When your rapist comes back to town

*Trigger warning*

As I’ve written before, I’m a sexual assault survivor. It’s been four years and my recovery is an ongoing struggle. I think that while the waters got very rough for a while, it’s been smooth sailing for me for quite some time now. I’ve had a couple of triggering moments in the past year, like reading comments and articles by people who aren’t very enlightened around issues of sexual assault, and observing victim blaming from so-called allies. And recently, I learned that my rapist is back living in my city.

When your bubble of personal safety has been burst as the result of a violent crime, as mine was, you are hyper vigilant for a time – or until the end of time. I am proactive in creating a safe environment for myself. But as we have written here over and over again, creating a safe environment doesn’t prevent assault. Having experienced that harsh reality first hand, at times, I find myself in fear (intense fear at times) of another assault.

Realizing that the man who stole your joy for a time may live up the street is a daunting realization and one that yesterday I realized scares the shit out of me. Do I inquire about getting a permit for a weapon? Do I learn more advanced self defense techniques? Does it scare me more that neither of these options will ultimately protect me from a man who makes the decision to assault me? My mind goes through a million different scenarios all at once.

And again I am reminded just how fragile the invisible safety bubble we invent is and how the perception that something bad won’t happen to you is misguided.

All of this is happening during a week where my brain is also processing XXL’s decision to run a video starring Too $hort teaching middle school boys how to commit sexual assault, Chris Brown being welcomed back to the Grammys as if Rihanna did this her face all by herself, Virginia literally trying to pass a bill that rapes women with a foreign object, the assertion that women in the military should “expect” to be raped, and the Republican party voting against the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

It has been a triggering week to say the least. TGIF.

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10 Comments

  1. J
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    i reeeeeally hope that link on “her face” is not a link to the leaked evidence photos of rihanna’s face…

    • Posted February 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately, it is. :(

      • J
        Posted February 18, 2012 at 12:32 am | Permalink

        okay, for real?! i can’t understand how this keeps happening, especially at a feminist-identified publication.

        folks, this is NOT OKAY. these photos were posted without Rihanna’s consent, we seriously need to stop using them to make our points. they are EVIDENCE, not publicity shots. using them is revictimizing Rihanna and it’s completely dehumanizing.

    • Posted February 18, 2012 at 12:07 am | Permalink

      Seconded.

      ZERLINA & FEMINISTING:

      It is NOT OKAY for you to link to this image.

      Rihanna’s body is not your illustration. Her abuse injuries are not there for you to make a point.
      Photos were taken as EVIDENCE. They are not publicity shots. They are not for bloggers.

      My rape kit is not your business.

      Just because she is black/female/famous/young, you don’t own her body.

      Show some respect.

      No re-victimizing, please.

  2. Posted February 17, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    I’m very sorry to hear that your rapist is living nearby, I hope you have the good fortune to never cross paths with him again.
    As for the list of issues you mentioned at the end of your article, I really hope these attempts to permit sexual abuse all fail. It’s horrible that anyone is even seriously considering not renewing the VAWA, and that people want to rape women, legally, as a prerequisite for abortions.
    Honestly, I doubt many of them have even spoken to someone who has survived some form of sexual abuse, and I will certainly be shocked if anyone who supports these acts has ever been a victim.

  3. Posted February 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    I’m uninformed on sexual assault laws since it’s not something I usually worry about. I can’t believe a rapist would be allowed to be anywhere near the victim. That’s like pouring salt on wounds. I’ve heard a few women in talk shows say that rape is worse than death, yet, it seems like convicted rapists are freely roaming around every city. I always assumed the law would at least require the offender to relocate.

    • Posted February 17, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      That’s assuming he was ever charged or convicted for the crime. Which doesn’t happen in most cases.

      I feel you on the triggers, Zerlina. Some days I can barely stand to pick up the newspaper or even get on here but I know that I can’t keep myself insulated from it forever. Stay strong :)

    • Posted February 17, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      Most rapists are never convicted for the crime, so it would be pretty impossible for the law to keep them away from their victims.

  4. Posted February 17, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    I would go for self defense courses, not that you’ll NEED them, but they are really healthy for your mind and alertness. Hell I think EVERYONE should do them, a lot of jobs will pay for them just ask your HR, I’ve actually never worked someplace that didn’t pay at least once a year (or once period) for a self defense class for their employees they feel its a preventative for their health care and they are right.

    It will be something you CAN do something about, when the rest, unfortunately besides therapy can leave you feeling like there isn’t much you can do.

  5. Posted February 18, 2012 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    I genuinely hope that you do not have to face that person ever again. I can only imagine how terrified and triggering hearing the news that this person has moved nearby can be.

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