Let's look at the definition of victim:

A person or living creature destroyed by, or suffering grievous injury from another, from fortune or from accident

Obviously, anyone who has ever been raped, has been a victim. You have been harmed by someone, sometimes someone you trusted, and you are suffering. Sometimes silently, sometimes out in the open.

If you get past the hurt and the pain, move forward, and let the past stay in the past, does that not make you a survivor? You're outliving the event. You are one who survives. You are following the definition of survive, which is:

To remain alive or in existence. To live or persist through.

In my not so humble opinion, everyone who has been raped is both a victim and a survivor. Its just a matter of deciding which aspect of the aftermath to focus on. YMMV.

Personally, I consider myself a survivor.

This is a long story, forgive me.

I was seventeen. It's more than thirty years ago. It hasn't gone away yet.

It doesn't exactly haunt me, but it doesn't go away either. Something gets said, a story gets reported in the paper or the news and it all comes back. Every detail stark and clear.

It never goes away.

It started in the school holidays. I had a vacation job, nannying a couple of young boys and I would finish around four when their mother got back from work. It wasn't too far from home, and I'd generally get back at four-thirty or five depending on whether I stayed on for a coffee and gossip with the mother.

My parents worked thirty miles away and Mum generally got home after seven and Dad later still, so, unless they called to say we were eating out or bringing home a takeaway, I would prepare a meal for everyone. If I was going out with my friends, I'd leave it in the oven. I was a rather serious, very responsible kid and I never really did the rebellion thing. My parents had enough to deal with with my kid brother. He was a year younger than me, very bright, but disruptive, lazy, a petty criminal and a liar; always in trouble. His behaviour had got him sent to a boarding school for underachievers. I envied him somewhat -- the facilities there were incredible, the teacher:pupil ratio incredibly low -- I'd have loved that kind of environment.

So, I got home, got dinner prepared, and sat down to read, saying a quick 'Hi' to my brother, who was, of course, home for the holidays. It seemed like the school was doing him some good, he'd been more pleasant than ever before, even seemed to have overcome his habit of swinging a punch at me whenever he passed.

I was sitting there with a book in my hand when a cord of some kind dropped round my neck and tightened, and tightened. I blacked out.

When I came to, the cord was still tight around my neck, and there was something over my eyes - I couldn't see. I heard "Put your hands behind your back now, or I'll kill you." I never for a moment doubted that he meant it. Even now, in retrospect, I don't doubt it. I did what I was told. With one hand holding the cord at my neck he slipped something else over my hands and my wrists. It was already looped and he pulled it tight before letting go of the thing throttling me.

Then he gagged me, and pushed me onto the floor. I don't know why he gagged me -- we lived in a detached house with grounds, even if I'd screamed my throat raw, nobody would have heard me. I guess he just didn't want to listen to anything I said.

He rolled me onto my back, undid my shirt and pushed my bra up to expose my breasts, then pulled off my skirt and underwear. Then he screwed me.

He took his time about it. I remember pain. Pain in my shoulders, in my arms, my neck and between my legs. I remember fear. Fear that if I did anything, struggled or kicked I would die. I remember shame, because I was too cowardly even to struggle. Behind the blindfold I was crying, and my tears made the cloth wet.

When he had finished, he pushed me roughly onto my side and undid my hands. He told me contemptuously to get dressed. He said that if I even thought about telling anyone, he would kill me. I believed him. I did as I was told. And I thought it was over.

It wasn't over.

Two days later. A weekend. I was working in my room on an A Level project. I didn't hear my parents go out.

Again, exactly the same.

I started going to my best friend's house from work, staying there till I was sure one of my parents would be home. I told her, but swore her to silence.

The last day of the holidays, he was at a friend's house, staying over. I was going to a party for a group of my friends, going to university. Came home from work, had a bath.

He was waiting for me as I came out of the bathroom. He must have been home all along.

Again.

Afterwards, I fled to my best friend. We went to the party, and I was trying to act normal, trying not to flinch when my boyfriend touched me, or kissed me. A boy I knew quite well was flirting around, saying he was going to steal the prettiest girls from their boyfriends. One of the others started listing names. When he got to mine, the flirty boy said "No, not her. She's lovely, but she's too pure and virginal for me."

I felt as if I had been stabbed. I started shaking. Tears filled my eyes, but I smiled and made an excuse to go outside. My best friend followed and held me while I cried.

Things eased a little after that. He was back at school, only home at the weekends. On Fridays I stayed late in the college library working, and had my mother pick me up from there. I just made sure I was never alone with him. It wasn't a solution, but it was an answer of sorts.

Then came New Year's Eve. I was booked to work, Mum and Dad were going out. I knew the friends they were going to and I knew that they would be very, very late. Hours after me. I knew I couldn't face it, couldn't be alone with him.

I spoke to my mother. I asked her to come home early. When she asked, I told her why.

She looked at me with horror. She said she couldn't deal with it now, but we would talk about it when they got home. She said she'd be back at the same time as me. Then she went and told him what I said.

They got home half an hour before me. He was gone, leaving a note saying "I know you'll believe her, and not me, so I'm going". My mother said "If anything happens to him, I'll never forgive you." I've never forgotten that. Nor has she, poor Mum. I think knowing she didn't believe me, and that she said that, haunts her more than anything haunts me.

The police were called. They were told there had been an argument, but no details. They found him, miles away, and brought him home.

The cross-examination went on all night.

It finally became absolutely clear that I was telling the truth. Every get-out he was offered, he took. "It happened, but we were experimenting, she wanted it too.", "She provoked me into it, wandering round the house in a towel" and so on. I told my story, over and over and over. I didn't have to change it, it was true.

Then Dad asked "Were you a virgin before?".

Did he really think that mattered? I guess he did. I told my only lie of the evening. I said "Yes". I hadn't been promiscuous before, but I had had sex, once.

He gave my brother a beating. Coldly and clinically.

We agreed that I wouldn't, couldn't go to the police. It would have torn the family apart. What's more, everyone would have known, and I didn't want them to. Name supression or not, it would have got out. The county court was in my town, I knew half the people who worked there.

My parents promised to protect me from him. To have him kept at school if for any reason they had to be late, or away, until one of us left home -- probably me, when I went to university the next year. I agreed.

And so, it was over.

Only it wasn't.

I still had to see him.

A year later. My parents had made good on their promise. I was going to university the next day, I was going out. I was getting ready. Heard the phone ring, but thought nothing of it. Mum was on her way home, would be there any minute, she always was.

I didn't know her car had broken down. Didn't know that the neighbour, who she had asked to come round and tell me she would be late had phoned and told him instead. Mum had carefully phoned them instead of calling home to make sure that I was the one who knew she was late, not him. She'd even told the neighbour that we had a problem with the phone, to make her come round, but she had decided "just to try calling first". She wasn't to know.

Again. And he laughed at me.

I went out. When I got home, my parents could see there was something wrong. He sat there smirking until I said "He did it again."

This time, Dad wasn't cold. If I hadn't stopped him, he would carried on hitting my brother until he did him real injury, maybe worse, but that would only have got Dad in trouble.

That was the last time.

But it wasn't over. Isn't over.

Sometimes, though very, very rarely, I still have to see him. If I'm alone in the same space with him, even for a minute, I'm terrified. And I shake, and I feel sick. I've never been able to tell my husband, even that I was raped because I know if I did, he would kill my brother. I don't think it, I know it.

Things remind me. It isn't over.

And in many ways, I was one of the lucky ones. From the very first time, I knew it wasn't about sex, or desire. I saw it for what it was, an act of hatred and violence and an exercise of power. It didn't really distort my view of sex at all.

I never blamed myself for it. I never thought I "asked for it", or I deserved it. I've wished I'd fought more sometimes, but I'm still sure if I'd fought I'd have died. And I'm glad I'm alive.

I've been married for 26 years, I have a daughter who has grown up beautiful, bright and well-mannered and now has a son of her own.

I teach. I love it, and I'm good at it.

I've published twelve non-fiction books, short stories, poems and articles.

I got first class honours in my Arts Bachelors and my Science Masters.

I've been a rape counsellor from time to time, and work with The Samaritans.

I'd say I'm a survivor, not a victim.

But it's never over.

A while ago, I was talking to a friend of mine who had been raped a long time back. We were just discussing it, comparing battle scars, when I slipped out the phrase '...you're a rape survivor'.

She punched me. Hard.

The explaination was given to me along these lines:

"I am not a rape survivor. I am not a rape victim, or sufferer or anything else. I am not a rape-anything. I AM ME. Nothing else but me. Yes, I was raped, but that doesn't mean I'm a survior, victim or otherwise. It's a thing that happened to me, not something I am. I survived being raped, I'm not a rape survivor. Sorry if I hit you too hard."

That girl has some arm on her... ** wince **

It's only been three years since I was raped, but sometimes I forget that it ever happened. That's how I deal with pain. I forget about it. But sometimes I see something, or hear about something, and the memory comes back, and it sticks in my head and I can't get it out again for a long time...and I cry.

The year before my mother and her boyfriend and I moved into a new apartment, my boyfriend dropped me off at my house from a date, kissed me, and went home. It was around 9:00PM on a Wednesday, during the summer. I remember going in my house, smiling, and waving to my mom's boyfriend, whom I liked and respected very much. He was kind, and funny, and laid back, but he had his share of rough edges. Sometimes he got drunk, but he wasn't a violent drunk, until my mother pissed him off. Then he threw things and hit her and screamed at her, but sitting in my room, listening, I knew she deserved it. My mother is very hate-worthy, but I love her when she's not a bitch.

I looked into the kitchen to see my mother's boyfriend at the table, reading the paper, and I waved, asking where mom was. He told me that she was called into work for the night shift and that she'd be home in the morning. I nodded and went into my room, changed into a night gown, and flopped on the couch in the living room to watch some TV.

A little over an hour later, I jumped when I felt hands on my shoulders, and my eyes were wide with surprise as I tried to sit up and he wouldn't let me. He felt me up from behind, and I smelled alcohol in the air. I was scared...I didn't think anything like that would ever happen to me.

I remember staring at the TV as the magic show I was waiting to see came on, and he slid onto the couch in front of me. I was too afraid to move, and I get so angry at myself sometimes when I think of how I never fought back...I should have fought him. I said no, over and over, but he didn't listen. The alcohol clogged his brain...and he raped me. I had only had sex once before that, so it hurt, more than the loss of my virginity had...maybe because I was scared. Maybe because I knew there was no love involved...maybe because I didn't want what was happening.

I don't know how long it was until he finished with me, but the magic show had gone off when I sat up. Maybe an hour...maybe an hour and a half, or two. He went back into the kitchen, sat at the table, drank more and passed out. I stood, watched him through the far off door way to the kitchen until I knew he was asleep...and then ran into my bedroom, closed and locked the door, and cried for the rest of the night. I was afraid he'd come back for more...I was afraid he'd kill me...I was just afraid.

I never mentioned anything to any of my mother about it...she would never have believed me. It took me a year and a half to even tell my boyfriend about it. I made him promise to say nothing, and he never did. After the move, the man lived with us, and he still lives with my mother now, but I moved away. I couldn't stand the fighting, or the abuse from my mother, or the fear of my now step-father.

I was raped, but I do not see myself as a victim or as a survivor...I see myself only as myself who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't ask why, and I don't blame myself...but it still hurts.

I forgave the man who raped me, but I still haven't forgiven myself for not fighting back.

I was young. I was so young, and beautiful, filled with light and beaver dams and summer. It's so hard to go back there, but I do it for you, because I love you.

One day, so long ago it seems, I was a tiny, vibrant child running through a vast forest. This vast forest was a stand of trees separating my house from that of my grand-uncle. I can't even guess at the dimensions now, but to a boy of three years, these trees were a wonder, a journey fraught with dangers which could easily take the unwary. I was not one of these: I could run through there and never become entangled by a root or snagged by a thornberry bush. Once, playing in my bedroom, attempting to place my small, black-and-white television which took two minutes to warm up on the top bunk, my ancient telephone rang its tired ring. My mother answered: Audrey baked fresh ginger snaps, and uncle Chris wanted to see me. I spun, a child's mad spin, and flew out the door, with the joy only ginger snaps could bring causing my eyes to shine brighter than any stars in the nighttime sky.

Their house was like a quiet rest after a long hike in the woods. Quaint, there was a timeless wrought-iron wood stove in the kitchen, and a gigantic grandfather clock standing sentinel by the door. But the pendulum never swung, and the stove was never lit. The living room was small, with enough room for three old people and a child of three to play TV Bingo in, safely, with room for ginger snaps to spare. Downstairs was the main bathroom with its strange double faucets and lack of cupboards underneath. There was Sandy's room, but I never saw it. Don't ever go in Uncle Sandy's room with him, Devon, sometimes he can do things that mommy's told you about, he'll touch you in your private parts. He's sick, Dev. Remember. Don't go in his room. So I never did. I didn't want anyone touching my private parts. My private parts were for peeing, that's all. Upstairs was a small bathroom with no bathtub, but the door was broken. You had to kind of squish your way through, imagining yourself like an accordion, inhaling and growing long. Upstairs was also grampy Jim's and Audrey's room. Chris was waiting up there like a carrion bird with dull eyes and a friendly voice.

Conflict.

I had smiles of intangible happiness to share, and when he spit on my hand for lubrication, I remember thinking how nice the sunset is over the soon-to-be-bare trees. Some time passed, and I was somewhere else, flying through the warm summer air on a cushion of clouds. I remember being pushed up, up into the sky, where no harm or pain could come to me. I remember how sticky the air was at times: it could sneak up on you, and before you knew what had happened, you were sticky too. Later, when I moved away from that place to Toronto, the air was stickier, and the sodomy even worse. I was powerless to stop the way things were for me, but it did not daunt me or faze me until I was a grown-up.

My father was in and out of my life, coming periodically into my life to teach me the ways of Japan, the way they would fight. Perhaps he did this to teach me how to creatively beat up women, but he was the father of hypocrisy, in all truth. He maimed Japanese life in his teachings, made me see that the things he could do were his gift to me, that I might pass them down to my wife, my children. Dad would come to beat my mother or trash the apartment. I had no other father figure, no other male in my life to show me how things were. Uncle Chris was the only one to do that for me, and he did it badly. He was mistreated as a child and angry, though this forgives nothing of his actions. It does provide insight into why he was more of a gargoyle than a human being. He joined a "nigger gang", as his father called it, and became addicted to crack, to gain that same father's love.

It was this love that he bestowed upon me through sexual abuse.

As opposed to my father, my mother was a perfect parent. She raised me right, told me about sex, what it was, and told me to steer away from people in my family who weren't quite right. But she didn't expect her brother, because she believed, as did I, that Chris loved me. I have no doubt that he did love me, loved me the same way he loved a dog he humped and forced me to stay in the room, but look away while he did. After that incident, I was told to examine a set of tattered shoji blinds my grandparents owned while I sat on his lap and squirmed like a snared thing. I was going to visit other family that day; I was actually wearing my glasses despite how much I hated them, and I was dressed up fine. A little handsome gentleman I was, and he ruined my pants with a stain. It was absolutely imperative that I find new pants, he said, these ones would never do. How could I ruin them, he would ask. I told him in dead earnest, I didn't ruin them, you did. I was slapped. A mocking, light slap rather than the rough backhand I probably would have preferred.

I recall little of that summer, aside from being chased by a swarm of bees I had coaxed from a withered hive. I may have picked blueberries, may have eaten them until my face was blue. I may have learned to ride a bike. It's also possible that Anne took me for a walk in the woods, telling me to stay away from all of them, they know not what they do. The air was sticky with heat, but I felt no danger. Why, I asked her, why should I stay away, I love them all. Because they will hurt you, and you'll never run in the woods again if you tell your mom about the hurting. These things may have happened.

When I was eight, a few years later, I permitted myself to be coaxed to the land of sticky air and strange nighttime occurences. I was a bright young fellow then, handsome, but my eyes were always in shadow. I was at a loss to explain why; my father was in my life, and aside from the beatings my mother would receive, I loved him very much. I was happy, but not as happy as I had been receiving the ginger snaps, the little round cookies with flavour I now only associate with hot summer days when the leaves begin to turn. That happiness will never come back, I assume. When I returned to New Brunswick, the unthinkable happened, though not in as brutal a fashion. I could not hear/feel the ripping sound in my bum. I did not go into hysterics. I was smarter this time. I feigned sleep at first, which failed. I wanted to be dreaming, dreaming of a castle, or dinosaurs, or please, maybe even The Neverending Story. Or Transformers. Hurry up, mind, give me something.

When I woke again, it was because of lack of oxygen. I was underneath the heavy, winter quilts on Chris's bed. Rap music was playing loudly, and there was something warm and hard-soft being pressed against my lips. It was put into my mouth, at which time I began to sort out that it was not a ??snake?? but Chris's penis in my mouth. I rolled over, and made a muffled grunt like an animal awakened from a doze. Then, I performed an act of sheer will that even the Buddha would be proud of. I told my brain:

Sleep.,

And I did. But not for long. I was awakened because my mouth was full, and I was gagging. I was angry now. I could feel the hysterical anger in my belly, like a knife made of putty, or clay. I said, in a very clear, robotic unemotional voice: "The next time you put that fucking thing in my mouth, I'm biting." He burst into laughter. He laughed as if he'd seen the funniest of funny things dance through the room, singing the funny-happy songs of funny-happyland.

You'd never do that do your uncle Chris, he told me. He was wrong, though. When I went to the washroom to sort myself out afterward, I debated bringing my grand-mother's old but deadly sharp butcher knife to bed with me, I remember that clearly enough. The thought must have occurred at some point that a boy with a small bit of blood on the bum of his jammies, carting a butcher knife would look more than a little odd. It took me a while - six years or so - to come forward and say, "Yes, it happened! I hath told me tale, and I hath become whole again, let us drink and be merry, much fun will be had by all!" Six years. An infinity of doubting myself, wondering if I enjoyed it, wondering if I had a disease, wondering if I had forgiven, wondering if I told, would Chris kill me in my sleep. One day, while sitting at my aunt's house, my aunt was having a sort of group therapy session, where people were speaking of their various childhood traumas.

Resolution: The act, operation, or process of resolving. Specifically: (a) The act of separating a compound into its elements or component parts. (b) The act of analyzing a complex notion, or solving a vexed question or difficult problem.

I pulled her aside, and told her what happened. Through a chain of irrelevant events, I ended up at court, Chris charged with various small sex-related charges. They tried him under the Young Offenders Act, which I understood, but still dislike to this day. Other family members were questioned, a couple of cousins, aunts, uncles. I'll outline the major points from some police questionings.

  • My cousin, Justin, was not molested by Chris.
  • My cousin, Krystal, was not molested.
  • Claims from my grandmother, two aunts, and Chris himself, point out that my mother had been hospitalized for "insanity," and also point out that she was in therapy and parental counselling. Now, my mother had been in therapy, because of her own severe child sexual abuse. She was never in parental counselling, and she was never hospitalized for any reason related to her parenting duties.
  • Claims by various family members saying that my mother hated Chris, wanted to see him put in jail. My mother loved Chris, despite his many and major flaws. He was her half-brother, and she protected him as a child, from the severe beatings his father would bestow as "necessary."
  • Claims that I had delusions, and had been seeing a psychologist. Unfounded and untrue. The only encounter I had with a person closely related to the psychological field of study was with a social worker, because of an extremely vaunted intelligence. I had been showing signs of Asperger's Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder, and an IQ test was required to adequately place me and tend to my needs in elementary school. I was always in close contact with my elementary school's guidance counselor, because I was exceptionally bright; so much so that I became frustrated easily, as well as being belligerent and rather insulting to students whom I considered to be dumber than I was. Once, at the request of the Crown Prosecutor, I was examined by a psychologist to ascertain whether or not it could be untrue, the things I was claming about Chris. Unfortunately, I debased and belittled and toyed with the psychologist, and left.
  • Chris claims I am a scapegoat, that I was molested by someone else that is out of my reach. I always liked this one. Oh no, it was definitely him, in all his mammoth, stupid glory. Though, to his credit, I seem to recall being molested by someone else, too, but this person had no penis, and also had breasts. But this memory is very faint, so I won't continue.

Here and Now

I am a twenty-one year old father of a two-and-a-half year old girl. She is my angel, a little life to be sung of. She is beautiful, radiant girl, like her mother, with the questing, happy curiosity I had as a boy. It's taken me seven years to be able to confront whatever demons I still have, but I find that I have a few remaining issues I need resolved.

First, I had a difficulty with infidelity and promiscuity as a younger man. I would have sex with anyone, for the instant gratification. Not that this is wrong for everyone, but it was for me. I could have picked up a disease; I could have gotten crabs, and been publicly humiliated. I was still so young, only fifteen or so.

Problems with drugs, as well. Particularly, weed, cocaine, and booze. Those who have done these drugs know that cocaine and alcohol do not agree with the system, and I became depressed, so I stopped using, all at once. Did a lot of other drugs, too, but lost my taste for them. I still smoke pot now and them, and occasionally I debate doing "harder" drugs, but I doubt I will. Most of the time, it's in remembrance of times when I did have some fun. Now, I tend to a beautiful baby who will very soon grow into a young woman, who will very soon have children of her own. I relish my days. I wait for her smiles.

It's not surprise to me that it's been indicated that I have all sorts of wonderful ailments: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder. I experienced horrific things in my childhood. There was much mental strain, as one could guess. But I believe that I've come out on top. I don't think I'll ever be better. I don't think things will end up 100% okay in my life. I just hope to carry on until tomorrow. I have survived my sexual abuse, a good many people do not. That's how it is. I'm glad to be here, in this place, I know that much. I'm glad I can still cherish the feeling of sand between my toes, of the warm, comforting feel of a blanket. I still love fresh-baked bread and I love to eat new foods, see new things, meet new people. I am thankful for these gifts, and every now and then they make me forget any hurts, any pains. Sometimes, I can even imagine myself floating on a summer breeze, being cushioned by puffy white clouds.

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