Feminist, but I still thought it was my fault

[Trigger Warning: rape, victim blaming]

15 years after I was raped, I finally let myself call it that.

All those years, I had explained it away, minimised it. Blamed myself for being in that situation. It was a new romance, which for me ended during the rape. Afterward I closed the door on that episode in my mind and rarely thought about it. Even though I have been a feminist since age 11 or 12, I still did not put the blame where it belonged. I had made it my fault. It’s only the continued reading about rape and rape culture over the years that has finally helped me understand that his actions toward me were not my fault.

I did agree to being tied up. This is why I blamed myself. I did not know what he had in mind. We were so new that we had not yet discussed being exclusive, and he was jealous that I had dated other men. He was also deeply embarrassed that I had just overwhelmingly beaten him in several games of Scrabble. He desperately wanted to tie me up, and I thought I ‘owed’ him some happiness, because he was so upset. I wanted him to be happy as we were going to be spending the weekend together. Even though I didn’t know him very well, I knew that he was keen on me and thought he would treat me carefully.

He did not treat me well. He tied me up, and then he hurt me terribly. He was very angry with me, and he took it out on my body, causing me tremendous pain.

I said “no”. I twisted and writhed to get away from him, but that did not matter. He kept on his mission to hurt me. For far too long.

After he eventually released me, he apologised repeatedly: I’m so sorry I’m so sorry. He knew what he had done. I turned away and wept quietly.

In the morning I told him I was leaving, we were over. He continued his apologies. I let him drive me to the airport. His cloying desperate pleading for me to stay was awful. And it did not work. He had clearly taken pleasure from deliberately hurting me. That’s no basis for a relationship. I was in pain for many days afterward. And I was mad at myself for agreeing to be tied up. But now I accept that I had no idea what his intentions were, and could not have expected such foul treatment.

He kept calling, and I kept ignoring him. But it is only now that I can say it wasn’t my fault. That it was rape.

  • Paul V-S

    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s powerful. And very sad. You were so strong and so right to walk away from that relationship. And you are so right for calling it correctly as rape. Best wishes to you.