This post deals with rape and sexual assault and might be triggering for some readers.
I am no longer ashamed to reveal that violence has occurred in four of my intimate relationships. Each of those partners raped me. Except for the fourth, I did not even realise at the time that I had been raped.
About one in three Australian women over the age of 15 have experienced physical or sexual violence at some time in their lives, although what these statistics don’t reveal is that a woman may experience such violence more than once.
Watch: Sexual assault survivor and advocate Grace Tame on the power of abuse survivors' stories. Post continues after video.
Although all rapes are violent and traumatic, what I experienced was towards the least violent end of the continuum. They were over quickly, left no bruises or bleeding. I was not forcibly pinned down. Just men laying on top of me, having their way when I had clearly not consented.
I had said: No; Stop; I am not ready; What are you doing? (when I was woken up in the middle of the night whilst sleeping alone in a downstairs bedroom).
I was told: It is my right; No woman has ever said no to me; This will make you feel better.
On three occasions I just lay there, didn’t move, and said nothing afterwards.
I told the fourth, "you raped me". He replied, "well, it didn’t last long". The next day I had coffee with a girlfriend and told her what had happened. She became angry with me for not shouting and struggling and trying to push him off. She said that’s not rape. But I knew it was, I was wising up.
The year before I had been to a domestic violence workshop at Caboolture. Several policewomen were present. The speaker began talking about rape. It dawned on me that I had been raped, not once, but three times. I began to cry uncontrollably and had to leave the room. Someone came out and hugged me and said I need to get some counselling.
When a woman is hurt by someone who says they love her, often she does not realise that what she is experiencing is abuse. This is complicated when the perpetrators themselves minimise or deny what they have done, refuse to accept responsibility. Because of this, it took me many years to realise their abuse was not my fault. I did not make them hurt me. Rape me.
Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. In this episode, we discuss the petition where thousands of people shared their horrific experiences of sexual assault. Post continues after audio.
Decades later I had counselling with one of these men. I wanted to clear things in a safe environment, apologise for hurt I had caused him and spell out the hurt, the trauma, I had experienced from him. In a very calm, soft voice, I mentioned what had happened that night.