This post was all about the debate on whether or not I had been raped. Would love to know your thoughts. From this, I have decided to set up the kindness project helping vulnerable women who have been through similar situations,
This post is dedicated to all those who I’ve heard but never properly listened to. I’m eternally greatful to you all. It’s also taken quite a while to write this as it’s been something quite difficult to talk about but ‘from failure comes great success‘.
|Around 3 years ago today I went on the adventure of a lifetime! I’d packed up my hopes, ambitions, and a weeks worth of clothes (even though it was only a long weekend) for a course trip away with my university to Prague. I’d been told that it was excellent value for a student on a tight budget and they were right!|
We landed in a fairytale city filled with wandering streets, ecletic and exotic food and long meadering streets rich with hunderds of years of heritage. Prague was the city I’d dreamed of escaping to for a long time after months of uni stress and I’m so glad I went. But what has this got to do with the title of my post I hear you ask?
During the days we were there, I met my prince charming and he showed me what it was like to live. He gave me true loves kiss and I’d like to explain this in one of my own fairytales….
Once upon a time in a land far far away (well 2 ish hours on a plane) was the land of Prague. In this city lived magic, love and a rich culture of food, wine and experiences.
It was a long journey to the magical kindom on a plane full of some of my best friends. We laughed and joked and were really excited to land in a city that spelled love and freedom for us. Our lecturer Ted, was highly experienced in these matters so rest assured we were in good hands. We boarded a silver bird who couldn’t wait to get our adventure started. This is when prince charming came along. Despite being highly nervous he smiled, took my hand and told me to look to the sky as this was the adventure of a lifetime. Was it really?
2 ish hours later, we landed in our fairytale kingdom and as most students do we headed for our local pub which just so happened to stock over 100 different types of beer with a few cocktails thrown in for good measure- as naturally, there’s no better way to start a holiday. We were all thrilled with the amount of choice but being the good students we were, we realised that 2 kilos of pork after a long flight was much more affordable and beneficial than a large amount of beer and of course there was a whole city AND culture to explore. After a night of dancing and beer, I went to my room. It had been a long day….but in the rush to get home I left something behind…
|Our Chariot awaits….|
Our interest and passion for adventure took us on a date with destiny and a gorgeous view of the whole city as we took a picnic with some friends to one of the best vantage points around. Meandering through a park filled with large leafy trees that offered a welcome but of shade from the hot summer sun was the perfect picnic spot. We’d bought food from the local market just before including a crate of juicy strawberries and he took me to a special spot which had a spectacular view of the river Danube down below which was scattered with small fishing boats.
To my right was the Disney castle (as pictured above) which was nestled above the old town while to my left was the opera house and museums with picturesque bridges that seemed something taken out of Venice. From here we talked about all sorts of things and this was the epitome of what had been a splendid few days. He even took me to the castle by horse and carriage (well tram actually) and we looked around the ballroom, the library and the chapel and he showed me the guards. This is where the story ends as here he asked me out and we lived happily ever after….
….or not. In reality, there was a lot more Cruella than Cinderella and this is why….
You see what I didn’t realise was that this wasn’t a fairytale. This was blackmail and emotional abuse that I’d sugar coated eastern European style (as below) into something that was a lot more than what it seemed to be. Just like this tasty cronut (which for the life of me I can’t remember the real name of) I had the perfect ‘relationship’ but I’d become a slag in this fairytale as I’d slept with the whole fairytale story.
But I was also a sleeping beauty as I’d slept through the part where he blackmailed me into going back to his even when I explicitly said I was tired and ‘not to expect anything as I just want to go to bed,’ and I’d slept through the part where I was unsure if I did actually want to sleep with him and kept changing my mind. Consent is a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and should be respected either way. Simple. There shouldn’t be a grey area but hey- it was ok for him as I was ‘being lazy’ and ‘wasn’t really tired,’ so I did my best on the very last reserves of what I had. Yes I was a slag and yes I was Cinderella only this time I was the Cinderella that was the slave to her family as indeed I was a slave to him. No I don’t mean that in a sexy way either as it got worse- much worse! So here’s the situation…
I’ve been awake since 5 am with very little sleep for the past 3 days (basically it’s been one big rich feast of tasty culture with the odd party thrown in), I’ve had a lovely romantic trip around the city for 6 hours with Prince Charming and a few friends, have then had to stand in a queue for an hour in order to check baggage and then wandered aimlessly for another couple of hours as the plane was delayed. Oh and to add insult to injury it’s 2 hours on a plane with a screaming baby and then another hour or so until I’m actually home- yeyyy (she says sarcastically) so yeah in short by the time I got home I wasn’t really in the best mood but his was a 2 minute walk whereas mine was 15 so go figure that one….I then have to drag 30 odd kilos up 3 flights of stairs- thanks for the help there ben- not! Aaaaand starfish onto bed true princess style… before he coerces me into something I’m only 80% sure of (the other 20 thinks its far too soon and also just wants to sleep for goodness sake!)
So what’s the difference between consent and coercion?
Well here’s the thing- consent according to section 74 of the sexual offenses act 2003 states that both people ‘must agree by choice’ and have the ‘freedom and capacity to make that choice’ But did I really?
Changing mind- stress factors then including extreme sleep depravity and blackmail- does that hinder my clear judgement? It feels like a bit of a sticky situation really, although I wouldn’t class it as rape as I did give consent I was only 80% sure that I wanted to go ahead and so I kept changing my mind yet he kept persisting. Is that rape or just poor judgement? Am I a slag or a slave for wanting to do the right thing? What even was the right thing?In my eyes I was in too deep- that is in too deep in a sh*tty situation yet I was deeply in love- or at least what I thought was love.
I loved the fact he’d buy me things without me asking, (although now I see that was emotional blackmail which I’ll get to soon) I loved the fact that he’d openly praise me for ‘being too good to him’ (while behind my back he’d slag me off) and I loved the fact that he had soft eyes that couldn’t hurt a fly (although I now realise that was just poor judgement and an inherent lack of experience). I was a slag as slept with the idea that I was in love when in fact it was emotional blackmail and the possibility of rape. But was it really rape?
Sadly, I was lucky and my fairy godmother was nearly always around. However for some people they’re not so lucky. One of my best friends was raped at a very young age and sadly for them it was a life-long sentence in a dark and lonely dungeon. They were a slag as they slept through the majority of their life hiding away and protecting a dark troll within. And what effect did that have? Well, for one any sex was a dark and aggressive affair with a need rather than an excuse or reason to do so. But why? I’m no psychologist but in my mind it was a deep need to correct something that had gone very wrong and like me, a coping mechanism had been built. So what was the solution?
Well, the first was countless psychologists who dealt with the problem through some excellent talking therapies. While the other was some kind of ‘white witch’ who taught my friend how to desensitize the situation. At first it was a scary procedure re-living the moment every day. That torturous moment of being pinned down and forced against their will to submit to something that was well beyond what a child of 13 should know. The key to being released from the dungeon was daily torture and humiliation. The next step was accepting the problem until finally the doors of the dungeon were kicked down and the trolls were beaten to death. And they lived happily ever after. Most interestingly though is that this friend is in fact male- yes male rape happens too.’Aproximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour!’ but only ‘around 15% of thosewho experience sexual violence choose to report to the police’ Most shockingly however is the fact that ‘approximately90% of those who are raped know the perpetrator prior to the offence’
So what stops people from reporting an incident? Firstly, it’s the feeling of being sh*t scared and getting a name for yourself. After all, you don’t want to be publicly humiliated with verbal rotten cabbages or even dismissed by the police. Or even worse, get the title ‘hoe’ or ‘slag’ (actually some of the nicer names I can think of) for prosecuting someone well known in a community.
Next is the shocking fact that a conviction is highly unlikely. The bad guys usually win in this story. Kelly, Lovett and Regan (2005) state that ‘Conviction rates for rape are far lower than other crimes, with only 5.7% of reported rape cases ending in a conviction for the perpetrator.’ But why such low conviction rates? I’m no solicitor or lawyer but if I knew the answer then surely I’d have a case myself? But what else put me and others off?
Next was the fact (like I mentioned earlier) I wasn’t aware it was rape. ‘The 2007 survey showed that just over 35% of victims said that they didn’t report to law enforcement because it was “unclear that it was a crime or that harm was intended” (44% gave that same answer in the earlier 1990’s study)’ and as so rightly put by TIME magazine (2014):
‘More likely, their confusion reflects shame, denial, and internalised misconceptions that rape is always perpetrated by a stranger and involves physical violence, when often, rape happens between acquaintances and involves alcohol, threats, or other kinds of coercion’.
Does this sound like Prince Charming? If you’re still not convinced maybe the next part of my fairytale will convince you…
…I was told that I could have anything I wanted and I did. But the castle I loved on was more like a dungeon- texts every few minutes asking where I was or what I was doing and then if it wasn’t up to Ben’s standards I’d be blackmailed into doing something I didn’t want to do. A typical day would go something like ‘what you doing today?’ about 4 times in the space of 5 minutes before I replied. If I replied ‘nothing’ I was a slag as well, that’s all he wanted (I was just a play thing to him after all) and if I replied that I had ‘lots of plans’ the guilt tripping would start with something like ‘please don’t go without me,’ or ‘you’re nothing without me’. Perhaps the worst event was when I was a sleeping beauty for far too long. You see, he cheated on me in the lowest way possible. He cheated on me with one of my best friends. The wicked witch is now after them both though and I’m sure they’ll gladly get what they deserve.
But in reality, my relationship went far too fast- just as most of my life appears to be lived on the highway with a supercharged carriage of some sort. But that’s ok or is it? Well, as if my emotions couldn’t be anymore twisted, he tried to buy me off with a packet of ‘extra special’ sausages as an apology. Let me make this clear Charming: I am not a slag, in fact I am a highly educated person with emotions, a distinct lack of humility (in some cases) and a highly offensive attitude to anyone that offends me. Charming you get what you deserve for in fact your name is a total oxymoron in every sense of the word.
Sometimes, my fairy godmother is a lot closer than I think. In this case perhaps this should be a fairy godfather as my flatmate was one of the strongest, wisest and caring people I know. Despite never being in a relationship, he knew exactly what was going on and strongly warned me to end it yet I persisted as I ‘just knew,’ I could make it work. While 80% of the time I’m right, this was more in the 20% zone- like really deep into that zone. I was way out of my depth. I was a slag as I’d slept with the idea that this was it and this was gonna be the first day of the rest of my life but I didn’t realise how wrong I was. I was the poor Cinderella with no real fairytale- just a bunch of straws that I tightly hung onto in the hope they’d give me some real answers and something long and meaningful but they didn’t. Instead these straws granted me a large amount of disappointment and regret. I was disappointed at the fact my life wasn’t a fairytale as they always say and I regretted the fact my blind love for someone I knew so little about had led me down a highly destructive path. Yes I was a slag as I slept with the thought of a fairytale ending when in fact the fairytale was far from this. It was just a fleeting holiday romance that went far too far.
But what if my ending was different? What if there was a successful relationship? And what if I was taught what exactly consent was- would I have reacted differently to the situation and would my perpetrator now be behind bars? In my last post I talked briefly about the value of sex and relationshipeducation.
Because in the end no one lived happily ever after- the princess had to fight her own trolls just like Shrek and Fiona. And because in the end I admit yes I am a slag. I’ve slept with the thought as to whether or not I was raped for 3 years of my life and now I’m asking anyone who’s reading this for help. Help me decide wither I should prosecute and help me find ‘prince not-so charming’ because I feel I should have my day in court. My day in court will be my happily ever after.
Happy Beautiful day readers.