Like everyone else I’ve been reading articles about women and men coming out against their aggressor. Time and time again these victims are questioned, their stories poked holes into. Innocent till proven guilty is applied to the perpetrator and the victims have the opposite applied to them. Liar until proven otherwise.
A lot of these stories make me gag with rage. People are right to be up in arms about it all.
I apologize for the length of this but it has to come out.
“Why did she have a nap there if she felt uncomfortable”.
I guess this applies to me as well. Why did my immature teenage self go and babysit in a home where I was uncomfortable? I can’t speak for the woman napping in this morning’s article but I was in the home I was not comfortable in because that person was part of the people closest to me. In fact, a member of my family. I went because other people were there I thought were safe. His wife, his children. I went because nobody ever let me know I wasn’t actually safe, not safe was my default setting and I didn’t have the tools to differentiate, in my very young mind, what my safe/unsafe was to normal peoples’ safe /unsafe.
See, I have a narcissistic father and grandmother. And if you have narcissist close to you then you are not safe. Physically maybe, but psychologically you are in danger. If you don’t know much about narcissism it’s worth reading up on. It’s interesting and useful information for when you come across one, because it will happen someday if it hasn’t already.
My grandmother lived next door, she was, ultimately, the most visible mother figure. I mean no offense to my mother whom I love dearly but my granny was, is, overbearing to all as she’ a narcissist of the bullying variety. My father, her son, is narcissist who revels in victimhood which makes total sense in the family dynamic. Anyway, neither of them had my best interest at heart, they just have theirs.
Point is, I wasn’t comfortable anywhere with anyone. As a child not safe with a parent, how does telling them you might not be safe with someone else make things better? How does that underlying sense of not mattering to the most important people in your life make you feel ok telling them you were being assaulted? My sense of these things was skewed by this situation and my self-doubt.
But yeah, I guess that means it’s a lie.
“But why did it take you so long to report it?! It must be a lie since it took so long.”
I suppose you’re right. It wasn’t important because I didn’t speak up right away. I didn’t defend myself. I stayed quiet until I made it stop, quietly. Then I kept it quiet for 23 more years. It stopped when I was 15 (fifteen years old) and I eventually told my father that this person told me, to my face, with their wife 6 meters away in the next room, that he had had a dream in which we had sex. That he really wanted to have sex with me for real and teach me everything there is to know about sex and wouldn’t that be wonderful because he loved me so much. That his wife knows because he told her about this. Then they left and I babysat their kids. In shock. Disgusted and scared.
My father is a gaslighting narc. Telling him what happened has its dangers. That day is when the balance between the dangers of option 2 largely outweighed the dangers from option 1. That day I told my parents. Sort of. Enough that is stopped, but no detail. It stayed secret, hidden, enough that neither of my parents understood the reality of the situation, they didn’t ply me with questions, trying to find out everything. But it did stop. I thought I’d balanced that really well but continued to feel awful. I continued to feel unsafe. I continued to hate seeing that man; to, when arriving at a meal involving him, to first go around the table and change the place setting to be as far away from him as I possibly could before even saying hello to anyone.
It took me that long because it took me that long to create enough distance with my father and grandmother that then allowed me to see that the families way of life isn’t actually sane or healthy. To have someone outside my circle encourage me to speak up. For my partner to manifest himself in a way that allowed me to work up the courage to do something as dangerous as report it.
“But reporting it makes you safer! It’s not dangerous! So you’re lying and looking for attention”.
Close your eyes and imagine a giant. Do you like the idea of having people thinking about you being sexually touched by him? He is bigger, richer, more powerful and lives in that big castle on top of the beanstalk. You were assaulted by him: what look did you have on your face during the act(s), were you actually enjoying it because you didn’t fight the giant who could crush you with little effort? Did your no actually mean yes? Because everyone knows no means yes! What were you wearing? How did he touch you, did you cry, did you play dead. Were you actually trying to turn him on? At what point did he get a hard-on? Imagine the people you love (as well as total strangers) imagining the scene in such detail. Because they do. They read the story and they have those images seared into their brains forever. Every time they hear/read/comment about your story they imagine you getting fucked by that person or at very least they can see the aggressors’ thoughts about wanting to like a giant cartoon bubble above their head.
Why anyone would want this kind of attention is beyond me.
I was under no illusion that it would cost me dearly to report it. It did cost me people I care about, it cost me having my story poked. I wasn’t raped, it wasn’t violent, I wasn’t threatened. On the outside at least.
On the inside it was all those things. I made it stop because it was escalating. I truly believe it would have ended in rape.
It was violent. Maybe I wasn’t hit but having anyone violate your space, touching your body against your wishes in a way that makes you scared, vulnerable and uncomfortable is a form of violence. Threats might not have been made openly but that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. What do you do when you are forced to do anything at all by a man twice your size, when he has the power of, well, everything over you? What do you do when you, without being able to understand or word it, just know that the people who should and help you won’t? What do you do when he is a part of your everyday life, when you can’t just avoid him like a completely stranger who has no ties to you at all? When he comes in ot your workplace as a customer just because you work there so he can use you a little more.
I eventually stopped being scared of these things and accepted that they were inevitable. That’s when I filed with the police.
With the help of my therapist I chose to write my statement beforehand. To be sure I was able to word it appropriately, to say everything I had to say. To get the details out that were necessary. I knew I could not say it out loud. Going to the police station was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I was terrified, I felt small and vulnerable and incredibly stupid. I felt ashamed and yes, I just couldn’t say what I came there to do when I first walked through the doors.
Talking about this to a total stranger who doesn’t know you and doesn’t really care all that much, who may or may not believe you is very very difficult and I am glad it was all written out ahead of time. I was exhausted afterwards and terrified.
This mans’ son and daughter-in-law were part of law enforcement. I knew they would see that quickly. I spent weeks being paranoid about retaliation. I spent weeks waiting and expecting something to happen that would make my life a living hell. The danger I waited for never happened.
Just after filing I let the rest of my immediate family know what I had done. Two people said they were sorry this had happened to me. One person said they didn’t know what to do with this information. One person ignored me completely (I later found out it was because they didn’t know what to do with it either). My mother felt guilty and shocked and sorry that they hadn’t understood it to be able to help me but in hindsight maybe it could have been prevented. One said they needed to investigate this further and didn’t know who to believe. This was deeply offensive. My father didn’t believe me. I was ready for this, it didn’t surprise me. It actually helped cut all ties with him forever. My grandmother doesn’t know. Yet. I don’t know what his wife or children think.
Why does my father not believe me? Because it means he made a mistake, a big one. Narcissists don’t make mistakes. He claims I never went babysitting there. He even changed people ages – I mean the age gaps between myself, my brother and my cousins – so he could discredit me. That it can’t possibly be true even though I told him that 23 years earlier. He supposedly has no recollection of this. Because that is the story that suits him best. He doesn’t see that it wasn’t innocent because he doesn’t want to.
It’s really hard to think of a member of your family being a paedophile. Suddenly you’re that family. When you’re part of that family, you go from that safe outrage to being at fault even if you have nothing to do with it and didn’t do anything and that’s where the problem lies.
You’ve switched to something more complex where you either knew and didn’t do anything, didn’t do enough or just didn’t see (because there are signs I believe). If you are a normal, sane human being, not seeing something horrible happen in front of you, not asking the right questions, not seeing someone in pain, leaves you with a whole load of guilt the victim suddenly forcibly dumped on you. Of course you rebel against it because that is the only way your brain can process this. It’s the flight in the fight or flight mode. How do you deal with finding out your safe cocoon is actually more dangerous inside that outside?
So yes, I suppose I’m just doing this all for kicks, because I mean, why not.
“You’re just a gold-digger”.
The proportion of mentally ill, narcissistic, or otherwise psychologically not quite right people who accuse for attention and/or money isn’t the majority, if they exist at all. The majority of stories will be true because…. Well everything I am writing here. The vast majority of victims are telling the truth just as the vast majority of accusers will deny.
The vast majority of the victims who do not speak up is because the assaulter has more power. Physical power, status, money. As off the point they can harm someone physically, make you lose your job, ruin your entire career, ruin private lives which can happen in a million different ways then they are a threat to you after the assault and they don’t need to word it to make that clear.
Because we are not usually believed or fobbed off, we are not gold diggers. So many cases end up going nowhere because they don’t fill the specific legal criteria and quite frankly, considering what we go through when we speak up it isn’t worth the time and effort and the risk of not winning is just too high.
“But it’s a lie because the person accused denied it”.
Are you fucking kidding me???? Would any sane person admit to being an incestuous paedophile? Really? Do they want their noses rubbed in their mistakes publicly? Would they want to go to jail for this? Of course they deny it! Nobody in their right mind expects them to the just go “oh yeah, I did that”. People who report assault are under no illusion. This isn’t a land of rainbow farting unicorns and Carebears. Unless there is overwhelming evidence any attacker will protect themselves and lie about the actions they know are wrong. And even in case of overwhelming evidence the survival instinct will still push them to lie and deny just on the off chance they’ll save themselves.
“The judge didn’t pronounce him guilty sot it’s not true, it’s a lie”.
The justice systems demands proof. Physical evidence. Witnesses. It also demands you have enough guts to file before a specific date because after that specific date things magically become irrelevant.
Do you reasonably think that someone would assault someone else in plain sight of all and any? Usually not, no, some hiding happens, if not hidden then the others are usually ok with it or scared out of their wits themselves.
Those who see but are scared have to decide what is more important, their own safety or that of someone else. Chances are they’ll pick their own until they deem it safe enough to pick the victims side.
But even so, that nobody saw (or wanted to see) anything, ever, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. If nobody sees you pick your nose does that mean you never do? Do you not do stuff when you are alone? If nobody sees you do you stop existing? No. So no witnesses doesn’t mean nothing happened.
That you weren’t beaten or raped doesn’t that mean it didn’t happen?
Every single woman I know has a “me too” story, whether they say so or not. Every single one. But we’re women so it doesn’t count. It’s not always rape do it doesn’t count. It’s not the worst story you’ve ever heard so it doesn’t count.
If you are in danger will you knowingly make the situation more dangerous by fighting back when you know you don’t have a physical chance in hell of getting out of there unscathed? You have a split second to decide what the safest route out of there is.
Nobody but the victim is allowed to judge whether or not that was the correct route. Nobody but the victim can see the ramifications, the different options that present themselves in that second in which you have to make a decision that can save your life or get you killed faster. Sometimes the physical fight will seem best to them, sometimes being passive and getting it over with with the least possible damage as soon as possible seems safer. None of the options are good, you chose the one that seems the least bad for you right there and then.
The judge didn’t rule against him doesn’t make it not true, it just makes it not fit into the specifics of what the law requires to punish the assaulter.
That there is a time limit in which to prosecute doesn’t make things cease to exist. It’s a date on a calendar. You still existed over 15 years ago (15 years is the limit in my country, bumped up from 7, I know this because I was aware of each of those dates as they passed), things before that date don’t magically disappear. I was still attacked by a turkey in kindergarten, I still climbed trees as a kid , I still went to visit my newborn brother in the maternity ward and I still found him to be very red faced on his first day. It doesn’t just stop existing, it’s just a date in the law that says you’re too late and you should have been braver sooner. You should have risked everything by putting yourself in danger again sooner.
So yes, I lied, because it’s just fun and totally worth the effort and humiliation.
Quite frankly I really don’t give a shit about what money I might have been able to get.
I said no. As loudly as I could. Too late, but I said it and it was cathartic and now I feel safer. Now I feel more respect for myself. Now I don’t care so much anymore about the people who told me I was making all this up. Now I’m ok, having lost what I eventually chose to lose. Now I feel armed to help my children if anything of the kind were to ever happen to them. I did what I need to do to be able to teach them to respect and protect themselves. I taught them that it is ok to speak up. I told every woman and man I know who was ever assaulted in away way that I believe them. That is what filing against that man has done, even if nobody (including my kids) knows it.