Rape does not always come with an indistinguishable figure lurking in dark and eerie passageways, waiting for its next unsuspecting victim. It does not always come with the creep who stalks your every move the minute you get off a taxi on your way back from school or work. It’s not always perpetuated by the coward who hides behind their culture; feeling entitled to your body because you are, and have always been an object placed on this earth for his disgusting gratification, irrespective of what you are or are not wearing.
Sometimes, it’s the guy who’s continually had their eyes on you since you started to blossom into a woman – your breasts, hips and arse swelling right in front of his eyes. Sometimes, it’s the guy who’d always leave his group of friends to help you carry your grocery bags when he’d see you struggling with their weight, as your curvy body gracefully swayed from side to side. Sometimes, it’s the guy who’s always gone the extra mile to show you how much he cares about you – the guy whose lips have embraced yours at some point, and whose touch used to soothe your restless heart.
Rape is not always blatantly violent – in the sort of gruesome retelling of a fatal incident you’d see blasted on the front cover of a tabloid newspaper. The victim isn’t always faceless, and the perpetrator isn’t always a masked monster.
But nobody tells you this.
Nobody informs you that between 65 percent and 85 percent of rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows because sexual abuse has become commonplace in our society. These perpetrators are fathers, uncles, brothers, friends, boyfriends and even husbands. Easy for them to achieve this horrendous act because of the level of trust we have in them; we let our guard down when we’re with them, we feel safe.
Nobody tells you that this despicable behaviour can come from someone who’s served as a significant part of your life and that all you thought to be true about them can turn out to be just another illusion. Or that even after they’ve finished helping themselves to your body as if it was an all-you-can-eat buffet, you’d be forced to rationalise their behaviour for the sake of your sanity. That you’ll have to walk the same streets you’re likely to find him wandering in, or attend the same events he’s likely to be at, and be forced to pretend like the nightmare was all just a figment of your imagination to avoid condemnation.
Nobody tells you that society will always find a way to fault you and make it seem like you were somehow to blame for what happened to you – merely because you were born a woman in a man’s world. Perhaps the only safety precaution available to us women is not to associate with any man ever – maybe that’s the only way we can preserve ourselves from this crime in such instances.