guys life, ya know?” “Just be aware, they’re not allowed to but they will go through your whole sexual history and make it seem like you gave consent, at some time during the evening, maybe through flirting or… you know… implying…” Straight after I remember the retching, seeing myself in the mirror and asking “What did I do? Did I look too sexy? My dress was demure, it went up high and was down to the knees…” I was later to learn that most people who are attacked are in fact modestly attired. “How could this happen to me?” I gagged when I saw my reflection again – alone in their bathroom – as I imagined my nipples may have been slightly visible through my dress as I slept. Doing that frantic shower thing and washing my mouth out with soap to eliminate the stench, just like they tell you not to. I woke everyone else in the house and a male friend made me a tea and while patting me on the back, begged “Please, please, Jess, don’t go to the police, ’cause, you know, that would be hard on us.” This isn’t to mention the time a month prior when a drunk man got into a bed with me while I slept, because, that happened too. I went to the police. There is a recording of me somewhere. I could not endure three years of court. I could NOT endure three years of court.
After having a seven week trauma reaction I made a foray out to a bar with a friend. I was still feeling like my safety radar must be off. The situation was light and easy. Two wines later I ended up collapsing outside a bar I was familiar to. The security guy took money out of my purse and told a cab to “drop me down the road” to get me away from the entrance of their bar. The cab driver must have dragged me onto the street out of his cab. My drink had been spiked by a stranger. I awoke to glaring lights, and a face puffed out to twice its size, covered in blood from the IV and vomit. While I was in and out of consciousness the nurses were laughing at me. I was distressed and didn’t know where I was. The nurse came over and told me it was my own fault. She said I ought to take better care of myself and to consider what I had done. I was stung by the injustice.
Before then I had been a disbeliever. I’d thought people made up stories of drink-spiking. I regret being so dismissive.
I don’t like to tell my stories because they traumatise friends and lovers. They’re just mine now. It’s a solitary thing for me. People break down. They’re triggered. Sometimes they don’t want to know me any more. It’s not worth it. They judge. Three attacks sure, but that’s not all, we all suffered from the misogyny and dogma of the church where the men were the head of the household and everyone was forced to serve. We were all children with pasts and frigid young women. I am not unusual. That’s the thing, you see, dig around in anyone’s past and there’s almost always something – when people tell the truth.
Not to mention the impact of colonialism and culture on Koori matriarchs married to violent war vets, and our white grandmothers with returned broken men. Not to mention the rape of boys who become men-who-never-recovered, men who became really bad men. I can handle my complex herstory at 36 years of age, but others feel overwhelmed and afraid, therefore I rarely disclose, so the ways I was harmed are washed away and forgotten, unreported, unmarked, never to court. Mine is the rarely heard story that became embedded in my soma; harmed my health. People say “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” but that’s a lie. What doesn’t kill you can fundamentally weaken you. People look at you and say “You’re so strong!” like you should be proud, only being strong isn’t something to be proud of. It grinds my gears to hear that. It’s a scar. Scars aren’t something you are proud of. They ache. I like who I am now. I trust myself. I’m capable. I can love and I enjoy my life, my body is my friend, but it took a lifetime to get here.
All the other women were the same. Tomorrow we’re standing up for ourselves, our friends and for those people who remain silent and disabled by our culture that enables this to perpetuate. #Iamsomeonenz