Sunday, December 11, 2011

Do you know who think all men are rapists? Rapists do.

(Warning: If you couldn't already tell by the title, this post could be very triggering. I'm not censoring it. Stop reading now if you think you can't handle it. And if you think you can, but it triggers you, get help?? Talk to a therapist. Call a friend. Leave a comment here. Just take care of you. Thanks!)

A few days ago, a friend of mine posted this. Very well said.
It also got me thinking.
Especially after looking at all the pictures of myself as a nineteen year old...

I was married to a man who honestly believed he was kind and loving and good to me. He completely believed it when he told me, "No man will treat you as good as I treat you." and, "No one will be able to love you like I love you." and even, "No one will be as kind to you with sex as I am. You sure are lucky you have me and not someone else."

These things from the man that was violent during "sex" on day one. I spent my wedding night sobbing in the bathroom while he ranted and raved about how stupid and selfish I was:
"A man NEEDED sex, and I was his WIFE."
And when I came back to bed, because I didn't have anywhere else to go, he did it again.
These things from the man that also buried my face with a pillow during "sex". These things from a man who told me it was my fault he had to get violent, if I would just give him what he wanted, he wouldn't have to take it. These things from a man who threatened my (then twelve year old) sister because I was crying. These things from a man that also made disparaging remarks about my body. My body was fat, unattractive, vile, and disgusting to him. He was embarrassed for me to be seen in public in a bathing suit. (Might I add, I have never EVER been fat. I've struggled to keep my weight up, not the other way around.) He'd say these things before, during, and after forcing himself on and in me. These things from a man that if I didn't just lay there and let him do what he wanted, he became violent: He got sex when he wanted it and never even ASKED what I wanted, or if I wanted. Not once were my desires, wants, or preferences EVER taken into account. It was always about him. I was nothing abut a possession to gratify him... And he thought I was lucky to have someone as kind as him.

Abusers are known for saying things like what Larry said to me. I used to think they said those things as a means to control... but after reading this blog post and observing other abusers... They don't say those things to control - they honestly believe they are normal. They fully and completely believe that anyone in their situation would do what they are doing. They really do believe they are kind and wonderful and their spouse is lucky to have them. Unfortunately, I believed Larry, so when he said those things he DID control me. I believed I would never find anyone better, so I never left, and I kept right on letting him rape me. Every night. Sometimes more than once a night. For two years.

A quote from "To all those men" 
"A lot of people accuse feminists of thinking that all men are rapists. That’s not true. But do you know who think all men are rapists?
Rapists do. 
They really do. In psychological study, the profiling, the studies, it comes out again and again. Virtually all rapists genuinely believe that all men rape."
Rapists believe that all men rape. Only, they don't even think about it that much. They don't see what they are doing is rape. It is the same with all forms of abuse. Abusers believe that anyone in their situation would do what they are doing. They really, truly, honestly think that everyone else thinks and acts the way they do. Some just hide it better. They think hitting their spouse is completely justified. They believe hateful speech is okay, because (fill in the blank here. Some way to blame the other person. Or to justify what they do.) Some even believe they are being helpful.

Prairienymph wrote a blogpost a while ago:  Rapists are not Monsters. Believing that only monsters are rapists, or that you can tell who is a rapist because they are "bad people" just isn't true. I married one. I know. I loved him. He treated most people with kindness; he was incredibly charismatic; everyone else loved him too.

I have long wondered why it couldn’t be like in the movies: Bad guys are ALL bad, and good guys are ALL good. The world would be far less confusing, but it isn't that way.  By trying to classify abusers as "bad" and victims as "good", everyone gets hurt. I knew Larry was not a bad guy, so obviously, he wasn't abusing me. (WRONG!) I knew I wasn't good or perfect, so obviously, I had no room to complain. (WRONG AGAIN!)

There's a lot of emotion inside me as I write this, and I wish I was calmer so I could say it better...
Very few people set out to completely destroy the people they love, AND sometimes, in their fear, jealousy, ignorance, self-righteousness, self-centeredness, or whatever else is going on inside their heads, they still do. And most, keep right on thinking they are "normal", which means they keep on doing and saying things that really hurt the people they "love".

To most people who would rape another person, talking about it will do NO good. They believe everyone is like them, so even if you speak out against rape and abuse, they won't believe you. Deep down they know what you are REALLY thinking, REALLY feeling... and that is one of the things that make rape possible. They convince themselves that they know what the woman really wants, really needs, so even if she is crying and screaming and trying to get away, they won't even notice. They will just keep right on going, and never even see that there is a person in front of them in a lot of pain.

Larry thought he was doing me a favor. Larry thought all men would treat me like he did or worse. Larry thought I would be miserable without him. He was wrong. OH SO VERY WRONG. I am so grateful for that. SO SO SO grateful. I'm so glad that I found the courage to get out (still don't know how I was able to do that), and discover that he didn't know what he thought he knew.


  1. I guess it makes sense... No one sees him or herself as a villain.

    We encounter the same thing with homophobia, or racism, or any other abusive attitude or prejudice. People who abuse others rarely think that they are abusing. They almost always assume that whatever problem there is is the fault of the person being abused. They often think they are trying to help those being abused... I guess it makes sense.

    But you are also right that no one is in fact all good or all bad. We all have our faults, I guess, our own areas of ignorance. So I guess the challenge -- if we really want to be good people -- is how do we transform our consciousness? How do we begin to transcend our ignorance or our limitations?

    1. Sorry but the view you are looking through is not the whole picture. Example 1: a man puts on a ski mask before going out in the dark and capturing a woman and rapes her. He knows its wrong many people know they are wrong but choose to continue. Example 2: a woman waits for her husband to leave the hose before she calls another man over for sex. Both people know their wrong so they take precautions to keep from getting caught.

  2. I am really glad that you can write about these events in your life. I know what they have done to you. For me, when I got to the stage where I could both talk and write about what happened to me, I knew that healing was happening.

    Merry Christmas, Jen, to you and yours.

    Love and respect, always.

  3. Thank you so much for writing this. It is just so very important for our culture to understand both points you make here: that rapists believe what they are doing is normal, and that there isn't anything fundamentally evil about people who commit rape.

    One reason rape is so prevalent in our culture is that people believe the caricature of rape that has this totally depraved monster of a man prowling around thinking, "I want to rape women!" No. We are not talking about a monster who wants to rape women. We are talking about mostly-normal people who are not thinking that what they want could ever be called rape. That is why we are in desperate need, not only for comprehensive sex education, but for relationship education and CONSENT education as well.

    Young people need practical advice about how to be certain of consent in their sexual activity. When our society refuses to give that to them, whenever they commit rape or are a victim of sexual assault, we have ourselves to blame.

  4. J-G-W - I think being aware that I am an individual, and that you (all the yous there are) are different from me. When I start to think I know what another person is feeling, thinking, doing, should be doing, without them telling me, I can know I have crossed into their psychic boundaries. (I might have just made that term up... I'm not sure where I got it from.)

    In that place, is where I could hurt others, or hurt myself, or just make myself crazy trying to please others... It's all a symptom of the same problem: Lack of awareness of myself and the world around me.

    Any other thoughts?

    Duck - Thank you! I hope I didn't trigger any of your old stuff. Merry Christmas, and safe hugs!

    Macha - YES! If I had known anything about sex, or relationships, or consent, or... I would not have found myself in that situation. Part of my naivety was because of sexual abuse as a child. Part of my naivety was because no one really talked about it, and because I was so different from my peers, I wasn't able to figure it out on my own. I really had no idea what consensual sex looked like. I suppose *I* believed all men were rapists, so when I married one, I didn't even question it.

    The more we can educate young people (and old people too), the better!

  5. Thank you, Jen. No, you did not trigger me. I have learned to take very good care of myself, especially when it deals with hearing or reading experiences like these.

    And, I just read your latest post- you have EVERY right to feel angry. I felt the same way towards those who hurt me as you described today. And, I have felt that same anger, wanting to beat the crap out of people. (Luckily I never did, but I sure wanted to. Instead, I hit a brick wall-dumb- a few hundred times -and broke my hand in 3 places-. So, I got a punching bag and started hitting it instead. MUCH better. :)
    I think anger can be a really great thing- it helps keep us protected.

    I know this does not make a difference, but I trust you and I trust what you will do with your anger.

    And, safe hugs back to you. :)

  6. Great article! I'm so impressed that you not only got out of that terrible situation but also have come to such a deep and nuanced understanding of it.

    I work for a long-term research study of males who were recruited from elementary school and are now in their 30s. From age 12 on, they were asked two questions about whether they had forced or coerced sex; only a tiny number ever said yes. But when we got their court records, a much larger number had been convicted of sex offenses. I think it's just like you say: Even when they've gone to jail for it, they don't believe they really did anything wrong. This probably is the reason so many sex offenders do it again after being released from jail.

    I also relate very much to the idea that bad people are not all bad. Our interviews are very comprehensive, and when I look at the data of a rapist or murderer, I can see things about him that are good and trying to be better. And when I look back at the earlier data, I see that every one of them was once a little boy. We have an illustration we sometimes use in presentations of a boy with a stack of bricks on one hand and a bunch of balloons in the other; the bricks represent risk factors (lack of parental supervision, childhood abuse and neglect, witnessing violence, etc.) and the balloons represent promotive factors (positive discipline, father involvement, academic success, etc.). Our job as a society is to try to give each person more balloons than bricks!

  7. I read that other blog that you linked to. I can't even fathom joking about rape. I don't understand how rape could be funny.

    Along the same lines, I can't even fathom harming my wife in some of the ways you described. That's not to say that I don't say stupid things sometimes. I definitely do. And I've definitely hurt her. Most times I did not intend to hurt her, and it tears me up that I did anyway. I try so hard to remove that part of me, because I love her so much and I hurt when she hurts.

    I just can't even fathom the mind that would think that rape or other forms of abuse are okay. I can't imagine what it would be like to have her be afraid of me, or to think that I'm going to harm her. The very thought sickens me.

    My mind is still blown by the statistic that 1 in 20 men is a rapist, and that they think it's okay or normal. Thanks for opening my eyes to that. I'm sorry you went through it. I'm glad you got out.

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