I was raped a few years ago. I had liked and trusted the guy. It had started out as a completely consensual encounter. But at some point, after he had me alone, he began to hurt me. When I asked him to stop, he continued. He got off on my pain and terror. He was bigger, he was stronger. The humiliation and horror stay with me to this day.

I could not admit what happened. Forget admitting it to others, I could not admit it to myself. 

I denied that anything criminal had taken place. He “loves” me, I said. Things went “a little out of control.” He “cared” about my career, so it was fine. Sure, some parts of what happened had been “confusing” – but we all have those confusing nights, don’t we? We remained friends, or sort of friends. One time, I tried asking him why he did what he did. He coolly told me that he could’ve done worse.

If you knew this man, you would know him as intelligent, talented, popular. You would know his politics to be “correct.” You would know him to be brave. You would likely defend him. Not me. God, to this day, I still can’t imagine anyone defending me.

The experience changed me. It killed me, in a way. I still freeze up sometimes when I’m alone with a male friend. “Could he also…?”

After all, I was a feminist. I was already a vocal survivor of sexual abuse. I *knew my shit*. It hadn’t saved me.

Eventually, I began to admit the disastrous impact this incident had on my life. The evil of it, transmuting itself. I can’t say I’m healed. But at least I get it now. I know.

What I go back to is the girl I saw in the mirror on the morning after. I saw her bruises and saw the blood. Although my mind had already switched into denial mode – and would remain in denial mode for years – my reflection fought that narrative hard. I knew in that moment that if I went to the police they’d have a hard time turning me away.

I didn’t go. It would only destroy my reputation and turn everyone against me.

Neither did I want to destroy him. I didn’t want to hurt the people who were close to him. Looking back on it, I know I may have given him the chance to hurt others. I live with that too.

This isn’t a comment on the Pavlensky case. And it is a comment on the Pavlensky case.

You think you know someone. There are moments when I no longer know if I know anyone.

This is what violence does.

I originally posted a slightly different version of this text on Facebook as a response to all of the people who said that a great artist like Pyotr Pavlensky, who stands accused of sexually assaulting (and stabbing) a friend and colleague of mine from Moscow’s Teatr.doc, could not have possibly done what he did. Although I am naturally biased in this matter, this is not a comment on Pavlensky’s guilt or innocence. It’s a comment on the fact that we never really know what a person is capable of behind closed doors.

32 thoughts on “I was raped a few years ago

  1. Wow
    I was sexually molested twice when I was 9 years old (now I’m 23)!
    I did not want to tell anyone about it,I cried for years,I hated myself for years thinking that it was all my fault,when in reality I was in the wrong place,the wrong time.
    This had disastrous consequences on the way I perceive “males”. I was in unhealthy relationships,my partners abused me and I had nothing to do to defend myself, because I never thought that I deserve love and care. My father passed away when I was 7,and so the “unconditional love” was something I never knew or experienced.
    I have mentally grown to be a “feminist”,and now I am a feminist activist,spreading awareness, giving love life lessons to women who have fallen and trapped by these kind of “males”.

  2. I’m so sorry this happened to you. The awful thing is that this guy is probably doing the same thing to other women. And being respected/adored for his non-sexual activities.

    This isn’t the forum to voice personal experiences. But I have to say, when sexual trauma happens, it can take a very long time to even trust someone else to have sexual relationships with.

    My ex assaulted and raped me for more than half a year. I left the country to escape from his manipulation into continuing the relationship. Five years pass with no word until this week. He msgs me on my secret/anonymous Facebook and calls me a goddess. That he thinks I’m in the right track with my life. I don’t even know how he knows anything about my life because I’ve deleted all social media accounts in an effort for him not to know anything about me. Somehow he found my anonymous Facebook. This guy is an attempted murderer. Not only did he completely destroy my sexual autonomy and confidence but to this day I’m on guard that the freak is stalking me.

    Hoping someone loses interest doesn’t feel like enough. Unfortunately nothing else I can do. Womanhood.

  3. Writing like you did in your honesty is what needs to be read. As an older woman, I can say that one in every four of my friends have been raped. I honestly have no idea how to change that. I was abused in a marraige and found I just needed to leave as I was half of the problem, and I left without a trace. He later was abused by his new fiancee, as what goes around comes around. Thank you!

  4. I followed Pavlensky’s work and legal cases for an extensive period of time.

    How interesting that you would come forward with this story now, now that he has been accused of assault.

    Something here doesn’t wash.Only the Kremlin benefits from Pavlensky flight abroad. I read your post multiple times and the sob story is nothing a subtle way of casting doubt on Pavlensky’s story, reminding us of the old adage that “men do bad things sometimes.”

    A course in media literacy will explain to anyone willing to educate themselves us that nobody comes forward with bombshell stories for zero reason. You have a following as a Russia-watcher and suddenly “I was raped……..”? Something doesn’t wash indeed.

  5. @HellsBells — “Only the Kremlin benefits from Pavlensky flight abroad.”

    Kremlin clearly benefits, to be sure. But if Pavlensky’s alleged crime is absolutely nothing more than a Kremlin setup, then an astonishing number of Pavlensky’s professional colleagues must be involved in the cover-up. One of Pavlensky’s colleagues, Ms. Gremina, says that Pavlensky’s crime was caught on a security camera (if I recall correctly). If you’re going to accuse Natalia Antonova of being part of a Kremlin-backed conspiracy, then you’ll have to spread your net very broadly indeed to include Pavlensky’s artistic colleagues who take the alleged victim’s side. They can’t all be conspirators.

  6. @HellsBells — “Only the Kremlin benefits”

    If Pavlensky’s alleged crime was nothing more than a Kremlin setup, then the Kremlin cut off its nose to spite its face. Before his flight to Paris, Pavlensky was practically unknown in the West. Now he’s a minor celebrity who can make a plausible case that he’s a persecuted dissident. If the Kremlin really found Pavlensky troublesome, they should have just locked him up on trumped-up charges. He was practically unknown to ‘ordinary’ Russians to begin with. But now he’s an online celebrity. Bad move, Kremlin.

  7. This was a tough read, but an important story. I sometimes think we’re only now moving towards talking about consent in a mature way. I’m sorry you felt that you couldn’t come forward earlier, that’s a sad fact.

  8. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Crime is crime whether guilt is inside family or in a friend circle. Crime will grow if left unchecked. Anyway, you have come forward in another way (blogging), it’s an alert call to each and every girl.

  9. I am sorry for anyone that has been through that. My ex was supposably raped. It is wrong for anyone to do that to another. I will say this though my ex put herself in harm’s way she was married to me and was going out behind my back with other men she was on 4 dating sites. On one of her dates the guy forced himself on her to have sex. I found this through our therapist session and asked her to file a police report she would not she said it was her fault, I am not sure if that’s how most Ukraine women think. I do not know how true this event was I actually do not believe her. I uncovered that she went out with 18 other men after that and had sex with about half some of them even married. She even took her son on some of the dates to hide her cheating. She told her son that it was ok to do this so they could get a better house and richer husband. She instructed him to throw out the gifts and flowers these men gave her and to lie to me. She even lied when she was caught by my daughter and made me believe my daughter was lying and making things up. These acts have left a scar on me I do not trust women much at this point.
    Women if you do get raped please file a police report. Do not let this person get away with it if not for yourself please do it for the other women and children. No man or women has a right to do this to you if they get away with it they will do it again and again. Please also do not put yourself in a situation that you might be harm’s way. Do not teach your sons or daughters that it is ok to cheat on your spouse.

  10. So sorry to hear of your experience. Yes, there are upstanding, charismatic, intelligent, well-respected men who in private drop their masks, and assault and rape.

    As to Pavlensky:
    How his various public acts of self-mutilation – sewing his lips shut, exhibiting himself as a carcass wrapped in barbed wire, nailing his scrotum to the ground, cutting off his earlobe – were ever elevated to the status of “art” is utterly beyond me.
    A man who commits extreme violence against himself is capable of inflicting it on others. Yes, that is self-evident. No this is not high-brow.
    He was never the nice man you thought you knew.

  11. Thank you for being so honest and up front about this. I’m sorry you have this burden to carry. You are helping so many with this <3. People are too quick to defend in cases of sexual assault, but the fact of the matter is, you don't know who someone is behind closed doors.

  12. You are such a strong woman. I admire you. It’s true what you say about the fact that we never end up knowing a person 100 percent; I’ve learnt this also through time. Even though these events happened and made us who we are, we must never forget that there are still few people out there that are worthy of our trust.

  13. I’ve been reading/ commenting here for a really long time, but today I am going to post under anonymous. First of all, I am so sorry this happened to you. Secondly, I understand fully and completely why you didn’t go the police and how hard it is. During the second half of our marriage, my husband actually took to using sex in inescapably cruel, dominating and terrible ways. The ONLY person who knows this is my therapist, and now you and your readers, I guess – I haven’t even been able to tell my very best friends. Everyone thinks I left because of his alcoholism that he won’t get treatment for, and that’s true – but they don’t know about the sexual assaults. I would NEVER be able to sleep in the same home as him again – I don’t feel safe when we are in the same town on occasion. And yet – I couldn’t report it. And he may remarry. And I live with the fact that some other woman might go through that, too. I don’t know – my first order of business has been saving myself and protecting my kids. Now that that has been accomplished, I am not sure where to go from here. All my love, Natalia.

  14. Wow, it’s really brave of you to share what is obviously a distressing incident for you. As much sympathy as a stranger can offer you, I offer it to you. I cannot pretend to know what it would be like to have to witness something like that, but reading stories like yours brings me as close as is possible to understand how it must have felt for you, so thank you so much. I really wish you all the best.

  15. Hey, I read your article with sadness and sorrow. No man must hurt a woman. I cannot vouch for other cultures, but in our religion we name a girl “kaur”, which means a princess. A kaur is a reminder to any man, to treat a girl like a princess. You are a princess and you deserve to be treated like one! Namaste and love, Guru Sarbie.

  16. If you were really raped, and this isn’t a stunt for publicity, why are you on Twitter protesting the Muslim Ban? Genuine question. I want to know why a woman who was violated once has no problem with hostile men who want to come to our country to violate others. Most rapists are either Mexican or Muslim and I find it interesting that you don’t reveal the identity of the man who raped you (covering up so your PC friends won’t know the truth?..)

    If he was Mexican/Muslim, you should just admit it. White men have respect for white women, something you should appreciate.

  17. You’re right! I was raped by a Mexican Muslim! – who’s also gay, Jewish, an abortion doctor, and member of the Liberal Elite™.

    I can’t admit it, because I’m worried the PC police will take me to reeducation camp and make me watch Meryl Streep movies until I go insane.

    P.S. I genuinely can’t decide if you’re a troll or just that ignorant. Going to ask you to seek help, either way.

  18. If someone rapes you, go to the hospital and call the police.

    These declarations of rape without the above are getting tedious.

    Maybe screen who you allow yourself to get close to?

    You want privacy but then you blame the police for your rape.

    This is why I voted Trump.

    And this is why he won.

    You are a silly girl and need to know that.

  19. Hey dude, Hugh Jass, huh? I’m all for body positivity, but there’s just something about huge asses on men I find a bit meh. Maybe go entertain someone who’s into that sort of thing instead? It’s a big internet out there, I hear. Buh bye now.

  20. Boo hoo, so sorry this happened to you. Face it however, you did it to yourself. No woman as much as lets a man touch her if she doesn’t ‘read’ him. I guarantee that were ‘reading’ the guy but still chose to be alone with him. Own your dumb decision?

    You literally have no idea that your the walking exemplification of why we need more and not less Christian values in this country. Blame yourself for what happened? Cool, you need to. Every woman of childbearing age could maybe consider men’s instincts when being alone with them? It’s science, look it up.

  21. I do not, for one minute, believe that anyone takes this shit about “women reading men” seriously. If you’re not living on a desert island/are a monk in seclusion, you interact with women daily. Face it, a good percentage of those women have been assaulted or have dealt with an attempted assault. You can spew whatever bullshit you want, but underneath your proclamations that all of those women could “read” their assailants and are therefore somehow responsible for the crime is simple fear. And, I’m guessing, a hefty dose of I’m a Nice Guy (TM) and women are all fucked-up bitches who only sleep with guys who aren’t nice.

    Sorry you’re a coward and an entitled douchebag. Have a nice life.

  22. Yeah this is for Mr. “Christian values” up there. I haven’t been to church in a long time, but I’m pretty sure we were told not to rape people. In fact, we were told not to have sex with anyone unless we were married, because apparently God doesn’t want any genitalia touching unless there’s a legally binding contract or something, but that’s another comment I guess.

    Anyway, such values require one to exercise discipline even in spite of any alleged “instincts,” so in a society with more Christian values no woman would have a good reason to fear being alone with a man, right?

    On second thought, don’t answer that- we both know that a Christian wouldn’t blame a rape victim for their attack, and you’re not really a Christian at all. More likely you just get some kind of satisfaction out of telling people you’re a Christian.

    As for your “science,” I was going to ask you for some peer reviewed papers to back up your assertion that I, as a male, have a hard-wired uncontrollable instinct to rape things. But now I’m thinking your level of scientific knowledge is considerably lower than you’d have us believe. That’s okay though, I will help you rectify this situation!

    Let’s start with a basic, beginner level science experiment you can do right at home! The subject is chemistry. I want you to go to the cabinet underneath your kitchen sink. There you will find various brightly-colored chemicals. Who knows what they really are or what they do? There’s only one way to be sure- take a good-sized gulp from each container.

    Write your results in the comments here!

    GOOD LUCK, JUNIOR SCIENTIST!

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