Anyway, I was really into The Secret: I watched the movie, I read the book, I even had my own ‘visualisation’ scrapbook where I put all my dreams, wishes and all that I hoped to accomplish. A flat Britney Spears stomach was high on the list.
And while what happened to me didn’t follow this theory exactly, I spent the whole of 2011 on rape. I took rape and made it mine. Each day I delved deeper and deeper into all that it meant and contained, its consequences, why it happens, its rationalisations, when it happens. I studied feminist theories, developmental theories, psychopathology, cultural structures and norms. I studied male sexuality. All of this knowledge was stitched into my skin, before I was raped.
I spoke to male students about rape. Extensively. I spoke to them about what they think about rape, how they perceive rape. I debated rape with them. The topic flowed from inside of me and over into these discussions as naturally as any other part of my history that I have ever had to talk about.
Even though the study was specifically for male students, girls came to me and asked to be interviewed. I was an inexperienced researcher and wanted all of the practice that I could get so I interviewed them. But that wasn’t the only reason. Before I started each interview, I knew why they were asking to be there. They had been raped and they wanted to know what made me care about rape to the extent that I was doing research on it, and I knew how to speak to them.
My friend at the honours party recognised this, and came to me for the same reason. And in the bonding process of healing and love and counselling about rape, we were raped.
I’d focused my life so completely on rape, was the only possible outcome for me to be raped? I know it’s silly to compare this to The Secret, but I can’t help thinking that way. I can’t help wondering if it was my fault.
My housemates and I decide to have a Digs Formal, with dates and a big dinner. We have a theme, Famous Couples, and I want to be Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton, because then I would get to wear leather and have tattoos drawn. Ashley and Mackenzie organise a date for me, Josh, one of Ashley’s friends.
We spend the afternoon mixing two bottles of gin, a couple of bottles of wine and orange juice into some kind of cocktail-like substance. Ashley and I cut up black bags and spread them across the carpet, cello-taping them together and at the corners of the room. Spills avoided.
Mackenzie draws a dragon tattoo on my right arm while Ashley puts on her cowboy boots and hat and short shorts. Malini wears a mini-dress for her role as Bond girl and Jessica has a skin-tight batgirl costume she wriggles into.
We’re ready. I’m nervous when Josh walks up the stairs, but his arms are covered in more tattoos than mine and we immediately start joking around.
I have fun chatting with Josh, he is easy-going and I don’t have to make a weird sneezing noise in order to pronounce his name.
We have pizza on the carpet that we covered with black bags.
At once stage I decide to put on a glittery, green hat.
“If Angelina had a hat like this I think she would wear it,” I tell Josh.
“I agree,” he nods solemnly.
I enjoy Josh because he knows how to treat me and I can tell he’s a complete person. We go to Deco Dance, a club where everyone dances, has two sips of beer, and then goes back home. We’re making out on the couch when I fall off it and start laughing. When we go to my bedroom, we get undressed. I do it almost without thinking.
I’m scared to tell him to stop because 1) I don’t want him to think I’m a prude and 2) what if he doesn’t listen and 3) how did we get here anyway?
“Can we just cuddle for a bit?”
He draws me to him and wraps his naked body around mine. I listen to him breathe. I wonder how I turned into the girl who can’t draw boundaries. The girl who feels like I have no authority in bed. I used to want to be virginal and pure. I missed out on that boat because I never defined myself sexually, I have no idea how to act or where to draw the line when I’m with a guy. I have never been respected and I have no idea how to respect myself. I want to be virginal and pure but I also want to be sexy and sexually empowered.
The next morning I wake up to the sounds of everyone laughing outside, so I join them.
When Josh tries to talk to me, I look away from him. He chats to the others, but I never make eye contact. When my housemates crawl into Ashley’s bed to watch a movie together, I get in next to them. Josh looks at us and knows he’s not welcome.
“Bye,” he kisses my cheek.
I’m relieved when he’s gone.
I have no idea how to speak to or interact with men anymore. I also have this vague feeling that they would dislike me severely if they ever got to know me, the real me. Add the rape to that… well. Overall, I thought it was better to pretend, to flirt and get drunk. As previously mentioned, being raped didn’t take away my sexual desires. A lot of the time, I want to let loose, be carnal and go for it without worrying about all my baggage and all of my Feelings and Emotions. But I learn the hard way, you can’t outrun your feelings, no matter how hard you try.