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Image: Warwick Media Library

‘I am not your Damsel in Distress’ – A Letter to my Rapist

This letter was sent to The Boar by an anonymous female student at the University of Warwick. Editing of this letter has been kept to a minimum to ensure the “honest and vulnerable” tone of the piece persists, and the woman behind this letter hopes that readers appreciate the place it came from.

TW: Rape, sexual assault

To the reader,

This letter is addressed to my rapist but intended for the survivors. I was in the Marianas trench of trenches and in a passionate attempt to regain control, I wrote it. I dream of a community where sexual assault is only spoken of in lectures on the history of moral philosophy. A community where it doesn’t need to be spoken of because it doesn’t happen. We are not there. Rape happens on our campus and beyond. Warwick still does not get consent. We have not educated enough. We cannot, should not, and will not stop talking about it until the day it becomes the unimaginable, and even then we will pass the knowledge on to our children.

The contents of this letter are personal and emotional, and may be triggering. I was raped by somebody who was a close friend. Through research and upon reflection, I feel that I have made the correct decision to neither name him nor report the incident.
This decision was my own. I have no desire to enter a legal battle with him. It is a process that I am unsure I could survive. It is also a process that will not bring me joy. If he is convicted, he will be sent to prison- an environment notorious for rape culture. He will come out of prison a lot worse of a human being than his admittance. And it won’t make him understand. If he is found innocent, he will believe it. It will validate his defence. And it won’t make him understand. This decision is my own and should not dissuade anyone from reporting such incidents – consequences are important.

I truly believe that my path to regaining control, my method of empowering myself and those that could be in a similar position is sharing this letter with you all. He is going to read it, and I pray that he will understand. This is my gift to him, his future is intact and he has the opportunity to change. This will be my closure, the last time I communicate with the man who raped me. I ask that you respect my anonymity, and welcome you to read and share this letter. It’s important to me, and everyone else.

– One of many survivors

I truly believe that my path to regaining control, my method of empowering myself and those that could be in a similar position is sharing this letter with you all.

Dear Rapist,

I am afraid that I must address you as Rapist and Rapist only, because that is all you have become to me now. How was the holiday? I saw the photos and smiles, it seems like you had a blast! I do hope you
tried all the food there, I’ve always wondered what their Gelato is like. Did you know that I haven’t eaten since you raped me? Isn’t that funny? Food is such a distant memory now. The other day I bought a blueberry muffin on my way to the library and only had a blueberry.

I am not your damsel in distress.

I was not lost when you found me. You are not the source of my happiness. You are not my saviour: you were a friend. You were there when I cried, you were there when I laughed. Nobody could laugh as much as us. You were my partner in crime, and I was never bored in your company. I told my mum about you, that she had to meet you. When the boy I loved broke my heart, you were there and you were so kind. So understanding, almost saint-like.

He is your pal. I’m curious; do you remember me now when you’re with him? Did you think about me when you were having Gelato with him? Do I cross your mind when you guys spend hours laughing, studying, living together? Do you think about how you raped the first person your best friend ever loved? You are lucky. You are so, so lucky that you don’t ever feel shame. Because I do.
And another thing:

My insecurities are NOT your currency. You cannot use them to buy my time.

You cannot exchange them for compliance. I never have and never will owe you anything. I am strong. I am intelligent. I am beautiful. I make myself feel that way and you cannot take it away from me.

I am strong. I am intelligent. I am beautiful. I make myself feel that way and you cannot take it away from me.

When you told me how you felt, I was flattered. You were always so good as to remind me of my loneliness. And oh how I was lonely. And you were there. It seemed so clear, so obvious. And how could I say no? Not yet anyway. Of course I would give it a chance. I trusted you and if you really were who I thought you to be – well – we wouldn’t be here, would we?

You are not a child learning the meaning of the word ‘no’. You have no excuse. It was not my fault. It is not my fault. It will never be my fault. All I ever did was care for you, even more so than I did for myself. Excessively. Your wish was my command; your happiness my satisfaction. You knew that. But it wasn’t your wrongdoing, it was my own. It was my mistake because I chose to put you first, and to give you all I could, and be there as much as I could. It was my choice. I still had a choice back then.

It wasn’t enough for you. You weren’t satisfied. How could you be satisfied when I hadn’t really given you everything? You were so very insecure. I could change my mind. I could leave. I could decide that it didn’t feel right for me, that in the end you were only a friend. And in the end, you weren’t even that. But I was your crutch, your hit, your escape – whatever the hell you want to call it. I was it. I knew you and I knew your weaknesses, which made me your weakness.If you couldn’t have me you would never be in control of yourself. It’s a terrifying thought. I still had the power to make a conscious decision. It’s what makes someone human. When I told you I wanted to wait, I wanted to wait. I did not want to have sex with you. It was never for you to decide when was long enough. It isn’t fair that you could do what you wanted just because you were heavy and on top of me. It is not a game. When I was saying no, I wasn’t challenging you, I was saying no. To strip someone of their choices, their desires, and subsequently their pride is to take away their humanity. Did raping me make you feel more human?

When I told you I wanted to wait, I wanted to wait. I did not want to have sex with you. It was never for you to decide when was long enough.

Do you miss me? I guess I haven’t thought about how long it’s been since you’ve seen me, because I have seen you every night since. I know you better than ever now that you crouch in my head, manifesting my thoughts. You are terrifying. For a long time, I kept our secret. When you begged me not to tell him, I didn’t. I was falling further into a pit, desperately keeping you up. Desperately. I was so engulfed. I was so in denial. I broke at some point between then and now. I was in crisis and I was forced to prioritise. And thank you for that. I am not your damsel in distress. Leave me alone. You cannot fix me. You cannot help me. You are not sorry and you don’t understand. I wish you could. More than anything. My heart aches when I think of the person you used to be. I hope that you can find your peace and heal. I hope that one day you can become that person once more. You may not feel it right now, but you are human. You told me that you forgot how to feel, you said you were numb. Did any of these words make you feel something? Are you sorry? Are you angry? Hungry perhaps? If they did, you are welcome.

It is now my turn to decide when it is time.

It is time for you to face what you have done.

You are not a victim.

I am a survivor.

Note: This letter is unrelated to The Boar‘s recent story ‘student charged with rape allowed to play in Varsity’, and any other prior reports regarding rape and sexual assault on campus

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