Somebody referred to my (now ex) husband as a rapist recently and it shook me. It might seem crazy more than three years after I left but I had only considered my experience living with an abusive partner, you’d be surprised how big the leap feels between knowing you’ve been raped and considering your husband a rapist.
The conversation progressed and I began to share my experiences with the couple of friends present. I was fine during the conversation but in the quiet afterward I could feel myself beginning to come undone so I said goodbye and cried all the way home. Now here I am trying to be a little braver, because those tears deserve a voice and because I am working so hard to overcome it all and not let this last chapter of my life define the core of who I am.
Sexual trauma is still triggering for me, its something I’ve had to really battle over recent years, and is not something I have as yet managed to overcome completely. I still haven’t found the courage required to date again after all this time own. But it isn’t the rape that haunts me its what comes with it, the coercive control, the way I learned to perform for him in spite of myself. Don’t get me wrong the first time your husband rapes you its a shock but you rationalise it, somehow convince yourself it didn’t happen or you imagined it or there was just some sort of miss-communication. And then he’s so sweet and loving over the next few days that you find yourself sweeping it under the rug, until it happens again, and again, that’s when the real damage begins it doesn’t start or end with the betrayal of being purposefully hurt by the person that’s supposed to protect you, its the way your behaviour changes until you think nothing of the way you constantly betray yourself.
Its the way you realise firstly that’ll it’ll all be over so much quicker if you just don’t waste time saying no and its the way that develops as you learn to perform the right way, to move the right way, to do or say the right things to get it over and done with quicker. Until your sex life is essentially real life porn, there’s no connection, no intimacy, no trust there’s just you performing, trying to be enough that you don’t have to hear how its your fault, how your so boring he has to make up for your inadequacies and so for your own sake you make sure its good enough to get the job done as quickly as possible so you can get to the part where you lock the bathroom door and try to clean your skin hard enough to scrub away the shame.
Coercion is subtle, its comments made to sound like compliments but that hurt like hell, comparision’s to ex lovers or pornography while you’re still in the middle of it, It wasn’t until very recently, that I realised just how messed up that was, both the idea that I was supposed to take those kind of things as compliments and that he was making sure I knew he was thinking about someone else while he was with me. All I knew at the time was that it hurt, I don’t know if I couldn’t or wouldn’t process all the little things. Probably it was little bit of both. But eventually I stopped having hope and accepted that these words were coming no matter how much I tried to please him and I learned to survive them and so many others, and I could get up and walk to the bathroom without looking back as I tried to block out the words and stop the tears from falling.
If I were you I’d be thinking ‘if it was so bad why didn’t you just leave’ and you’d have a point but once in a blue moon it wasn’t vile, it wasn’t cruel it was poetry and he was made out of magic and that’s what kept me holding on. When you’re caught in the thick of it its so easy to forget that magic is just a fancy name for illusion. I didn’t stay for how violated I felt after he made me rape myself I stayed for the broken man that climbed into my scalding hot bathtub and sat soaking wet in his pyjamas crying over how sorry he was, mostly I
stayed for the unshakable belief that he was right and all of this was my fault.