Last night I went to a friend’s house after work and I met his room-mate for the first time. No more than 15 minutes into the conversation, we were talking about rape. It was one of the first times I have had such an open conversation about the subject with someone in a way that was so casual, normal and real. We talked about rape like people talk about the weather (obviously with a bit more intensity, anger and frustration). It felt so good to express to someone how I feel, what my emotions are, how much fear I had (have), and how my perception of society has changed, only to have it reciprocated on the exact same level.
Many people offer an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and share their own stories of sexism, but most people don’t like to talk about rape for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the topic is just too heavy, other times it evokes overwhelming emotions. Her and I were on the same wave length though, and it felt amazing. We spoke about our experiences in a sarcastic but real tone. We shared similar opinions and jaded views of the world. We talked about how difficult it can be and lonely it can feel when you no longer see the world through the naïve and sheltered lens you once possessed. Rape shatters your perception of the world. We both agreed that although we didn’t choose this new reality for ourselves – a reality that would be easier living without – we knew that we weren’t damaged goods. We both have very clear boundaries for ourselves now and we feel proud to be who we are.
We used the expression of comparing sexism to owning a Trailblazer. Her family had purchased one when she was young and all of a sudden, she felt like everyone drove Trailblazers. But not everyone owns a Trailblazer, actually, most people don’t. It isn’t until you have it that you notice how many are out there. The same goes for sexism. Once you experience it, especially once you’ve been raped, you begin to see sexism everywhere. You wonder how come you never noticed it before? You’re confused as to why no one else notices it like you do. It was a remarkable realization and a real comparison of truth.
It’s therapeutic to be able to talk about rape with someone who knows first hand what it’s like. Someone who can be equally puzzled by the feelings of shame and guilt. Many times, I feel like people become extremely uncomfortable when I talk about rape. The subject is too much, too sad, too graphic. It can add to the shame I feel about my experience – an experience that was forced upon me, one in which I had no choice. My reality is a past that includes rape and it feels minimized when people feel that it’s too sad for them to talk about.
We agreed to be real life friends after our conversation. Sometimes it’s the most bizarre things that connect you to others.