Thursday, October 15, 2009

Once Upon A Time, There Was A Bully.

There's someone I hate more than the man who raped me. This person has done his very best to insult and degrade me each time I've had to tell him about the traumas I've been through. He was in a position of power over me each time-- once as a significant other, once as an officer of the fraternity to which we both belonged. He has spouted every kind of vitriol ranging from accusing me of liking it to asking me if it was "really rape, not like the last time" which was also rape, just one he didn't believe, to telling me to keep quiet because if word that a rape occurred in our fraternity, it would ruin our reputation on campus and no one would want to come to our house anymore.

I remember that conversation well. It was a conversation I was forced to have, as he wielded his officership over me and demanded to know what had happened. His words bit deep into my memory, reminding me of the traumatic few days that followed the rape. I vividly remember the tears of anger and frustration that stung my eyes as he lounged so nonchalantly, so arrogantly in the chair across from me. I remember telling myself that he and I have a rocky history, that he despises me-- a fact that he declares publicly to anyone who cares to listen-- which means that I shouldn't take his words to heart, but I can't help it, and the words sink in anyway.

Over the course of the next few months, my fraternity does nothing to prove him wrong or hold him accountable as an officer for trying to silence a rape victim. When I'm not crying my heart out in pain or lost and dissociated for hours on end, I seethe and I rage at the apathy that has alienated me so. In many respects he represents all that was wrong with how my fraternity handled the situation, and even much of what is wrong in the world. Victim-blaming, victim-shaming, ignorance, and the arrogance to believe he is always right-- these are the very seeds that sow rape-culture.

I cannot think of him without the strongest mental repulsion, stronger than that against thoughts about my rape or my rapist himself. I still see him because he is still here. We tend to ignore each other as much as possible. However, today he said something so dismissive and minimizing of my story that the dam broke and my pent up rage abruptly came back. So I did the unthinkable: I informed him that I wanted to speak to him.

I confronted him tonight. I told him how it was absolutely not okay to tell a rape victim to not share her story because it would ruin the reputation of the house. The same faint sneer I am so used to seeing appeared on his face, his expression of total indifference. His claim was that he was thinking solely of legal liability and being sued by the rapist. Yeah, right-- that's total bullshit, because his words to me a year and a half ago were that if news of this got out on campus, people would no longer come by our house and we as a fraternity would be ruined.

He claims he was acting as a high-ranking officer in the house and doing what he thought was appropriate. But I confronted him about his well-publicized dislike (or rather, "completely lack of respect," as I have the honor of being one of the few people he says he has ever lost respect for in his life) of me, and if he would have acted differently had the survivor not been me. His answer? Yes. So first he claims to be acting as an officer of the house, but then admits that it was really about his personal feelings about me. Fantastic! So I informed him that I was glad he would not be so misogynistic against other women and he stalked out of the room.

I was intensely riled up after that fail of a conversation. I raged and I cried and I dug my nails so hard into my palm that I left angry red crescents in my skin. I don't know exactly what it is that bothers me-- the immaturity, the arrogance, the refusal to believe any part of his belief is wrong, the injustice of it all. He actively despises me, a fact I have been informed of repeatedly by his royal highness himself, and has pretty much done everything he can to bully me, guilt me, and hurt me. I absolutely hate him more than I hate the man who raped me. Somehow, though, he remains a welcome member in the house with whom my friends interact on a regular basis. He saves his vitriol only for me, in such a way that no one really believes me or cares enough to intervene. When I vent to them, one moment people are nodding sympathetically, and the next they are conversing friendlily with him.

I feel alienated, even more so than when I was struggling through my intense PTSD last year. People were genuinely sympathetic then, and they shared my anger and hatred of my rapist. It was too easy to hate the man who raped me, as he was someone people were prone to disliking anyway for his personality and prior behavior, someone who lived in another state and would never come back. People united behind hating my rapist; that was the extent of the effort they were willing to put into supporting me. But asking them to judge a current brother of the house for his behavior was too much for me to ask, apparently.

And so I try to deal with my frustration on my own. I don't understand how to handle this; I don't understand how to let this go.

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