Why I Don’t Use the Word ‘Rape’

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while (or even just scanned a couple of posts) you’ll have noticed that I never use the word ‘rape’ to describe what happened to me. The reason why I don’t is simple- I wasn’t raped.

I was groped, molested, fingered, masturbated on… but not raped. Under law digital (that’s fingers ladies and gents) penetration is not rape.

I have mixed feelings about this

On one hand it demeans a little what happened to me, it also makes it difficult to explain to people- I generally use the term ‘sexual assualt’ or sometimes terms like ‘groomed’ or ‘molested’ but all of these are a long way off what happened. There is no easy definition for what happened to me, and that can make explaining it to people stressful and confusing. I don’t like to go into detail in case I upset the person that I’m talking to, but there’s no one term that gives a good idea of what exactly I’ve been through.

However, the fact that it isn’t classed as ‘rape’ has its merits. The word holds so much power and weight that when you say it you lose people- they panic and get swallowed up in the power that it holds. You become a victim, you become a rape victim rather than a person… and that’s hard.

I’m honestly glad that I don’t have to have that, I can play it down as much as I want to and make sure that whoever I’m telling takes it carefully. As well as this the word ‘rape’ carries a very particular image, it’s the stranger leaping from the bushes and violently attacking the drunken girl in the short skirt. I’m thankful that I don’t have to deal with this preconception.

There are ups and downs to the word ‘rape’, and I know that as much as I hate not being able to communicate what happened to me, I’m glad that I don’t have to say that word to the people that I love and deal with the preconceived notions that come with it.

I’m not protesting against the use of the word ‘rape’, I’m just trying to make you think (as always) about the power of words and labels, how they are a double edged sword- for every advantage they have a disadvantage, and perhaps having them is just the lesser of two evils.

’til next time, Wren x

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