Although it has been over 10 years, I still clearly remember his smell, our great love, and most clearly, the feeling of being under someone’s great control.
When I was barely 15 until I was 17 years old, I was controlled by a man who was 3 years older than me. It is hard, until this day, for me to determine whether he was doing it intentionally, or whether he was just another part of a very patriarchal culture that convinces men that dominating women in all sorts of ways is a goal to be desired.
I believe this is my most personal post to date, and I am going to make it as vulnerable and real as I can, even though it’s hard. You are all, in a way, an invisible audience for me, but I still know that some of you will take the time to read this, and so my heart is racing as I write this post. Ever since I was raped, being out of control and vulnerable is one of my most hated states of being – it makes me eat food that I normally don’t want to eat, say things I regret, and feel awful. Funnily enough, it is also something I constantly aspire to. When I used to work as a facilitator with youth, I knew that if I wasn’t visibly vulnerable, they wouldn’t be either – not to me and not to each other. I worked with young Israelis and Palestinians, and was charged with facilitating a dialogue between them. Letting go of the walls around them and showing their truly vulnerability to one another was the key in making them become close, let down their walls, and actually listen to each other’s pains and stories. I knew that if I kept my walls up, they would too. I also worked with young women and men on the issue of sexual assault and violence. There, too, I knew that I had to be real, and let my emotions show. It was never easy, and many times I was not successful, but I still wanted it badly.
A little over a year ago, I sat down, face to face with the boy/man who raped me. We were surrounded by 3 old and intimidating male police officers. It was a face-off. They wanted to compare our stories of what happened. I actually requested this face off in order to face the scariest thing in the entire universe for me: him.
It took me insane courage to even get myself into that room. My partner dragged me from our apartment, and the whole way to the police station, I was shaking like crazy. It was the worst month of my life. Waiting for the call from the police (“can you come in tomorrow?”) and knowing it was about to happen was horrifying. I wanted it so much, but I also didn’t. I was completely broken – I barely went to work, I didn’t want to eat or even get up from bed. I spent many days just laying there…
Originally, I had requested restorative justice. I requested from him (through a friend, not directly of course), to sit down across a table and say everything I had, and even to hear everything he had to say too. I requested this because being a facilitator for years, with teens that hated each other and had so many grievances against each other, I wanted to believe that the best way to receive true justice for myself was to go the peaceful route, and to listen. Unfortunately, he said no.
The fact that he said no meant, to me, that he did not realize what he had done. What a life he has ruined. How much his actions, either stupid or extremely calculated, impacted and still continue to impact my well-being, to this very day. If you have never experienced PTSD, despite being a good writer, I do not promise that I will be able to explain to you how horrible and debilitating it is. I think I can best describe it by saying it feels like being paralyzed, without knowing you have paralysis. So much is racing through the mind, but you can never understand or tell that you are in a PTSD-kind of moment. You just feel like you are truly physically losing it, or collapsing, for no reason. The worst part is that everyone else also thinks you’re absolutely crazy because you truly are acting crazy.
These days, I learned to understand when these kinds of moments happen. I can at least recognize them – and that is hugely important for me!
Anyway, back to the police station.
We sat there, and even though I was petrified, some insane strength, a strength I think I was developing and nurturing all those years, was just unleashed out of me. I felt so powerful. I told him all about how his actions impacted my life. I told him that I was there to prevent him from doing this to other women (because those scary statistics of 1out of every 4 come from a single offender offending many times), and that now I feel somewhat better, but I’m still suffering. He pretended to play dumb, even though a few years ago he actually admitted to me that he raped me. Too bad I did not record it…
He played the victim, and he said that he is sorry I am unwell, but he didn’t know why. So I explained why, “you, you are the reason I am unwell”, I said.
I am not frustrated I was raped. Ok, sometimes I am, but mostly I am not. I am frustrated this it is so damn common, and that society around doesn’t know how to react. I am frustrated that we are seen on blurred posters, and that our names are hidden from the public eye. I am frustrated that we, rape survivors, are shamed, blamed, and misunderstood. I am frustrated that I am not allowed to be frustrated, because it has been so many years, so I should be fine now. I am frustrated that I take out my anger and pain on my favorite person in the world, because he is the only one who I was able to teach what PTSD is, and he accepts me now. (I also take it out on MYSELF). And also because talking about the real hard shit is not allowed. I have to be the happy rape survivor, I can never be the fucked up rape victim. I am frustrated that everything I am telling you that I am frustrated about is what I get from family, friends, and just society around me – they are not fruits of my imagination.
I am super frustrated that we think of rape as a crime. Rape is not a crime. It’s a societal problem. Society raises men who think they SHOULD rape, because it’s their way of being the powerful ones. They SHOULD get girls drunk and then have sex with them, even if it’s just a little drink to the point where these girls will not care if they are having sex or not. They SHOULD watch porn, wherein women are victims of sexual violence both in real life, and as a video message (spreading and expanding the cycle of sexual violence even further). They SHOULD try and try, even when they hear no. They SHOULD have sex – that is the most important part. Because it means winning.
Rape is not a crime committed by some total psycho who doesn’t have a wife or girlfriend he can have sex with. Rape is about dominance. The will to dominate is within all of us, but some of us actually believe it’s a good thing. It’s within me too – only I am always fighting it and trying to suppress it. I am always working on myself to see everyone as equal to me, and to give them an equal chance to express themselves. Men are told by everyone that it’s a great thing, and that they should definitely dominate women.
International Women’s Day started out as a protest against the injustices done to women. Today, it is celebrated like Valentine’s Day – in my family, all the men give women flowers and tell them they are beautiful.
March 8th is about standing up against violence against women, inequality, and injustice. If you think that you live in the “modern world” and we don’t have those issues, think again. Or better yet, ask someone like me if I feel like I am equal to anyone. I never felt equal to men after getting raped, because I knew how easily they could control me.
March 8th is a sad and happy day for me. It’s a day when I celebrate my victory against all odds – my ability to get up in the morning, my victory against suicide, self-mutilation and self-hatred (that one is actually not at all complete yet…). March 8th is also a sad sad day for me – because I know my battle is far from over, and many other women and men are still fighting and getting hurt.
If you want to put an end to these deep-rooted scars in the souls of millions of mostly women (and some men too!) the biggest thing you can do is become a gentle-man, or gentle-woman. Don’t open the door for me, that’s not the kind I’m talking about! Be gentle to me, to your partner, and to yourself. Talk about your feelings. Be real. Be vulnerable. Teach your kids to be emotional and real. On the inside, we are all just as soft as raw vegan butter. We are melting, and we want to cover up all that melting stuff with hard-core frozen lava. If men were real, if they were true gentle-men, they would never rape. Ok, perhaps 1% of them would, but most would never. That is what March 8th is about to me.
A local Israeli magazine cover for March 8th 2016 shows women, with their names and stories, 1 for every letter of the alphabet. Usually, Israeli newspapers use the first letter of a woman’s name to reveal her story.
Well, I will not be shamed to being an “M”. I, Marina Yanay-Triner, am a proud rape survivor. I am here – if you are reading this and have any question at all, please never be shy to ask me – even if it’s the gory details of my story.
And because I talk about food here quite a lot, I’ll say that in high school, when I was trying to get up in the morning and all I really wanted was for someone to bury me under concrete and never to see the light of day again – I would turn to food. I would make a deal with myself – if you go to school, you can eat your favorite super unhealthy snack at lunch break. And I would. It was the only thing that got me going. These days, I see food as something that gets my whole body going – something that allows me to LIVE. But I am far from getting rid of my food addiction. It’s something I work on every single day. It always seems like if I don’t eat, something really bad will happen. I am working on it, and I know many of you have a similar fight inside, so I promise to keep delivering tips and ideas regarding this issue.
I know I was harsh in this post, I know I was strong and powerful. I think I delivered my true beliefs. I think I was vulnerable, because I feel it in my bones. If you read thus far, thank you so much. Sexual assault will be addressed more and more on Soul in the Raw. Thank you so much for giving me your time.