“Top Five”

Trigger Warning: Rape, Sexual Assault, Men’s Rights Activists

 

Top Five’.

As an officer in the students’ movement, I have always been a big fan of ‘the top 5’. It’ an excellent way to communicate your message to masses, plus who doesn’t love a good list, eh? ‘The top five ways to stay healthy over exams’, for example. Or ‘the top five ways to improve your mental health’, ‘the top five ways to manage your money’ – you get the picture.

Well, here are the top five reasons why I didn’t consider myself a victim of sexual assault, twice.
1) I had already slept with my attackers: The two men, on the two separate occasions that it happened, were both people who I had slept with a few times before. One was someone I got on pretty well with. It seems logical, then, that as I had had a good time before, that I would be interested in going home with them again. The second time, I even suggested it. Surely I had no right to see myself as a victim if I asked the guy to come home with me, right?
2) I was wasted, both times: Ohhh yes. I’m talking one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor. I’m talking “hey let’s get shots when you haven’t been drinking for a month”. The first time, I lost my bank card and my phone. If I got myself into that mess, I should have expected it, surely.
3) It wasn’t penetrative sex: This was one of the biggest reasons why I couldn’t see myself as a victim.
The first time it happened, I was leaving a club, having lost all my friends, when I bumped into him. We’d had sex recently, and I could feel him trying to kiss me. I attempted to shrug him off, but eventually I relented and turned into face him. Next thing I remember was him pushing me onto my knees by the tree in the local park, unzipping his jeans and forcing my head onto his cock. His hand on my head made me feel so claustrophobic, and eventually I wrestled free and ran off. The next day, I sent him a message on Facebook, and he was really apologetic, saying he couldn’t remember what happened and he had never meant to hurt me. I often see him at parties, and we are always civil to each other.
You would think, then, after this, I would have learnt my lesson. But after a sponsored Dry January, I was adamant to stay sober for a whole bar crawl before I drank again. When midnight rolled around, so did the shots. An hour later, I bumped into a guy who I had been sleeping with in the summer term. He wanted to have sex, but as I was on my period, I suggested giving him a blow job. I gave him head for half an hour, but he was too drunk, and I was tired and wanted to sleep. I asked him to leave, but he wouldn’t. Then, he put his hands on my head and forced me to suck his dick until I could feel the vomit in my throat and I couldn’t breathe. But he didn’t stop. Over, and over, I kept willing myself to fight against his hands. My stomach was buckling with every thrust. The acid rose and fell in my throat. Eventually, I begged him to have sex with me to make him stop, which he finally agreed to. In the morning, he asked for sex again, so I obliged (out of fear more than anything else), then he left. I haven’t spoken to him since.
4) My friends didn’t think I was a victim, not really: After the first time, I told my best friend at the time, who, although sympathetic, made the point of saying that actually “I had set a precedent for it, you do sleep around.” She had a point. I had slept with loads of guys, and girls, while I was studying. I certainly didn’t question her, after all, she had a point – especially considering these were men I had slept with before. Other friends were lovely about it and really supportive, but as some had similar experiences and didn’t consider themselves victims either, we never really acknowledged it.
5) I regretted my actions leading up to it: It was my fault for getting drunk. It was my fault for being a little slut and sleeping with them and many others beforehand. It was my fault for suggesting he came back to mine. Therefore, it had to be my fault that it happened.

 

 

Perhaps then, this is why this ‘poster’ from Men’s Right’s Activist group ‘A Voice For Men’ really, really got to me today. And when I say got to me, I mean tears rolling down my face, can’t quite breathe, got to me:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suddenly, this mean little poster did exactly the opposite of its intention. Instead of making me feel ashamed and full of self-loathing, it made me feel angry. What right did these men have to tell me that what I went through was my fault? What right did they have to say that just because I regretted some of the things that happened it justified their behaviour? I was a victim. I have been damaged by these experiences and I don’t want to feel guilty any more.

So here is a new top five, and one which I will attempt to live by (although I think I’m going to find it very hard).

1) I will not blame myself anymore.
2) I will call myself, and my friends victims when they have been victims.
3) I will help other women to survive by being a good example, and caring for myself.
4) I will call people out on slut-shaming.
5) I will forgive them. Even if they don’t think they have done anything wrong.

 

 


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