TW: rape. (Thread) I was raped in an apartment by 2, or maybe more, men. I know there were 2 because I saw their faces. The rape lasted several hours. There were more men in the room. They laughed. I don’t know if they raped me too. I shifted between consciousness and sleep.
When I emerged from that apartment, I was like an animal. I could not think. My only goal was to get home. But what I remember now so distinctly is that everything was different. I had been an unraped person and now I was a raped one.
But, again, everything was so instantly and permanently changed. The light seemed different. Noise was different. People’s smiles felt foreign, even sinister. If someone looked at me or even seemed happy, I wanted to scrape their faces off.
To me, rape was akin to being severed from the world. The world no longer belonged to me and I certainly did not belong to it. I lived in silence, shame, and self-hatred. There was a distance between me and every other person, even those I loved.
When others discussed evil, I couldn’t say, “I have seen & felt that evil,” bc, if I had, I knew it would bring further shame & silence. No one would no how to respond if you described that evil. They would also act like you were talking about sex, not violence So I was quiet.
After so many years of this, I healed as much as I could. But then there was Trump. Then Weinstein & MeToo. Then, finally, Kavanaugh. When Christine Blasey Ford recalled the laughter of the men who attacked her, I remembered the men in the room who laughed as I was raped.
In so many ways, this destroyed me, but, in others, it made me stronger.
With the advent of MeToo, I felt, finally, a renewed connection to the world from which I had been non-consensually severed. I lived, suddenly, in a universe of both pain & triumph and, most importantly, to me, I felt I could support other victims.
So, now, today: Last night, after being harassed for two days by Bernie supporters, I quite angrily commented that it triggered PTSD related to sexual assault. And it does.
I’m not talking about aggressive convos re: single payer. I’m talking about the collective urge to dehumanize and humiliate human beings Online harassment is wicked no matter what a person’s background is. We are not, as humans, psychologically equipped to handle this.
In terms of Bernie, I didn’t say that *he* made me feel raped, as some say I did. I simply said the harassment inspired trauma. For this statement, I was mocked. The most common of all responses was that I was mentally ill. Over and over again, I heard I was insane.
I may or may not be mentally ill-&this may or may not be connected to my gang rape-but, regardless of my mental health status, it is the most logical thing in the world to feel like mass harassment-especially from men who invoke gendered insults (& even threats!) can provoke PTSD.
The most interesting response was “Don’t talk about rape if it triggers you.”
To which I say: talking about rape is triggering if those who respond are unkind. It reinforces that feeling I described that I first felt as a rape victim: that the world no longer belonged to me. That I was a foreigner-the raped one-in a world that would shame & silence me
Talking about rape does trigger me—but it also heals me. And there is no place where I am safe from the harm that rape imposed on my life. I wish it had not, but it forever changed me. And I feel the harm everywhere.
There is no day when I live free from it. There is no time—from boarding an airplane to when a man stands too close—when I am free. So please do not tell me to protect myself through silence. I lived in silence. I prefer speaking, even if it brings harassment.
I think that is all I have to say. MeToo has been freeing, but it also, at times, feels like a scream that has been halted.
This isn’t about me, or a politician, it’s about something much broader. If you harass women on the internet, especially in a gendered way, they may feel triggered. Do not fault them for this. Once any person is raped, the entire world has contours that may be invisible to you.
And I do not wish to equate any kind of trauma, but, as a general principle, I think it is good to understand that there are shadows you cannot see. Tiny needles in the skin. Whole systems that divide the world in which you exist from what others experience.
By all this, I mean: be empathetic. My favorite book in high school was “God Bless You Mr. Rosewater,” about a rich man who wants to use his wealth to help others. He said, “There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”