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.