Five syllables that have the capability to make a person cringe in awkward discomfort.
The act, I assure you, is infinitely more uncomfortable.
This isn't easy to write. It's squirmy and weird, and will probably be just as squirmy and weird to read. Still kicking around the possibility that I won't publish it. It's scary...
It shouldn't be scary. I did nothing wrong. But such is the nature of sexually motivated crimes, that the victim can sometimes feel partially, or even entirely responsible.
I am not responsible. Partially, or otherwise.
The attacker is responsible. The bystanders are responsible. The victim is never to blame. I am not to blame.
The ripple effect from this type of crime is infinite. In an effort to understand some of my odd and frankly, unflattering behavior, I have often wondered if it isn't the result of this particular series of events in my past...the result of a combination of gross neglect at the hands of my mother, and the complete objectification, devotion, and sexual affection of my abuser...
There is the fear that, while I refuse any ownership in the crimes against me, it may have left an undeniable footprint in the path to the person I am today.
There is an inherent, and oftentimes subconscious need to be pleasing and accommodating. A need to behave in a manner that is sexually welcoming, to the point of completely ignoring someone's inappropriate behavior, thinly-veiled manipulation, or complete lack of respect for my personal boundaries. There is a fear that I have subconsciously connected the dots, to reveal that the path to love and acceptance is sexual accommodation, at the cost of my own personal boundaries.
A dear friend revealed to me that since the day she was attacked, she doesn't feel particularly "allowed" to say no. That submitting to sexuality against her better judgement or desire, is somehow less frightening than saying no, and risking the anger or hurt-feelings of the other party. Allowing a person to objectify, manhandle, and otherwise misuse her person, is less personally offensive than the potential backlash of the other party.
Heartbreaking. The feeling of loss of ownership over one's own personal boundaries.
Equally unnerving is the intense sense of inadequacy and neglect, when the immediate requirement of my sexuality is not apparent. When there is the slightest sense that he might "have a headache", a wave of loneliness and fright wash over me, as does the violent sensation of being absolutely neglected, and useless.
Because, after all, this is why I'm here, right?
However, because of this...thing, this crime rooted somewhere in my past a hundred years ago, there is a constant struggle to place the rational above what feels real. There is a constant inner argument between the two sides, forever trying to determine my role in every single relationship from then until now.
This said, I am not a victim. This cliche is true. I'm not a victim, I'm a survivor. I hold no ownership in what happened. The man who attacked me holds the responsibility, along with the adults around me, who looked the other way. I am blameless. This is true of any survivor of sexual assault. Regardless of their manner of dress, their decision to allow some level of sexual contact, regardless of their level of intoxication, their prior sexual history...
I still hold every right over my own sexuality, whether I choose to display it overtly, whether I choose to keep it solely for myself, or whether I fall somewhere in the middle. I still hold every right over the power of "no." I still hold every right over my body, and it holds immeasurable value, whether or not I behave to accommodate. This is the reality. I know this.
My hope for myself, and for my fellow survivors of these heinous acts, is that, while we may continue to struggle on some level with the ripple effect, we will more often be able to place the rational above what feels real.