The feeling of going away
By Hanaan Cumann
More than once, I’ve heard a statement from you that sounded like a blame the victim stance. You exclaimed that I didn’t tell you I had previous sexual assaults. Whether or not I have been sexually assaulted in the past has no relevance on whether or not you should have sexually assaulted me. The book Trauma and Recovery says, “conventional social attitudes not only fail to recognize most rapes as violations but also construe them as consensual sexual relations for which the victim is responsible.” There’s no room for you to excuse it with your comment to our therapist, “I thought she was taking one for the team.” There’s no team in rape; there’s a perpetrator and there’s a victim.
That night, you barely touched me in the form of foreplay, before you inserted your limp dick into me. That’s when I stopped responding. I couldn’t believe that you were going to pursue a college-level, drunken/pot assault and insert your affected member into me. It wasn’t pleasurable, for me. I didn’t think you would be able to get off, with such a limp dick. Later, you acknowledged that you could tell I wasn’t into it, but you kept on banging away anyway. At first, I accepted this move on your part. But then, I started thinking it through – it reminded me of a bad incident at a party, where some guy would take advantage because he could. And you had me pinned against the trailer, whether you knew it or not. So in that moment, I’m not into you, and I’m trapped.
The feeling of going away started. I stopped moving and stopped responding to you. I was no longer present in my body. And then, your next move. You grabbed me by the back of the neck. I imagined at first it was for leverage. But then my body responded as if I was an animal: I froze. If you were in the animal world, you probably would have held me down with your teeth. Your fingers curled around the side of my throat. Fingers digging into the side of my neck. Leveraging your still limp dick. A few thrusts, really, I don’t think that many, and you were done. Then a peck on the forehead and a roll over to sleep. It took a while before I could come out of freeze.
It felt like a first breath, once I extricated myself from the cramped bed. I left the travel trailer and cried outside. I realized I couldn’t stay outside shivering all night so I returned to the trailer where we were staying for the night and sat as far away from you as I could in the tiny space. Yes, we had started fooling around earlier in the day, but how could you think that you could just start again and finish within a few minutes and that would be ok? I felt used, just a vessel for your semen.
I don’t remember exactly when you woke up and asked if I was ok. When you asked, I told you that what just happened was not ok. You—exclaiming in a drunken voice, “You think I raped you?!?” And me, dismissive yet again of my position, in an effort to communicate, to talk, to resolve, to be heard. No one can hear me when I’m angry.
The cult-like status of my religious upbringing and the effective subjugation of women in our society primed me to go along, to not argue or debate, to not follow my own mind. Since then, I have slowly but steadily increased my ability to ask for help, to say what I need. But I still can’t insist or demand that I get what I need, whether that is respect, or honor, or compassion. Instead, I wait for others to make decisions.
When I met you, you decided you wanted to have two relationships. You wanted both your old flame and me. I was willing to consider something outside the box. But I knew you were falling in love with me, and I was the one here with you. As we continued discussing the idea, you admitted that you didn’t love her the way she said she loved you.
But you didn’t communicate directly to her (did you communicate directly and honestly to me?) She flew out as she had planned for months, even after we started making plans to further our relationship. We talked about living together and our dreams of growing old together. You said you wanted to tell her in person that you didn’t love her and that you were in love with me. Yet, you had a drunken evening together, two bottles of wine, and sex. She shouted at you, and told you you were the worst human being, but she still came on to you and you had sex with her. This is the story you told me. Which parts are true?
This was one of the first times I didn’t understand you. How do you accept sex with someone who hates you? Do you hate yourself that much? Or are some men so obsessed with sticking their dicks anywhere and everywhere that consequences be damned? Perhaps, you didn’t tell me the whole truth and you did the same thing to her as you did to me. Only her response was to push you away. So, you told me anyway.
The next morning outside the travel trailer, I was pulling up Rape on wikipedia and reading to you. Because you didn’t accept what I had to say, you didn’t accept my experience, you dismissed me. You’ve never heard of a woman going into freeze to protect herself during rape? Well, here it is, in black and white!
And in the next six weeks until you left, as I tried to process this, you took no responsibility. I learned that a very common symptom of PTSD, which occurs for most women after rape, is high irritability. It’s the same for veterans returning from war. High irritability and frustration and anger towards their partners. In my case it was a double whammy because I was trying to stay and reconcile with the very violator who wouldn’t acknowledge he raped me, who instead blamed me. And as it turns out, I was with a partner who didn’t want to improve and invest in the relationship. You— taking because you feel like you’ve never been given enough.
You never made an effort to make amends. You didn’t even know how to start. You didn’t admit you’d done anything wrong. This is the reason you are reading this now.
Hanaan lives about 2 miles as the crow flies from one of her many childhood homes. These homes were often located at the end of the road, surrounded by Pacific Northwest woods. She revels in the ability to step outside and take a hike without touching asphalt. Sometimes she’s lucky enough that the sounds of birds, frogs, or coyotes are louder than her inner voice and for a moment, she is transported by the voice of the natural world.