This isn’t a subject usually discussed over your morning papers. This isn’t a subject usually addressed around a table during your local pub’s quiz night. This isn’t a subject usually addressed at dinner time. In fact, it’s not a subject normally addressed at all.
And so when rape and sexual abuse pops up in the media, it always divides people. The recent story of Kesha and her alleged abuser, Dr. Luke, has seemingly torn the internet in half; those who support Kesha and her claims because “why would she make that up?” and those who stand by Dr. Luke, because “imagine being falsely accused, just imagine?!”
The problem with proving rape and sexual abuse is that it is so difficult to do, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
We’re all familiar with the image of a shadowy figure, jumping out from behind the bushes late at night; men are warned of being it, women are warned of watching out for it.
Women are told that we can keep ourselves safe by not ever being alone (I don’t even know how this is possible?), by not showing any skin (because skin renders the male incapable of any self-control, obviously…), and under absolutely no circumstances must we drink too much – a semi-comatose body makes the perfect ‘fuck-doll’, didn’t you know?
Of course it is ludicrous to make women change their behaviour to prevent rape. It has been reported that around 80-90% of rapists are known to their victims. In many cases, it is the people we trust the most committing these horrendous acts, and I’m sure that the human mind, as mysterious and powerful as it is, plays a huge part in never discovering the truth.
My rapist said to me, “I thought you saying ‘no’ was just part of the game”. The few friends I talked to at the time are walking around believing it was something I wanted to happen, because I was so in denial, I didn’t even admit it to myself.
And my rapist is walking around exonerated of all guilt: “I’m not one of those guys. You wanted it, didn’t you?”
“Yes.” I heard myself say, despite my entire body, mind and soul telling me the opposite. I’ve been telling myself that ever since, with the aid of drugs and alcohol.
Two years on, now clean and sober, I had somewhat of an epiphany. It wasn’t my fault. It did happen, and it wasn’t my fault.
Seeing those photographs of Kesha breaking down in court, being told she is worth less as a woman than a recording contract, I realised that men are surrounded by an invisible protection against rape claims. The default is that women are not believed, because of the few (and I mean extremely few) that lie.
And the worst thing is, as a rape victim, you can either tell the truth and get called a liar, or are forced to lie for the rest of your life. That’s not a decision we should force on anybody.