The Perception of Abuse

1996

We partied every weekend, and sometimes during the week. Since my husband owned his own home, we were always open to whomever arrived with beer, or weed, or both. It was rare for our home not to be filled with music, smoke, and laughter when friends were there. There were countless Saturday mornings of waking up to people sprawled out in the spare bedroom or around the living room–recliners, couches, even the floor gave everyone a chance to “sleep it off” before making their exit back to their homes the next day.

Sometimes my husband would make it to our bed and other times, he would sleep in the recliner. I never could sleep in the living room. It was too bright, and there were too many noises. Our bedroom was pitch black, quiet, and cool. We had a box fan in the corner, and a heavy blanket as a make-shift curtain nailed around the one small window. The fan cooled the room and muffled any outside noise. The “curtain” blocked any stray sunbeam attempting to squeeze through into the darkness. The only way you could even tell it was daytime was the room went from pitch black to a hazy dark brown–like swimming under water at a merky lake. It was an ideal sleephaven for us to stay up all night, and sleep all day.

After a long night of partying, my husband was comatose in his recliner, and I passed out in our bed. I was asleep on my stomach when I felt my husband get into bed with me. He pulled back the covers and immediately reached over and pulled off my underwear. This was usual behavior for him, so I always let him do what he wanted, so I could go back to sleep once he was done. After a few minutes, I turned my head to look at him through the brown hazy light of morning and froze. It wasn’t my husband! It was one of our friends, and it was too late. He finished, and I was in shock. There was nothing I could do. He kissed me on the cheek, pulled up his pants, and went back to the living room. I went to the bathroom to get cleaned up, and went back to bed. I didn’t tell a soul. I knew no one would believe me.

Some of you reading right now are outraged, declaring this was rape. Some of you reading feel sorry for me, thinking he took advantage of me. Some of you reading want to know why I didn’t scream, yell, or somehow call attention to what was happening. Some of you reading right now, feel sick and angry, because you’ve been in a similar situation.

kitzcorner/ Getty Images/ iStockphoto

Now, what if I told you there was history here? What if I told you that a couple of weekends before while our husbands were passed out in my living room, one of my girlfriends woke me up early to take a ride with her and this man to a private spot down the road, so we could have sex with him together? Would you still see what happened to me as wrong? Would you still call it rape? Would you understand why I kept it quiet? Or more than that, would you think I deserved it?

Some people wouldn’t call this rape or blame the man for having taken advantage of the situation. Obviously something had happened between us, so that gave him an open invitation, right? Back then that’s what I thought, but now I know that’s bullshit.

Let me address those reading who have lived through or are dealing with a similar situation right now: No one, ABSOLUTELY NO ONE, has fulltime access to your body, but YOU. You have a right to say no, even to your spouse. You have a right to be given the option to have sex. No one has a right to take advantage of a situation regardless of their history with you. No matter your reputation, no matter the situation, no matter the relationship, no matter what–no one has a right to do anything to you.

That’s the perception of abuse. We tend to have this preconceived notion of what an abuser/rapist or survivor/victim looks like, and if they don’t fit the bill, then they must not be what we thought they were. In my case, you would see me as a whore, and him as just a lover?

Credit: Depositphotos

So let me give you a closer look. I was 19. I was married to a man who would verbally berate me, knock me around, leave me by myself for hours with no phone and no car, and consistently made me feel like an object he possessed. Yes, I did have affairs, got high too often, and drank too much. I was lost and lonely and desperate for love. No, it does not excuse any of my behavior or my choices.

But it also doesn’t make me any less of a victim. A man who was not my husband came into my bedroom, while I was passed out face down in my own bed, and had sex with me without my consent. That. Is. Rape.

We as a society have got to stop making excuses for abusers, and start seeing the truth. There is no victim who “should have known better,” “was asking for it,” or “deserved it.” Blaming and shaming the victim lets the perp off the hook. Rape is rape. Abuse is abuse. Period.

2 thoughts on “The Perception of Abuse”

  1. And it is a double sided knife too. People know what they know and don’t know what they don’t know. We like to think that everyone knows ‘right from wrong’ but that is not true either. People have been raised in a wide range of environments. Someone who was molested everyday of their lives by a family member and who thought that was what happened to everyone would have a ‘right from wrong’ view that does not align with the rest of us. Someone who watched their dad sexually assault their mom and watch her not put up a fight every time might think that they have a right to their wife the same way. People have to be told ‘right from wrong’. That guy may have known that he was wrong or he may have thought that he was perfectly in the right. It does not excuse what happened though and the story needs to be told to educate people to what should and should not be acceptable.

    And if you, the reader, are into objectifying women or men via our ‘entertainment’ today then you will not have an understanding of ‘right or wrong’ that aligns with the standard being communicated here. Even in Hollywood and the porn industry, a person’s body belongs to them and not the other actors – both on set and off set.

    Well worded post. The way you laid it out was spot on. It draws the reader in, calls out the various responses, and then lets us process it through a different lens. This is a good lesson to pass on to my children here and one that we have tried to communicate. I can’t just hug them whenever I want either. Especially as they get older. Their body is theirs. They can say that they don’t want to be hugged or if they just want to be left alone. But we have to ask. It sets them up to know the boundaries.

    Love you. Keep it up.

    Lil’ bro

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lil’ bro.
      What you said also brings to parents forcing kids to hug family members when they don’t feel comfortable doing so. The parents are more worried about the family members’ feelings being hurt than what their child is feeling. It’s taught that way, though. We all have a lot to learn, so we can do better than the ones before us. Thanks for reading and being encouraging.

      Love you,
      Sissy

      Like

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