content warning: abuse, assault, rape
Between Cosby and Kavanaugh, it’s been a shit week for women. I’ve attempted to personally minimize the effect on me–after all, I’ve been feeling better lately. I don’t want to go back. I don’t like feeling all the ugly feelings that fester, unresolved and unwanted, somewhere in my subconscious. I’ve seen a litany of #WhyIDidn’tReport from some friends–and defiant statements from others; how our assaults shouldn’t need recounting for men to believe women.
My own stories and feelings keep roiling up as I do what women do–live and work in a world that mocks and minimizes our pain, dismisses our stories, demands an explanation for why we waited so long. Fuck that.
So here it is–#WhyIDidn’tReport. This list is absolutely not exhaustive.
The earliest abuse occurred when I was a child. Society still largely considers the physical assault of children to be “discipline.” I was a child and he was an adult. He didn’t break my bones or cut or bruise me, he did strike and corner and terrify me. I knew, as a scared little girl, that I wouldn’t be taken seriously. This set the stage for every further assault.
While I was working as a personal assistant in New York, I was raped by an employee of my boss’ business partner. I thought he was my friend, he was much older than me. I was sufficiently drunk to be incapacitated–but not so drunk to be unaware of what he did to me. When I came to I was revolted and horrified–and aware that I had to get to work. Early in the morning after I was violated, I tried to shower away the feeling of his hands where they never should have been, put on my clothes–and then I went to work. I considered reporting it–but then I recalled all the “what was she wearing” and “was she drunk” and “is that really what happened” bullshit I’d ever heard and decided not to waste my time. I think the bastard’s name was Richard. I can’t remember that–and I can’t forget the crushing defeat of knowing that deeply that I wouldn’t be taken seriously.
The person I married assaulted me on Christmas morning 2016. It was Christmas morning. He was my husband. That in no way changes that I did not want or enjoy what he did to me–but it was certainly enough to obliterate the need for my consent in the eyes of a culture where men commit dozens of such crimes with impunity, never held to account.
I did report when that person stalked and harassed me after I left. I went to court where I wasn’t believed or didn’t matter enough in the eyes of the law for my safety to outweigh his sanctified goddamned inalienable right to bear arms.
It is horrific, a monstrous injustice, unforgivable–that my country has so little regard for women that our safety and bodily autonomy are an afterthought, regarded only after paying the utmost respect to men’s due process. It is an injury too profound to articulate that we spend our lives waking up and going to work shouldering these kinds of burdens while innocence is assumed of our assailants. Where is my innocence? It was taken a long time ago and set afire. Now it looks like rage–righteous, horrifying, white-hot rage contained by steadiness most men cannot possibly imagine. I don’t want it, I never asked for it, and it’s a lot more unwieldy this week mirrored against the rage of every woman I know with an ounce of courage.
Why didn’t I report? My demeaning has been insult after insult, eclipsed only by the graver injury: being denied justice over and over again in a world where women get raped and men get presumed innocent.