In the light of the recent Stanford assault trial and the victim’s courage in sharing her statement, I’d like to share a short story I wrote. It is uncomfortable to talk about, but important for those who can find their voice to openly confront the experience and its impact, in order to free us from the complicity of rape culture. Often there is a misapprehension that it is a case of ‘getting a bit carried away’ with passion, which belies the violence and hatred underlying it. Trigger warning for rape survivors.
The Dark Night
Her memories of that night are dark.
He is quiet, but she feels his rage, a simmering undercurrent of cold malice. Knowing him as she does, it is clear that this will drag on. She has learned that not everyone has a temper like hers; a paper fire that catches in a moment, roaring bright brief flames, scary but soon extinguished. His rage is akin to white hot anthracite, stealthily ignited; from the outside all seems cool, no flames, but within burns relentless, searing hatred, so fierce it will silently burn right through your heart.
They go to bed in uncomfortable silence. Often she is feisty, but tonight there is something about him that she dare not challenge. Something in his mood makes her afraid. She judges that leaving him in peace is the best option. She is utterly astonished then, at his embrace, when even in the dark, she can see his anger still welded upon his face. She dare not speak as he moves to mount her. She is confused; how can he want to make love, when he is still angry? Most of all she is scared, more scared of him than she has ever been. She lies limp and numb, and takes it with neither protest nor affection, as time stands still, in a moment that she prays to be over, a moment that on another day she would wish to last forever. His eyes glazed, his thoughts so evidently elsewhere, almost muttering to himself, he takes possession of her body. Still she dare not stop him. An act of love now twisted into hate. She is shocked beyond belief.
She is on the train home when she gets the call.
“You fucking slag. Pack your bags.”
In that moment, her world once again is a churning horror. She tries to reason, but reason is a feeble flutter against the mighty wall of his cast iron certainty. She is dreading going home now. All hope drains away as she gazes at the sickly grey, rain-slicked landscape flashing by.
The chain is on the door. His raging face appears. Her pleading and sobbing falls into the abyss of his disdain. Then for the second time in two days she is utterly astonished as his fist flies out at her face. She runs.
© Janey Colbourne 2016
Click here for The Stanford victim’s full statement on Buzzfeed