A Podcast Read Out My Rape Story To Thousands Of People

A Podcast Read Out My Rape Story To Thousands Of People

Content notice: Descriptions of sexual assault, domestic violence, and emotional abuse.

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It's late in the afternoon and my still-undiagnosed partner is drifting in and out of sleep in his hospital bed where he's been for the past four days. I have barely left his side, and while I wouldn't even consider being anywhere else, I have to admit, I'm both mentally and physically exhausted. With no nurse or doctor in sight, and my boyfriend finally getting some rest himself, I take the opportunity to pop in my earphones and put on a podcast to try and stop my head from whirring over a thousand possibilities and stressing over lab test results.

I don't really pay attention to the title of the episode I choose, only registering that I've chosen one of my favorite true-crime podcasts. I'm starting to zone out during the promos and advertisements which play at the beginning, before the two hosts say something that gets my full attention.

"The first story that we're going to read, comes from a listener who we are going to call, K…"

I fumble with my phone and check what the episode title is; Survivor Stories. And then I realize this show is actually about me, and the story of the day I was raped

Six months beforehand, I was listening to the very same podcast when the show's hosts called for their listeners to email in stories of their experiences of surviving an attack. As anyone who listens to podcasts regularly knows, it's a really intimate experience. It can get to a point where you feel like you know the hosts, which is why so many podcasts have fan bases who coin terms to describe themselves, buy and wear podcast merchandise, fork out cash to go to live recordings of the show or travel hundreds of miles to attend podcasting conventions. I'm a pod-fanatic, and so when one of my favorites said they wanted to hear reader stories, I felt comfortable enough to send in mine.

I really didn't think it would go anywhere, I just felt like I needed to share my story. I also thought that, on some level, writing out my trauma would somehow help it make sense to me. I was diagnosed with PTSD after the rape and still have nightmares about it, four years on. So I wrote out a lengthy email, signed it with my name and a disclaimer that I didn't think my story was important or worthy of being read on-air, but if they did, could they only use the first initial of my name. I hit send and forgot about it.

My partner woke up at the noise of my gasp and asked what was wrong.

"The podcast decided to tell my story," I told him, still in shock. "I wasn't expecting it."

"Are you sure you want to listen?" he asked, clearly worried about how reliving my trauma would affect me, and likely cautious that I hadn't slept properly in days and was at risk of falling apart at the seams.

"Yes. I have to do this," I replied.

I lay down in the tiny hospital bed with my boyfriend, who wrapped his arms around me. We each put in an earphone and continued to listen.

To say it was a surreal experience would be the largest understatement I'd ever uttered.

The hosts took turns reading my entire story aloud, going back through my life, from my dad leaving when I was younger to my struggles watching my mother's abusive relationship. They meticulously detailed all of my insecurities and self-doubts, all the demons, guilt and blame I've held close to my chest since the assault.

Two people who I'd never even met detailed the events from my violent relationship, from the emotional abuse and manipulation to the physical abuse and ultimate sexual assault at the hands of my ex-boyfriend.

My current partner, who I'd never told the entire story to before, cried as he listened in. I felt numb the whole time, occasionally smiling at the black humor the hosts were dotting throughout the podcast, but most of the time, feeling as if I was floating above my body. Somewhere, far away, I could feel my boyfriend's hand rubbing my shoulder to comfort me.

It was cathartic to hear them call my abusive ex derogatory names and say they wished something bad would happen to him as they paused to comment throughout my story. Even though I'm a non-violent person, I still have a lot of anger and hatred towards him for what he did, and to hear other people share that anger was extremely validating.

It felt good to hear them share their personal experiences with elements of my story. One of the hosts had been with an abusive partner herself, and said my story reminded her of her own. It made me feel so much less alone.

When they reflected on the section of my story in which I resented myself for staying with my abusive ex for so long, the hosts addressed me directly.

"Baby girl, do me a favor. Get up, brush your shoulders off, look in the mirror and tell yourself how fucking amazing you are."

During the part of the podcast where they detailed the actual assault, my heart was in my throat, and I almost vomited. I felt my partner's body go strangely stiff in anger and heartbreak as they read out my cries of protest at my ex's hands on my body.

"I started to cry and push on his chest, screaming 'No, no, get off me, stop it. I don't want any of this, get off me." But he didn't stop. He put his hand on my head, turned it and pushed my head down into the pillow to stifle the cries and the screaming and just kept going. I was trying so hard to get him off me, pushing and kicking and hitting, but he didn't stop…"

As they said the words, I was able to picture the room, the bed, the hot feeling of him on top of me, and the way the air was choking me. It was at this moment I suddenly became extremely aware of how many people the podcast would be heard by. Thousands streamed these episodes, and they would be living it with me. They'd also be in that hot, suffocating room with me.

While this realization did cause a moment of panic to course through my body, it was soon replaced with the feeling of finally not having to hide my story from the world any longer, like some kind of a dirty secret.

They closed out the podcast by reading the words in my original email to them, which reminded me of why I submitted my story in the first place, and why I wanted to share it.

"I wanted to tell people this story because abuse and violence don't always have to be physical, and it doesn't start all at once, and people who you thought were normal can turn out to be monsters. He thought he owned me so he could do anything he wanted to me. But he didn't. It's taken me almost three years to undo all of the damage he did to me and I still live with nightmares and wake up in panics some nights, not knowing where I am or thinking he is there. If someone touches me how he touched me, sometimes I go back to that moment.

I was raped, but it wasn't in a dark alley by a stranger, it was by someone I'd shared my life with for three years, which was an entirely different kind of horror I never thought would happen to me."

After listening to the podcast, I went to the Facebook group filled with other fans of the show to see if there had been any mention of my story. Because of my decision to keep my name anonymous, I felt safe traversing the posts and comment sections.

I was prepared to see comments ripping my story apart because that has been my experience in the past when I've shared my experience; people tell me I'm making it up to get back at my ex, or that I just 'changed my mind' or was 'crying rape' after having bad sex.

But I could never have been prepared for what I found.

"So much of K's story is so familiar in my own story. I wanted to say, I understand and much love to K from another K."

And

"What a roller coaster this week's episode was!! I want to give Miss K a really big hug and make her some serious comfort food and tell her it's okay and none of this is her fault."

Words of support and kindness from strangers, mixed in with women saying my story reminded them of their past relationships. People telling me how strong we all were for living through domestic violence and coming out the other side. Well-wishes for the future, and many virtual hugs.

In the years since the rape, I've spent countless hours feeling like I was drowning in the emptiness and loneliness the violation left in my heart and the pit of my stomach. Every victim of an assault is going to feel similar – and different – emotions in the aftermath of their attack. As well as living with the memory of sexual assault, I was juggling the emotions of being abused by someone who was supposed to love me.

At times, the isolation has been crushing.

But after the podcast aired and I read the words of support from people thousands of miles away, who'd never, and would never, meet me, I felt a wave of comfort and validation I'd never been able to find on my own, even though years of therapy.

Rape is an extremely personal trauma, and many victims never want to disclose their attacks, which is completely valid. Having the most horrific event of their life read out to thousands of strangers across the world is not going to be everyone's path to healing, and I didn't realize it was going to be mine, either.

But, strangely, it was. And I'll forever be grateful for that.


This story originally appeared on SHE'SAID', a global women's lifestyle website, and was written byNadine Dilong .

Nadine is a beauty writer who's always on the hunt for the perfect nude lipstick and the best Instagram filter. She has a weakness for handbags and never says no to a cup of strong coffee.

Follow SHE'SAID' on Twitter and Facebook and check out these related stories:

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I Am A Hopeless Romantic Living In A World Where One-Night Stands Are The Norm

It's the little things.

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In today's society, it can certainly start to feel like no one takes love seriously anymore.

Whether it's that one couple who has broken up and gotten back together more times than you can count, the two friends-with-benefits no one can figure out, your local womanizer, or just hookups in general, love and lust are a huge part of specifically college life and culture.

As a hopeless romantic, being part of a generation that "just wants to have fun" can be really frustrating, especially when you just want to find something real. It is so easy for people to put on a fake act just to get what they want and sometimes this can be extremely hard to see through. I'm sure we've all had some kind of incident with someone who played nice but had ulterior motives and the sad truth is that it can be impossible to recognize a person's artificiality.

I am a hopeless romantic.

I have always classified myself as such, and it has remained true. Sure, I can make the most of the freedoms I have as a single college woman, but deep down I just want to find my person.

I've had my fair share of letdowns, and I think we all have, but being a hopeless romantic makes it that much more difficult to get past the "what ifs" and fantasies that come along with starting something with someone new. We may already have our hearts set on a person when they decide they've gotten what they wanted and leave.

For me, I find myself caught up in the little things that someone does. I have always been someone who picks up on small details in situations, and sometimes this works against me.

I pick up on the small facial expressions that he may not even realize he is making; the ones that tell you when their guard has been let down, even just for a split second.

I pick up on the way he sits our two cellphones side by side on the nightstand, taking care to line them up perfectly as if that's just their spot.

I pick up on the short moments of laughter where he actually lets himself laugh and forgets about the act.

I pick up on things, and sometimes I end up hurting because of it.

When it comes down to it, though, I wouldn't change the way that I am. I wouldn't change the fact that I find myself in the search for more in a society that mostly only offers me less.

The trait that tends to hurt me most is also the one that I value most. Even if noticing all the little things is something that contributes to my own heartache, I love those moments. There is something beautiful about those tiny things shared by two people, even if the connection ends there.

Sure, it can be hard. But so can everything.

It's just a matter of finding the beauty.

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5 Movie Sex Scenes That Would Never Go Down Like That In Real Life

There's a lot of time, scripts, makeup, and lights that are involved in these scenes that make them what they are, unlike the sex that happens in real life.

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When I was a child, my idea of sex was confined to what I saw in the media — two people rolling around underneath the sheets of their bed. I didn't understand what was going on at the time until my parents had the birds and the bees talk with me, but still, sex was not something that was discussed regularly in any setting so I couldn't help but use the movies and television as my main source for sex education. When I was a teenager, I started watching rom-coms so my idea of sex expanded to a scenario where two people who loved each other effortlessly fall into a euphoric experience and then they live happily ever after.

Then something about the idea I had changed as I watched the series premiere of "Secret Life of the American Teenager," a popular teen drama from ABC family about a girl who struggles with being a mother in high school. One of the first and most memorable scenes of the show is when Amy Juergens talks to her best friends about what it was like to have sex for the first time. Her friends were ecstatic for her at first until she revealed her dismay, telling them "I didn't exactly realize what was happening until, like, after two seconds, and then it was just over. And it wasn't fun and definitely not like what you see in the movies, you know, all romantic and stuff."

I heard those words and was immediately taken aback. As a 13-year-old, sex wasn't on my mind much, but I couldn't help but hope that I could experience the magic I saw on screen. Then eight years later I have sex for the first time and I realized that what she said was right...not about the part about it not being fun, but more-so about the part that sex is not actually like what is depicted in the movies.

Here are five examples in movies that created unrealistic sex scenes for its viewers:

1. "Skyfall"



This steamy scene between Bond and Severine make shower sex look passionate and trouble-free, but do its expectations match reality? No. What they don't show you is the sting from the water getting into your eyes, the awkward positions your bodies have to accommodate with if there's a significant height difference between you and your partner and the fact that water is a terrible substitute for lube because it strips away the natural lubrication your genitals produce.

2. "No Strings Attached"



Sometimes there are those moments when you want to have sex, but you don't have that much time on your hands so you have to fit in a quick session before work in the morning, in between classes, or right before the kids come back home. Though Natalie Portman's "O" face is spot on, the main thing that makes her quickie with Ashton Kutcher's unrealistic is that she still manages to climax after 45 seconds without any kind of foreplay, lube, or toys involved. The female orgasm is still possible during a quickie, but in real life, there will still have to be creative measures involved so that enough stimulation outside of penetration is involved to get her warmed up.

3. "Fifty Shades of Grey"



As much as I enjoyed the playfulness behind Ana and Christian dipping ice cream on each other's bodies and licking it off each other, I couldn't help but roll my eyes at how over exaggerated it became. Yes, I understand that when something feels good, a moan or some type of vocalization will happen, but getting some kisses and licks on your thighs isn't going to have you arching your back like a demon going through an exorcism.

4. "Mr. & Mrs. Smith"



Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's chemistry and passion in this scene is undeniable and it almost makes you want to start a fight with your partner just so you two can have some hot, angry sex just like them. Here's the problem though. They go from nearly killing each other to being boo'ed up like nothing happened. While angry sex can be a way for some couples to express emotions through adrenaline, it isn't the answer to our problems and shouldn't be a substitute for healthy communication.

5. "Titantic"



The moment in the movie when Kate Winslet's hand slams against the door of the car and drifts down as we stare at her steamy handprint and secretly wish we were sleeping with Leonardo DiCaprio will always be a classic. However, this scene is still a scam for those who hope car sex is as passionate and heartfelt as that. Truth be told, there's limited space to feel comfortable so leg cramps are inevitable and sliding against leather feels awful on your skin. To top things off, if you aren't careful enough, you may get caught by the police and ultimately have to register as a sex offender depending on your state's laws.

I truly hope for the day that sex in the media is represented in more of a realistic way, but until then, we just have to remember to take movies for what they are. Acting. There's a lot of time, scripts, makeup, and lights that are involved in these scenes that make them what they are, unlike the sex that happens in real life. As a matter of fact, sometimes sex isn't romantic. Sometimes it's not a fairy tale. There are times when it can be mind-blowing and other times when it's awkward, funny, or simply not what we expect. Do I appreciate fictional sex? Of course. But mainstream entertainment should also take the time to show us more than the sex we supposedly fantasize about and also show us sex that we can look at and see ourselves.

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