I’m not going to apologize for the nature of this post, or for making anyone uncomfortable. I’m sorry if you have lived through these experiences and find yourself triggered; you don’t need this information, so you may want to stop now.
A few weeks ago, I was working out with my (dear friend and) trapeze instructor, who wanted to see if a position would work and suggested trying it out on the ground first. He made a lewd joke that, had we been standing, would have been just fine. If you know me at all, you know I’m a walking politically incorrect nightmare. This is someone I’ve known for over 10 years, who doesn’t swing my way, with whom I am incredibly comfortable and whom I trust implicitly. But I was in a vulnerable position and said “Hang on, I need to get up, I’m feeling triggered.” He immediately jumped back and apologized, saying “I almost just got kicked in the nuts, didn’t I?” to which I laughed quietly and then said…
“Actually, you know what’s sad? That’s not my instinct.” And, because he is a dear friend, I said, “The instinct is to just shut down. To not fight. Because you know that if you struggle, you’re going to get hurt and probably get raped anyway, so you just shut down and wait for it to be over.” He was surprised, and sad. And, because he was surprised, I knew I would have to write about it. Because if he’s surprised, how many other people don’t know this? It seems every court, everyone who hasn’t been raped, everyone in a position of power when a rape survivor comes in and asks for help and asks why there aren’t signs of a struggle, doesn’t know this.
Maybe this will help someone; just reading this. Maybe not reading it in the context of a court document will not put people on the defensive and they’ll be able to hear it. Maybe it’ll explain why, at night, I walk down the middle of the street instead of on the sidewalk where it is easier to grab someone into a doorway, why I spit when I realize I’ve attracted unwanted male attention. Because, though I am incredibly strong, and a fighter, I know the odds are that, put in an inescapable rape situation rather than a sheer fighting situation, the shut-down survival instinct would likely kick in. And I’m a 5’9″ woman who can bench-press her own weight. Quick, ask my shrink why I began lifting weights in the first place, over 20 years ago. The goal is to not get into that situation in the first place, and walking down the street alone at night is apparently “risky behavior”.
It is important that you know this, if you didn’t already. Sorry it lacks my usual humor; I got nothin’.