I knew I’d been raped more than once.

But I didn’t have an actual number.

I still don’t.

More than once.

Less than…. ?

As I #RedMyLips every day in April I  thought about #SexualAssaultAwareness.

A question I’ve been asked when I speak or write about my experiences in an abusive relationship is

“Why do you keep bringing this up?”

Or I get “You’re so full of shit. That never happened.”

I’ve been out of it longer than I was in it.

So why DO I keep going on and on about it?

BECAUSE I am strong enough.

Because the more survivors come forward, the more hope there is for people still living in cycles of abuse and violence.

Because people stuck in hell need to know they are not alone.

You are not alone.

Because it’s going on in thousands of households across the country right now.

Because one in five women in New Zealand will experience sexual assault as an adult.

Because by 16 in New Zealand one in three girls will have been subjected to an unwanted sexual experience.

Because one in three women in New Zealand will experience abuse from an intimate partner in their lifetime, and it has to stop.

Now.

It has to. We as a society can’t go on like this.

In 2014 I met with Sue from Women’s Refuge and became one of their survivor spokespeople.

I never used refuge.

I was too scared.

Too proud.

Too living in denial about how bad my life was and how much help I needed.

I wanted to run away.

My previous attempts had failed.

I was biding my time, planning my plan.

Time ran out for me.

I’m sharing my experiences in the hopes that it will inspire women to get out before time runs out and they get maimed or killed.

I told Sue a bit about the abusive relationship I was in and when she came back to me with what was going in the Women’s Refuge newsletter I was shocked.

It sounded like I was getting raped all the time.

And I wasn’t.  Was I?

I had only registered two at that point.  The obvious and brutal ones.

I freaked out and got her to revise it.

It wasn’t until I was sitting down with Andra, my co-writer, recalling some of my sex life for Double-edged Sword that I realised there were more.

Well actually, she told me, I didn’t realise at all at first.

She was “Well. That was rape.”

“Yip. That’s rape too.”

Oh.

Fuck.

Right.

Non-consensual sex is rape.

If I said no and my boyfriend forced his penis into me anyway that was non-consensual sex.

It didn’t happen that often.

But it did happen.  More than I had wanted to admit to myself.

Most of the time we were fucking like bunnies and couldn’t get enough of each other.

I was young and naïve and insecure when I fell for him.

Desperate to be loved.

Our relationship was intense and passionate and full on.

Sick and twisted too.

Me and him against the world fucking the pain of life away.

I’d never felt so in love. So wanted. So needed. So belonging.

I love sex.

LOVE IT!

Sucking. Fucking. Kissing. Stroking.

Laying lovingly entwined for days at a time breathing each other in.

Two bodies naked, sweaty and breathless sliding together.

A quickie in the laundry between wash loads.

I’m pretty much always up for it in a relationship.

Except when I’m not.

Few and far between.

But still.

He wanted it.

He took it.

Just like everything else.

My pleas of “No. Please don’t” or the “Stop, I don’t want to. No, please stop.” or even my screaming of “get the fuck off me you cunt this is rape” and me either fighting it to exhaustion or being dead still and barely breathing, wishing it over, never even gave him pause.

Me losing just a little bit more of myself each time.

Fading into apathy about my life.

My last scraps of dignity & self-worth draining away into the void.

I was told once during non-consensual sex that he couldn’t rape me because he loved me and I was his.

“This isn’t rape baby. I love you. I can’t rape you. You belong to me.”

“I can’t rape you baby. You’re mine. I love you. Shhhhhhh.”

“You love me. You want it. TAKE IT.”

I did love him.

I didn’t want it.

But he made me take it.

Then it’s over as quick as it started and life resumes as usual as if nothing ever happened.

Just like in Game of Thrones when Jamie raped Cersei.

I watched that with a friend who thought it was ridiculous and unrealistic, but to me that was one of the most realistic rape scenes I’d seen in a while.

After one incident I experienced he said “What’s wrong with you? You’re a sick bitch. I’m not a filthy fucking rapist. That wasn’t rape. You’re fucked in the head.”

God knows I’d been punched in the head enough times, so yeah. I was fucked in the head.

I’d been fucked in the head for years. Even before I met him. I own that.

That didn’t mean it wasn’t rape though.

I lost count of the times I got knocked out and woke up naked in bed, dazed and confused with him on top of me snorting and pumping away.

It wasn’t even something I bothered to count.

It was all pretty crazy back then.

That just seemed to be my lot in life.

I didn’t really have a say in what was done to my body.

I was a possession like everything else he claimed.

Sex was a safety management tool as well in the relationship I was in.

Just like cooking or making sure everything was in order in the house.

There are lots of times I knew that if I put out for five minutes the next 24 hours would be sweet.

Most of the time it was easier to put out for a few minutes than fight about it for an hour, or a day, and get thrown around like Raggedy Ann and then forced to anyway.

I could gauge the energy and the emotions.

You get pretty good at reading situations when you live in volatility.

But some days the last thing you want inside you is the man you despise yourself for loving.

So you say no.

Once a day’s over you don’t have the luxury of dwelling on it because each day is just about survival.

The days that weren’t about survival were so ridiculously good and full of love and affection and tenderness and joy and fun that they confused me. Made me think I was crazy. Made me think things weren’t as bad as they seemed.

A taste of the fantasy of the perfect loving couple that it’s so overwhelming that it’s like a dream I floated through.

Back to reality.

There seems to be a misconception with people I talk to that it’s not REAL rape if it was your partner or spouse that raped you.

Like it’s only real rape if it happens at knife point in a dark alley at night by a stranger.

Umm, no.

All rape is REAL rape.

No means no.

The statistics I mentioned above come from here

Rape Prevention Education

and here

Women’s Refuge

You can also click on these links to find resources for dealing with rape and abuse.