Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rape: Reality v. Fantasy--Vi's Experiences

Taking my cue from the two brave young women who've revealed their experiences, I will now recount my own experiences. I never told anybody this but I was raped twice, once at 16, the second time at a much older age, 39!

When I was thirteen, my aunt Maria took me to live with her on her large estate near Tuscany. It was an unhappy time. My aunt's husband had died and she was a wildly promiscuous woman with many gentleman visitors. It was not a healthy environment for a young, impressionable girl. One night shortly after I'd turned sixteen, I was relaxing in my evening bath when my door opened. Standing there was the very handsome young English earl who’d accompanied his father on his visit to my aunt’s estate. The young man was without a stitch of clothing and his large erect member quivered with anticipation as I covered my nakedness in shame. He begged me not to be alarmed. He charmed his way into my bath with sweet, insincere words of flattery.

"I will not hurt you," he promised, "I only want to bathe with you. Will you allow me? You are so very beautiful."

Yes, yes, in my stupid, vain naivety I allowed this. Once in the water with me, he became very insistent. Touching and kissing. Pushing his fingers into me. When I tried to leave, he grabbed and twisted my hips and pressed my face and hands against the tile wall. Once he had me in that position, his clumsy, brutal thrusts stole my innocence in a way I hadn’t yet known was done between men and women. Riccardo knows that it was many years later, only with him in fact, that I'd allow another man to take me that way. For the longest time, I debated whether this incident was rape or not, since I'd permitted him access to my bath, but not to my body. Whether it was, in the eyes of God or man, I do not know. I only know that it felt like rape.

Twenty-three years later, I was far from home in Santa Marta, Colombia and the man was an acquaintance of a Colombian girlfriend of mine! I was childless, very much estranged from Marco and very, very lonely.

He was intellectual and charming, but in a coarse sort of way. We talked freely of many subjects. I felt guilty because I enjoyed the attention at first but in truth, did not fancy him at all. He was very skinny and hairless with long muscled limbs, long, wavy dark brown hair, an aquiline nose and pitch black eyes. Some might have thought him a real catch, but I always preferred larger men with hairy bodies!

We were in my cousin's beautiful colonial house. I'd excused myself to use the bathroom, then had slipped to the guest room where I was staying to freshen my face. As I made ready to leave, he appeared at the doorway and pushed me back into the room. He pinned me against the wall with his hand covering my mouth. He was surprisingly strong. I had no bra on and my panties were mere thongs under a flimsy cotton dress. I felt so vulnerable. Thrusting his sex hard against my pubes, he proceeded to rub himself roughly up and down, all the while keeping his hand firmly on my mouth. Perhaps he mistook the screams from my covered mouth as moans of desire, for he mauled my breasts, then pulled up my dress and pushed his erect member straight into me so violently that I almost passed out. As my poor passage did not have time to lubricate, I bled like a virgin after he spent himself with a few savage thrusts, then withdrew!

In both instances, it was so awful. I thought that writing about my own experiences would help exorcise my own horrid memories. I am so not sure it does. I was like many rape victims, too ashamed to tell anyone as they could have argued in each instance that I had encouraged him! I only know what I wanted and did not want. What I consented to and did not consent to. My rational mind says that I did nothing wrong, that it was these monsters, masquerading as men who should feel unremitting disgrace for what they have done. Despite this logic, my shame remains, buried deep in the dark past of my soul, where it has taken firm root.

There is the shame of "sending the wrong signal," perhaps encouraging these men to take my body without my overt consent. This shame, bad as it is, is easier to rationalize into temporary silence. I can tell myself that I was naive in both circumstances and with age and experience, I now know better:
  • Fifty-three year old Vi would tell sixteen year old Vi that when you are naked and invite a naked young man to your bath, to expect the obvious.
  • Fifty-three year old Vi would tell thirty-nine year old Vi a more subtle message. Especially when traveling alone, to be very cautious about your appearance and speech, particularly when conveying any aspects of your estranged marriage to a strange man. That in many cultures, men regard unattached, free-talking women as free for the taking.
Whatever mixed signals I may or may not have sent, I only know what I wanted and did not want. Whatever they thought, I did not consent to or want their attentions.

As hard and shameful as these life lessons are, like many rape victims I carry a deeper outrage, the shame of the aftermath, that when I could have and should have sought justice for the crimes done to my person and spirit; again, I did the wrong thing. I remained silent. My terror, so hard to put aside, resides in the haunting question:

Did I, through my inaction, give tacit consent to these men and emboldened them to rape other women the way they raped me?

Decades later, I bear this second deeper shame and with it the guilt that I may be responsible for the pain of other women. I find this guilt nearly impossible to silence. If I dwell too long on it, I become so filled with self-loathing that I cannot bear myself. No amount of blogging or confession, I think, will ever change this.

How perverse am I then, after surviving these dark events, to still fantasize about a more sensual and gentle rape with you, Riccardo, if that is possible and not too much of an oxymoron? I know there are times that you want me when I am asleep, naked in the humid heat, which always makes me feel sexy and has made me toss off my bed sheet. Sometimes I go to bed so much earlier than you, exhausted and would prefer to resume our loveplay in the morning, but insatiable as you are, you see my naked sleeping body and it arouses you so much that you must steal inside me just one more time before you can sleep!

Sofi, can you agree that this rape fancy of mine with Riccardo is of an appealing nature? I know you have experienced the same insistence from Riccardo, when sound asleep, you awake to feel him entering you, unsure if you want to refuse him and push him off or submit to the physical pleasure his intrusion brings! Perhaps this is really subconscious 'consensual rape'? Is this where the contradiction lies?

What is this slippery thing called consent?
  • What is it when the woman offers neither consent or refusal, but the man "steals" the advantage of your sleeping body?
  • Is it consent when a woman says no, but in fact means yes?
  • Or when one says no, but through arousal changes her mind during or after the act?
  • What if the woman says no, means no, but the man reads consent, when there is none?
In what circumstances is a man an ardent, passionate lover or a despicable rapist? These are not easy questions to answer or even ponder.

From this one woman's perspective, I say that true rape is something like your strange American legal description of pornography. It may be hard to define or have complicating circumstances, but you know it when it is done to you. And yes, the real thing is hard to erase from our minds. Perhaps Riccardo's love has healed and strengthened me and enabled me to distance myself from the horror I felt on those two occasions and thus write so freely that I worry I sound almost facile. This is certainly NOT my intention! This is not a subject that should ever be taken lightly. There is more to say, but for now I let the topic rest.

JG, you are a brave, sweet girl to have written so frankly about the darkest moment in your life and we thank you for joining our discussion. I can only speak for myself, but I have every optimism that you will find what we have shared and that it will heal you. Sofi, Riccardo and I dearly intend "Inside Apostrophe" to be, not just for those interested in the novel Apostrophe and the physical and emotional joy of the erotic, but also a safe place for women and men to create honest dialogue and understanding about all the most complex aspects of love, sex, intimacy, erotica and porn, the positive and the negative, and all the permutations and interpretations thereof! I hope it has empowered you, JG, as it seems it may have.


  1. I wish I could be with you now, to share privatamente what I'm feeling. I have many thoughts, but perhaps I will write them tonight. You'll be back in NYC on Wed? Right?

  2. No I had to delay my trip back. I have many unforeseen problems to sort out. I was hoping you would write to me about those 'private feelings'. I would also like to send a further post to Apostrophe about matters that concern me, and many women in my position. It will be too lengthy for just a comment. Baci Vi.