When I'm reading about feminist issues online, when I read that I simply must know at least one person who has been raped or sexually assaulted, and when I think about the people I know, I usually think, "I guess I've been really lucky. I can't think of anyone."
I'm stupid. I block it out, is all. I've known for years that a woman I know was abused by her last husband. I am I naive enough to think that didn't include sexual abuse?
And then today, I was reading Beyond Rape: A Survivor's Journey and there's a part in there, "This is why I hovered over you. This is why my internal alarm clanged constantly, why I treated every tumble and scrape as an ER-level emergency, and every sleepover party as a potential kidnapping situation."
And I started thinking about my own mom. I remembered a story she told me. At the time I sort of brushed it off. Didn't know what to do with it, so I ignored it. In college she had a not-good experience in which some random guy followed her to the bathroom and then started crawling under the stall next to her. She yelled for help and ran out and reported the incident to an RA and the police, but I don't think anything ever came of that. She told us that her guy friends (most of them were guy friends) escorted her around campus for a week after that.
I wrote this off. It might sound little but... this was my mother. Her safety was threatened, her freedom taken away - she needed an escort. This was my mother.
This is my mother. I remember the times she would raise her voice and tell us (my sisters and I) to be grateful we weren't in public school, where we'd have to take off all our clothes in front of everyone to shower in the locker rooms. (We were all homeschooled until the divorce - 5th grade, for me, varying grades below that for my younger sisters.) She made it sound like such a terrible place, the world. A place of fear and shame and stalkers and things to get us.
Was it, is it, for her? It's hard for me to know. She's changed so much in the past few years. She's happier, more confident, more relaxed about us and the things we do.
But I wonder if she had other reasons for her fears that she just never shared. I'd be stupid if I didn't think my dad pressured her into sex at least once during their marriage. It wouldn't have had to have been much - she was so quiet and shy back then.
I mean, even I, the loud and outwardly-confident gal I've been for years occasionally let myself be cajoled into an act of intimacy (no more, I keep saying. I've got my fingers crossed that with this one, it won't ever be a problem - especially not with the feminism he's picked up).
So when I read about the number of people I'm supposed to know... I do know them. And it's time I stopped forgetting about them.
This post has been written with the permission of the story's owner.
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