This took courage. A letter to my oldest friend, about my rape.

Hey you,

your timing was perfect texting me the other day. I actually laughed out loud when I saw that you’d text me, it was as if the universe was like “hey love, you have friends!” and nudged you my way.

You asked how I was and I was so close to batting away the question with a flippant, “I’m fine!” and moving the focus back to you, but I decided that if i didn’t tell you how shit I was feeling then I was giving the universe the fingers, and that’s not cool. So, I said I was going to write you and since I said that I’ve been talking myself out of doing this quite effectively in fact, and now I feel like I’m stalling and possibly freaking you out more than you need to be.

Okay. So. Last year, over a weekend in June in Vancouver, I was raped. I found a flat on a website with one male room-mate, moved in and over that weekend he drugged and raped me, and then kept assaulting me over 2 days until I escaped. I know this is a shocking thing to read, I don’t feel the shock anymore, but I’ve very aware of how it would feel me reading it about, say you, for example. So, deep breaths, and that’s the worst of it. The story gets better from here.

As it turned out, I’m a pretty bad-ass rape survivor. I escaped, rang a rape crisis centre, had forensic evidence collected, found a safe place to stay, negotiated free counseling (that took WEEKS of bureaucracy and forms and statements), found a counsellor, talked to mum and dad. I decided that as horrific as this was, I was not coming home, I was still going to finish out my year of travel and have the Best Summer Ever in Vancouver, HE was not going to take that away from me. And I did. I had enough support immediately to get me through, until I could be in a safe place and really deal with this.

That’s what I’m doing now. I found a therapist when I got back to Auckland, and initially I saw it as a quick, “oh I might see her once or twice to deal with some issues I have around trust, but I’m pretty much fine.” I didn’t estimate how tough recovery would be. The last month I’ve been processing stuff I didn’t even know I carried, and it feels like it’s this endless slide down into crazy land. I feel like everything about me is up for review. Right now, I can’t decide what is me. It’s like, I see parts of who I am all separated, like puzzle pieces. And I can’t figure out if they are important to me, and where they fit. This is really bewildering and unsettling and depressing, but I do know that this isn’t endless, that things will get better and I’ll eventually be a stronger, whole person, all the better for having tackled this now.

I’m telling you this, because every time I tell someone important to me, then it gets a bit easier to accept that this happened to me, and helps me move past the unhelpful stuff I tell myself: that it’s my fault, that I could have prevented it, that it’s not that much of a big deal. People respond in lots of different ways, and often don’t know what to say, and that’s okay, we’re not really taught how to receive this news! I’ve had some people have unhelpful responses, so I’m trying to get better at letting people know what I need from them.

So, it feels really good to share this with you. It’s scary reaching out, but I feel that it’s important to my recovery.

If you’d like to ask questions about the specifics, I’m open to answering them, but if you’d prefer not to I completely understand that too. It would be great to talk about how my recovery is going, so feel free to ask how I feel and how I’m doing! Even though it’s hard to figure out how I fit together, I’m still the childhood friend you know, I still love talking about sex, drinking wine, dancing, dressing up, doing yoga and circus arts, being silly and laughing until I cry.

🙂

Okay, whew! I’m just going to press send now before I chicken out. Much love, I feel so glad to have you as a friend.

Write what you know. Well, I’m all about that recovery shit.

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Winter in Auckland. Exploring black sand dunes, feeling intrepid.

I’ve been thinking for a while about narrowing the scope of this blog. It’s my first blog, and I started it because there was so much I wanted to share and express! Initially, my idea was that I would write predominantly about S&M and feminism and relationships. I’d describe my blog to myself as: “thought-provoking” and “challenging”. Haha. In practice this is starting to feel like a chore. I’ll think of something that I want to write about, but thoughts are half-formed, I can’t put them down as eloquently as I’d like, and my dashboard is full of half attempted posts.

When I was kid and struggling with a creative writing homework project, my dad told me to write what I know. And I think I need to return to this. I’m going to start from what I know, and what I know right now is the recovery process following sexual assault.

I was raped last year, over the course of a weekend, by a room mate. I’ll write about it in more detail later, perhaps. I spent 8 months ‘dealing’ with it: living with it, but not processing it. Now, finally, I found a therapist and I’m processing and recovering and it’s really shit and really tough and hard and scary and lonely.

Today is a difficult day. I’m finding that Mondays usually are. Getting up, getting dressed, eating breakfast and going into work to sit staring at my computer seems so pointless, mundane, stupid. Yesterday I met my cousin at a restaurant for dinner, and I told her about the rape. Usually, when I tell someone, I’ve made a plan about how to tell them, and built myself up to deal with their response. I hadn’t done this with her though, it just sort of came out and apart from blushing and not being able to make eye contact, I felt very calm about it, it was the right thing to do.

As I’m coming to expect, she told me about her sexual abuse: age nine, from a family friend. I am no longer shocked by the number of women who have experienced sexual assault and abuse. Today, sitting in my office thinking about this, I feel defeated. And my trivial to-do list: putting together a two day conference, writing a plan for a workshop on Friday, making phone calls- seems completely ludicrous when I am feeling so sad and weary about the injustice and horror of all the rape in the world. Where the fuck do I start?

I recognise that today is a low day. Later on in the week, I’ll build myself back up. My anger at my rapist will continue to drive me towards my ultimate future career as a sex educator. Making this anger a positive force in my life is the only way I can live with it. My relentless work ethic will kick in and I’ll get my office to-do list done, and feel stronger in my sense of achievement. I’ll connect with friends, and travel this weekend to beaches and laugh and feel grateful and happy and alive.

Today, all I can do is try. Here is my alternative to-do list.

Monday:

– try to not cry in the bathroom at work

– try to feed myself well

– try to look busy whenever my manager walks past

– try to go grocery shopping and cook when I get home

– try to do some yoga

– try and have an early night

– try and remember: acceptance and impermanence. Feeling like I do today is part of recovery. It will pass.

One night with the mohawk. A ridiculously sexy evening.

The BEST sex toy ever. Holy Fuck. Just looking at this photo makes me wet.

The BEST sex toy ever: Njoy Pure Wand. Holy Fuck. Just looking at this photo makes me wet.

Prolonged eye contact over sushi. Dark chocolate iris, steady, quietly self-confident gaze. I’m loud, bubbly, laughing- at myself, at my jokes, at my life. Nerves. He makes me nervous!

Our server, crinkly smile, “How about yam tempura?”

Oh no, I answer, too quickly. “I’m not in a yammy mood today”. Oh god, what am I saying? Where did that come from? He laughs, genuinely, making eye contact again and then looking down, shaking his head a little, smiling to himself. Fucking gorgeous. I’m grateful that he doesn’t think I’m being a total tool. Thankfully, the waitress laughs too, and moves on.

He orders for me. I steal glances at his chest, arms, shoulders, neck while he does so.

I make an effort to observe silence between us. I don’t have to fill the space with conversation. It’s ok.

And it is. We chat over dinner, easily. Laughing often, it surprises me how easy it is. He interests me, and I ask him questions about his family, background, work, kink. He does the same to me, and I enjoy telling him, divulging pieces of myself to him, morsel by morsel. I like opening, letting him in. I trust him.

Later. He’s restrained me to his bed, naked, blindfolded. He’s still clothed, and I wriggle in sexy vulnerability. I want him to have me, my body, my eroticism, my hunger. It’s for him. He teases me, slowly, deliberately, so so quietly. I thrust my hips up to meet the hard point of something that stops just…just…above my clit. I gasp, groan, thrusting into thin air. I feel his breath and lunge up for a kiss, pulling against the restraints. He rewards me with a brush of lips. Fuck.

Ice cold, tingling lube on my nipples and clit. He leaves it there, it’s pleasantly uncomfortable. It increases my need for his tongue, finger, cock (Oh! Please!) to warm me up. Shock! An ice cold, ICE cold something slides up and down, between my clit and vagina. Oh god! I want to be touched there so, so badly, but not with something this painfully freezing! I squirm, twisting my body in the restraints, trying to squiggle of out reach of this fucking cold THING. He pins my knees apart, rests his weight on my hips, and slowly strokes up and down, up and down. It hurts and I whimper pathetically, tossing my blindfolded head from side to side.

It stops. He quickly gets off me and I think I hear him walk away. The sound of water running. Then silence. Then…the same hard smooth object, but this time it’s deliciously warm. My body responds instantly, spreading my knees as wide as they can go I thrust up and into it, moaning loudly, rubbing my clit up and down it’s spa-pool-warmth. He pauses at the entrance to my vagina. Then, I feel pressure, width (oh god, and it’s big! Bigger than I thought!), and he pushes it inside me. Fuck. Head spinning, hips thrusting, pussy juicing, back arching, I grind and fuck onto this warm metal ball, pressing hard on my gspot. Gasping, breathing quickly, hands clenching, working my hips, all I can feel and think is my approaching orgasm.

Can you come for me? The confidence, and quiet command in his voice almost tips me over right then.

Yes! Please! I’m almost incoherent.

Then give it to me! Fucking come, right now! I oblige, wave after wave of pleasure pulsating out from the point of gspot ball connect. Fuck, it’s good. And hard. Liquid fills me, with every contraction and I can feel it squeezing out, warm on my pussy lips and ass. And still I’m coming, driven by his horny growls “Oh yes baby, good girl, just like that, give it to me, oh good girl.” I bask in his pleasure, my pussy gives one final contraction, and I continue grinding and thrusting, wanting to give him more, but unable, for now.

My mission statement: a yearly check-in

Sunset at Pt Chevalier beach, Auckland, Queen's birthday weekend. Bliss.

Sunset at Pt Chevalier beach, Auckland, Queen’s birthday weekend. Bliss.

I am at my best when…

When I feel I am living true to myself, surrounded by family and friends who know and love me. When I love myself. When I feel proud, and motivated, happy, healthy, stimulated. When I feel general affection without an object. Relaxed, present. When I feel like I have agency- kicking ass and taking names.

I am at my worst when…

I am ignoring/editing/masking parts of myself. When I am too much in my mind, anxious, living in the past or future, obsessive. When I am mean to myself, hard on myself, angry at myself, sad. When I am bored. When I don’t feel like I have any agency to create positive change in my community, in society, even in my own life. When I feel unmotivated.

What do I really love to do at work?

Anything that is creative, fresh, new, stimulating, exciting, challenging. Helping others, working for non-profits. Supportive leadership roles, seeing people grow with my encouragement. ‘Leading from the middle (or behind)’, helping people help themselves. Something active, different, lateral. Designing my own work, my own career. Working in an inspiring team.

What do I really love to do in my personal life?

Be with people! Be social, make new friends, explore different parts of myself with others. Discover myself with my friends and family. Be physical, express with my body, sweat: dance, pole, aerials, yoga, bedroom work outs, hiking, swimming, cycling, kayaking. Playing! Discovering music that connects with me. Challenging myself to learn new skills. Building a richer spiritual life, meditating. Nourishing and respecting my body. Traveling, being out of my comfort zone, going to places where I am a stranger to everyone. Snuggling in bed. Reading a book. Having sex and exploring my sexuality.

My natural talents & gifts are…

Organiser. Smart facilitator. Educator. Self-reflective. Eloquent communicator. Mindful. Compassionate. Empathetic. Imaginative. Inquisitive. Positive. Determined. Focused. Effective negotiator. Calm in a crisis. Self-reliant. Independent.

External: creative writer, expressive performer, talented pianist, flexible and fit, tough and good stamina in physically challenging conditions, comfortable and friendly with wide variety of people and different situations.

 If I had unlimited time & resources & knew I could not fail, what would I choose to do?

I would set up and work at a sex-positive community centre. It would offer individual and couples therapy, sex education classes for teenagers and young people, workshops and seminars for all ages, safe play spaces, events and meetings, a library and resource centre. It would be free or very cheap for people to attend, and would cater to a wide variety of languages and cultures. It would be the space for anyone and everyone who is interested in discovering more about their sexuality.

My life’s journey is…

To love myself. To have an emotionally, physically, sexually and socially fulfilling life. To cultivate a rich personal spirituality. To support others to love their sexuality, and fully embrace it in their life. To help where I can, always. To serve those I love.

What would people say about you on your 80th birthday?

That I don’t let life past me by, that I truly live it, throwing myself at it with imagination and positivity. That I love my partner, family and friends passionately. That I am strong and fierce, caring and loving. That I am fun. Laughing stories about adventure, travel. That I create and support significant positive change in the lives of individuals and communities. That I will die, leaving the world a better place.

What do I consider to be my biggest future contribution to the most important people in my life?

To help them be the best people they can be. To support them to reach their full potential. To selflessly care for them. To make them feel important and very loved.

Are there things I feel I should change or alter, even though I’ve dismissed these thoughts many times? What are they?

Walking the talk. Being honest, having awkward conversations, not glossing over or hiding truth. Opening myself to people, showing vulnerability. Treating my partners with more integrity. Constantly checking my privilege. Being true to myself: not hiding parts of myself that I’m scared to show to people, not saying yes to things because I don’t feel I have the power to say no- create that power!

Imagine you could invite to dinner three people who have influenced you the most. Write their names & the one quality or attribute you admire most in these people.

Clarisse Thorn: she is a young, eloquent, inspiring S&M feminist. She creates her own career, field of study, life opportunities. She is a champion.

Gala Darling: she left everything to pursue her dream, and is rocking it. She lives self-love.

Dorothy Heathcote: she had a vision of alternative education and single-mindedly made it happen, and it was so holistic and healthy and honoured kids as human beings. She was determined.

What are your values? What is most important to you?

Living a life within the rules of karma. Serving others, treating them as good as, or better than you would like to be treated yourself. Reaping the rewards of good karma. Accepting the bad karma, and letting it go.

What are some goals you’d like to achieve this year?

Quit my job. Move to Toronto in September. Find volunteer and paid work in a job that aligns with my life journey: women’s shelter, rape crisis, sex ed, group facilitation, phone counselling. Apply for Masters programmes.

Deepen my relationship with K, and let it find its own parameters. Stay present with him, resist the temptation of future planning. Continue with celibacy until September- do it for self-love. Be brave to explore the cause of my triggers with my therapist.

Find a sense of peace with my sexual identity. Commit to regular focused meditation practice, train my mind to become calmer, quieter.

Perform a pole and/or aerial silks routine. Develop a plan for yoga teacher certification. Continue to find healthy ways to feed myself, to give my body the food it needs.

Meet everyone with the possibility of deep connection and friendship. Have sparkling conversations. Dance and hike as often as possible.

See my parents at least once every month and a half. Focus on the time we have together, appreciate them for who they are and everything they’ve done for me. Ignore their perceived flaws.

What kind of image do you hope to project?

A woman who knows herself, without a doubt. She knows her limitations and weaknesses, she knows her strengths and triumphs. She is dependable, trustworthy. People are drawn to her, she is interesting, engaging, entertaining, fun. She is sparkly. Her motivation and drive inspire those around her. She is calm, incredibly caring. People feel relaxed and comfortable around her. People want to be open with her.

 Is it similar or dissimilar to the image you’re projecting right now?

I’m on track. I need to work more on being more dependable, honest, and strong in my sense of self. I think I’m pretty sparkly already! And I know that people open up to me.

What are your roles in life?

Sister, daughter, friend (social, spiritual, supportive, lover), facilitator, national organiser, employee, educator, performer, volunteer, yogini, writer, traveller, activist, participant, submissive (to K), aerialist in training.

Are you happy with them?

Yes. Very much so.

Apart from: employee.

And I’d like to take ‘national’ away from organiser (this will happen in September), and ‘in training’ away from aerialist (this will happen with time and dedicated practice).

I wrote my first personal mission statement at the beginning of 2012 after reading an inspiring article by the one and only Gala Darling- check it out! She gives great ideas on how to get started with this. I love it.

A new (or old?) coat of submission

This is how it goes:

K: Love you
Me: Love you too
K: Just remember
You’re mine
You belong to me

This is how it goes, the heart-beat quickening response, the breathy breaths, the stomach flipping Love. This is how it goes, the rejection of should and should-nots, the angst of semantics, the intellectual reasoning and double-checking and theorizing and reading and writing and endless, circular thinking…

This is how it goes. The unexpected familiarity of something deeply known, relaxing into submission. The sudden, peaceful calm. This is how it goes, full of perceived indecision when really, was there ever a decision? Didn’t I first make it, when we kissed and he tangled his hands in my hair, drawing me in and holding me? Was there ever really a question, after suddenly stumbling into him and waking up to who I really was?

This is how it goes, side-stepping the what-ifs, witnessing my frantic ego build walls, watching myself work up into a terrified frenzy and then, with three simple lines, just…knowing.

This is how it goes, this path to being owned.

Blissful nights. Toronto December 2012

Blissful nights. Toronto December 2012

 

A year ago today, I was raped.

From the genius hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

Photo from the genius hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

That look. That’s the one. Undisguised sympathy, horror, shock, pity. The “Oh!…”, then left hanging, mouth still forming the word, silence. Eyes searching me now, both of them, questioning, pity. “Are you..?” “Did you…?” So tentative it hurts me, it makes me want to shake them, to laugh it off, to pretend that I just told them I had the flu or something. To be normal about it. I over compensate: “Well, I am an excellent rape survivor!”

I force a smile, looking everywhere but at them, talking far too loud, cutting through the painful pity with bravado. “I did all the right things, sought help, found counseling, contacted the police. It’s fine, really. I’m fine.” I look at them now, make fleeting eye contact. “I’m fine”. Looking away, wiping sweaty palms, grinning stupidly, looking at ceiling, door, window, floor, STD posters, handbag, back at them quickly, glancing from eyes to eyes. Beseeching: be normal, I’m fine, talk normally, let’s move on, let’s forget about it, I’m fine, I’m fine.

“Is he incarcerated?” Of course they ask that. Of course. I lie. “It’s going through the legal system at the moment.” “Did they catch him?” Fuck. I dodge the question, unable to lie again, but not willing to tell the truth either. “He was my room mate.” Them, again: sympathy, horror, shock, pity. Me, again: glancing everywhere, wiping palms, grinning, nodding my head. It’s fine. I’m fine.

She turns back to her computer. Her colleague, a medical student from the University of San Francisco looks over her shoulder. They are suddenly fixated on that white screen and I have a welcome reprieve. Only for a couple of seconds, and then the questions come thick and fast. I’m pinned.

“Have you been treated and tested for any STDs since the rape?”
“Have you been vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B?”
“Have you been tested for HIV?”
“Was your attacker a drug user?”
“Was he an intravenous drug user?”
“Do you know if he was high risk?”
“How many sexual partners have you had in the last 3 months?
“How many of them have been new?”
“Did you use condoms with them?”
“Were any of them intravenous drug users?”
“Did you have anal sex with any of them?
“Did you have oral sex?”
“With all of them?”
“Have you ever had sex with someone you met online?”
“How long ago was that?”
“Did you use a condom?”
“Have you had anonymous sex before, where you wouldn’t be able to contact the person the next day?”
“How many times?”
“When was the most recent?”
“Have you taken any recreational drugs in the last 6 months?”
“Any thing else?”
“Have you ever been pregnant?”
“Are you allergic to any medications?”
Have you..are you..when was..did you..

They leave the room. All of a sudden I’m fighting back tears. Fuck! Why this, why now? I’m fine. I swallow a sob, breathe, force myself to look at my hands. I can’t look at the posters on the walls- syphilis, chlamydia, HIV. Diseased blood, diseased bodies, sickness, infection, viruses spread from person to person, through pleasure, through force. Infecting someone else with your genitals, semen, saliva, blood.

Trigger.

I’m in the emergency ward at Vancouver General Hospital with the sexual assault team- two young nurses and my two support workers from Vancouver Rape Relief. I’m wearing jeans that are too big for me now, an orange cardy, a scarf. Hair tied in a bun, unwashed. I’m numb. They’re doing a forensic rape kit- swabbing my cervix, outside of my vagina, looking for cuts. Documenting bruises on my arms, thighs, chest, neck. I get a paper bag to put my underwear, tights, singlet, dress in.

Trigger.

“He was so full of disgust, disgust at the world and at himself, that he could not weep. He was also disgusted by the murderer. He did not want to regard him as a human being, but only as a victim to be slaughtered. He did not want to see him until the execution, when he would be lain on the cross and the twelve blows crashed down upon him- then he would want to see him, want to see him from up close, and he had had a place reserved for himself in the front row. And when the crowd had wandered off after a few hours, he wanted to climb up onto the bloody scaffold and crouch next to him, keeping watch, by night, by day, for however long he had to, and look into the eyes of this man, the murderer of his daughter, and drop by drop to trickle the disgust within him into those eyes, to pour out his disgust like burning acid over the man in his death agonies- until the beast perished…” (Perfume, Patrick Suskind).

Writing my draft police report. Feeling the anger rise inside me, pure energy, rising up like a shout, a yell, trapped at the start of my throat. Like restless legs, trapped muscles, ringing ears, dizzy head, twitching fingers, cramping feet, nausea rising- physical. Racing, out of the crisis centre, into the quiet, drizzly suburban street. Racing, block by block, walking blindly, drizzle dampening my scarf, my hair, feet and body moving, not fast enough, not exhausting enough, moving moving moving moving. Heart pumping. Hate. So much hate.