In a one-year span of my life, I had to live through two life-shaking experiences: I was sexually assaulted, and my boyfriend was falsely accused of sexual assault. You might be surprised to find that the latter had much more devastating results for me.
I was there the night you told a group of eight, nine or ten men – it was dark, it was hard to tell, and we were scared – that my boyfriend needed to be hurt the way he hurt a girl he had raped. I was there when they all came after him, with me there, telling him they were going to get him, telling me to leave because their issue wasn’t with me, just him. I heard them refuse to tell him what was going on, what they had heard and from who.
They were preoccupied with getting me to leave. I didn’t. They were cowards, and they were depending on me getting out of there to perpetrate the crime. We got away from them, but they threatened to come after both of us next time. I don’t know what would have happened if I wasn’t there – you doubted me, you were convinced I would leave him, that your lies would work. You weren’t counting on me to be such a strong person when you were not.
I remember the pain and the longing and the fear, the uncertainty, when I didn’t hear from him for two weeks following the incident. I never felt more lost and alone in my whole life – I had just met him, and everything was going so nicely between us. Suddenly this rumour is up in the air, and me and him weren’t speaking. I knew you were somehow implicated in whatever was going on – you were the only other one there that we knew the night it happened; you, his recent ex-girlfriend.
My suspicions that you were involved in the case that made no sense at all were confirmed when you pulled me aside after a party one night and told me a dozen strange stories about my boyfriend, none of which lined up with everything I knew about him up until this point, and then you begged me to leave him. Nothing fit. You definitely weren’t as smart as you thought you were, but as it turned out, you don’t need to be all that smart for your plan to have some kind of dire effect.
That same night me and him finally got in touch again; the two longest weeks of my life up until that point at least would have closure. He told me why he didn’t speak to me during that time; because of the dreadful rumours he had been hearing about me. He knew deep down the rumours weren’t coming from me; that they had been created by his ex. But he had known you for so long, he didn’t want to think you could have done this to him – you had done it to two other men before. It was easier to blame me, who he had just met, instead of the girl he had trusted for a long time that he always had known he shouldn’t have.
When I found out who he had ‘raped,’ I found out you were lying with absolute certainty. Not just suspected uncertainty, but fully corroborated certainty: I was the one he was said to have raped. You thought you were so sneaky, trying to keep me and him from having a happy and successful relationship: first, tell a group of men he was a rapist and try to have him hurt. Try to convince me he had hurt girls before me, that I shouldn’t become involved with him further. Then, you and your cronies tell anybody they can that I was the one he had raped. Count on that story not to get back to me – your friends angrily confronted him with what they had heard about me and him. Your story may have had holes in it to me, but it sure got them, and I’m sad for them. They genuinely thought they were sticking up for me and doing the right thing.
You didn’t fool me, but you cry the magical rape word and the truth just doesn’t matter that much after it. No matter how many people I told my story to, no matter how obvious what had really happened was, it was too late. The popular version of the story had already set in: my boyfriend was a rapist, and by proxy, I was a rape apologist. Now I am seen as a weak person who could not leave my rapist, either that, a victim, or a perpetrator – somebody who is so morally unsound she can forgive rape.
We lost our entire friend group over the incident, we couldn’t hang out with anybody we had known for the past few years because of this. I had other people to fall back on, as you weren’t my innermost circle; but my boyfriend lost people who had been good friends of his for years, who now had nothing good to say about him. Even though I had the real story, the full story with corroborating evidence – strange pieces of information from multiple people preserved in texts and screenshots, friends who could verify the information I discovered in the order I discovered it, testimony from many people implicated in your evildoings – it just didn’t matter. Your story got out first, and once the word rape has been said, nothing can take it back.
And who really suffers at the hand of all of this? The real survivors, like myself – who was sexually assaulted a year later by a former friend at a house party. Nobody believed me because nobody had seen it; I got called a liar by a room full of people who should have known I never would have made up something like that about somebody who I had considered a friend, who had served time for sex crimes in the past. The real survivors who have credible and verified stories, who are fighting to be heard and seek justice, are mocked by selfish and careless rumours and accusations like these.
Now I doubt survivors when I hear their stories; I can never presume innocence. My first instinct is to assume people telling stories of assault are lying, when such is usually not the case. I don’t like that about myself, I want to get over it, but I don’t know how long it will take for me to be able to.
I have a unique perspective on all of this, as I got to be on both ends of the spectrum in less than a year. I’ve seen the horrors that both sexual assault and false accusations can do – they are fates that should befall nobody. From my experience, I can’t really say one is worse than the other. I have seen how devastating they both can be. I have been hurt and I’ve seen others hurt by carelessness and insensitivity.
If you’re mad at your ex, just fucking drop it already. If you don’t want to lose somebody, treat them well while you’re together, let each other go in peace, don’t create a need to seek petty revenge. You didn’t just hurt me when you decided to tell everybody my boyfriend raped me. You didn’t just hurt him. You hurt everybody who had liked us, and everybody who has suffered at the hands of unwanted sexual advances.
You caused suffering where suffering needed not be; you created Evil. Evil is real, and it exists through actions like these. I just hope others can learn from your mistake; and others may be spared.
-Senior Editor A.
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