The number above is for the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre helpline.
Landmark week in the Dotty household: my Scandi daughter turned 18; was accepted into her journalism college course; we celebrated International Women’s Day with Bollinger and Mother’s Day was a feast of Victoriana.
All in all a good week, you would think, and yet here I am, taking refuge in my blog. The reading nook in our house – hidden away by drying laundry – consists of an upcycled pale grey rocking chair and cylindrical floor lamp emitting a soft golden glow warming the coral colour blanket and the delicately embroidered cushion. This is homely luxury unknown to so many and yet I could sleep and leave it all behind to float in nothingness.
If only sleep would bring nothingness, instead it brings anxiety surpassing the actual waking anxiety which has done all it can to try to break me and this running streak of productivity and positivity that I’ve enjoyed for the last prolonged period of what, a year, more? This is by far the lowest and most highly strung (such an oxymoron) I’ve been in a few years and apart from some triggers like the Ulster Rugby Rape Case which has bitten far too close to the bone of trauma festering in the marrow of victims all over the UK and Ireland, I’m not sure just why it’s all hitting me now. There is so much that I could write about the case; about the pervasive nature of sexual bravado and toxic masculinity drowning our young men in the medieval delusion of power over the bodies of those less physically powerful than theirs. It makes me sick to my core – my core that feels half corroded by the rust of abuse and societal acceptance of “boys will be boys”. There should be a grand reception of honour and gratitude for that young woman who has been brave enough to publicly accuse (and yes, I believe her – only between 2 and 6 per cent of cases result in an outcome of false accusation and that figure is inflated by the “no crime committed’ decision which is often inevitable due to a lack of corroborating evidence) two heroic sporting figures: big muscly fish in a small pond of testosterone and idolatry.
The other night, when watching Career of Evil , I had a properly grotesque meltdown with my beloved and everything I had not managed to articulate to him about my traumatic sexual past came rolling down my cheeks. As I’ve said before, there wasn’t just one experience for me: yes, there was one that was the most damaging, or at least I place it as being “the worst”, perhaps because it was the first and possibly the most shockingly forceful and surprising – you don’t expect that when you are 16 – but whether through vulnerability; self hatred or an inherent sense of unworthiness, I found myself in dangerous and unwanted situations three more times that I can remember. I don’t blame the men; I still blame myself. I led them on; I wasn’t vociferous enough in my objections; I thought it was what I was meant to do. I can’t blame them entirely because society raises boys to believe that it is their right; their duty to conquer and their entitlement to sex whatever way they want it, which its often what they have seen from their main, if not only source of sexual information – porn.
I am constantly nervous and sickened at writing my most personal feelings and darkest chapters in this blog; it’s not that anonymous anymore and I know many will disapprove; scoff; belittle; turn away from me; denigrate… but the truth is, as much I am struggling, there are millions of others; male/female/other; who are in worse places than me with nobody to love and support them. I have the strongest support system imaginable – one I usually feel that I do not deserved as I reciprocate so minisculey- but I have it and they see who and what I can be when the layers of grimey self hatred are finally stripped away to reveal the unspoiled me.
We have to tell our stories – as gruesome as they might be, as acidic as it might feel. Not telling them is what led to this culture of hidden torment; secrecy and shame in the first place.