Sunday, August 30, 2009

Understanding Rape

Everyone knows that rape is wrong. Not everyone understands that rape occurs every time a person's "no" isn't respected and one's personal boundary is violated.

For example, a male friend once asked for my advice because his girlfriend was suddenly distant and wouldn't talk to him about what was going on with her.

When he told me the details of the last time they were fine together, I was horrified.

"I didn't rape her!" the pig protested in response to my facial expression. "She wanted it. I know she did. I could tell!"

"She said, 'no,' yet you continued to undress her and had your way with her," I pointed out to the idiot.

He became despondent. "What do I do, now?"

"Hang it up because it's over and there's no way you can fix it. My guess is that she hasn't told you yet because you've been together for awhile and you saved her from her ex-husband. But, really, if a woman can't trust a man with her body, she can't trust him. Period."

A week later, he reported that she had broken up with him and a few months after that, he left the state.

What some people don't understand is that rape isn't limited to violent sexual assault. Any time a person's "no" isn't respected and the person is coerced into something only because someone else wants it, it is rape:

Rape of the soul and spirit.

I'm not talking about discussions and arguments that persuade you to do things that you eventually may or may not come to agree were good to do.

I mean verbal battering that forces you into doing or giving up what another person wants, the way that s/he wants, without consideration or compromise. The issue isn't what's best for you. The issue is the rapist having control and power over you.

The psychological rapist uses verbal assaults that may include such tactics as belittlement, emotional blackmail such as "you'd do it if you love me" or threats of ending the relationship, persistent phone calls, ignoring your need for sleep, and disrupting other typical activities in order to coerce submission that may include submitting to sex.

The rapist doesn't allow the option of not doing what the rapist insists upon.

The victim feels beat-up mentally and emotionally and, as with sexual rape, can never come to agree that it was good.

For a personal example, my fourth grade teacher once took it upon herself to make me eat salad. She never made any other child eat whatever portion of their lunch they left behind, but for some reason, I and the salad left untouched on my lunch tray whenever it was served stuck in her craw.

She seated herself on the other side of my desk and insisted that I eat my salad.

"Salad makes me sick," I objected.

"It's good for you," she said.

"My parents don't make me eat salad. It makes me sick," I tried again.

"I'll feed it to you like a baby if you won't eat it yourself."

I didn't and she did, forkful by forkful, humiliating me in front of my classmates until the salad was gone and my stomach was churning.

"There, that wasn't so bad, was it?" she gloated in triumph.

As if on cue, I vomited onto the lunch tray and the teacher left me in disgust. Cleaning up alone and shaking, I reassured myself that it wasn't my fault because I had warned her. Why didn't she believe me?

It doesn't matter. What matters is that she violated my personal boundary, humiliated me, caused me to be physically ill, destroyed my sense of well-being in the classroom, and shattered my trust in teachers as safe people by abusing her position of authority in the classroom.

If you're trying to make excuses for a psychological rapist, if you're wanting to salvage the relationship and thinking that s/he is basically a decent human being who simply doesn't understand what rape is and how it affects someone, explain it. If you're right, s/he will apologize for causing you anguish and will take care to never do it again.

If no apology is forthcoming, or if you get an apology but it happens again, walk away and stay away.

Nobody deserves to be treated as badly as that.

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