A poem for Goddesses (and their lovers…)

 

 

Sous la languE

Capillary action
Sous la Langue
Fatal retractIon
As I lead thee aloNg
Dancing half drUnk
To my inner drum

Yet it is YOU
Detaching my retina
With a spoon and your finger
Letting my love burn
Like hot ice
As I linGer
Cos…
WE know I’d fuck you first
Tis I, the auditioNer
So hold me fasT
Hold me tiGht
Mr ‘action grip practitiOner
Doused in salty cyprin
De la langue to your fingers
Not sure where you’ve beEn
Or where I’m coming from
But…
CloSe your eyeS
Take my hand
Under covEr
SouS la langue

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Oxymoron (a poem about rape culture)

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Rape. Rape. Rape. Rape. Rape.
Such a dirty word
Rape, raped, rapist, the rapist rapes
It’s taboo status, so absurd
Raping, the rapist, the-rapist, rapes.
How 4 letters can so unnerve
Rape/rape/rape/rape. Raped.
Ergo the victims, exist unheard.

Rape. Rape. Rape. Rape. Rape.
Is it really any wonder?
Rape, raped, rapist, the rapist rapes.
So few victims seek out justice
Raping, the rapist, the-rapist, rapes.
Surrounded by the low tender thunder
Rape/rape/rape/rape. Raped
Of slut shaming, victim blaming culture.
Rape. Rape. Rape. Rape. Raped;
Ladies, be demure and drink responsibly
Raped. Raped. Raped. Raped. Raped.
‘Non consensual sex’ is born of culpability.

Mental health and suicidal feelings/attempts

 

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This is a difficult post to even attempt to write, cos it cuts right to the centre of so many of the taboos in society that are so very verboten. It is indeed something i would much rather not think about let alone discuss in an open, albeit nameless space.

When i was 16, i made a silly and not really real attempt at ending my life. Tried to cut my wrists, although the moment i saw blood i freaked out and stopped. So then took a whole packet of junior disprin. Nothing happened. I don’t think i wanted anything to happen, i just, like many 16 year olds, wanted someone to notice what i was going through, re my last post on surviving domestic violence.

This was not a desire to be dead, nor even a desire to not be living. It was, what many would call, a cry for help – except it was too much of a whisper and no one heard. This lack of feeling heard propelled me forward until i was heard finally and asked to leave the family home a year later.

When i was 25, i stood on top of a bridge over a dual carriageway and again, contemplated jumping. Neither of my children were born at this point and in many ways i felt there was very little to keep me in this cold and desolate land of the living. I was a fuck up. Didn’t know where i was going didn’t like where i had been coming from. Even less what my current present meant. I remember thinking how quick it would be. How amazing it would be to not feel that lurch in my heart of emptiness everytime i woke up, that had for years only been filled with going out, wearing my social face, being intoxicated by alcohol, drugs or sex. My world was full to the brim with noise but i felt empty and dead inside and no one could see. Because i hid it so well behind my socially constructed mask.

I didn’t do it. The thought of the accident i would probably cause and the potential lives lost and the lifelong sentence i would be giving to the person who i would be forcing to aid in my suicide attempt, made me feel a bit sick with my own self absorption. I walked away and decided to try harder to turn my life around. Pivotal point for me.

Towards the beginning of last year i came yay close again. This time, I actually thought i wanted to die – or maybe i just decided i could no longer bear the pain of living. I had gotten hold of some pills that would have done serious amounts of damage at half the dose i had intended to take. Wouldn’t have definitely killed me, maybe just left me in a vegetative state, but either way in my mind, job done. I had convinced myself that my depressed state was not only too painful for me to bear but also that it was negatively impacting upon my children. A lot of my writing around that time was about mothers with depression, one story i wrote was about a suicide attempt that hadn’t worked and left the woman with retrograde amnesia. Another about a mother who decided to leave her children and run away to India. I didn’t see it really but i think this was me building up to crisis point. Because I remember feeling distraught that my kids had seen me weeping in a corner too often. That they would essentially become my carers and be forced to grow up too quickly. As i fleshed out my story of the mother who leaves her children though, i found myself seeing how hurt children could feel, knowing their mother had left them to LIVE somewhere else. In my deluded state i thought ending my life may make them feel less responsible.

I got as close as having the first batch of pills in my mouth. I had a picture of my girls in front of me. I was crying so hard i almost swallowed the pills by accident and immediately realised that I didn’t actually want to do this. I couldn’t leave them. They loved me and my love for them was so immense that actually, no amount of pain was deeper than that. I spat them out and rinsed my mouth about 20 times.

I hope my children never have to read this. Maybe when they are adults, if blogs still exist, i may show them this…but maybe not. Maybe that is one mask i need to continue to wear. But if either of you do end up reading this. I AM SO SORRY I EVEN CONTEMPLATED IT! It is no reflection on how much i love and loved you both. Mummy was just not well. But as i hope you will see, that massive rush of love, that bought me round at the last minute is what will always keep me strong. Is why i have been able to come through it and become the person that i hope you can see is so much happier and stronger than before.

There are perhaps many people who would read this and think that i am the worst type of person for considering suicide when i have children. Utterly selfish and cruel. I think there is such pressure on mothers (more than fathers) for that aspect of their identity to come before ANYTHING else, ALWAYS. And you know what, it’s 90/10 that it does. But depression and mental illness IS NOT something that can just be switched off. It doesn’t arise from too much emo wallowing (although maybe sometimes it does), it sometimes is chemical, something hard wired incorrectly. It is sometimes (as my last 2 posts i think suggests at for me) environmental. You can never judge someone elses actions until you have heard them break them down for you in full detail. And if you still feel judgy, then I apologise, cos yea, i feel i let myself and my kids down in that instant too.

A semi-fictionalised piece on real life experiences of growing up amidst domestic violence

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Breaking broken

 

The shudder of the door filled it’s frame as she slammed it shut with her back. The coolness of the wood reaching through the sour wetness of her shirt to the heat emanating from her skin, bringing her down from the hot, rabid frenzy she was amidst. Her heart beating so fast and hard, she fancied she saw it, desperate, eager angry, trying to escape from her chest as she fought to understand all that had just occurred. Her left eye stung slightly as baubles of sweat dripped into it, the discomfort of which anchoring her in the present, holding her body fast in the realm of the physical and almost simultaneously she registered that a trickle began to run down her left thigh, escaping the epicentre and main source of this fever. She melted through the memories in quick succession and smiled to herself…..

 

In the space  of a nano-second, the language of her body stopped in its tracks as she heard the familiar rumble of her dad’s blue transit van entering the drive. Fear immediately invaded her senses and fight was never her response to conflict with this man, so she ran for the safety of the bathroom, locked the door and began to run a shower; feeling certain he would recognise the betrayal of his trust, his fear of violence driven obedience in her eyes as she instinctively saw the betrayal of her mother’s (and hers) in his every time he faltered.

 

Looking back to that very pivotal moment in time (and womanhood) for her, Suzanne realised it had been almost twenty years to the day since she had written “dearest diary, today…I have become a woman, for today diary dearest I have lost my virginity!!!”. Wincing at the thought of quite how ridiculous that sounded and how naïve she had been, she pondered on this last two decades and what exactly she had learnt. Twenty years full to the brim with many men, some would argue too many men, a lot of hurt and pain (from all angles), snippets of love, a virtual cornucopia of lust, confusion, confusion…more confusion, more fun perhaps than any human being has any right to have and let’s not forget the babies, for isn’t that ultimately what sex and one’s body (as a woman) is for?

On the one hand, Suzanne felt that she had done, albeit sub-consciously, what she had set out to do, which was to be different to her parents, to be more liberated, more in touch with herself, more honest and more fulfilled. But on the other she also felt the power of the hand of fate in all her dealings and dalliances in this last twenty years; her promiscuity, her emotional abstractions when it came to black men, her awkwardness around intimacy, her issues around trust and men in general – all in her mind could be traced neatly back to her parents relationship and the effect it had had upon her.

 

Suzanne lay sobbing into her pillow as her mother tried desperately to console her, knowing deep down that the only consolation available was ignorance and things had gone too far for that. She herself had known for many years that her husband was unfaithful but like many women (she imagined) she chose to ignore the fact, using the excuse of not wanting to be that nagging wife, not wanting to, above all have to endure the terrors and shame of being a single parent. A bad husband was far better than no husband after all, but how could she possibly reconcile that within her little girl? How could she have known that whilst she chose to ignore the signs, hide from their burning opaqueness, the curiosity of a child would never allow such a thing? Suzanne looked up at her mother’s face, taut with repressed feeling and thought twice about telling her that she remembered quite vividly being about seven years old and her mother asking her father when and if he intended to come back that evening. The almighty argument and then him pushing her down the stairs. The sight of her mother’s heavily pregnant form lying crumpled below filled her with a fear she was all too used to, already at this age…but still (and always would) felt keenly. She also refrained from disclosing to her mother that her first ever memory, aged three was of her mother holding a knife to her father’s throat and demanding to know where he had been for the weekend. Her older sister, who would have been just nine, had been instructed to take her and their little baby sister, just a few months old, into their parents’ bed and not come out.  The sound of the back patio doors smashing would stay with her forever. I do not love the sound of breaking glass…it is the opposite of breaking free, it is a tangible object that continues to break me. She remembers this stirring them all to move and run into the landing to see their mother, high on new baby hormones, desperation, fear and utter rage stood at the top of the stairs with the knife and their father edging his way up them…she doesn’t want to think about why she cannot remember anything after this point and part of her has always wanted to ask but even at the tender and inexperienced vantage point of sixteen, Suzanne knew her mother didn’t need reminding of these incidents or to know that she, her daughter remembered them. Beneath the almost searing resentment she felt towards her mother for staying with a man who kept her and her children in check with not merely the threat of violence and whom she must have known was sleeping with other women, Suzanne knew that it was somehow beyond her ken and not fair for her to express that judgement. So there both women sat, with a multitude of emotions raging beneath the masks of their faces and too many words on the tips of their tongues to say anything lest the truth spill forth.

 

Suzanne looked at the curve and swells of her body in the mirror and felt pride in her new physique. She liked the look of her body pregnant and loved the fact that her body was able to do this magical and marvellous act of growing a human being. She loved being a woman, especially at points like this. Suddenly though, she was gripped by a feeling of uncontrollable sadness and almost terror as she pleaded for this relationship to last, this family to work. At points she felt like her quest to never become her mother in respect to what she perceived as her mother’s weakness at letting herself be walked all over, had made her into quite a difficult woman to get close to and perhaps some of the many relationships she had entered into may have been more fulfilling if she hadn’t forced the respective men to prove themselves innocent of a guilt that was never theirs to own. Perhaps she did put too much pressure on the father of her first child and perhaps it was her fault he went off with a woman young enough to be his daughter whilst she was pregnant with a child he had literally begged her to have and perhaps her fear and baggage was pushing Jeremy, baby father number two away also. Her mind was too muddled with hormones and lack of sleep to decipher this fully  but she knew somewhere deep down that at least part of the answer lay in all that occurred twenty years prior and the lasting impact that has had upon her. The discomfort she felt from her own past and inability to circle too many squares, blinding her slightly to the reality of the fact that Jeremy himself and the unhealthy ways in which he did the opposite of balance her, her choosing him, was more tied up in her baggage of ‘self-destruct’ than she would realise for years to come.

 

About a year before her entrance into womanhood, Suzanne’s father, seeing all too clearly her growing awareness of herself as a woman and the attention she was receiving from men due to her seemingly sprung over- night womanly physique, decided it was time for a talk.

Suzanne sat in the passenger seat of the blue transit van. It was her father’s pride and joy at that moment and it angered her that her mother had probably worked her backside off, in her three part time jobs, whilst her father made a pittance following his dream of being a musician. What angered her more was her own inability to be honest about her frustrations towards him, her own succumbing to the threat of physical violence, which although he hadn’t dealt out of late, was ever present, had worked it’s magic through years of deliverance. She looked across at him and registered that his face betrayed no signs of what she anticipated was to come.  He launched straight into his little speech, no warm up or intro required. “Suzanne, when I came to pick you up from school yesterday, I noticed that you were talking to two white boys, who were they?” His voice resonated through her being and held her will in the usual state of submissiveness he effected. She found herself mumbling something about how she had been talking to them about a new teacher but knew she sounded like the liar that she was. “Alright, what I have to say I want you to listen to carefully as I won’t be having this chat with you again. As far as boyfriends are concerned, you are not to have any until you have finished your education and that means when you have finished University…and….if I ever see you hanging around with white boys again there will be a price to pay, for you and your mum…do you understand?”  Despite the torrent of anger and bitter sting of resentment that welled up inside her, Suzanne could not quite bring herself to say what she felt, the fear of violence muting her, shutting down her energies, so instead she just mumbled “yes dad” and looked hard out of the window of the van, letting the fierceness of the breeze blow away the imminence of tears in her eyes. At that very moment, the wheels were set in motion for that fated diary extract and for the repeated patterns of the last twenty years.

 

She wouldn’t leave him, despite what she had said. Even at that very tender vantage point of sixteen, Suzanne knew that if she was going to, she would have done so by now, surely. So knowing that boundaries did not have to pushed too far to get an extreme reaction, she began to push harder. Push deeper, further into the pit of darkness, the empty heart of her father. Make him react.

 

She/I fucked him in the graveyard. The ground was bouncy and cool and damp. His cock was too hard and I/she was not ready to feel it in all it’s glory. It hurt but the pain made her/me feel real and alive. She knew more was coming. I knew I wasn’t going home that night and the distortion to the peaceful unrest in her familial home that this action would cause.

 

The next day, on the way to college. Mum and dad’s car pulled up from out of no where, dad getting out and striding angrily towards her and her posse. The fuckee looked terrified. I/she felt resplendent. Glowing. Knowing. That the pinnacle was almost in reach. Just a few more painful moves and freedom was in sight.

 

Suzanne was ordered to leave by her father. Leave the family home and not only never ever return, but also never see her sister, brother, mother again. Attempts to do so would result in violence towards them. That oh so familiar coercion and manipulation of her feelings. She packed three bin-liners and left. Aged 17.

 

The birth of the second child was magical. Bleached out so much pain from before…only to open up another chasm at the same time. Suzanne (unfortunately) now knew, deep in her deepest that this coupling was not quite the opposite of looking at a star lit sky, as she had initially thought. This was her repeating dangerous patterns from her past. Seeking immersion in a void. The arrow of time points forward though, with only gravity to err in its path. So onwards and upwards she went, despite the weight that pulled her down, growing muscles in places she never knew she had.

 

Toxic masculinity and rape culture

 

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I am a writer and a mother of two girl children. I am also a dancer and currently working on an idea for a performance art piece around rape culture, objectification of women and the ways in which patriarchy slaps unhealthy values and norms upon ‘femininity’ and female sexuality. Hot potato at the moment in the light of Trump’s latest abhorrences. There has been much written about this all over the media and for a variety of reasons, I have, all sponge like, absorbed it…become slightly obsessed.

 

In the midst of poring over different takes on Trump’s vile ‘locker-room’ chit chat and the general disgust and dangerous nature of his comments, I saw an interesting little meme that made me realise something, about both of my experiences with rape (yes, I, like so many women in the UK and across the globe have been raped). It is hard to write that word down, because it has taken me so long to fully accept that ‘rape’ is what it was. The term ‘non-consensual sex’ carrying with it, too many connotations of victim culpability as well as just being an oxymoron.

I think part of the guilt I have carried all of these years (the more recent experience happening just last year), has been to do with my inability to say ‘no’ (with my voice) and fight (physically). I am an athletic and strong woman and as many people who know me personally will attest, I am not shy of telling it as it is in a whole host of scenarios. But seemingly, feeling threatened by a sexually aggressive man has, at these points, rendered me incapable.

 

So… was it rape, if I didn’t fight, if I didn’t say, ‘I don’t want to do this?’ Or was it just me being a bit ‘wet’ and not asserting myself? How should consent have been sought? How should it be given? How much rope should someone be given in regards failing to interpret a lack of consent?

 

The meme I saw said “it’s not consent if you make me too scared to say no”. I burst into tears because I knew that this had been at the root of my issue in regards to my victim guilt, in both scenarios.

The first scenario occurred  when I was 19, with a man I met in a club. I had explained, early on in the evening, after we started kissing that I was having a loose relationship with someone else at the time and much as I knew that the guy I was seeing was sleeping with other people, I didn’t want to. I remember him intoning that we were just having a bit of fun and it was ‘all cool baby’. I had gone there with a friend. We were living together in a flat in a small town in Herefordshire. I had moved there specifically for a job, doing care work and she had come all the way from Zimbabwe. There was nothing to do in this isolated and slightly culturally devoid village for two young ladies, so  we had decided to go to The Q club in Birmingham for the night. We met these two guys quite early on, they were cute. And more interesting than anyone else we had met in Bromsgrove. They sold us some pills (ecstacy). We took them. I was wearing hot pants, massively high heels and a tiny top and as many people who know me know, when I dance, it can be quite sexually provocative. I mention this, because these were all the thoughts running through my head post. They offered to give us a lift back and although we had initially intended to stay till closing and then get the train back in the morning, we decided that this was a better idea, in our drug addled state. When we got back to the flat, my friend went straight to her bedroom with his friend. Me and the guy I was ‘with’ started kissing and I told him, again, that I was sort of seeing someone and didn’t want it to be a sex thing. He said it was ‘cool baby, let’s just chill’ but then almost within seconds he had  pushed me onto the sofa and aggressively pulled my  hotpants and knickers aside and my body just went completely catatonic and stiff. I knew immediately that he was going to rape me and tried to make my legs taut, so he couldn’t penetrate me but the violence with which he opened them made me entirely submit. I literally let him do it. I was terrified and just bought my mind somewhere else. I remember crying throughout and him telling me to relax, that I might enjoy it. Once he had finished I got up and ran into the bathroom and locked the door. He tried to get in for an hour or so and then him and his friend left.

 

The scenario last year was to be honest, not entirely different. 20 years apart, almost to the month but almost a blueprint in my mind.  That was a date, set up. We had been talking online for a month or so and we had arranged for me to go and stay for a few days in his hometown. I had not slept with anyone since me and my ex had very messily and traumatically split up and only 4 month prior I was on the brink of a suicide attempt. Didn’t go through with it, but had the pills in my mouth. So really, I was far too vulnerable to be engaging in anything along these lines. I was aware of this as I had ducked out of another scenario a few months earlier with a man who actually has turned out to be a good friend and is about as gentle and kind as you can get. But I was drawn in by this man’s ability to (seemingly) understand my situation and the very ‘caring’ and insightful things he said to me about how I was feeling, and practical ways to cope, as he was into mindfullness and meditation. He made me feel understood and there was a semblance of trust there because I had known him years before when he lived in the city I still live in.

I stayed in a hotel, so I wouldn’t have to stay with him (my choice). He agreed. I had attempted to cancel at the last minute because it looked like perhaps me and my ex were going to get back together (which at the time I really wanted but as it turned out wasn’t the case), but he, Mr Sexual Predator, suggested I come anyway and we just meet as friends. No pressure like. I agreed but stated I wanted to have the first night there on my own, to have some headspace. Again, he agreed. But then whilst I was on the train he suggested meeting me at the station and driving me to my hotel. When we met he said we should ‘just go for dinner’ and then it was ‘just a few drinks’ and then he ‘just wanted to talk’ in my hotel room. Each suggestion he made, left little room for my opinion and even little details about food choice etc, were controlled by him throughout the evening. I felt a little intimidated by him but wasn’t sure if that was just the scenario and my head state and in so many ways he seemed nice, interested and interesting and I just couldn’t make my mind up if I was attracted to him or not. We hadn’t seen each other for over 10 years. But I thought, we would have one more drink in my room and then he’d go and I could decide.

 

I still find it hard to use the word rape. Because I didn’t say no or cry (in front of him) or fight. But he left little room for my consent, as if by him having gained access to that point in the evening that was consent enough. The bruises he left on my arms and thighs from throwing me on to the bed and holding me there told me that I indeed would have struggled to have escaped physically if he was unwilling to listen to my voice. His calling me a ‘dirty fucking sexy bitch’ (in that kinda dirty talk way) and the aggressive look on his face as he tried over and over again to force his limp cock inside of me, for the main part failing, says to me now that he wasn’t interested in me, who I was or what I wanted. He was just seeking a high octane thrill. This was pure fantasy for him. My fear possibly added to it. But much as I didn’t say no, attempt to physically extract myself, he MUST have known my consent was not being given. Even if he wasn’t being purposefully intimidating (which at that point I just couldn’t tell one way or another) then he must’ve known that I was intimidated. I was catatonic but he was holding me down anyway.

 

He slept in the same bed as me in the hotel room that night but I couldn’t sleep. I felt absolutely fucked and hideously emotionally wrung out, to the point of almost tripping. Had talked myself round to it being entirely my fault. Have no idea if I will publish this but I wonder, if I did…what percentage of people reading this would think it was my fault too? Maybe this is the standard guilt that ALL victims of sexual assault and rape feel. If only I’d done this, hadn’t worn that. Hadn’t been so sexually flirtatious in our online discussions. Hadn’t agreed to go to his fucking hometown, miles away from my own, away from anyone I knew. Perhaps I was asking for it? Perhaps it was unfair of me to expect him to be able to control himself when maybe all he saw was a red light? Was I giving a red light? Except I hadn’t asked to be raped. I hadn’t asked for him to use his physical strength and the knowledge (I had given him) of my emotionally vulnerable state, against me, so he could try and feel like a man in the light of his fading virility. I may well have wanted to sleep with him on the second night if he hadn’t been so abusive, aggressive and controlling on the first, because there was some attraction there, after all. If I was attracted to him and flirting, where exactly was the line? Had I got it wrong? Was he just into ‘rough sex’ and it was up to me to assert myself more fully?

 

I spent that day on my own and said we should chat later. I phoned up my ex and cried down the phone. He wasn’t much use to be fair. I needed someone to say to me. This is not safe. You are too vulnerable. That was an abuse of your trust at best. Come home or I’ll come n get ya. Instead I felt he tried to just calm me down –  that was always at the root of our problems when together, I never felt heard fully, just managed. We agreed that I should meet said guy and tell him I wasn’t comfortable with what had happened and tell him I didn’t want to spend that last night with him. Would have been a great idea if I was in a strong enough headspace and he wasn’t the manipulative fuck that he was/is.

 

I met him for dinner and told him that I wasn’t comfortable with what had happened the night before and that I wanted to go back to the hotel room alone. I even apologised (fuck!!). He agreed and said he was sorry I felt that way. It all seemed amicable and he offered to drive me back to my hotel. We made chit chat in the car.  But when I said goodbye and got out of the car, he got out too and started towards the hotel bar. ‘Just one drink’ he said, or stated rather. I’m a twat and I should have stood my ground and said no but I didn’t. I thought I’d be making a fuss by refusing…maybe part of me was scared of making him angry, still with the vision of his aggressively contorted face from the night before in my head. I also should’ve said no when he then pleaded being too drunk to drive home and asked if he could sleep on the hotel room floor.

 

Intimidation and manipulation working its magic by someone who I think, in fact I kinda now know, had used these tactics before…

 

He did go to sleep on the floor. Said goodnight and seemed to just go straight to sleep. I felt sort of safe, albeit a little on edge.

I awoke, in the morning. The light was blue, so it was early. I was asleep on my front. He was behind me, on top of me with a knee on the back of mine and his hands touching my back and bum. I asked him what he thought he was doing. I felt the familiar prickle of catatonia set in.  He said he was just giving me a massage and that I should go back to sleep. At which point he put his hand on the back of my neck pushing my head into the pillow. I don’t know quite what happened then, but I somehow released myself from the grip of fear and got free. I just remember sitting at the other end of the bed to him, shaking and staring at him. His response was “that look speaks a thousand words. You don’t have to speak one”. We got dressed and I went home.

 

I cried all the way home on the train. I was (and still am) so fucking angry with myself. Why did I let this happen? How could I have misjudged him so badly? I knew that he had been manipulative and aggressive and controlling. But at this point, I took the blame for what had occurred neatly and squarely upon my shoulders.  It was only after talking to a few good friends that I started seeing that I shouldn’t. He literally orchestrated the whole thing. I think he knew exactly what he was doing. I also had a few people, very subtly doing the thing of talking about ‘mistakes’ and ‘chalking it up to experience’ and ‘some men are just…’ Yada yada yada… But the people that knew me and understood how consent and a lack of works helped me through this. I sent him a detailed message, using the words ‘non consensual sex’, which I now regret that I hadn’t used the word rape. He was ‘sorry I felt that way’ but apparently I had got it all wrong. Of course.

 

Upshot is. Consent is both complicated and very, very simple. A person cannot give consent if there is any kind of power imbalance. If they are too intoxicated and it hasn’t been specified prior that sex will definitely be happening. If they are vastly younger – think statutory rape. If they are vulnerable and you are using ‘tactics’ to get them into a position in which they are too scared to say no. If they are asleep. Or, if they say no. Rape occurs when person a) doesn’t get consent from person b) for any of the above reasons. And probably more… A failure to recognise a lack of given consent is not an excuse. The actively seeking it should be fairly integral. Check. Check. Always check…with them and your own moral compass.

 

 

Effects…well, if I am completely honest, the effect has been, in the short term seemingly, not purposefully, for me to go through a phase of promiscuity. After the first rape, that lasted about 5 years and was fairly extreme. I had a series of few month relationships, followed by months of frequent 1 night stands. Huge intimacy issues and an inability to connect, with others and myself, but at the same time a real desire and need to. I felt empty. In the few months following the last experience, I expressed myself quite significantly in a sexual manner with a variety of different men – although not on the same scale as before. Part of the difference, I think is due to different places in life/age and also partly to do with having already gone through that once before. I think, that what this is also to do with is a desire from deep within, to take control of my body and sex. To not be disabled by the abusive nature of the men who raped me. I think this comes from how I dealt with the domestic violence (from my dad) that I grew up amidst, as in the need I have felt, as an adult, to assert control over my life and not be told what to do. I also think my ‘catatonic’ reaction during the rapes could be attributed to the violence I experienced at the hands of my father – i.e. there is a deeply set fear of aggressiveness in men that I have a close connection with/am intimate with. That innate fear is perhaps quite paralysing if bought up in extreme situations. It’s almost like when trust should be there, the fear is heightened when it is pulled away to reveal abuse. I think I would react entirely differently if a stranger attacked me in the street, for example. In fact I have done, when a guy tried to steal my bag in Benidorm once, I attacked him and fought him to the ground. Got my bag back too.

 

In the long term, I’m not 100% sure. I can be incredibly divorced from feelings during sex at points and don’t see it as existing in the same realm as love necessarily. This has fed my promiscuity at points and also in relationships has made me use sex as a way to not feel, like a cut off button. But then seemingly at other points, I become so immersed I end up crying because the connection I have allowed myself to feel during sex is too strong. I also think part of me is always anxious about my trust somehow being broken. Not necessarily in regards to men stepping over a line in regards sexual consent but just a general trust thing. There are many shades of abuse running through from emotional to physical. I think my trust issues with men are equally to do with my father though.

 

Trump was right really. In regards the reality of the world we do live in, there are a lot of men who have been infected with that same toxic masculinity he has been and speaks from. A universal ill, it would seem. And by that, I mean that it transcends all barriers and borders. There are men out there from all walks of life who will use any power they have to get what they want. The guy from last year is a dentist and a Christian and seemingly a pillar of the community where he now lives. I write this for anyone who has experienced rape and/or sexual assault. I write this for any woman or man, girl or boy who has suffered or who might in the future. Men like Trump will always exist, will indeed be given credibility if Trump wins. Please be gentle with yourselves. Surround yourselves with good, strong, loving people who understand you and talk. Talk as much as you can and use people as a sounding board. And listen as hard as you can to your inner voice, hard as that can be with all the background noise at points.

Thank you for anyone who has read this and listened.