‘Your Forgiveness is my Anathema’- A Response.
It’s four am. I can’t sleep. The article still bothers me. It’s still up on the Quirk page, still out there promoting rape culture and every day it stays up is another day a sexual assault victim is trivialized, and an assaulter is reminded he can be given a free pass.
(Hereinafter, I will be using male pronouns for assaults and female pronouns for victims, for ease of expression, although both victims and assaulters can be from either gender.)
This is a public request to take down your article. I will not use your name although most people already know who you are. I do not want to direct more people to your article nor do I want to direct my anger solely towards you. (Ideally, it would be directed at all of the people who thought fit to share and like your article, without thinking of the message this sends to victims and sexual assaulters, it’s also directed to everyone who shares the same beliefs expressed in your article).
Sexual Assaulters are fortunate enough to be able to forget about their ‘victims’, are able to compartmentalize an act as just that, a singular act that has no bearing on the rest of their life. You are fortunate enough to be able to distinguish the part of your friend that assaulted someone and the rest of his personality.
As a survivor, I am not that fortunate.
The first time I was assaulted, the manager told my family that their request to fire the employee was impractical, see they didn’t have enough proof and a legal battle over wrongful termination was too much effort, too complicated. As an employee, he was very good at his job, and they had no valid reason to fire him (except for the whole molestation of a ten-year-old-girl thing).
Its been 12 years, and I still scream when someone touches my neck. I still can’t sleep with the lights turned off. I still burn myself with cigarettes when I’m walking on streets alone, so the fear won’t paralyze me.
He didn’t even have to switch jobs.
The second time I was assaulted, his friends laughed when he said goodbye to me at the bar, it didn’t matter that I was fifteen and he was twenty-six, and it didn’t matter that he had gotten me so incredibly drunk that I wouldn’t have been able to spell cat let alone consent to sex.
It didn’t matter because my version didn’t count, for his friends. His did.
The third time I was assaulted, our friends told me I wanted it. That they were here for me but they were pretty sure I misunderstood. They were sure he didn’t “mean to do it.” My feminist friends assured me that if I spoke to him, he’d be able to clear up everything. I’m not sure there is a way to clear up things like why he slipped drugs into my drinks without my consent or knowledge, why he thought not using protection was absolutely fine, why he kept going when I begged him to stop.
He was my best friend; they had no idea how much I wanted to be wrong about him. They absolved him of guilt and went back to being friends with him within the month. It’s been three years and I still can’t talk about what he did to me. I told my friends it was the drugs that made me lose nine kilos because I couldn’t tell them that putting food in my mouth felt like reliving the assault all over again.
My oldest friend has been dating him for the last two years. After all, “everyone makes mistakes”.
You do not have the right to talk about how hard your month of reconciliation, of the man you thought he was and the error he made, was when I still can’t sleep with the lights off even though it’s been years. You may be unwilling to live in a world where forgiving perpetrators of sexual assault is not acceptable, but I am not willing to live in a world where sexual assault, is so rampant, and society and all its members refuse to recognize the extent of trauma that is inflicted on us. You do not have the right to forgive him for what he did to me.
More importantly you don’t have the right to call yourself a supporter. It discredits actual supporters and allies. To say you are akin to my friends who have left their visiting boyfriends to sit with me on the roof till 4 am because I didn’t have the strength to stop myself from jumping of(f) the roof, or my roommates who try to make peace with the fact that I sleep with all the lights in my room switched on and don’t complain when I wake them up if I have a nightmare, or the people who were unafraid to take on the consequences of hurting my assaulter so he’d stop contacting me, and basically everyone who actually supports people like me is down right insulting.
You cannot cheer for him in a match and expect me to believe you don’t support him. Saying you support me from the convenience of a public article, only makes you feel better about yourself. It does nothing for survivors, The assault affects everything; we do not have the ability to just disconnect it from the rest of our lives. So what gives you the right to disconnect my assault from the rest of the perpetrator’s life and how on earth do you think that is what ‘being supportive’ looks like?
Not forgiving my rapist doesn’t make you an “angry feminist stereotype”, it just makes you a decent human being. Sexual assault is not forgivable and certainly not by you. The worst part is knowing that I wasn’t the first person they assaulted and I highly doubt I’ll be the last. People don’t reform themselves, unless they absolutely have to and reformation is not a quick, overnight process. People like you are the reason, people like him think what he did to me is not that big of a deal.
If you bothered to understand what we go through, you would have the decency to not laud your selective support and compartmentalization, as feminism.
So please take down your article. If not for me, do it for all the other potential rapists and victims who will eventually stumble across your article.
P.S. Putting disclaimers before your pro-rape culture statements don’t make them more acceptable.
(I genuinely don’t want my assault history to go viral. I wish I felt like law school was a place where I could sign my name, a place where my assault wouldn’t become nest week’s gossip column, unfortunately it clearly isn’t. Here’s to hoping that it soon will be.)