Letter to a Victim Blamer

Dear Meghann,

You were the first person I told what he did. I thought I could trust you. I thought you’d believe me. Instead you decided to date the man that abused and raped me after I told you. Instead you took my pain, my trauma, and made it about you by saying I talked about being abused and raped just for your attention and to mess with you. I talk about what happened because I’m in pain, because I need support, because I’m still processing what happened and trying to find some peace by letting the hurt out.
You want to believe that I’m the one that did something wrong. That I didn’t communicate enough. That he didn’t do it on purpose. You were not there. You did not have to be subjected to his anger or his actions.
He had no problem lying to the police, telling them I dreamed it because of erotica and depression. You honestly think he’d have an issue lying to you?

These are things that actually happened:

When he was on the couch with me and began groping my breast. His hand beneath my shirt. His rough fingers digging into my skin. I told him to stop, physically removed his hand. He groped the other one instead saying he needed to “even it out.” There are three reactions to violation: fight, flight, and freeze. I froze. I froze the way many women before me have when touched without their consent.
I texted him later. Explained it was wrong. The fact I’d told him to stop and removed his hand should have been enough communication.

He would try to choke me during sex. I had to tell him to stop more than once. Had to push his hands from my throat more than once.
The fact I said stop should have been enough communication. Physically removing his hands should have been enough communication.

During sex when he asked if I wanted to try something, I smiled and asked “what?” He then slapped me several times in quick succession across the face. Only after he did this as I struggled not to cry did he ask me if I liked it. I told him no.
This should have never happened. This was flat out assault. I should have been given my right to refuse before he acted.

When he stated we would be taking nude pics. Not asked. Stated. I told him no and he started screaming yes at me. Because how god damn dare I tell him no. Which I continued to tell him. Loudly. I walked away from him wanting space and he stalked after me while continuing his demands.
The fact I was yelling no repeatedly should have been enough communication.

When we were sitting on the couch and he asked if we could have sex I told him, “I don’t want to.” He started pressuring me and I said, “Maybe later.” He kept pressuring me and I said, “I’ll think about it.” Then he screamed at me, “Now I’m getting angry.” I said “okay” because I was afraid he would become violent. I didn’t move from the couch though. So he started screaming at me again, “I want you naked and on the bed!” So I ran into the bedroom (once again fearing violence) and got on the bed but didn’t undress. Instead I sat on the bed shaking. He came to the doorway and yelled, “That’s not what I told you to do! I said I wanted you naked and on the bed!” So I took off my clothes and laid on the bed. He put on a condom and did what he wanted. There was no foreplay or lube, he just tore into me. I still remember the look on his face. How angry his expression was.
This was coercion. This was rape.

You want to believe he was just being selfish, imperfect. That this was somehow an acceptable pushing of boundaries. You want to normalize relationship violence because you love him. Then turn around and discuss what it means to be a feminist as if you are one. You want to act as if you care about victims of rape, of abuse, but you don’t. Not really. Your actions have proven that.
You want to blame me for not speaking up. Not communicating. Not sitting him down on the couch, taking his hand gently in mine and explaining, “Keith, sweetheart, you’re being sexually abusive.”
Is he not a grown man in his thirties with an understanding of what the words “no” and “stop” mean? Am I to be his teacher? His mother? His instructor in the ways of consent? If he has no concept, no understanding of what these words mean at his age. Of how to respect boundaries. Then I am filled with horror thinking of the women who have come before me. I am filled with certainty that he has done this before. That he has harmed and violated other women.

I did in fact discuss the way he had been treating me. I called him from suicide watch the second time I was on it. Told him his behavior was not acceptable. That I was still in physical pain from what he’d done (I even had a pelvic exam because I was in so much pain). That telling me he’d “be quick” from a previous incident where I’d told him he was hurting me during sex was not okay. That he would have to prove he was sorry through his actions.

I am NOT the one with the communication problem. HE IS. He is the one who cannot accept a refusal to a sexual act. “I don’t want to” does not mean try harder. “No” does not mean to keep pushing. “Stop” does not mean keep going. “You’re hurting me” is not permission to negotiate. Pushing his hands from my body is not a signal to try again.

Did I not say these things loud enough to be heard over his anger? His entitlement? Did I need to say them louder? Scream them until my throat was raw? Please tell me at what volume must my voice have reached before I had communicated enough? How often must I have spoken these words, these refusals before my abuse and rape becomes valid to you?

And I haven’t even gone into the disgusting things he said to me.  Like telling me all my boyfriends wanted to rape me they just hadn’t been brave enough and asking me to tell him about being sexually assaulted when I was eleven because it turns him on. These things are fully his responsibility not to say in the first place. It was not my job to police the vile things that came out of his mouth.

I am a victim of his actions. His words. His choices. It is not the victim’s responsibility to stop their abuser from abusing. It is the abuser’s responsibility to not abuse. To not say or do horrible, despicable things in the first place. Believing otherwise is victim blaming.

I did not in some way ask for any of this. I did not stay silent in the face of his actions. I spoke. I denied consent.

This was not my fault. The blame is on him.

Coercion Is Not Consent

My rapist’s name is Keith Stephen Grace. Last I knew he lived in Grandville, Michigan.

The rape took place in 2013.
Keith and I were sitting on the couch in the in-law suite of my parent’s house where I live (we call it the apartment- it is attached to the house but has a heavy fire-door and my parents room is on the other side of the house from it). He asked if we could have sex. I told him, “I don’t want to.” He started pressuring me and I said, “Maybe later.” He kept pressuring me and I said, “I’ll think about it.” Then he screamed at me, “Now I’m getting angry.” I said “okay” because I was afraid he would become violent. I didn’t move from the couch though. So he started screaming at me again, “I want you naked and on the bed!” So I ran into the bedroom (once again fearing violence) and got on the bed but didn’t undress. Instead I sat on the bed shaking. He came to the doorway and yelled, “That’s not what I told you to do! I said I wanted you naked and on the bed!” So I took off my clothes and laid on the bed. He put on a condom and did what he wanted. There was no kissing or foreplay of any kind. Aside from the coercion in this situation he had also been told he had to ask permission to penetrate me beforehand as I didn’t like how he had the habit of doing it without making sure I was ready. Which means he had no consent to penetrate me at all since he never asked and was never given permission.

I didn’t really understand it was a sexual assault at that point, and I wouldn’t make complete sense of it until I read about coercive rape in 2014. Until then I blamed myself for not being strong enough to stop him.

A short time after the assault I ended up on suicide watch a second time. I already had PTSD before I started dating him and had been struggling to recover from that on top of the things he’d been putting me through.
Some of the other things included:

  • My telling him no to nude pics and him continuously screaming yes at me while I yelled no back
  • Telling him that he was hurting me during sex and him saying that he’d be quick
  • Him trying to choke me during sex and having to tell him stop and physically remove his hands from me more than once
  • Him groping my breast and when I told him to stop and physically removed his hands from me he groped the other breast saying he needed to “even it out”
  • Telling me that all my previous boyfriends had wanted to rape me they just hadn’t been brave enough
  • Asking me to tell him about how I was sexually assaulted at the age of eleven because it turned him on
  • Slapping me in the middle of sex and then asking me after he did it if I liked it
  • After slapping me he continued having sex with me despite my obvious distress

At the urging of the other patients at the hospital I called him and discussed with him the way he had been treating me (some things had also been discussed prior to this). I mentioned at one point to him that I was still in pain from what he’d done to me (I had even had an exam done at the hospital because I was in so much pain I thought I had to have tearing or an STD of some kind). I also discussed with him the time he said he’d be quick instead of stopping.

I finally worked up the courage to leave him around New Years 2014. I used the excuse of wanting children since I knew he didn’t, and it would allow me to leave the relationship without angering him or causing drama in the friend group (I had no system of support outside of this group of friends). At this time I was still trying to forgive him since I was sure if I spoke out about what he’d done I’d lose the only friends I had since they were all friends with him first. I saw him in the company of other people a few times but then during one of these outings he grabbed my rear. This time I somehow found the courage to whirl around and yell at him.

I didn’t see him again after that and a short time later I read an article on my tumblr dash about coercive rape. I felt a rush of emotions on realizing there was a term for what I had experienced. I finally stopped blaming myself, and became angry with him. I deleted my facebook and created an account under a different name. He tracked me down, probably through a mutual friend, and tried to start a conversation. I still didn’t want to cause drama in the friend group so I sent him a one word reply and nothing else. He seemed to get the message and I didn’t hear from him again.

I’m not sure how long after that it was before I told Meghann. Who had set me up with him in the first place. I just needed to tell someone what had happened and I thought since she was a self-identified feminist she would believe me. I also thought that since Keith had said, “I feel like I raped her too” in reference to her, that perhaps she’d gone through similar and could relate.

This was apparently wrong since some time after I told her she began dating him. She had me meet her at a library to confess this to me. I wanted to report him but was afraid of losing her as a friend if I did. So I once again tried to put it behind me and kept quiet for a time so she could be happy. Eventually though I couldn’t hold the pain back any longer and talked about it again. A part of me needed people to know who he really was and what he had done.
I also could no longer carry the burden of remaining silent when there was a chance he would hurt her too. If I stayed silent and he did this again it would be on me.
She dropped me as a friend because of it, claiming in a text message that he would not purposely do the things I was saying he did, that it was my fault for not telling him after he did these things that I didn’t like it. Which I most certainly did tell him as that is what no, stop, I don’t want to, and physically pushing someone’s hands off means. That you don’t like what is happening. Not to mention the text I sent him about touching my breast when I said to stop or the phone call from the hospital. She also told me the first time I’d talked about being raped on tumblr had been for attention and to mess with her.

I finally reported him three years after it happened to the police on March 2nd 2016. This was awhile after I had gone to my areas YWCA where I told them what he’d done and they confirmed for me it was considered a sexual assault and I could report it.

I eventually called to get an update on the case since I had not heard anything for over a month. I was told I couldn’t receive information over the phone and would have to file a FOIA. I had to pay $6 just to find out what had happened with the investigation. You can sure as hell bet my rapist did not have to jump through the same hoops.

The report was a mess of errors and typos (they even got our names wrong- calling him Kevin at one point and spelling my last name with a K). In the report he said I dreamed it because of erotica and pointed to me being depressed and having “mental issues” for why I’d report him.

This was my first sexual relationship. I waited 27 years to be in one and this is what the end result is.