I imagine most people think they know how they would react in a given situation. I know I did. I always had a bit of feistiness in me that led me to believe I would fight an attacker tooth and nail. Plus, I was smart. I was educated in sexuality and gender issues. I taught classes on those subjects fer chrissakes.
In the back of my mind lately--in spite of all the other things I have going on--I have been processing some of the issues that kept me from fighting back, from speaking up. The list is incomplete.
1. Though I struggled, I didn't scream while it was happening because I didn't want to make a scene. I get made fun of for being overly dramatic; I always have. And when I reported a molestation to a trusted adult as a child, I was told that I had misunderstood what had happened, and that it had not happened the way I said it did. Because I misunderstood.
I thought maybe I was misunderstanding this time, too.
2. Admitting to myself what was happening put me in danger of panic. And if panic set in I felt like I would lose all control.
Better to keep quiet and calm and alert.
3. He didn't beat me up. Didn't pull a weapon on me. Didn't even say a word, in fact. He just held me down with his own weight. Despite the pain and the powerlessness, I kept telling myself, "It's just sex. That's all it boils down to. I've had sex plenty of times. I can survive this." Though I couldn't even allow myself to think about the word "rape" at the time, looking back I know I felt I wasn't "raped enough" (i.e., raped violently enough) as others I knew had been in order to be seen as having been "legitimately" raped by others.
They wouldn't believe me--wouldn't take me seriously.
4. I know you're not supposed to shower. I've seen enough Law & Order episodes to know. But the idea of going to a doctor or a police officer dirty and unwashed was unthinkable to me. I just wanted to wash his presence off and forget.
The shame and humilation were unbearable.