Victim Blaming & Slut Shaming

slut_shamingKaren, writing from the Sheraton Hotel in San Diego, assumedly at ComicCon, wrote this comment today. It made me cry. I wanted to give up and become invisible.

But I didn’t.

I wanted to delete it and pretend I never saw it.

But I didn’t.

Instead, I’m going to use it as an example of slut-shaming and victim-blaming, something that you vow to not do if you wear a white feather. It is precisely this type of questioning that causes the victim of assaults to remain quiet.

This is what we’re trying to change by directing the questions to the accused rather than the victim. Hopefully, if you have a conscience, you can see how hurtful these questions are–which is, of course, the point of them. To shame me. To silence me.

It didn’t do either of those things.

I’ve chosen to answer the questions on face value, continuing with my complete transparency on this, and all, issues.

Here is Karen’s comment from the Misguided Community Response post.

Ms Grey,
A few questions: If you were ‘abused’, then why continue an affair with this married man after the event?

Why does your language of your posts change from that of someone deeply in love, to a jilted lover, to a victim of abuse, to that of a rape victim? Reading your posts carefully, it is apparent that your version of events changes dramatically as time goes by. This is also EXACTLY THE SAME for the following affair that you had, where you fall ‘in love’, the man leaves you, then you create abuse in order to attack him.

One only need to read your responses to the person who was removed from the Silver goggles post to see how very twisted you have become, ready to leap on accusations without a shred of evidence, even when there isnt even an event to relate it to.

Isn’t is unfortunate that every single man that you seem to meet romantically (according to your blog), seems to have raped or abused you- and that your accusations are written only after they have left you?

When did you file this supposed police report? Directly after the event? If so, then why continue to have an affair? If you filed it after the affair was concluded, then doesn’t that suggest that you decided to do it out of spite? Or is it in fact all in your fevered imagination?
Don’t you think it might be time to settle down with your alledged husband and stop having constant, and it seems, damaging affairs?

These are the exact kinds of questions that you vow not to ask when you wear a white feather. These are victim-blaming and slut-shaming, not to mention full of rape culture rhetoric, primarily that this was done for revenge of some sort.

Let’s take these one at a time.

If you were ‘abused’, then why continue an affair with this married man after the event?

First, the man in question was not married, but he was in a committed relationship. This was why, as stated in my No Means No post, that although I was greatly attracted to the man and wanted to go back to hotel with him, I said NO the first time. It was against the polyamorous agreement I had with my husband, if for no other reason. The Musician might’ve been willing to betray his partner; I wasn’t willing to betray mine.

After the night in question, The Musician emailed me and I emailed him back. I thought we’d have a nice working relationship, and I felt considerably less used because he seemed to care. Those emails became more romantic, and so did my feelings. This contributed to me feeling much less used and rather special. It was okay he didn’t respect my boundaries because he cared for me, I justified.

It was wrong on many, many levels, but having just come out of the first assault by The Writer seven months earlier and the fallout from that, including daily, debilitating panic attacks, I was eager to believe that it was just a fluke and that all men aren’t like that (NAMALT). The Musician seemed so sincere and kind and gentle and adorably awkward. He worked with autistic kids, after all, and he just felt unloved and unseen in his relationship at home. I even helped him try to open communication with his GF.

My compassion got the better of me along with the boundary issues and betrayal from the aftermath of The Writer, aka WDMF. The Musician kept telling me that he wanted a real relationship with me, not a fantasy, and that he was going to leave his partner.

Pathetically cliche on both our parts.

Why does your language of your posts change from that of someone deeply in love, to a jilted lover, to a victim of abuse, to that of a rape victim? Reading your posts carefully, it is apparent that your version of events changes dramatically as time goes by. This is also EXACTLY THE SAME for the following affair that you had, where you fall ‘in love’, the man leaves you, then you create abuse in order to attack him.

The Betrayal Bond. Once you understand The Betrayal Bond, you’ll understand more of this.

I’m curious as to how you think my version of events have changed, actually. I haven’t changed a single word in that original No Means No post. The tones have certainly changed in the way I discuss it, but the events haven’t. I fully admit, then and now, that I was completely into The Musician. I did call it “seduction” at first and then I called it “borderline sexual assault” for a good long while after a friend pointed out that it was coercion and showed me the Yes Means Yes blog (where I started to understand the concept of enthusiastic consent), and now I do see how part of it crossed technically into digital and oral rape. It’s been a long process of understanding how much I minimized and dismissed and excused, even when my nervous system didn’t. It recognized the abuse from the beginning, but my conscious mind tried to dismiss it and justify it, primarily with love. Abuse like this is cumulative and contributes to Complex PTSD. If I look back over my life, in my teens and twenties, I would have to say that about 1/3 of the men I had sexual encounters with would fall under coercive rape: not taking NO for an answer and wearing the woman down after hours and hours until she “gave in.” I had been socialized to believe that was “seduction,” which I can clearly see now it isn’t. I have no doubt that The Musician also sees this as “seduction,” but it’s not. It’s coercive, disrespectful, exploitative, and full of selfish entitlement.

Of the three men, as shown below, The Musician is the one who I think truly didn’t intend to exploit me. Out of the three, I believe he might still do the right thing. Acknowledge mistreatment and violation (he needn’t call it rape) publicly; apologize, both directly to me and in a public statement; make amends by showing accountability and an act of remorse; and get into couples counseling with his partner as well as therapy for himself.

In the initial No Means No piece, I recounted the broad accounts of events over a three-to-four month period. I obviously couldn’t write all the details, minute by minute, for the span of three-four months. I also didn’t want to humiliate him or his family by detailing that night’s intimate events from the time I got to his hotel, through the two times I tried to leave, to when I finally left at somewhere around 5 or 6am, after he had gotten off and fallen asleep. Nor was I comfortable enough at the time to go into that kind of intimate detail in public.

In the UPDATE at the bottom of that post, I say he used force, and he did. I also say it isn’t the kind of force that comes to mind upon using the word “rape,” but it was nonetheless force. This is what I mean, and I’m not going to go through minute by minute of those entire 5-6 hours, but this is the gist:

  • Each time he’d try to step forward, like taking off my shirt, for example, I would hold it down or grab his wrist, indicating that I didn’t want to go another step. Remember, by this point, I had already say “NO” in many ways, including the words “If you ask me to do this, you’re asking me to go against who I am.” Instead of letting my NO mean no, he struggled with my resistance until he overpowered me. The shirt came off.
  • That happened with each step of the “seduction.” When he went to the bathroom, which was down the hall, I got dressed again and waited until he came back to say goodbye and to reiterate I wasn’t comfortable with this. I didn’t want to do this. I waited because I didn’t want to be rude, and I wanted to say goodbye properly. I had hoped we could be friendly colleagues. Each time, he put his body between me and the door and talked me back into staying. This happened twice.
  • After the second time I tried to leave, we went through the same struggling for each item of clothing again until he came to my panties. He tried to take them off. I struggled with him by holding onto his wrist, not wanting him to go there either. Trying to make that the one thing he listened to, although it was a bit absurd to think he would after ignoring all my other NOs throughout the night. He did stop struggling with me to remove them. Instead, he pushed them aside between my legs and did what he wanted to anyway. That’s where it technically crosses into oral and digital rape. Although I didn’t reveal it was part of my experience, I allude to this action in my Yes Means Yes post, written shortly after No Means No, another piece of proof that I’m not changing my story.

Those instances use force and coercion.

Now, I enjoyed much of the sexual stimulation, as I am was a very sexual person and my body responds to sexual touch, especially by someone with whom I was so drawn, like I was to him, as previously stated; however, I didn’t want it, and I didn’t consent to it.

By the end of the night, I did want to have vaginal sex because my body had been stimulated for hours upon hours, despite my continuous NOs. He said he was “sensible” and wasn’t going to have intercourse without a condom, which I agreed, and he didn’t want to go get one because I “had already tried to leave so many times.”

I still have the email where he said that. I still have all the emails.

We talked and laughed and cried that night. We became close, so I thought. It felt intimate. It felt real, and I think it was. He told me he was going to leave his partner a year after the new baby was born (it’s been two now), a new baby with whom she was 8 months pregnant. By the way, he didn’t mention that little tidbit until I was in nothing but bra and panties.

He told me I wasn’t going to tell anyone about that night.

He also told me that he had never met anyone so honest.

He told me a lot of things.

With each step I wanted to believe him. When he ended things the day before I left for England, I wanted to believe him when he said he would do whatever it took to transition into friends and colleagues.

That lasted for about two days.

Other people have called this “rape.” Much like the way it went with The Rapist, explained below, I had to be told it was sexual assault and rape. In fact, I still don’t use the word “rape” alone to describe these events unless I can explain it further, or I say something like it’s “technically rape,” although it’s nothing like stereotypical rape. I’m also sure to qualify it as oral and digital rape.

Rape, as I’ve written on OWF, covers a wide spectrum. Unfortunately, when one hears the word “rape,” one immediately thinks of stereotypical stranger rape or something overtly and brutally violent.

There was an article yesterday about a man in Denmark who admitted, publicly on Reddit, to raping a woman. The events were similar to this event with The Musician, although he didn’t have to wear her down over 5 or 6 hours. She withdrew consent, but he didn’t listen, sticking his dick in her anyway. She “began to participate” after his dick was insider her, which justified in his mind that it wasn’t rape, although he uses the word “rape” himself. Just because she “began to participate” doesn’t mean it wasn’t rape. She said no. He did it anyway. That equals rape. No matter what follows. Period.

By the way, the police have been notified and are searching for this man in Denmark.

There is a great misconception that it’s not rape unless there are “bruises and torn panties.” I’ve talked to self-confessed rapists who don’t think what they do is “rape” because they “never left any marks.”

Next:

One only need to read your responses to the person who was removed from the Silver goggles post to see how very twisted you have become, ready to leap on accusations without a shred of evidence, even when there isnt even an event to relate it to.

It might appear that I’m leaping on accusations, which–again–JHA didn’t accuse him. She said she heard someone name him and wouldn’t be surprised based on her dealing with him. Still, I have further reason to believe an actual accusation based on an actual event. Unfortunately, it would be betraying a trust to divulge those details. I’m not willing to do that.

Isn’t is unfortunate that every single man that you seem to meet romantically (according to your blog), seems to have raped or abused you- and that your accusations are written only after they have left you?

Since my husband and I opened our marriage in 2005, I’ve had fifteen lovers and/or romantic partners. Eight of those men were lovely and respectful and kind lovers/partners. Those eight ended respectfully and the parameters of the relationships were clearly defined from beginning to end. No lies or manipulation whatsoever.

Three of the fifteen were exploitative douchebags and rather cruel, but they didn’t assault or manipulate me, although they “jilted” me.

Four of those fifteen sexually assaulted and/or raped me. One of those four admitted it, apologized for it, and made amends. We remained friends, although not lovers. The other three are who I talk about on my blog, as they are the ones who did the damage. I’ve talked mostly about the last one, The Rapist in ATX, and more recently The Musician and that saga, since it has been drug back up in the Steampunk Community starting with a colleague’s announcement to the Alliance of Steampunk Conventions about The Musician, based not only on my account but also on the reservations of another who had come forward. That tiny smidgen of possible justice & accountability inspired the creation of OWF by a supporter, friend, and fellow survivor (who now prefers to take a backseat to all this because of aggression and cruelty exemplified in this comment). Lastly, the visibility of all this was increased drastically with JHA naming The Musician on Silver-Goggles**. The first of these remaining three, The Writer, I don’t talk about that much, although his betrayal rather started the ball rolling for the other two. He was my best friend. He, too, ignored hours and hours of NOs, similarly to The Musician, and it ended similarly, too, although much sooner. In fact, I told The Musician about this man, and The Musician assured me he’d never do anything like that because he was a “gentleman.” Then, proceeded to do just that.

If you do any research on sexual assault/rape victims, you will learn that once victimized by sexualized violence, it’s twice as likely to be victimized again, partially because of the fucked up boundaries and confusion from the last one.

When did you file this supposed police report? Directly after the event? If so, then why continue to have an affair? If you filed it after the affair was concluded, then doesn’t that suggest that you decided to do it out of spite? Or is it in fact all in your fevered imagination?

I filed the official report with the NYPD in September 2012. That was a year after the last time I had heard from The Musician (Sept 2011) and 18 months after the night in NYC (May 2011). I was no longer “jilted” or in pain from his actions. I was in rape recovery therapy 3x a week from the events of The Rapist in ATX. I had spoken to a sexual assault attorney regarding his attacks and told him about The Musician and The Writer as well. As you’ll read in my blog, I didn’t even recognize The Rapist’s actions as rape until my PTSD got so bad I sought out help with a PTSD specialist in July 2012. When I recounted the actions of 2/12/12 with her, I referred to it as “borderline sexual assault.” She said, “There was nothing borderline about it. That was rape.” That was news to me, but it made sense because of how damaged I had been over the past five months since the split in February 2012.

I, by the way, left him. He didn’t leave me.

After talking with another 7 different sexual assault specialists, including a lawyer, they all confirmed it was, indeed, rape. It didn’t look like my (and the bulk of society’s) stereotypical image of rape. That’s the second instance that caused me to broaden my definition and understanding of sexual assault. The first was after I was introduced to Yes Means Yes and the concept of Enthusiastic Consent in the wake of The Musician.

I decided to report The Rapist’s rapes in Dallas (2/12/12) and Austin (2/16/12) to the police in the respective cities with this new understanding in July 2012. While talking with the Austin police officer, I recounted what happened in NYC with The Musician, as we were discussing sexual assault and the cultural understanding of it, and he said: “That’s sexual assault! Report that to the police.” So I did. I called the NYPD and told them what happened. I told them that it was over a year ago and I knew nothing could be done. I knew there wasn’t enough evidence for an investigation, let alone a conviction, and I wouldn’t want a conviction anyway. I just wanted it on record in case there was another report in the future, so there would be a history, making it easier for the possible future victim to have a case. The police took my account of the events that night in NYC very seriously. They decided to fly out to CA to get my statement in person. I felt really bad about that because I knew it couldn’t be prosecuted, and I told them that. They said that they took sexual assault very seriously and they wanted to get the statement in person. They flew out to CA and I met with them in Santa Rosa. They took my statement, thanked me for being so honest, and said they wished more people would report. I’m still in touch with the detective. Out of the three I dealt with, he was by far the most respectful and kind.

Don’t you think it might be time to settle down with your alledged husband and stop having constant, and it seems, damaging affairs?

First, they weren’t affairs, as that word connotes deception, and my husband knows everything, then and now. I don’t lie. I don’t deceive. Secondly, perhaps it’s time to “settle down,” although that question is extremely slut-shaming and victim-blaming. It’s as if you said, “Had you just been a good little wife and stayed home making dinner and cleaning house, none of this would’ve happened. You see. It’s your fault.”

I know you didn’t say that, but that is what questions like that imply.

As for having future relationships, that’s unlikely, certainly in the near future. I haven’t had any kind of sexual encounter for well over a year. I had sex a few times after the rapes of Feb 2012, until I accepted what The Rapist did in February was, indeed, rape, but those encounters were all dissociative, I’ve since learned. Now sex just frightens me and disgusts me.

I do hope that changes as I continue to heal.

As for now, I trust exactly three people on this planet. My husband. My therapist, and my best friend.

I hope I answered your questions and concerns. Although your comment was extremely victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and stereotypically full of rape culture rhetoric, I chose to answer the questions as honestly as I could. I’ve been very transparent about this entire thing for the past two years. All of it, even how my understanding has changed through therapy and with the removal of the rape culture blinders socialized onto all of us.

May you find peace.

Enjoy ComicCon.

-_Q

In summary, The Musician took an already vulnerable woman and exploited her interest in him for his own sexual gratification, despite her moral misgivings and repeated NOs throughout the night. Subsequently, he wooed her and then dumped her before an international trip, in part, to visit him. Thousands of dollars were lost. Thousands. Upon the final abandonment several months later while trying to salvage a friendship, he cast her aside like garbage. Which, I suppose, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone coming from a man who would deceive his family & his eight-month-pregnant GF, exploit and violate a vulnerable woman, and habitually lie to his GF and to me (among many others, I’m sure). Although, naive as I was, it came as a surprise to me.

Despite all this, I would still forgive him and even support him again if he were to accept responsibility, make a public and private apology, and make amends. In short, to be accountable for his actions and the damage they caused.

As this is an extremely personal post, I ask that you please be kind in your comments. I won’t publish ones that are cruel or disrespectful or full of more victim-blaming rhetoric. Unless, of course, I’m going to make an example out of the comment.

-_Q

**Author’s Note: — this post that called him by his stage name has been taken down as of September 2014 due to a “legal complaint,” no doubt by Paul, so I’ll write it again. The Steampunk Musician is Professor Elemental. My experience. My story. My right.

I will never be silent again.

-_Q

Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.

Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com

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15 Comments

Filed under Community Response, Rape Culture

15 responses to “Victim Blaming & Slut Shaming

  1. I am highly skeptical of the proposition that “Karen” is actually a woman.

    I would be even more skeptical of the notion that “she” is not a personal friend of the man who abused you. Sure, it’s possibly that “Karen” is just some random rape apologist or idiot, but she sure does sound like somebody who has a dog in this race.

  2. Megan

    Hmmm, You don’t have to feed the trolls if you don’t want to. I was sexually assaulted repeatedly and sometimes violently throughout my teen years, started when I was 12. I’ve been through just about every situation that you’ve discussed here (other than being married, I’ve never been married.
    You don’t have to defend yourself. You don’t have to go into details about anything. Especially not from some randoms post of disbelief. This person is an asshole and does not have pure motives. As a survivor of sexual assault (I refuse to use the word “victim”), you may feel urged or obligated to defend yourself against these trolls. I would like to give you permission to give anyone who sends you these type of letters the finger and not give them any more of your hard earned energy.

    • Thank you, Megan, I almost deleted it. This comes on the tail of another instance where someone posted some incredibly false information about me and this event publicly. She spoke to me, realized her error, and took it down. It still rather shook me. I’ve been so transparent and these things have been on my blog for 2 yrs, but no one bothers to read them. The see a snippet of the issue and form their own conclusions.

      After that, I thought about doing just this, but then I decided not to as it would just be feeding trolls. However, this comment shook me. It was so full of stereotypical victim-blaming and slut-shaming rhetoric that I thought it would be perfect to use as an example for those things.

      I agree with your assessment of this person. I read the first 1/3 of it to my husband, and he was so disgusted he couldn’t listen to any more.

      If I get any other comments like this, they will be immediately deleted. I’ve said what I needed to say.

      Thank you so much for your support. xo

      • Megan

        I really admire your ability to write about these issues so eloquently. I commend you for your strength and perseverance through such trauma. You amaze and inspire me.

      • Thank you for your kind words. Thy mean so much to me. xo

        Also, I’m so sorry to read all that happened to you. I try to use the word survivor, too.

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  10. Hello omgrey,
    I have been uplifted by reading your posts. I have gone through something similar and have also been diagnosed with PTSD. I have a story quite similar to what happened between you and The Musician. The differences being I was in a relationship and I actually did cheat, also this happened at his house. Let’s name this guy M, he was a friend of mine and knew I was in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship and was also sexually abused as a child (the sources of my PTSD) and despite my protestations he continued. Basically whatever happened in your story, it hauntingly mirrors mine, except I was 19 at the time. For months I was depressed and I thought I was being stupid or silly because it was my fault for letting him in. And again. And again.

    I only got the idea it was rape after I told my (now ex)boyfriend about the affair in an effort to make him let go of me (my ex became a stalker). He told me it was rape and that I should sue M or else… but I finally got him to back off. Ever since my problem with my ex started, M has been put out of my mind and we actually made peace. Your blogs are confirmation of the fact it was indeed rape and a little bit of an assurance that I’m not just some whiny bitch. Although I still am sort of in the clutches of my ex. Hopefully this whole situation will all be over soon.

    Reading your other posts actually drive me to tears when I realize how much hurt my past relationship did. I have to thank you, you’ve helped me realize so many things. Stay strong and keep being awesome.

    • Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. It made my day to read my words have helped you.

      I’m so sorry to read you experienced something similar. Yes, it is indeed rape. Our culture does a great job of convincing us and everyone we’re “whiny bitches” because we have the audacity to expect others to respect our boundaries and listen to NO (better yet, wait for YES). And then, we have the utter gall to expect justice when violated.

      We live in a world that protects rapists and perpetuates rape by the way victims are treated on every level…and the way perpetrators are excused if not downright celebrated.

      May you find peace.

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