Saturday, October 6, 2018

Here's What I Know About My Worth

TW: talk of rape, child sexual abuse, some semi-graphic descriptions of my assaults

Here's what I know about my worth: 

Men's and boys reputations always mattered more than me as a human person. It mattered more when I was 11 and sexually abused by a family friend, it mattered more when I was 14 and raped by three kids who went to my school and spent the next four years making my life a living hell and making shit up about me to excuse their fucking unforgiveable acts, but the second I tried to name them and what they did, I was the asshole and clearly lying. A man's reputation mattered more when I had to sit in my principal's office and listen to him tell me that I seemed to be a pathological liar because I ratted out my drama teacher (who was the most sexist, racist teacher I ever had) for calling me the R word and telling my entire class that I was "crazy" because I started to cry in class when a student, a male student who was a favorite of his, wouldn't stop snapping my bra.

It mattered more than me when I was 19 and a guy tried to drag me into the bushes on my college campus but I managed to fight him off because he was drunk. He had followed me from a payphone and onto an elevator and no matter how much I ignored him, or told him to stop he kept on touching me and following me. I called the cops that time but they said there was not much I could do since I didn't know the guy's name and he was long gone. Attempted rape and there was not much they could do. Imagine my not shock five years later when my close friend told me she had been raped by a cop and it turned out to be the best friend of the cop who said that to me.

It didn't matter when I was in my first "real" relationship and he liked to humiliate me in public by picking fights and telling me that I was trash. Then, he liked to follow me (after he told me to leave) and act like I was being silly for walking away. Once, I tripped and hurt my ankle and he got really angry with me because apparently I was too clumsy and this was a character flaw that needed to be corrected by making me feel ashamed and scared. His reputation always mattered more even when he liked to do things that he knew caused me to panic, like knocking on the windows at night when I thought I was alone. Or driving fast to terrify me and almost getting us killed because he needed to make me tough. Unlike the men who had raped me, he was trying to help me so I'd stop being a "victim". He wasn't like those other men who hurt me, he claimed. His friends saw him do these things and would privately tell me "Well, he's just a dick", but when I finally left, after he backed me into a corner and trapped me, punching the walls around me until he finally hit me, no one believed me. Or maybe they did, but they just didn't care because unlike his reputation, my humanity was an acceptable loss. Even when my sister came to help me get my things, she was annoyed with me. She listened to him complain about how hard it is to live with someone like me and sympathized with him. When I told her he hit me, she thought I was making it up so people would feel sorry for me. He was always nice around her and I did have the habit of you know, being autistic at everyone around me which is apparently unforgiveable.

I remember that before I left, maybe a month before... I was thinking about it. I walked to the payphone. We only had his cell phone at home and unless I wanted him to listen in on my conversations and start yelling at me for either having too much fun talking to that person, swearing too much, or complaining too much, I had to walk about a mile to the closest payphone. I was upset about the way I was treated and not even paying attention when a group of men drove by and yelled at me. I flipped them off. They came back to find me ten minutes later and threw a bag of piss at me. It hit me in the leg and exploded all over my shoes. I am literally a human toilet. I went back home and figured, there is no point. I've put up with so much shit for so long from so many men, I probably didn't deserve any better anyway.

I was homeless for about a year and a half after that. I slept on couches and stayed with friends. I woke up one night to a "friend" trying to drag me out of bed and pull my clothes off. I kicked him in the crotch. The next day, our mutual friends were upset with me because "you just don't hit a guy there!". I stayed with another friend. Her daughter's father woke me up one night by putting his hand down my pants. I panicked. I pretended to be asleep but he wouldn't stop, so I punched him and he left. The next day, I told my friend and she was worried about her daughter, so I never brought it up again.

I once dated a man who cheated on me and lied to me constantly. He liked to get drunk and propose marriage, but at least I knew he was full of shit and was not someone I wanted to ever be married to. But, he was my friend and other than that, he would never hit me or insult me or force me to do anything I didn't want to. He's a good guy, I thought! That's how low the bar is.

I went to a concert, back when I was still drinking and managed my anxiety and PTSD by just getting shitfaced all the time. I wanted to go up front but a guy grabbed me and put his hand so far down the back of my pants that I thought he was going to try to stick it inside of me and I still think he might have but a friend of my husband's saw him and started to yell at him. It freaked me out a lot but I was afraid to act like it. I tried to laugh about it instead and everyone else laughed too so it was just a joke after all. I'm great at being a punchline.

I get yelled at all the time from passing cars. I can't drive due to my disabilities, so I walk and take public transportation a lot. Men feel very brave to yell at you all of their true feelings from their cars when you are so vulnerable. Depending on the day, I might hear that a man wants rape me or maybe just kill or beat me for daring to exist while unattractive. Men have grabbed me while I was walking down the street, they have hit me or followed me and intimidated me and humiliated me so many times, for so many years that I don't know if I will ever not feel like human trash.

And I know a lot of good men. My husband, his father, my father, my nephews, friends I've made, the son I've raised. But every good man I know can't make me stop feeling afraid of the rest of them. I've never not been scared. What must it be like to live your life without this kind of fear? What would it be like to matter? I can't even imagine.

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