Silenced

With all the Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, and Donald Trump rape and assault accusations and with all the women coming forward, telling their stories, and supporting one another, I have had increased hope for future generations and maybe even our own to subvert rape culture and the patriarchy in general.  I am one of the women who was very much in favor of the #metoo movement despite the fact that the burden should not be on us to tell our painful stories over and over and over again until someone (men) finally starts to listen.    

A woman recently told me that someone I used to be friends with raped her many years ago.  My response to her was, “I BELIEVE YOU!” and I deleted him from all social media.  He had been creepy with me in the past and another friend told me he’d been really creepy with her too.  While I would have believed this woman regardless, those facts only added fuel to the fire that was currently burning inside me.  My knee jerk reaction was to tell (not the woman’s name or any identifying information of course) a male friend of mine whom I had had the “this guy has been creepy to me and a friend of mine” conversation with previously.  Big.  Mistake.    

“You know we’re really good friends, right?  You’re putting me in a weird position.  I’m uncomfortable with your assumption of guilt.  That’s a very serious allegation and he deserves the right to defend himself,” he said.

“From who?  Me?” I responded.

I was panicking now.  He was going to tell the alleged rapist and possibly put this woman, or any other woman he was inappropriate with or raped, in danger.  I found myself also in the strange position of scrambling to grovel and apologize for warning someone that his friend might be a rapist.  Like I’m so sorry I told you your friend is probably a sexual predator.  That must be really hard for you.  Never mind the woman who was raped.  The guy has daughters (I hate that’s often the only way to get through to men of our generation – “think of your daughters!”) so you’d think he might want to know even if the information was uncomfortable.  Yeah, well we are pretty uncomfortable having unwanted penises shoved inside of us.  As angry as I was at his response, I needed to protect her and it hadn’t been my place to tell anyone about her story in the first place.

I desperately reached for everything I had to convince him not to tell his friend.  I told him I had been raped three times but I never reported any of them because I was afraid I’d be blamed for being drunk and I even blamed myself at times.  “Don’t take her power away again… I’m begging you.  Do you realize how often women have to tell each other these things?  We only have each other to lean on.”  And that fact became strikingly clear the moment I told a man.  It was a huge mistake to go to him with this information.  But I want to live in a time in society when telling a man about rape isn’t immediately met with doubt and scorn and trying to bully a woman into answering for someone else’s crimes.   

After serious diplomacy and a lot of moral concessions on my part for the greater good, he ended up agreeing that telling his friend would solve nothing.  I called in sick to work today.  I’m exhausted, shaking, angry, defeated, sad, and also very relieved that this won’t come back on her.  I really do hope he ponders our conversation and his reaction to it.  I think many of us would become somewhat defensive if we were told something similar about a close friend, but I think as women, we would also seriously consider the possibility that our friend is not who they seem.         

{featured image: brick’s politics

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