Meet Me in the Aftermath

The girl is standing at the bar when the guy first approaches her. She knows him – he’s a friend of a friend, and she’s camped on his couch before. They’ve been friendly. They’re laughing, they’re joking. He kisses her. It’s powerful. He’s cute – she thinks why not? It’s fun, they’re single. This isn’t serious. They kiss more. A fight breaks out; their friends leave. They’re left alone. She goes back to his; it’s innocent, it’s late. They don’t want to be out alone in the dark. He kisses her again. Clothes are thrown; she freezes.

She can’t do this. “I can’t do this.”

He looks quizzical. But she came back? She thought they were “friends”.

“I was raped.”

It is the most monumental mood-killer one can ever let pass their lips. There are others of course: “It’s been so long I’ve probably been re-virginised,” or “I just don’t remember how.” There seems to be this idea that if you’re a college student, you’re supposed to be having sex. And you’re supposed to be good at it. Anything to the contrary is received by a blank look of horror, a mental-shutdown, a lack of texts. A denial of sexuality because you must be willing to have sex in order to be sexual. A denial of emotionability, for you must be over it by now, surely. And a denial of any sort of opinion on your part because you should want to have sex. With me. Now. On my clock.

The recent story of Steubenville hit the news because of the attackers and their lack of punishments. The girl – the victim – was discussed as a passive object: it happened to her, around her. Once it occurred, she had no purpose but to be held up as the victim. Other girls in other rape cases have been bullied due to their involvement in such cases. I read a recent post on Facebook which asked for us all to teach our children what consent really is so we would not fail our future generations in the same way we have in the past. That’s all well and true, but are we not still failing them? Are we not still punishing these girls (and boys) who found themselves in the wrong company because we do not deal with their aftermath?

Imagine the worst moment of your life overriding what was once exciting and exhilarating? Good sex is all about the excitement, right? And the enjoyment? And the whole desire thing?

Imagine if instead your whole body shut down out of terror. If there was nothing but absolute terror for the moment when, ironically, the fun is supposed to begin.

The word “rape” is on the verge of being bandied about these days. There have even been discussions as to whether or not we talk about it too often on this blog. We discuss the vileness of the act, we talk about more education, we try to determine what giving consent really means. But we never, ever discuss the aftermath. Not for the victim’s well being. We brush over “trust issues” and “future intoxications” and “smaller social circles”. But we don’t face the horrific truths of what these girls/boys have really had taken from them.

In the years of our meat markets, where the possibility of sex often determines your social life (whether we wish it to or not), the girls who have had such experiences stripped from them may suffer more than we give them credit to. Rape is ugly. Rape is cruel. Rape is beyond any ill I could ever wish on my worst enemy. There is a vulnerability exposed, a guilt that demands sheer willpower to overcome and a heartbreaking truth in the decline of humanity. Those girls/boys, who we feel we didn’t protect as we should before, who are statistically more likely to get raped simply because it has happened to them before, require even more protection now. Why are we still not listening to them?

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