When the assailant is one of us
By Clear Peaceful Mind
*trigger warning: sexual assault
For most women, this is one of the scariest words in any language. When your mother warned, “You could have been murdered, or worse!”, rape was and still is the unspoken “worse.”
All over the world, rape is the most common violent crime ever committed – by the time you finish reading this article, a woman would have been raped somewhere in our country, a neighbouring country, and somewhere else on this planet. More than half of all rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. A quarter of which are committed by an intimate partner of the victim. Resulting in many unreported rape incidents. The sad thing is that the majority of rapists re-offend within a three year period resulting in an unending circle of rape.
Because many people define rape as penetration by a penis, woman-to-woman rape is not acknowledged nor taken seriously. But, it is estimated that one out of three lesbians have been sexually assaulted by another woman.
Like many women, I didn’t know that women could rape other women until….well, now I know!
•She stole my voice…
Who do I talk to, what do I say?
“She just fisted me, right there in the park. Like it was nothing. This was something that we did together when we were lovers, close and intimate and it meant something. She didn’t just hurt me, she also just trashed all of what we had together. I have barely had sex with anyone since that happened. I can’t really imagine how I will get past it.”
•They went out for drinks with friends. Her not being much of a drinker, the Carnival City ‘Long Island Iced Tea’ hit her hard and quick and she became overly merry much to her partner’s irritation. Sleepy and still drunk, she ignored her partner’s rage as they drove home, then she went to bed alone. She awoke to find her partner in bed with her, trying to have sex. “She kept kissing me and grabbing at me, and I kept pushing her away, which was making her angry again,” she said. “Pretty soon I was struggling to get away in earnest, telling her ‘no’ over and over again. She had me pinned to the mattress, tearing my clothes off. As she started to have sex with me against my will, I panicked, then I blacked out.”
“Who do I tell, what do I say?”
•There was an argument overnight, which overlapped into the morning. Something to do with my flirting with someone. The bedroom door was locked and the key hidden. After being shoved onto the bed in a manner which one might have just be seen as a rough foreplay between lovers. Everything “intimate” happened against my will, including but not limited to oral sex. I am older than her, stronger, more athletic, but the shock of it all left me powerless, numb…. Tears silently falling, as my mind could not comprehend what had just happened. I could not tell anyone, it was both embarrassing and humiliating. I felt broken and ashamed. I couldn’t go to work.., a plausible explanation was given for my absence.
….Just a tip of the many lesbian stories that happen behind closed doors, with strings attached, untold, leaving deep emotional scars, well covered in timid smiles and gentle touches – the hidden female on female sexual violation.
It wasn’t until I sat down today at work and listened to one of the nurses giving a presentation on domestic violence that I eventually acknowledged that I have been sexually assaulted… I have always known, but my mind refused to register it. It was neatly folded and packed somewhere at the back of my mind where it was hopefully most likely to be forgotten.
She stole my voice….
Who do I talk to and what do I say?
Lesbian sex is hard to explain on its own. How does one begin to explain lesbian sexual assault. This is a crime so unthinkable that its victims repeatedly encounter mockery and disbelief, both from the community and from law enforcement. “A little lick, a finger or two or more couldn’t have been that bad, its not like there has been any penile penetration” Because of the prevalence of such responses, its perpetrators can strike again and again without fear of any repercussions. It is a crime that no one knows how to react to, because no one has any real image or understanding of what it is.
The only versions of lesbian rape that are well known are found in pornography, in which the “victim” invariably starts to enjoy the rape. With a social understanding based on that ludicrous information, it is no surprise that most police and prosecutors don’t take it seriously.
Besides, as lesbians we are constantly a centre of some religious or traditional attacks. Reporting a same sex assault will just aggravate the problem. Based on that, we end up not wanting our dirty laundry aired in the straight arena. We don’t want to give them more reasons to point fingers at us. So we pretend it’s alright, even when it isn’t.”
In almost all cases, all rape victims require medical care after the assault….
Doctor, “Are you sexually active? Is there any chance that you’re pregnant?”
Patient, “Yes and No.”
Doctor, “Have you been sexually active recently?”
Doctor, (condescending look) “Then how do you know you’re not pregnant?”
So, a lesbian dealing with medical personnel in the emergency room after an assault may likely have the added problem of deciding if and when to come out which may adversely affect one’s treatment. No semen equals to no pregnancy and no hiv/sti overlooking that other infections might occur due to the forced fingering, fisting and unprotected oral sex. Thus overlooking the proper administration of antibiotics or prophylaxis.
Then there are Test kits! The only means of linking a victim/survivor to a suspect….
How many of those rape kits are designed to include checking the DNA of another woman? How many health care workers have been trained and are professional enough to handle same sex incidents without any prejudice nor apathy. Rape is rape and it is traumatic to all its victims, more so when it happens between same sex individuals where prejudice, ridicule and discrimination is still to be endured….
As I sat there, listening to Domestic Violence presentations, feeling naked, tears weighing heavy on my heart with no one to talk to.
Sexual violation with strings attached to it, is but a bitter pill to swallow – being assaulted by the person you have loved, the person you trusted…
I acknowledged that she stole my voice…
I survived the silence!
If when reading this article the ghosts from your past awakens, find your voice and exorcise them. We cannot change our past but we cannot allow it to rule our present.
Reblogged from Inkanyiso on request of the author.
We have more on sexual assault within the community read The Sexual Conquests of Toni Johnson: An Epiphany. There is also a piece on helping someone in abusive relationship.
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