“How society socialized me into believing I was wrong/ guilty/ dirty/ ugly/ slutty and that my attacker was just horny/ drunk/ made a mistake/ just really liked me and how my rape was just non-consentual drunk sex.”
By Taylor Shiloh Kall
I got dressed that night. Picked up some clothing up from my floordrobe- you know, the closet on the floor- I got one of those. Tight short skirt. Check. Shirt, guess this will do. I remember standing there, staring at myself in the mirror while putting on my eyeliner and thinkin’, “hmm definitely not having sex tonight.” Apparently, Alex had a different plan.
I acted like a slut that night. I flirted, hard. I drank, hard. I got silly. I even flirted with him. For awhile I blamed myself for the rape, because hey, I FLIRTED! But wait— flirting doesn’t equal consent…
I was drunk. We stepped outside. He said, “hey baby, I’m really feeling you.” And I said, Aw thanks but no.” He said, “But you’re just damn irresistible.” and I said, “no.” He said, “let’s go back to your room chica.” and I said, “no.”
I didn’t scream. Even when he pushed me down on the couch. I didn’t scream. Not even when we bent my wrist the wrong way. I just remember being in that dorm lounge thinking, his friends are right down the hall. Someone save me. But I didn’t scream.
Society has taught me to need the stares. To crave them. Tease the boys. Buy lingerie. Lose 20 lbs, do it so they can’t resist. Resist for them. Guys can’t control it. Guys think with their dicks. Oh REALLY?
And when you’re raped, scream.
I didn’t scream. When it was all over, he said, “hey baby, let’s go back to your room.” I said, “uh no, can’t tonight, sorry love.” And I RAN.
I didn’t know how to say what had happened to me, because I was drunk, and I was flirting, and well, I thought, it was my fault. Where’d you go last night Taylor? It was the moment of truth. I thought, if my best friend Sammy responds to it negatively, I was raped. I said, “Alex had sex with me.” Sammy laughed and said, You were SO drunk last night!”
That laugh still haunts me. Because for months after I thought, I wasn’t raped. I couldn’t have been. I can’t be a statistic. I can’t be a victim. I followed him into Merrill. No. I said no. Again. After over a year of working through my grief, fear and anger, I say yes. Drunk non-consentual sex is RAPE. I was raped.
When I admitted to myself I am a survivor, the hardest step was admitting it to others. Society has taught me two things: 1- that I am a bad woman for being raped. 2- that I am a bad victim for speaking about it. Society has taught me that this rape was supposed to ruin my life. For awhile, I felt guilty that some days, I don’t even think about it. And that some days, it’s all I can think about.
I tend to get two responses, both outrage me. One, from my fellow survivors, a nod, a look, compassion, an oh-shit-you-too?
WHY? WHY MUST OTHER PEOPLE GO THROUGH THIS?
And then the other- the stammering, lack of eye contact, detachment, the I’m sorry. Everyone says they’re sorry, as if they hold the burden of my attackers guilt for him. no one ever says it’s not my fault. No one ever says, “I’m sorry, and I’m going to work actively against this.”
I’m here because I am not just a victim. I am a survivor. I am here because I need y’alls support. I need you to look me in the eye when I speak about sexual assault. I need you to turn to victims of assault and say, “I am here to support you. In whatever you need.” And I need you to mean it. Support me. Step up and fight back with me, and for me. I’m here today to support you, in whatever you need. I’m here today to once again reclaim my body, and to say to my fellow survivors- IT WILL NEVER BE YOUR FAULT. No matter how you’re dressed, how slutty you are, how drunk you are, it will never be your fault.
I demand that as a survivor, as a woman, as a goddamn human, I no longer be confronted with normalized sexual violence. Honor my survivalhood. Honor my strength. Cut the bullshit. Don’t whistle, holla, touch my body. Stop interacting with me in non-consentual ways. People tell me I’m irresistible. Guys say, “hey legs” when I’m walking down the street. And my legs look GREAT in this skirt. But let me break it to you- I. am. Resistible. I’m also powerful. Strong. Brilliant. Hilarious. Intelligent. Creative. And going to change the world. But holler’s never shout “Hey you, keep doing what your doing! Hey you, It’s gonna get better. Hey you, I got your back against all this sexism.. maybe if they did, they’d get a nod or a wink, instead of the finger.
So society taught me that I should stay quiet, as a woman, and as a survivor. My rape should remain shrouded in shame. But what am I supposed to do in the moments of being triggered when I’m sitting at my desk at work? What am I supposed to do when a pal of mine makes a roofie joke or someone’s facebook says, “lol, stop raping my status.” It is not my job to educate each of these people, no. It is not my job to share my pain, no. But who else is stepping up for me? No one else has made these demands for me.
What I demand is action. I’ve spent countless hours this past month trying to examine myself as a survivor with a shit ton of white privilege. I’ve read critique after critique by online bloggers, trying to understand, to shift, to change, to grow. But critique isn’t enough. Action is. And this is my demand. ACT YOUR RAGE. We’re starting something new, at least I am, and I need your help. I need your voices out here making demands for inclusivity. There is power in numbers and in bodies, and we’re not stopping here. It’s new to me, to take pride in surviving. Isolation is the key to my PTSD, and I can’t do this alone. Rather than critiquing this from afar, shape this into something that fits your reality. None of us are made any safer by making the distinctions between good feminists and sluts.
Today is just a moment. This is a moment where I cry out FUCK THIS SHIT. Where we all shout FUCK THIS SHIT, and from here we don’t stop. See for me, this is my start. I’m starting now and I’m not backing down and from here, we are going to build a movement. I want to celebrate us here today, and congratulate us on coming together. Yes, we’re really doing it. And no- rape culture and sexual assault aren’t going to end here, but we are taking steps. We must continue. We must keep going, keep loving, keep fighting.